For 2014, the list of official changes is one item: new
grips. Kawasaki also conceded to give each buyer an air
pump to set the fork pressure. If you ask your dealer nicely,
he might also give you one for your 2013 model.
WHY WE LOVE IT
Mark Tilley grabbed our 2013 KX450F and hid it in his
bedroom. It became the one test bike he wouldn’t share.
But, whenever he was out of town, other staffers would
break into his house and ride the wheels off it. Everyone
loved it. As it has been from the start, the KX motor is
incredible. It’s a powerful bike, and if it weren’t for the
KTM, it might have the record for fastest 450. It feels the
part too. The Kawasaki has always been fast, but the powerband has been softer in some years than others. Now it
has arrived at a happy medium. It is hard-hitting enough to
be fun, but offers just enough modulation to be effective.
After a year on the 2013 model, Mark prefers the power
delivery provided by the black plug, which is smoother at
the very bottom.
One of the trademarks of the current KX is its nearly perfect fuel injection. It starts more easily than other kickstart
450s, and it runs super clean. Kawasakis never had any of
the erratic throttle response that plagued other EFI bikes.
They never had a tendency to cough and die, sputter or
backfire, either. The fuel-injected Kawasakis ran flawlessly.
If there’s any one trait that has kept the Kawasaki on top,
it’s the way it accepted fuel injection.
In 2013, both Honda and Kawasaki took a risk to supply
their 450s with KYB air forks. So far
so good. We love the performance.
The Kawasaki front end works well
for everyone and can go from one
extreme to another in a way that
no coil spring fork
could. With 34
pounds of air,
it can handle
most big jumps and hard hits.
With 32 pounds, it’s a trail bike.
You simply have to learn a new
routine. The pressure must be
set prior to each ride, with the
fork cold and the front wheel
off the ground. It’s not a particularly easy process, but once
you download the new habit,
it becomes natural. For some
riders, the added maintenance
might not be worth it. If you ride
the same track and the same
conditions from week to week,
you might not care for air. But,
if you vary your riding routine,
you’ll become a believer.
The KX’s rear end has to be
considered a strong point too. It
Cornering the Kawasaki
takes a little effort. It’s a
big, powerful machine.