tires mounted up, and a black anodized Neken tapered
handlebar is mated with updated handguards and grips.
New fork protectors no longer wrap all the way around and
are said to be better for maintenance and cleaning of the
fork leg (more on that later).
Power: Substantial and very moto-like in growl, feel
and punch. It’s a hill-climbing fool and eats up the long,
power-sucking sand climbs that we have in the California
high desert. The 450XC-F has a good low-to-mid appetite,
yet when most 450s sign off and hit the wall, it snarls and
keeps biting. The gearbox feels wide with a tall first and
second, neither of which is really conducive to tight trail
work. Also, the XC-F suffers from a low-speed cough and
will flame out fairly easily. We added one tooth to the rear
sprocket ( 50 to 51), and this helped just a bit. We also kept
the idle high, a job that is much easier on the larger 44mm
throttle body. The idle adjuster is on the right side and
easily found, whereas the left-side unit on the EXC throttle
body is tucked way up under the tank. A big mod was
bolting on a 12-ounce Stealthy flywheel. This pretty much
cured the cough and flame-outs, gave the bike more meat
at lower throttle openings and made the bike much easier
to ride in tight, ugly terrain. We also
tested an 8-ounce Stealthy fly-
wheel, which wasn’t quite as good in
tight terrain but was a better choice
for the fast desert rider who dabbles
in GPs and moto. It, too, wipes the
majority of the flame-outs off the map.
The last mod we made was bolting on an FMF
aluminum 4. 1 rear system with a spark arrestor.
This change made two big differences. First was
the power. It softened the hit, making it more
controllable and way more manageable.
Second, it quieted down the roar,
which is gnarly. The stock system is
not quiet. Overall, the combo of the
FMF 4. 1, Stealthy 12-ounce flywheel
and the 51-tooth rear sprocket softened the
viscous side of the XC-F and made it fun.
So, besides the excellent snarl to
the powerband, the button start is
remarkable. Kudos also go to the
clutch, which has a decent lever
pull but constant feel via the
Brembo hydraulics. It’s a bit of
a vibrator, and you feel it most
through the bars, though it is also
noticeably buzzy at the seat and
footpegs. Mounted under the sad-
dle (once again, an easy removal
by a single bolt found under the
seat) is a map switch that has three
different modes. The unit has a rub-
ber cover with super-small numbers. If
your eyes are old, you’ll need readers or a
youngster along to make out the digits. Position
The sidestand on the XC-F tucks up nicely and is a boon to
the off-road enthusiast.
This bike really needs a flywheel weight to keep it from
flaming out in tight terrain. We had excellent luck with the
12-ounce Stealthy unit for off-road. For the moto head, an
8-ouncer is the key.