No one on the planet has tested as many motorcycles as the MXA wrecking crew. Motocross Action is a motorcycle magazine — plain and simple. We aren’t a fan magazine or aimed at the teenybopper crowd. We are about machinery and how to make them better. We have ridden every machine made, and some that shouldn’t have been made. Nothing engenders as much interest and controversy as the “MXA Bike of the Year” awards. We have been handing them out for 36 years (MXA has actually been testing bikes for 43 years, but in the ’70s we weren’t smart enough to comprehensively rank them).
– 1986 Honda CR125 –
The MXA test crew understands that when a consumer plunks down nine grand for a new bike, he doesn’t want to hear that he bought the wrong machine. We sympathize, but our job is to report the facts as accurately and consistently as possible. It isn’t uncommon for us to get angry emails from owners of a brand that didn’t do well. The complainers have a litany of reasons for why we didn’t choose their brand as the best. Here are the most commons whines.
– 1993 Honda CR250 –
The “Yamaha Action” complaint: When Yamaha started winning back-to-back shootouts 15 years ago, the red, green, yellow and orange fans claimed that we showed favoritism to YZs. We found it amusing, because we got the same letters when Honda won the 250 Shootout for five straights years (1983-1987) — except back then they called us “Honda Action.” Plus, if you carried our critic’s logic up to today, we should have been called “Kawasaki Action” when they won 7 shootouts in 10 years. So, now that we are called “KTM Action.” We can assure you that we don’t have favorite companies—we reward excellence in machinery.
– 1994 Kawasaki KX250 –
Advertising trumps integrity: One of the old saws pawned off by morons is that the manufacturer that advertises the most wins the shootouts. Hogwash! Need proof? The Suzuki RM250 won the 250 Bike of the Year award in 2004-2006 and the 2011 250F four-stroke award. Suzuki doesn’t run enough advertising with MXA to buy the test riders lunch. Additionally, KTM won the 2004 125 shootout, had a nod at 250 two-stroke shootouts for a few years and took the 2010, 2011, 2015 and 2016 450 shootouts, and KTM is definitely not MXA‘s largest advertiser. Advertising dollars can’t make a bad bike good…at least not at MXA.
– 1998 Yamaha YZ400F –
Different mags; different winners: It’s not uncommon for other magazines to choose different shootout winners. More power to them (and their flawed methodology). But, history almost always proves that the MXA wrecking crew is right. Need examples? Every magazine raved about the 2002 Honda CRF450 — except MXA. We thought it had a serious handling flaw and a mellow engine. Who was right? Honda’s engineers spent the next three years working on the handling and beefing up the bottom end. When they got it right, they got the top spot. Then, in 2009-2012, the other mags raved about the weirdly configured Honda CRF450. We didn’t. We said it was “a mess.” Who was right? This was followed by Honda’s disasterous foray into their mellow engine phase from 2013-2016 — where they voluntarily gave up 4 to 5 horsepower to their competitors (and somehow still managed to do well in other shootouts — other than MXA that is). Let’s not even mention the 2001 Cannondale MX400 which one magazine named the “Bike of the Year.”
– 2000 Yamaha YZ125 –
Anti-Euro faction: In the last 32 years, only a handful of European bikes have made the MXA Best Bike list (all KTMs). To our critics’ way of thinking, MXA never gave European bikes a fair chance. To our way of thinking, European bikes came up short in their approach to handling for the better part of the last 30 years. Once they got it right, they got credit.