Nylon preload: It tests our patience.
Q: WHAT WOULD WE CHANGE ABOUT THE POWERBAND? A: The 2014 KTM 450SXF engine is deceivingly fast. It starts out mellow and builds its power with rheostat consistency. The power allows you to go fast without the bike feeling fast. It tricks you into going fast by making it seem easy to do. But, we have always wanted a stronger transition from low to mid. We want it to hit harder. Last year, we built a special airboot using 350SXF and 450SXF parts to mimic Ryan Dungey’s factory airboot. We opted to run a 94 dB exhaust system from DR.D that was built specifically to punch up the midrange, and we geared it down from 14/52 (a 3.714 ratio) to 13/50 (a 3.846 ratio), approximately 1-1/2 teeth lower than the then-stock 14/52. For 2014, we can still use our hybrid airboot and midrange exhaust, but the bike now comes stock with our favorite gearing. Our Pro test riders simply copied Ryan Dungey’s 13/51 (a 3. 92 ratio) gearing to get more drive, helped by the fact that they were fast enough to pull third gear all the time. Our Vet and Novice test riders were split on switching to the 51-tooth sprocket, partially because they aren’t as fast as Ryan Dungey, but mostly because they like the steady and progressive power delivery of the 50-toother. Q: HOW DOES THE 2014 450SXF HANDLE? A: When this bike is set up right, it is amazing. Once you work on the front-to-rear balance to get the chassis as flat as possible, it can be flicked through turns without any excess steering input. A Suzuki may turn sharper, but it shakes at speed. The KTM is the best of all worlds. It corners accurately, tracks through the rough stuff with nary a wiggle and doesn’t shake at speed. The caveat remains, however, that you have to fiddle with the fork height and the race sag to find the perfect window. Small adjustments to either end change the head angle, weight bias and feel of the bike. Tight: The 450SXF works best when balanced front and rear. 2014 KTM 450SXF
Triple threat: For 2014 every KTM four-stroke runs last year’s 250SXF muffler.