2008 KTM 450SXF
“KTM is the Rodney Dangerfield of American motocross. It gets no respect. In sheer numbers, there are
fewer KTMs on the starting lines than any of the other
‘Big Five’ brands. In the psyche of American riders, KTMs
are offbeat, unusual and different. KTM is rarely the first
choice on the consumer’s wish list. It’s fashionable to
knock KTM in the USA, but we’d like to offer them kudos
instead. The small Austrian factory has managed to build
an engine that is the envy of the industry. It makes the
most power, the broadest power, the highest-revving
power and is incredibly easy to use. Yes, Virginia, KTM
still needs help on its suspension settings, but this bike is
more like Charles Atlas than Rodney Dangerfield.”
WHAT WE LIKED
(1) Hydraulic clutch. Every bike should have a
hydraulic clutch. It takes the hassle out of fluctuating
( 2) Fork guards. KTM’s new wraparound fork guards
are the most protective in the sport.
( 3) Gas cap. Why would KTM put a lock on its gas
cap? You have to push a button before you can turn
the cap. Isn’t that like wearing suspenders to hold up
( 4) Electric starter. Every R&D budget for 2009
should include electric starter technology instead of fuel
injection. Modern bikes run fine with Keihin carbs, but
they don’t always start. The KTM does.
( 5) Power. We are talking about a 2-horsepower gain
at peak, as much as 3 horsepower at 9000 rpm and an
extra horse off idle. This is a 450cc motocross engine that
has gained almost 6 horsepower in three years. Yikes!
On the dyno, it is the most powerful 450 motocross bike
on the showroom floor. Peaking out at 54. 3 horsepower,
the 2008 KTM 450SXF is 2-horsepower stronger than the
CRF450 and four ponies up on the KX450F and YZ450F.
WHAT WE HATED
(1) Black. We love black rims and black forks on other
people’s bikes, but not on ours. They look like they were
blasted by a shotgun after a couple months of racing.
( 2) Hot-start lever. The plastic hot-start lever is prone
( 3) Seat. We’ve never felt comfortable with KTM’s
foam. Your KTM dealer can get you optional saddles in
every size, from thick to thin.
( 4) Tires. We used to think it was cool that KTM
brought back the discontinued Bridgestone M59/M70
tire combo, but the world has moved on. These are good
sneakers, but not great ones.