2012 KTM 450SXF. Although the switch to fuel injection added about 5 pounds, KTM saved weight with its single-overhead-cam engine and die-cast cases. The KTM 450SXF blew a 112. 4 dB level in our two- meter-max test. This is way below the 115 dB require- ment. It should be noted that there is a restrictor cone (made out of perf core) inside the stock muffler that accounts for some of the sound reduction. As a test, we bolted a two-meter-max-legal aftermarket exhaust system onto the 2013 KTM 450SXF and reached 60 horsepower on the dyno. That means that with oxygenated MR- 12 VP fuel and an aftermarket pipe, this bike could pump out close to 63 horsepower. Q: WHAT DID WE HATE? A: The hate list: (1) Exhaust pipe. Unlike with the new KTM 250SXF and 350SXF engines, you can’t remove the stock exhaust system without removing the shock from the bike—and even then it is a wrestling match. Thankfully, aftermarket pipes have separate mid-pipes that eliminate this hassle. ( 2) Shock preload ring. We hate it with a passion. We wish we could hit it with a hammer, but if we did, it would get deformed. ( 3) Gearing. Gear it down to perk it up. ( 4) Seat foam. It is too soft when it breaks in. ( 5) Weight. It is lighter than last year, but it is still too heavy. ( 6) Front fender. I-beams are perfect for holding up the roofs of warehouses, but does a front fender really need to meet local building codes? ( 7) Torx bolts. We get tired of complaining about KTM’s oddball mix of 13mm hex heads, Torx sprocket bolts and wood screws. But, we’d like to see 12mm hex an Air4orce air boot when we were making our own parts, so check with them before hacking two air boots apart. The modified air boot improved fuel velocity, which could be felt as improved throttle response in the low-to-mid transition. Q: DOES THE KTM 450SXF HAVE ADJUSTABLE MAPS? A: Yes and no. Yes, you can reprogram the 450SXF if you have access to KTM’s proprietary map tools. No, there are no built-in maps in the ignition (as with the 250SXF and 350SXF). Q: HOW DOES THE 2013 450SXF HANDLE? A: We love this bike. It is amazingly accurate; it doesn’t lean toward oversteer or understeer, but walks a very fine line between them. Most MXA test riders believe that KTM’s engineers have found the numbers that produce the best all-around handling package. It doesn’t turn as sharply as a Suzuki, but it doesn't shake at speed either. It isn’t as stable as the Yamaha at speed, but it doesn’t feel loose on the entrance of turns. It is almost perfect. The caveat is that you have to get the chassis balanced by fiddling with the fork height and race sag. Small adjust- ments to either end change the head angle, weight bias and feel of the bike. Once it’s in the window, it becomes an awesome point-and-go bike; no steering required. Q: WHAT ABOUT WEIGHT AND SOUND? A: At 240 pounds, it is 3 pounds lighter than the
Chamber of secrets: MXA’s handmade air boot (bottom) adds
more midrange to the powerband. The stock boot is above it.
Pucker up: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki need to
buy a KTM to find out what real braking power is like.