CR, KX, YZ, RM, KTM reliability opinions


Mod Ban
Nov 17, 2002
Hello everyone....First off let me say that I'm not brand loyal and I like all bikes but I would much rather have the best one for me...I'm thinking of getting a new motocross bike and I wanted to get an UNbiased opinions on quality and reliability from those of you that have experience with these bikes...What kind of problems have you experienced (other than flat tires, bent handlebars, ect...)
I'm thinking about getting back into the sport but it's been 10 years, I was a 125/250 intermediate here in TX and since I've raced last and I'm wondering if anything has changed in quality rankings....I used to race kawasaki's and while the motor ran good nothing seemd to hold up well...Bolts would constantly snap on their own, bolts constantly loosening, leaky fork seals, and lots of other things...The soft rubber transmission oil cap would twist off leaving the body of the cap in the hole...This happened on every kx and my last kx was in 1988....I take meticulous care of my bikes but a lot of little things went wrong with the kx's I've owned...I went to the Honda/kawasaki shop the other day to look at the 03' kx's and noticed that they still uses soft rubber for the Transmission oil cap...It's 2003....They used the same soft rubber in the 1980's?
I switched to Honda's for the next four years and not one problem..I practiced hard 3 days a week and raced two or three different classes every sunday(4 to 6 motos) and after a full year of hard racing they still felt tight and fresh(with meticulous manteniance).Although the motor was great the handling left a lot to be desired, especially my last bikes 92 cr125 and cr250(massive headshake)...
Well, what's the consensus these days? KTM? Back then in reliablity seemed to be 1. Honda, 2. Yamaha, 3.Kawasaki, 4. Suzuki
Is it still this way? I have to admit that the Honda's do have a visible quality look to them (ktm's look nice too) but I know this doesn't always mean everything...It just seems that everyone I've talked to seems to say these things, especially those with a lot of experience...A guy I've known for 15 years that works at the same Honda/kawasaki dealership said "if you don't get a honda I can't feel confident selling you a kawasaki...You'd be better off getting a Yamaha..." He said that and he works at a kawasaki dealership...I thought he was kidding and for sure the quality would have improved over that much time...He said "I see the bikes that come in for repairs and I know what they have done to them...Stay away from Kawasaki and Suzuki"...
What's your take? Unbiased opinions please...I'm not flaming here...I just don't want to end up spending a lot of money on a bike only to have problems...I know something can always go wrong with any bike but I want to go with a brand that has better odds for reliability...


May 21, 2001
Nice to have another new member. Let me try to see if I can answer your question. First off, a lot of things have changed. No more hair bands from the 80's is probably the biggest difference. Many people would argue that the big 5 are all equal in quality these days. They think that suzuki has made bikes that wear just as well and last just as long as any Honda. Unfortunately, I'm not of that opinon. From my personal experience, the Suzuki's aren't reliable. I have two friends with late model suzuki's, and they've had nothing but problems. They're both very good mechanics, so they know how to take care of a bike. I've seen their suzuki's destroy countless fork seals, break cables, and even kill a cylinder. I've got a Honda and it has been problem free for me. It's been amazingly easy to maintain. I don't have any personal experience with Yamaha, Kawasaki or KTM, but they're generally thought to be pretty good bikes. Obiviously KTM has an advantage because they come equipped with higher quality parts (Oversized bars, etc). Kawasaki seems to have changed their old habits, and their new bikes are very well made (although people still think that kawasaki bikes are poorly made). Yamaha consistently makes pretty good bikes. So what does that mean? If you're a little tight in the budget and want real reliability, get a Honda. If you want a fairly reliable expensive very fast bike, get a KTM. Does that help at all?


Oct 7, 2002
Dude get a KX or a YZ if you want to Win. The RM is good this year as well. Honda's are all cosmetic. My nephew races KTM's I like them but there is allot of work to get them right.

Glad to hear you want to race after 10 years. That rocks. I did the same thing, I started this summer once again. It's been like 15 years since I placed at any race.

Joined the USMC was gone for 6 years, got back started a company and now that I have some freedoms from work I am hitting the tracks once again.

Keep the spirit and dont ever lose it. Race til the day you die is my goal.

My best bike tip for 03 is, and damn I hate to say it, is get any of the RM's they're hot and ready to go win races.


Apr 10, 2002
its not the bike its the rider, the rider is what makes the bike fast, all bikes have different fundamental's like handling,power,ergo's,and suspension, those can all be dialed in, i am a yamaha fan however, its just how the rider rides and takes care of the bike


Dr. Feel Good
Jun 15, 2001

Looks like you answered your own question. Why not just get a Honda? YOU seem to think they're best. Just get one, lol.

motox mayhem

Nov 15, 2002
my cousin puchased the 2003 kx 125 and all i can say is wow lots of power if you wanto win get one of those,oh i almost fergot he has had it for over a month put over 60 hours on it and has had to do nothing but one thing that gets me is that my pro mod yz125 will waste it in a drag

2002 xr250 many enduro mods
2001crf450 mods
1991yz125 lots and lots of mods


Nov 17, 2001
Personally, I see it a bit different. I think the new bikes are incredible. They are much more even (and damn near the same) compared to 80's technology. The 80' had some major different design ideas. Not so much anymore.

I would choose a Honda or Yamahs just because there are so many shops in my area selling those brands. I hate being forced to deal with a crappy shop because they are the only ones selling brand X bikes. Obviously, if I had a great Suzuki shop down the street, I would go with them. I dont.

Tom Dixon

Farmer Tom = Face Planter
Mi. Trail Riders
Nov 15, 2001
I know people that own all of these bikes and they are all the same. Pretty much now-a-days it is all in prefference (sp) of the motor and egos, and if you don't like the suspension, then that can be changed.


Mi. Trail Riders
Jan 16, 2002
Hey Whitesand - you said "Well, what's the consensus these days? KTM? Back then in reliablity seemed to be 1. Honda, 2. Yamaha, 3.Kawasaki, 4. Suzuki". IMHO the only thing that has changed is KTM now in 1st place for certain models! The rest of your summation is 100% correct. I have owned at least 2 of each one of these bikes in the last 5 years (I buy and sell used bikes) and been "inside" each for repairs in the process. KTM is definitly highest in quality but I dont believe they as a company have the resources to do huge R&D like Yamaha and Honda (I purposely put Yam first cause they ALWAYS come out with the good stuff first (are you listening HOnda??? - GET OFF YOUR BUTTS IF YOU WANNA REMAIN 1ST JAP). I think if it werent for Yam Honda would not have the mighty CRF today!!!
I am currently riding a Kaw and not much has changed in that area. As an example I recently rebuilt the KIPS and what a joke! Guess what the little drive gears are made out of - ALUMINUM!! 1500 miles and the KDX is showing major wear on the drive gears/sub valves. For crying out loud they (KAW) was smart enough to use steel for the valve rack but the big $$ parts are high wear alum (its almost like they knew I would be back for parts hahahaha). I have had noting but problems with recent rm's in the clutch basket area's and tranny's. Extreme wear in the aluminum baskets to the point of wondering whether or not there may be some lead in the alloy or somthing. That and Susy's are still "CHEAP" in their detail (mold marks ect..).
I really think you still have a good handle on the way things are Whitesands.
Just my opinion!
Course as far as which is fastest/going to win races I too think that is rider dependent!!


Damn Yankees
Aug 17, 2001
Almost all of my bikes have been Honda, and I was always very satisfied with the dependability and engineering, ergos.

The bike I own now is an '01 Suzuki rm250. Without the proper race gas, it ran really rough. After siezing it I had it replated with some mild head mods. It runs very well now. Oh yea, I paid at least 20% less out the door than I would have for a Honda or Yamaha. I use it for woods.

The headshake was bad, but raising the forks helped to where it has all but disappeared.

I plan on having the forks redone for woods since they are still very harsh. I had a few headaches in the beginning, but knock on wood, it has been fairly dependable. I like it, and plan on keeping it.

I have a bud with a 98(?) KTM mxc380, he does very little in the way of maintenence, but the bike still seems to hold together very well. It Is a screamer, then again, he is a pretty good rider.

It seems as though the kaw guys are usually the ones that have to stop and fix little things (Shifter fell off, etc) but maybe they aren't checking their bikes out before they ride.

With all that said, my choices would be:

1 Honda
2 KTM or Yamaha
3 Kaw, Suzuki

A friend of mine recently bought a 125 ATK, which I have never heard of before. He was told it is more or less a haresrcambles bike, and after seeing and riding it, I have to say it is.

Assembled in USA
Comes in 250 version for about 5,000, which is almost a grand less than what you would pay for a Honda around here.

It came with a lot of goodies.
Heavy Spokes
3 gallon tank (Rad Shrouds are part of the fuel tank)
Hand slots under the seat (not that we ever have to pick our bikes up or drag them out of crashsites :thumb: )
Talon Hubs.
Renthal bars.
Optional light/dualsport kit available.
One shock, mounted directly to the swingarm, no linkage. Hand adjustable.
Not a bad package overall. although I have never heard of atk until now and can't comment on longterm reliability.

If I were shopping for a new woodsbike, I would try to check them out. Just seems like a very well thought out design for a good price. You can see pics of it if you click on the link of my sig line.

Happy Hunting.

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Hot Sauce
Oct 28, 2001
I have a Kawi and today i broke the oil fill plug :eek: The bike has worked great for me though, i ride about 4 times a month and this is the 1st time i had too pack up early because of the bike..

From what i've heard, the Honda's stay together, and the KTM's are expensive too maintain..

Good luck on you're selection..

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