2015 KTM 450SXF
“Did you notice that we never mentioned the electric
starter, hydraulic clutch, powerful brakes, indestructible
chain guide, no-tools airbox, FIM-legal sound rating, SKF
fork seals, quick-release fuel lines, resilient chromoly
frame, CNC-billet bell crank, in-mold graphics, marine-grade wiring harness, inline fuel filters, or CNC-machined
polished hubs? If we had, this test would have read like
a love note to the Austrians. Well, in a way it is.”
WHAT WE LIKED
(1) Weight. You asked for it. The 2015 KTM 450SXF is
1.3 pounds lighter than last year.
( 2) Tires. The 450SXF is spec’ed with Dunlop’s new
MX52 tire combo. This tire will replace the MX51 on the
dealer shelves. And even though we run the MX32 on
intermediate terrain, the hard-pack MX52 is a good OEM
tire choice because it has solid wear characteristics.
( 3) 4CS forks. Gone are the WP bladder forks of the
past, and in their place is the new 4CS fork. 4CS stand
for “Four Chamber System,” and these new forks are only
offered on American KTMs. They aren’t perfect out of the
box, but by WP standards they are a lot closer to perfec-
tion than what came before. If you aren’t bottoming, you
should lower the oil height by 10cc, which is the equiv-
alent of 10mm. The front axle offset has been changed
at the fork lugs by moving the axle 2mm rearward (from
35mm in front of the fork center line to 33mm in front).
This change required a switch from last year’s 25mm
front axle to a smaller 20mm axle. The steering-stem
bolt now has a 17mm hex head instead of the previous
( 4) Wheels. The suspect rims of the last four years
have been replaced by what KTM promises are true-to-life
black-anodized Excel rims. The spokes are silver;
they were black in the past.
( 5) Handling. A few years ago the MXA wrecking
crew recognized a major change in KTM handling. KTMs
used to have flexy frames that felt like they had hinges
in their middles. Then, suddenly, that changed. KTM’s
chassis got stiffer, more accurate and well mannered.
Today, KTM has one of the best all-around-handling
bikes on the track.
( 6) Power. How fast is the 2015 KTM 450SXF? It runs
like a runaway metronome. It starts out with a fairly
pleasant rush of power. It goes tick-tock, tick-tock and,
in musical terms, is largo. As the rpm climb, the tempo
begins to pick up. It goes tickity-tickity, tickity-tock and