APEX 450MX ($13,000)
If you’re a racer, you probably already know all about Apex. The Arizona-based company first made its name with custom mini racers. Now Apex has branched out into full-size quads built on a to-order basis. The 450 version uses a carbureted, five-valve Yamaha YZ450F motorcycle engine, so there’s no reverse or electric start. It’s built in full-race trim with nerf bars and DWT wheels.

APEX 250MX ($12,000)
This machine is an unfair advantage in 250cc quad racing. It uses a motor from the Yamaha YZ250F motocross bike, which makes the engines of other 250-class quads look like bilge pumps. The Apex is in a race-ready chassis with nerf bars and premium tires. The price is steep, but it’s cheaper than building something similar yourself. Also available in cross-country trim.

ARCTIC CAT DVX300 ($4299)
Arctic Cat’s sporty 300 has a modest, 270cc, liquid-cooled motor with an equally modest CV transmission. The motor is similar to that of the 4×2 Arctic Cat 300, but it uses a chain final drive instead of a shaft. The suspension also produces a little more travel out of its single rear shock and double front A-arms. The Arctic Cat DVX isn’t a racer, but it’s no slouch, either.

CAN-AM DS450X mx ($9699)
The X mx is an out-of-the-box racer ready for motocross. It has the Rotax EFI DOHC 450 powerplant at its core, but it’s surrounded with racing hardware. The hollow rear axle is adjustable, and the front stance is 50 inches wide. It comes with Fox Float X Evol front shocks and a Fox Podium in the rear. Nerf bars, ITP wheels and Quadcross tires all come standard. If you tried to build it yourself, you’d pay much more.

CAN-AM DS450X xc ($8999)
If you’re inclined to line up in a cross-country race next to Jarrod McClure and the gang, Can-Am has the only machine that is set up with all the right stuff. The X xc version is a DS450 in a 46-inch width that comes in racing trim. It has a hollow-axle, beadlock ITP wheels, premium KYB shocks, an aluminum bumper and nerf bars, all standard. The X xc is still EPA-legal for trail use.

CAN-AM DS450 ($7799)
If you want to go fast in the dirt but don’t especially want to line up with a bunch of questionable yahoos in an officially sanctioned race, the base-model Can-Am DS450 might be what you’re after. It has the same electric-start DOHC EFI motor as the two more race-oriented DS versions, but without all of the extra parts and the extra price. It comes in trail-width (46 inches), spun-aluminum wheels and ITP tires.

CAN-AM DS250 ($4049)
You don’t have to be an expert for Can-Am’s 250 sport quad, but you can become one on it. It has automatic clutching and shifting with its CV transmission. It also has electric start with a back-up kickstart lever, reverse and full floorboards. The throttle has an adjustable throttle stop to allow a safe learning period. The front suspension has double A-arms and shocks with adjustable preload.

HONDA TRX450R ($7799)
Some time ago we reported on a new, fuel-injected TRX450R that was right around the corner. Honda has such a machine in the back room but doesn’t see the need for it yet. The carbureted TRX is still winning races and selling reasonably well. The best part is that the price is holding at the same level, and a new machine would cost considerably more. The bottom line is that the existing 450 is still great.

This ATV gets a lot of credit for changing the landscape of our sport 15 years ago and deserves it. The X is a general-purpose sport ATV that is just as good today as it was in 1999—better, in fact, now that it has reverse and the results of gradual evolution. The X isn’t a racer, but it makes enough power and handles well enough to play one on television.

Before the TRX250X came on the scene in 2001, virtually all sport quads were based on some sort of motorcycle-type engine. The X (then called the EX), on the other hand, was based on a pure ATV concept with a longitudinal crankshaft and driveshaft. After all this time, the 250X (actually 229cc) is still unique. It has a five-speed gearbox with reverse and a clutch that can be used manually or automatically.

KAWASAKI KFX450R ($8299)
Kawasaki continues to offer the only high-performance sport 450 with reverse. The KFX450R is based loosely on the KX450F that Ryan Villopoto used to win virtually everything in the motorcycle world in 2013, and it comes in an aluminum chassis that, in stock form, is set up in a narrow configuration that’ suitable for cross-country. The widening process for MX is fairly easy but requires help from the aftermarket.

KYMCO MONGOOSE 300 ($3849)
As long as you’re clear that the Mongoose isn’t a motocross racer, you’ll be happy. It’s a good transition machine for beginners, and it’s capable of going fast in the hands of an expert. There’s no clutch and no shifter, just a CV transmission with reverse. The Mongoose is built on a platform similar to the MXU 300 but has a chain final drive instead of a shaft.

The Phoenix is one of those secret best sellers that never takes the spotlight. There are zillions of them out there with an eternal 196cc four-stroke motor and electric start. One of the secrets to its success is its CV transmission with reverse, and the fact that it’s rated Y-14 for 14-year-old kids doesn’t hurt. The chassis of the Phoenix is decent, with double A-arms in front and 6.5 inches of travel in the rear.

SUZUKI Z400 ($7149)
This sport Suzuki has a great heritage. When it first arrived, it was the first four-stroke ATV to win a national motocross championship. Now, it remains in the Suzuki lineup where flashier sport models have come and gone. The reason it has such eternal staying power is because it was done right in the first place. Today, it has fuel injection, electric start and reverse.

YAMAHA RAPTOR 700 ($7699)
There’s nothing quite like the Raptor 700. Other manufacturers have tried to copy its formula to no avail; the Yamaha remains the king of the sport jungle. The big four-stroke motor is linked to a manual five-speed transmission and long-travel single-shock rear suspension, EFI, reverse and electric start. The R version has upgraded styling and suspension for $8799, and the SE comes in white for $8799.


YAMAHA YFZ450R ($8799)
This year the YFZ450R received new ECU settings, the compression ratio was increased, and it got a new throttle body and muffler. On top of all that, the new slipper-style clutch has a lighter pull and effectively reduces engine braking. The suspension was reconfigured, and it got new bodywork. As it stands, the YFZ450R is the best production racer available. The SE version offers a cool look for $8999.