2012 KTM 450SXF
“The fact that the KTM 450SXF is relatively unchanged
for 2012 might seem like a deal-breaker, but since most
of its competitors are changed even less, the big Katoom
doesn’t suffer by comparison. As the winner of the 2010
and 2011 450 shootouts, the 2012 KTM 450SXF has a
high-class pedigree. This is a very good bike—better than
three of the four Japanese-made 450s.”
WHAT WE LIKED
(1) Rear brake seals. On past Brembo rear brakes,
the seals inside the rear master cylinder could get
nicked at extremes of pedal travel. For 2012 Brembo
repositioned the brake bleed hole so that it doesn’t
touch either seal.
( 2) White plastic. The airbox and side number plates
are now white instead of black, which means that you
don’t need white backgrounds to put numbers on the 350
or 450—although 250 riders will need black backgrounds.
( 3) Handling. Is it better than a Suzuki, Kawasaki,
Honda or Yamaha? Yes. It is significantly better than the
Honda, Yamaha or Kawasaki, but only better than the
Suzuki in that it’s more versatile—the RM-Z450 is tuned
to corner like a banshee and little else.
( 4) Powerband. No powerband can be perfect for
every rider, but the KTM 450SXF produces the best
overall spread of power. It delivers something for everybody—from slow to fast.
( 5) Clutch. Instead of six separate coil springs to
provide tension, the 2012 KTM clutch uses one large
cupped washer (called a Belleville washer) to provide
the tension. This is a bulletproof clutch that will last a
rider a lifetime. Better yet, clutch abusers will get it to
last longer than any other clutch on the market.
( 6) Keihin versus EFI. History has proven that
fuel injection, for all of its hype, does not make an
engine better in the first year of its development. Think
about how awesome the 2008 Honda CRF450 engine
was and how one-dimensional the fuel-injected 2009
CRF450 was. Given our druthers, we’ll keep the big,
broad and bold power that a carb produces until all
the experimenting is done (on someone else’s dime).
On the news front, KTM has a new, fuel-injected,