Q: WHAT OTHER CHANGES DID KTM MAKE TO THE 2014 ENGINE? A: For 2014, KTM made eight changes. None of them are major, but they all add durability or usability to the powerplant. (1) Engine cases. The 2014 center and right-side cases have had the kickstarter bosses removed. Since KTM didn’t mount a manual kickstarter on the 450SXF, the cases were doing double duty on both the SFX and EXC models (the EXCs have electric start and a kickstarter). Eliminating the bulge in the SXF cases saved 300 grams. ( 2) Head gasket. KTM upgraded the sealing surfaces of the head gasket to lessen the possibility of a head- gasket leak. The new, three-layer gasket can take higher temps without faltering. ( 3) Camshafts. Although the cam profiles and lifts are unchanged, the cams themselves have been lightened to lessen rotational inertia and pep up the throttle response. In addition, the auto-decom- pression release’s actuating arm has been beefed up. ( 4) Piston pin. There were some issues with the previous piston circlips, so for 2014 the piston pin has been reshaped on the end to help keep the circlips seated. ( 5) Clutch hub. The inner clutch hub has been beefed up, and, as previously stated, the Belleville washer is stiffer: 280Nm versus 250Nm. ( 6) Transmission. Although the transmission and gear ratios remain the same as in 2013, the profile of each gear has a new tooth geometry and finishing process to lessen nicking and gouging of the tooth ends. ( 7) Mapping. The electronics for the fuel injection have been changed at the enigma level. The settings cannot be altered with the KTM programming tool or the three-way ignition maps. These super-secret enigma settings control the BOI (Beginning Of Injection), temperature sensors, and other unfathomable dots and dashes. ( 8) Wiring harness. For the third year in a row, KTM upgraded the quality of the wire, connectors and rubber boots. The wiring harness itself is shorter and rearranged into a more compact unit. Q: DID KTM CHANGE ANYTHING ELSE ON THE 2014 450SXF? A: For a bike that isn’t changed very much, KTM did crank out a large number of mods. (1) Water pump. In the past, we had issues with the water-pump seal leaking. For 2014, KTM has redesigned the cover with a deeper O-ring groove and a thicker O-ring. The 2014 water-pump cover will retrofit on older KTM 450SXFs, but only if you use the new O-ring. ( 2) Seat foam. The foam core of the saddle has been reformulated to be softer initially, but not break down as quickly as the weak sisters that we’ve been sitting on for the last few years. ( 3) Chain guide. The slightly smaller chain guide on the swingarm is 120 grams lighter. ( 4) Gas cap. The internal threads on the gas cap have been reworked for more positive engagement, and the gas cap has a new low-profile shape; it doesn’t stick up as high as last year’s cap. ( 5) Front brake. Last year it had a black reservoir and silver cap. For 2014, it has a silver reservoir and a black cap. This is just cosmetic fluff, but there are substantial changes in the lever and master-cylinder piston. The master-cylinder piston has been downsized from 10mm to 9mm. Q: WHAT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FEATURE OF THE 2014 KTM 450SXF? A: It is definitely the powerband. KTM has dialed in the exact kind of power that the typical KTM 450SXF owner needs and wants. The powerband doesn’t have the brutal rush of the KX450F, but it can easily run with the KX450F. Plus, because of the way the power is delivered, it seems to pull twice as long as other 450s. This is the everyman 450 powerband: easy to ride down low so that it doesn’t scare you, and then faster and faster as you hold it on. Q: HOW DOES THE 2014 450SXF RUN ON THE DYNO? A: What we are going to tell you will be shocking. The KTM 450SXF is no longer the horsepower king of the 450 class. The 2014 Yamaha YZ450F has 58. 17 horsepower compared to the 2013 KTM 450SXF’s 56. 95 horsepower. Even more shocking to a statistician, but not necessarily to a racer, is that KTM actually gave up one horsepower between 2013 and 2014 in favor of better throttle feel. They surrendered a little bit of power everywhere on the curve, but most notably in the over-rev section on top to make the power more usable down low. Whereas the 2013 model produced 56. 95 horsepower, the 2014 model makes 55. 94 horsepower. The curve is identical to last year’s, but mellowed out because of mapping changes. The 2014 horsepower numbers are nothing to sneeze at, however, since they still beat the KX450F, RM-Z450 and CRF450 numbers. Package deal: Every aspect of this engine is awesome.