Front line: The fork offset has been changed at the
front axle, which has been downsized by 5mm.
Rush: Orange anodizing is everywhere on the
Factory Edition III. Plus every bike is numbered
from 1 to 699. MXA’s test bike was number 11.
on the Factory Edition III, even though it comes with three maps.
The cross brace (under the frame where the linkage attaches) is
made from a forged part; it was a tube with welded brackets last
Cosmetic bling. The blue graphics kit is a Factory Edition
exclusive. If you want to buy the Factory Edition graphics, you
have to provide your bike’s VIN number to your local dealer. High
on the bling scale are the orange triple clamps, fork guards, sprockets, radiator louvers, frame guards and powder-coated frame. Plus,
additional attention is directed at the blue Selle Dalla Valle seat
cover, white shock spring, black front-brake rotor guard and numbered head tube badge.
Q: WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 4CS
A: From a business standpoint, shootout perspective and con-sumer-confidence builder, a lot is riding on the WP 4CS forks. WP,
which is owned by KTM, has been KTM’s worst supplier. If Konig,
the piston manufacturer for the 450SXF, had delivered pistons with
the subpar performance of WP’s bladder fork, we are positive that
Konig would have lost the contract. Not so with WP—they have
been protected by the umbrella of corporate
ownership. They are the U.S. Postal Service of motorcycle
suspension suppliers—able to get away with poor performance
because of a sugar-daddy monopoly.
Consumer criticism forced KTM to act. Unlike the Japanese manufacturers who can switch to Kayaba if they are unhappy with
Showa (or vice versa), KTM could not speed-dial Kayaba, Showa,
Marzochhi, Paioli, Solva or Ohlins to get help. Why not? All outgoing calls were redirected to brother-in-arms WP. It was good for
business to use the company-owned brand, but it was also bad for
business because the company-owned brand was second-rate.
Which leads us to the solution to KTM’s dilemma. Being forced
to use WP didn’t mean that KTM had to stick with the ill-fated WP
bladder fork. By planning—and a small amount of happenstance—
WP had a totally new fork in the works. And the phrase “in the
works” is apropos for this situation. The WP 4CS forks
had been under development for several years. It was pegged as
the eventual successor to the bladder forks, but progress was
glacial at WP. The 4CS was limited to KTM cross-country bikes and
Husabergs, but it was the future. And, the future is now.
Q: HOW GOOD ARE THE 4CS FORKS?
A: The 4CS forks are twice as good as the old bladder forks.
Unlike the WP bladder forks, which are under-damped and too fast
in the midstroke on both compression and rebound, the 4CS forks
have true-to-life damping control. Plus, the 4CS is not
overpowered by stiff fork springs compensating for a lack of
hydraulic control on compression.
In back-to-back tests, with new bladder forks and new 4CS forks,
every test rider said the 4CS was superior in every way.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES THE FACTORY EDITION COST?
A: $9899 (approximately $1000 more than a 2014 KTM
450SXF). From a practical point of view, there is more than $1000
worth of improvements on the Factory Edition III. But, the 4CS
fork, longer shock, revised shock linkage, forged cross-brace tube,
smaller front axle, 2mm offset change, Geomax MX52 tires and
weight savings will all come standard on the 2015 KTM 450SXF.
From an emotional point of view, the 2014 KTM 450SXF Factory
Edition III is a beautiful machine and is available now—the 2015
KTM 450SXF isn’t here yet.
Divided nation: The compression adjuster and
rebound clicker have their own individual fork
caps. It’s easier than kneeling in the dirt.
2014 KTM 450SXF