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New bike shootouts are kinda like car crashes. When they happen most of us are going to drive by and look at them as they happen. Now I will say that not all shootouts are great, as sometimes I think that they have become a little too subjective and can be open to misinterpretation. I have been involved in new bike shootouts since 2000 and although I loved doing them, I would rather now focus my attention on helping people figure out what type of rider they are and then help them break down which bike is best for them, without having to rank dirt bikes for the sake of views, money or content. This may not be the best business model for myself but here we are. Now I understand that most of you enjoy shootouts and I get a kick out of them as well. Hell, I even did them on my website when I left Dirt Rider Magazine because I thought I “needed” to do them and who knows maybe I will bring them back at some point in a different way. Regardless of how I personally feel about shootouts, I think it’s interesting on what the rankings are when any given media shootout posts them up as well as what each media outlet’s criteria is.
I come from a production manufacturer testing background and have been a part of more than a few “from scratch” dirt bike evaluations so I am wired to try to make a certain bike feel good for a wide range of consumers. It is not easy and it’s not always so cut and dry on what I think is best for the consumer. There are a lot of differences between manufacturer production testing and the media testing you see on the web. I like to bridge that gap with my website and arm you guys with knowledge from both sides of the fence (media testing/production testing and what the consumer gets to view/read) just so you’re not in the dark or feel like it’s a “clicky” type of industry (which it can feel like a lot of the times). I thought why not break down three media outlets current 2024 250 MX results and see where each bike lands in an overall type score (like a three moto format). When I went to look for results and watch each media shootout some were readily available and some were no where to be found so I only can give you three at this time. Below are some opinions/thoughts as well as the results from MotoCross Action, Swap Moto Live and Vital MX’s 2024 250 MX Shootouts.
Comparison Tire Versus Manufacturer Tested Tire:
Ehhhhh boy… I have a small gripe. This is one of the things that I don’t believe in with some shootouts. All three media outlets in this article chose to run “control tires” on each of their machines for their 250 shootout but this to me isn’t the correct way if you’re doing a shootout. If you’re doing an OEM shootout you should put/leave tires on each machine that the manufacturer has brought to production. A LOT of time/thought/money is involved within the production testing process to decide on which tire goes on each specific motorcycle before they get to the dealership floors. I have been a part of this pre-production testing process with Yamaha, Honda, KTM and Alta and there has been many test days on deciding which is the correct tires/tread for a specific machine. Of course each manufacturer’s R&D team has each brand of tire available for testing to see which tire works best on their bike so why just slap on any tire on there for shootouts? Of course we know why… Money, right? Now in the production testing world sometimes the manufacturers “product planning” team can get involved before the final stage of the production process and force the R&D team to settle on a tire that may not be their choice but both parties can find a happy medium to make both come to an agreement (R&D team and Product Planning). For example, I have been a part of pre-production testing where I want a 110 rear tire on a 250 but we had to settle on a 100 sized rear tire of the brand of our choice. This is meeting in the middle. The manufacturers “Product Planning” department got their “lighter” tire and we (R&D team) got the brand we wanted. It’s give and take.
Now enter said media testing publication/website with their “control tire”. Two of the three media testing companies used a tire that wasn’t as good in performance as the tires that came equipped on 6 of the 7 bikes tested. Some of you out there might think, “who cares, it’s the same tires on all the bikes”, but if YOU want to take these shootouts serious then they should test the tires that come on the machine stock. I feel like if these media outlets don’t, we basically are slapping each manufacturer in the face with a “we don’t care what you think is good on your bike” attitude. I was guilty of this same thing at Dirt Rider where we had to run a certain “control tire” because the sales team SOLD the spot so the edit team had to run a different “control tire”. It’s about money, but I am sure you already knew this, but as a test rider this is tough to swallow as I know what works and I know what is not great. Now, I have no problem with making money as that is what keeps said media publication/company afloat, of course! DUH! But when you go to a tire that may not be as good as what comes on the bike stock then you’re doing that bike an injustice in its overall feel on the track. If you’re viewing these shootouts as a tool to help you purchase a bike then it’s important. If you’re just watching for fun then I will shut the hell up and move on. As a viewer or reader of these shootouts just know/be aware of chassis/cornering comments from testers if you see/hear negative comments about cornering/bump compliance or edge of tire feel when there is “control tires” on some of these 2024 shootout bikes. A lot of media outlets sell spots for shootouts but I disagree with selling spots that can affect performance of final results, that’s all. I’ll move this along now…
2024 250 MX Shootout Results:
- Gas Gas
3. Gas Gas
Swap Moto Live:
- Gas Gas
- KTM (5)
- Yamaha (6)
- Gas Gas (11)
- Husqvarna (12)
- Kawasaki (13)
- Honda (16)
- Suzuki (21)
If you’re an avid shootout reader/viewer then this is what you NEED to do! You need to calculate ALL scores from ALL the media brands that put out shootouts and make your own decision. If you put a lot of weight into these damn things then make sure to do some more research and see who the GRAND CHAMPION is! Also, find someone within any given media shootout that you can relate to (if media outlet allows you to get to know their testers). Why go off anyone’s shootout if you’re not allowed to get to know any of the test riders or can’t relate to anyone on the damn thing. I am a big believer in quality down to earth humans (even flawed ones) and I want to get to know someone before I just go believing in what they say. Watch all of these videos and see who you can relate to in riding style, weight, ability, etc. That will also help you narrow down your pick. Just like in racing, you can have a fan in your test riders. There are a lot of great ones to choose from in the motocross media testing world. I know most of these guys and there are a lot of quality guys that will give you the straight scoop, but you will have to be able to relate to them. There are different flavors out there so choose which one hits closest to home for you.
About The Bikes:
As you can see the KTM squeaks out the win out of the three media tests. The KTM is fairly comfortable to ride and I don’t mind seeing it win. Sure the AER fork isn’t that great but it isn’t that bad either. I don’t feel the rigidity of the KTM 250 SX-F like I do on the 450 SX-F so seeing t he KTM win is not a huge surprise. It lacks some torque bu makes up for it in the mid-top end range. The Yamaha is a little stiffer in the chassis for 2024 so I know that has hurt some testers score sheets. Yamaha lost a bit of low end in 24’ and gained a little mid-top but not enough to make it better than the KTM/Husqvarna/Gas Gas/Kawasaki in that area. The Gas Gas is just a cheaper KTM so getting third isn’t a huge surprise, but MXA giving the Husqvarna a second place is a little shocking (especially with the lowered suspension spec). I think the Kawasaki has the most to gain if someone wants to purchase a green machine. The fork is stiff but the engine is really good with great low end power and longer mid to top than a Yamaha. If you can get the suspension re-valved, possibly a new muffler (to get rid of that loud stock piece) to me you have one the best 250s there is in 2024. It’s very well rounded with the engine/chassis feel. Seeing the Honda down near the bottom of the pack is not a surprise but the bike is much better feeling than what it is being perceived as. Yes, the chassis is a little stiffer feeling but nothing like the CRF450R and it corners best in class. The Suzuki engine is a low end monster with a stiff chassis and a super stiff KYB suspension spec. Drop a spring rate on each end and you have a nice feeling motorcycle to have fun on. These results aren’t HUGE surprises in 2024 but you can almost always count on MXA to have a little different opinion than others. Vital and Swap seem to be in line with one another so take that as you will.
What About These Media Outlets:
I can appreciate each one of these outlets and to me as a test rider who has been doing this job for over 20 years there is something I can take away from each one of them. I like that MXA rides there bikes a lot before the shootouts. Or is their shootout results already done before the actual shootout? Is this final test day/control tire video shootout day fluff or are they ranking these bikes over the course of several weeks with the production tires? I’m confused. I have no idea, but nonetheless I like that they ride/race their test bikes. I like that Vital is fairly picky with little nuances of each machine. Michael Lindsay talks a lot but when it comes to breaking down a bike, that always isn’t a bad thing. He is a techy nerd like me so I can appreciate some of his depth at times. I really enjoy “Pit Bits” from SX and that is all Michael. I also appreciate the simplicity of Swap Moto Live’s shootout as not everyone is a techy test geek like myself. I also think it’s cool that Swap puts bigger riders on their test machines as well as ladies which is important too! There are good people in each one of these brands so you can get something from each. There is not just ONE do-it-all testing media outlet. Some may give you the persona that they are the best but in fact there are great values in ALL of the brands out there (and not just the media outlets that we have talked about int this article). There are others out there as well (Cycle News, Dirt Bike, Dirt Rider) that can guide you along your new bike path. When it comes to spending your money, why just go to one outlet. Go to more than a few to make sure you’re spending towards the right color. Shootouts can be fun, but make sure you understand what type of rider you are and what you might be looking for before digesting any of these shootouts. Fifth or sixth place bike could be the bike of your dreams. Just because one outlet says it’s not, doesn’t mean it can’t be the correct choice for you. We over here at Keefer Inc. Testing want you to enjoy the experience of two wheels and help you make correct purchases as well as bring you closer to this whole testing process so we’re here to help. firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to ask questions if you need.