engine—some new and some old.
(1) Mystery ignition. We had some pinging and the
occasional mystery sign-off, where the engine would quit
by itself momentarily.
( 2) Clutch. The stock KX450F clutch pack is
marginal. If you are a clutch abuser, you will eat this
clutch in short order.
( 3) Plug-on maps. Because of the detonation
problem, we tried to switch from the stock green map
coupler to the mellow black coupler—and while it
eliminated the ping, it also eliminated the power.
Q: WHAT’S REALLY SIGNIFICANT ABOUT
THE 2015 KAWASAKI KX450F?
A: We aren’t pooh-poohing the engine mods, lighter
subframe, traction control or non-cottered rear axle, but
there are only two changes that make the 2015 Kawasaki
KX450F different from the 2014—the Showa SFF-Air TAC
forks and the 270mm front brake rotor.
Q: HOW GOOD ARE THE 2015 BRAKES?
A: The answer to this question is found in another
question—how bad were the 2014 KX450F brakes?
In our 2014 KX450F test we wrote, “These old-school
brakes won’t stop 239 pounds of runaway locomotive.”
In our 2013 KX450F test we wrote, “As a credo, the
company that makes the most powerful engine should
also make the most powerful brakes.”
In our 2012 KX450F test we wrote, “If this bike
weighed in at the AMA minimum, maybe, just maybe,
these spongy brakes would stop it—but with the 2012
KX450F’s ample horsepower and girth, these brakes are
In our 2011 KX450F test we wrote, “A bike this
fast and heavy needs the best brakes it can get—
unfortunately, the Kawasaki brakes are not crisp,
powerful and accurate.”
You get the idea. Thankfully, Kawasaki up-sized last
year’s 250mm front brake rotor to 270mm for 2015. The
added dose of leverage makes the KX450F brakes more
than adequate for the job at hand. Good stuff, but are
they as good as KTM’s 260mm Brembo brakes? No, but
KTM has had years to fine-tune the piston size, caliper
design and fluid dynamics of its brake system.
The biggest electronic change to the 2015 Kawasaki
KX450F is the addition of traction control. Whenever the
KX450F’s electronic control module recognizes runaway
revs it retards the ignition to lessen wheelspin.