What it didn’t offer in the past was workmanlike forks.
For 2015, the switch from the horrendous WP bladder
forks to the new 4CS fork brings new life to the orange
It might sound unbelievable, but almost everything on
the 2015 KTM 450SXF is good. Not just good, but
better than what the “Big Four” have to offer. The fly in
the ointment is that the 4CS forks need a little more
development time to find plusher settings for the typical
KTM buyer. For now, the MXA wrecking crew lowers
the stock oil height by 10mm.
The MXA wrecking crew has a few pet peeves, but
they are limited to the misplaced shift lever, gummy
nylon shock preload ring and the black frame guards
covering up the orange frame. We could complain about
the weight, but even with a battery and electric starter,
this isn’t the heaviest bike in the 450 class.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
The KTM 450SXF is the Rolls-Royce of the 450 class.
is building a
paradox of a
machine in the
point of view,
the YZ450F is
on the cutting
opment. By playing fast and loose with the dynamics of
a four-stroke engine, Yamaha has harnessed the rotating
mass of the pistons, cams and valves to work in favor
of the rider. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum,
Yamaha’s suspension is old-school throwback stuff. It
dates back to 2006—and is overshadowed by the buzz
about the new-generation air forks.
What you might find surprising is that Yamaha’s
science-experiment engine produces the most horsepower
in the 450 class, and its ancient, coil-spring, SSS
suspension is leaps and bounds better than the current
PSF- 2 and TAC air variety.
The YZ450F is the most reliable motorcycle made. The
SSS suspension is incredible; you can race it in stock
trim. Yamaha’s powerband is broad, full-bodied and blazingly fast. Thanks to the Playstation-like GYTR Power
Tuner, reprogramming the YZ450F is no tougher than a
game of Pong.
We don’t like the Dzus fasteners, the weak sister
clutch, the width of the radiator wings or the marginal
braking power. But, most of all, we are confused by a
company that lightens the rotating mass of the engine
while adding mass to every other part of the bike. That’s
WHAT DO WE THINK?
This is the perfect bike for a racer who doesn’t want
to work on his suspension, hop-up his engine or worry
easy to ride.
much horsepower in the lower and middle ranges of the
powerband, it is very pleasant at moderate speeds. But, if
you want to go fast, you aren’t going to achieve this by
riding around at 10,000 rpm. No siree! Going fast means
holding it wide open. The best power is found between
11,000 rpm and 13,400 rpm (with peak power neatly
located at 12,600 rpm). That is way up there.
If you don’t rev it, you might as well not ride it.
It is a great engine—if your mindset is to ride it hard
and put it away wet. This is surprising, because many
350SXF riders like the engine because it is so easy to
ride in the midrange. No mystery here; it is easy to ride
in the midrange because it’s slow in the midrange.
We can’t go without mentioning the awesome brakes,
superb handling, convenient electric start, bulletproof
clutch and impeccable shifting.
The MXA crew has a list of things that we would
change if we held the purse strings. The 350SXF is 10
pounds too heavy for a mid-size Open bike. The 4CS
forks are an improvement, but they have too much oil
in them. We hate the nylon shock preload ring. The
black frame guards make the new orange frame a
WHAT DO WE THINK?
For Vet riders and play racers stuck in no man’s land
between a 250 and 450, this is the solution. ❏