For the first time in the history of Dirt Rider’s Bike of the Year awards, we have a back-to-back winner! The Honda CRF450R is the Bike of the Year for a second straight year. Honda could easily have left the 2002 CRF alone, and we wouldn’t have sniveled. The ’02 was and is a great bike. The thing is, Honda didn’t leave it alone. It made a raft of minor improvements that made a major difference. Two of our staff’s close riding buddies had ’02 CRFs with all the modifications: suspension mods, triple clamps, pipes and personalized ergonomics. Both claimed the stock ’03 is better than their fully dialed ’02s. But there are lots of machines that were better this year than they were last year. The CRF450R seems to have bridged the gap between two-stroke and four-stroke more fully than any previous four-stroke has. What do Nicky Hayden (and 80 percent of AMA dirt trackers and SuperMotard guys), Jeff Ward, Gary Bailey and Rick Johnson have in common? They’re all riding CRFs, and so, it seems, are half the other riders in the world. When we are at the track testing, it seems fully 50 percent of the bikes being unloaded are CRFs. The CRF is stimulating the sport and the aftermarket, and it is just plain fun to ride and race. That makes it Bike of the Year.Best Off-Road Bikes: KTM 450/525 E/XCWhat can you say about bikes that have such a great reputation that you have to have industry connections to buy one at retail? Most dealers have a waiting list for both models, and both are difficult to find even used. We understand completely. The E/XC strokers are potent, quiet, legal, comfortable, reliable, fun and effective in addition to being marvelously well-equipped in stock form. Their six-speed, wide-ratio transmissions provide a rock-crawling first gear with a sixth that allows an honest 100 mph on top for the 525. These bikes are scary-fast on a dry lake! You could race anywhere in the world without changing a sprocket. They kickstart effortlessly as well; not that many owners will ever find out since they have the magic-button option. We love these bikes, but that just makes us one of the crowd.Best-Kept Secret in Motocross: KTM 200 SXWhy would KTM build a motocross bike without a class? Because KTM got where it is today by going after sections of the off-road market that others were ignoring. The Austrian company could have simply thrown a 200 M/XC engine in a 125 SX chassis and called it good, but it fully developed the 200 engine for moto. It even gave the 200 the latest bodywork and airbox the far-better-selling 125 didn’t get. KTM imported less than one bike per dealer, and the 200 SXs were all sold before they hit dealer floors. That means the entire lot was sold before anyone ever saw one. Let’s see. Why would anyone want a 210-pound bike that handles like a 125 with most of the power of a 250? What a mystery.Most Serious Midsize Entry-Level Bikes: Honda CRF150F…Finally, a production off-road bike that fits smaller riders yet is made to be ridden like a serious motorcycle. It has a robust frame, an aluminum swingarm, aluminum rims, a decent-sized fork and brakes that were found on a serious 250cc off-road motorcycle a decade ago. It also has the largest displacement in the class, the stoutest transmission and more than nine inches of travel. It could use a diet, but it has the most performance potential in the class. With virtually all the major manufacturers scrapping over the under-150cc class, there has been a void in the next step up the displacement ladder. The offerings amounted to the 15-year-old Honda XR200 or the born-antiquated Yamaha TT-R225. Honda’s CRF230F has vastly upgraded handling and suspension compared to the XR200R, but Big Red kept the seat height nearly the same and added electric starting. All that and both CRF-Fs are green-sticker-legal for year-round fun anywhere.The Small Person’s Torque Monster: Gas Gas PamperaVertically challenged riders don’t have a lot of choices, but one of the most unusual is the Spanish two-stroke dual-sport Pampera (too bad it’s not street-legal in the U.S.). Gas Gas took the lightweight chassis from its 50cc enduro and shoehorned in a 280cc trials engine. It has more torque than equivalent four-strokes, a low seat height and ultraplush but soft suspension. Are you a little person who likes big power?Best Deal in Dirt Bikes: Kawasaki KDX200For the umpteenth year in a row, the Kawasaki KDX200 is the best dollar value in the sport. It also leads the pack on the performance-per-decibel scale. Sure, this model is approaching its first decade, but it is still a totally viable trail or competition machine for $3999! That’s half the price of some new four-strokes and $250 less than 1996 when the current incarnation was introduced! Fully equipped and more fun than a joke shop, the KDX is a great bike and a great buy.Best Gift for Kids of All Ages: Honda XR50RHas Honda milked this engine or what! It hasn’t changed significantly since the Age of Aquarius. It remains the best-selling motorcycle model of all time, and now kids of all ages and sizes are loony for them. Whether the XR50R is a stocker or a megabuck toy like this Fast 50s item, it’s like 1969 all over again.Best 250cc Two-Stroke Motocrosser: Yamaha YZ250We are even further from our 250cc-class MX shootout than we are from the 125cc shootout, and the YZ250 is still a favorite among our staff. We’d all be willing to supply a loving home to the blue bike. It has held up well, and the motor still rocks!Best Dual-Sport: Kawasaki KLX400/Suzuki DR-Z400SWith the sharing agreement between Kawasaki and Suzuki, these are basically the same bike. So both are excellent machines with a six-speed transmission that makes them adept on and off the pavement. Both have suspension identical to the full-race off-road version’s. We actually raced a nearly stock DR-Z400S at the 2001 Elsinore Grand Prix. Now that’s a dual-sport bike we can appreciate.Best 125cc Two-Stroke Motocrosser: Yamaha YZ125Sometimes our opinions of motocross shootout winners change as we live with the bikes and more of the “new” rubs off, but not this year. We wanted to give the YZ125 the kudos it deserves without it having to stand in the shadow of its four-stroke sibling. Our youngest and lightest riders aren’t bashful; they give the YZ125 their undying support.Best 125cc-Class Motocrosser: Yamaha YZ250FWe are a couple of months removed from our 125cc-class motocross shootout and have tested aftermarket hop-up parts for all the two-strokes, but we still believe in the YZ250F. It may not be for every rider yet and our lightest riders still prefer the two-strokes, but if you can shrug off the 10 to 15 pounds, then the YZ250F rocks.Best News in Off-Road: Yamaha WR250/450FYeah, we know. We haven’t even ridden these bikes, but it doesn’t matter. Serious new off-road models from the Big Four have grown pretty rare. The very fact that Yamaha continues to upgrade and update the WR lineup is great for off-road. We wish they were green-sticker-legal, but hope springs eternal.