low rpm. When the KTM signs off on top, it’s done. There’s
no squeaking out a few more revs. You could very well
assume that it isn’t far removed from its off-road heritage.
Then comes reality. When you get beside another 450,
it’s clear that the KTM compares very well. It’s actually a
holeshot machine, and dyno runs show that it’s right on
target with much faster-feeling bikes, like the Kawasaki
KX450F and the Suzuki RM-Z450. It turns out that the
KTM is so smooth that it disguises the fact that it’s a
mauler. We shouldn’t have been surprised. The last 450SX
was like that too. But the big difference between this bike
and that one is its feeling of willingness. The new 450 revs
quickly and easily. It actually feels like a much smaller bike.
That extends to its overall handling too. The bike feels
much lighter than its predecessor. For that matter, it feels
lighter than a Suzuki, Yamaha or Kawasaki too. We’re not
talking about just the 5 or 6 pounds that register on the
scale, either. The KTM feels like it has 10 or 15 pounds on
its classmates. All that tech talk about less gyroscopic
effect is absolutely true. Of all the 450s, only the Honda
feels significantly lighter. The scale shows as much, but as
a side note, the Honda is the only other single-cam four-stroke. We detect a pattern here.
In turns, that lightweight feeling gives the KTM a big advantage. You feel like you can throw it down and have your way
with it. It sticks in ruts, and the steering is very neutral. In the
past, many KTM motocross bikes had a feeling of nervousness in turns, making it hard to pick a line and follow through.
The American press—that’s us—always said the bikes felt
stink-buggy, and that led the factory to come up with different
suspension specs for the U.S. models. Our bikes get shorter
shocks and stiffer fork valving. We consider it a big improvement. How can Euro riders come up with such different test
results? It must be that infernal metric system.
In corners, the KTM is more secure than ever. Broc
Shoemaker shows what happens to naughty berms.
The SX is
The screw-on gas
cap is a welcome