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450 Market in a Nutshell
By: R450 Staff
Racer 450 Magazine
January, 2008

Right now is the best time in ATV history to be a single young male Caucasian. According to statistics that’s who benefits most from the massive 450cc sport market. There have never been so many 450 sport machines, in fact, there have never been so many competitive models in one class period. With so many options to spend your hard earned money on, what the hell do you buy?

The first two companies that come to mind are Yamaha and Honda. Their 450s were the first to hit the market, have experienced the most R&D and finally have undergone the most improvements. Virtually every part of the Yamaha and Honda with exception to their engine cases are replaceable via the aftermarket. There are Yamaha and Honda shops available near by in any direction you travel and the price of OE parts for these machines is not a premium like some others.

Next on the list, Suzuki’s 450 Quad Racer, seemed to have studied the market closely before entering camp. Many think the LT-R450 was introduced in better form than the YZF450 and TRX450R after their updates because of the wide and low stance. The Suzuki is nearly as loved by the aftermarket as the Yamaha and Honda and some R&D is done by Digger Doug himself. The Suzuki is priced at a premium over the other two machines, you may have to travel a little farther for dealer support and because of the sophisticated fuel injection repair parts can be pricey. Many riders obviously feel the LT-R450 is worth any of these additional hurdles.

Kawasaki recently introduced the KFX450 and all though it may not have hit the market as hard as some had hoped it is still a very good option when purchasing a new machine. The performance is on par with the other machines in all categories. It has a strong engine, well balanced and very technological aluminum chassis and when dressed in full race trim looks “monsterish“. Our favorite part of the KFX450 is the low stance. Like the Suzuki, retail prices are at a premium and dealer support is slightly below that of Honda and Yamaha. Strong race program support with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki motocross team has definitely sold a few machines for the company.

Polaris and KTM have joined the 450 ranks after years of rumors. The Polaris Outlaw 450 is currently being used by H-Bomb’s fearless stunt crew doing back flips and other insane tricks. We have a feeling Polaris was ready to take drastic measures in order to surpass people’s thoughts on the Predator 500 which wasn’t a bad machine but didn’t really fit into any competition category. KTM’s new XC450 is backed by years of legendary motorcycle racing heritage and partial funding by who else. “Polaris”. The new KTM looks the look and factory developer/rider Tim Farr says it walks the walk. Most Polaris dealerships, although there are really starting to be a lot of them, traditionally specialize in utility machines and race support from dealers is going to be tough to come by although so far the new machines have really put a smile on our face. KTM dealers are generally very race oriented although we hear many dealers generally were not excited about KTM adding an ATV to their product lineup. We would like to see KTM offering ATV only dealerships but if the current program is successful KTM will likely continue to build on their brand just as the Japanese manufactures have done. KTM could be the next big thing in the ATV industry.

Can-Am, were do we start here? A company on the verge of extinction reinvents itself in record setting time, improves its’ products ten fold and creates or competes best in extremely tough markets. Can-Am is going at this 450 thing whole heartedly with R&D from professional riders such as our friend Sage Baker. The aftermarket is still limited on these things but it wont stay that way for long. The new multi-piece frame is crazy and we aren’t sure how it will hold up but Can-Am is definitely taking their chances and not following anyone else’s game plan on the DS450. Dealer support is harder to come by but the existing dealerships may try harder to earn your business since Can-Am is taking a new market approach and trying to expand so vigorously right now.

Sadly during this great time in ATV product history the market is down and interest rates are high. Major dealerships are closing because the market has crashed so to speak. There are so many great machines available it’s hard to get anyone excited about new products. Gas and travel expenses have gone through the roof and people just don’t have the money to play as hard as they did a year ago.

Our words of wisdom, tough it out. Keep riding and improving your quad, vote this fall and hope for the best. Enjoy your 450 and we’ll see you at the track.


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