KTM shelved the powerful, dual-overhead-cam, carbureted 450 in favor of a new engine that is more compact,
has fewer spinning parts and is fuel injected. And, once
again, this machine is not shy! The only machine in the
shootout with a button start, the 450SXF is potent, smooth
and fast. With its bulge bar, side-access air filter, adjustable
top triple clamp, incredible brakes and the softest voice of
any of the shootout contestants, the KTM screams rideabil-ity, versatility and speed.
The button: big strength! The power: big strength! The
tractability: big strength! And that’s the SXF in a nutshell.
The engine puts power down in a smooth, flowing fashion.
This machine has excellent ergonomics and the only
hydraulic clutch. The tranny is smooth, and the brakes are
Supercross-ready. This year, the handling has improved
mainly through cornering. Now it hunts for and holds just
about any line in, through and out of the corner. We love
the Renthal grips—they are the best in the shootout—and
the multi-position bar perches.
While we praise the button start, the KTM could stand
to loose a couple of pounds. At 241 pounds, it’s 9
pounds heavier than the CRF—and you can feel it! Also,
we never really came to embrace the suspension. The
KTM feels soft, harsh and stiff—all at the same time.
When we tried to stiffen the fork, it just transmitted more
to our arms. When we backed off, it wallowed. Out
back, the stock setting was soft. Setting the preload
with the plastic spring ring is not a smiler. It did, however, respond to damping changes that held up the rear
end under duress.
CUT TO THE CHASE
The KTM 450SXF sits in the middle. It has a superb
engine and is easy to ride. It’s a good handler.
Unfortunately, the suspension isn’t dreamy, and like
everyone but the Honda, the KTM could stand to back
away from the “dessert” bar.
KTM 450SXF KTM 450SXF
The powerhouse, again!
HEAVYWEIGHT MOTOCROSS FACE-OFF