KTM’s new flagship is
the 450SX-F, which is
the foundation for the
bike Ryan Dungey used
to win the 2015 Monster
Energy Supercross title.
With the new chassis, the KTM 450 has a new personality. It’s more responsive to small changes in body English.
In some situations, it even seems a little busy, but that
adds to the feeling that it’s very, very light. If you’re a
Honda rider, you’ll love it. If you’re a KTM diehard, you’ll
learn to love it.
Do the differences between the XC-F and the SX-F
make it a different bike? The only noticeable differences
are that the XC feels a little wider in the tank and the suspension is clearly softer. But, the environment makes the
bike feel very, very different. When you have the XC on
a tight trail, you experience a completely different part of
the powerband. The KTM actually has a smooth power
delivery down there. On the trail, you typically ride in a
low-rpm zone that you speed right past on the motocross
track. The bike is still responsive and powerful but less of
a handful than you would expect from a 60-horsepower
motocross motor. Just remember what’s in there and treat
it with respect.
We have a separate story on the 350SX-F motocross
bike in this issue, which we tested on our home turf in
Southern California. The off-road version that we rode in
Crawfordsville is mechanically very similar to the motocross bike, but once again, it seems like a completely different motorcycle when you take it off the track and ride it
in a different way. It turns out the 350 is the perfect size for
off-road racing. It has an extremely smooth, linear power
KTM 450SX-F & 450XC-F
These two bikes are identical aside from the following:
The XC-F is designed for cross-country racing, so it gets
a larger fuel tank ( 2. 25 gallons as opposed to 1.85), and
that tank is made of a translucent material. It also gets a
kickstand, an 18-inch rear wheel, handguards and different
suspension settings. That’s all, folks. No changes in the
gearbox or anything that has to do with performance. Both
bikes were redesigned with weight loss as a very high priority. We weighed the Factory Edition last fall, and it was
a full 10 pounds lighter than the older 450. The 2016 450
might be even lighter, because it doesn’t have a few small
items like the front disc guard and the holeshot device.
There are some other purely cosmetic differences, such as
the frame color, seat and graphics.
The new 450SX-F is every bit as impressive as the
Factory Edition. We might even go so far as to say we like
it better. The fork, in particular, has a little more testing
time on it here in the States, and the U.S. R&D staff came
up with some last-minute changes that make it slightly
softer in its initial movement. The motor is still incredible. It’s wicked fast. There’s a wealth of incredibly deep
midrange power, and it still revs out—at least we think it
does. The KTM revs higher than most 450s and significantly higher than most riders want. The truth is, the bike
handles better when the revs aren’t as high. Engine braking is reduced and throttle control is easier, so keep it in a
tall gear and you’ll go faster, easier, but you can scream it
when you need to.
2016 SX-F & XC-F