Kawasaki’s KX450F has emerged victorious from our
last two 450cc shootouts—not because it excelled in one
specific category or even that it was the hands-down
winner in any categories, but because it does everything
well across the spectrum. With a couple wins under their
belt, we would expect Kawasaki to relax a little and bask
in the glory—well, that didn’t happen. For 2015, Kawasaki
changed suspension components front and rear. They
didn’t just update; they switched from Kayaba to Showa,
opting for the Showa Triple Air forks up front that are
basically what Ryan Villopoto raced with on his factory
machine in 2014. Kawasaki also added an oversized front
rotor, a new bridge box piston, and changed the styling accents from blue to lime green. The green machine
shaved some weight of the subframe and axles as well.
The KX450F is hands down one of the most adjustable
motorcycles on the market, with four different handlebar
mounting positions and two separate peg mounting positions. Now, add in the adjustability of the Triple Air fork
and the KX450F can be made to fit riders of all shapes
and sizes with a little bit of elbow grease without spending
Adding a 270mm oversized front Braking disc was
noticeable right off the bat and did nothing but good
things for overall braking power.
The 2015 KX450F comes on sooner off bottom with a
little more authority, pulling strong through the midrange.
It might stop making power a little sooner than last year’s,
but that’s okay with us. The Showa Triple Air forks are
better on small consecutive bumps and won’t lose pres-
sure if a fork seal is damaged.
Even though Kawasaki put the KX450F on a diet
for 2015, it still comes in as one of the heavier 450cc
machines in the class, and it definitely stands out in the
class as one of the bigger bikes.
The grips wear out if you even think about riding the
bike, and the chain seems to do the same.
Kawasaki’s rubber-mounted bar mounts tend to get displaced in really minor tip-overs, and it’s time-consuming
to realign the bars with tools that are definitely required.
Having small-diameter bars stock on a 2015 motorcycle
just boggles our mind.
Kawasaki’s KX450F is an all-around good bike; it
doesn’t do anything exceptional, but just like last year’s
model it does everything well. All the additions to the 450
that Kawasaki made for 2015 made it better all around,
except one: we are not fond of the lime green accent
pieces. We would also like to see Kawasaki step up to an
oversized bar; this helps the consumer from having to fork
out loads of dough on replacement handlebars and bar
mounts down the road.
Last year’s champ back
with a vengeance
450 MOTOCROSS SHOOTOUT