KTM’s engine didn’t get any changes between 2014 and 2015.
It didn’t need any. This is a well mannered powerplant.
There is a totally new rising rate linkage that makes the shock
more supple, but it needs some help for G-outs.
metronome flies off and the engine goes full-on
Although it isn’t a high-revving engine, it does
pull across a broad range that is timed to perfection.
Pumping out 57 horsepower could produce a scary-fast
style of power, but KTM has dialed in the exact kind
of delivery that the typical KTM 450SXF owner needs.
The powerband doesn’t have the brutal rush of the
KX450F or the barky low-end response of the YZ450F,
but because of the way the power is delivered, it seems
to pull twice as long as other 450s. This is the everyman
Q: WHAT WOULD WE CHANGE IF WE RAN
A: Here is a list of what we’d do if we were the
power elite at Mattighofen.
Shift lever. Move the tip up 5mm so that riders can
get their boot under it.
Shock preload ring. Metal, metal, metal. Not plastic.
Air filter cage. Give it a distinct shape that
instinctively slips into place (with a notch to let you
know it is secure).
Radiator cap. We run the radiator cap from the KTM
two-strokes (you can recognize it from its brass center).
It is bulletproof; the four-stroke cap not so much.
Bar mounts. We have tried Ride Engineering triple
clamps with rubber-mounted bars. Love them. We want
them to come stock.
Steering-stem nut. We would drill a hole in it and
route the gas-cap vent hose down through it.
Air boot. Why does every other KTM four-stroke have
a velocity stack but the 450SXF doesn’t? We make our
own Frankenstein version from a 350SXF and 450SXF
boot. It would be nice if KTM did it at the factory.
Powerband. We want more grunt in the low-to-mid
transition (without having to change exhaust pipes,
gearing and make our own air boots).
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Fork guards. We vastly prefer the old full-coverage fork guards. No, they aren’t as attractive or
as light, but they extend fork-seal life by stopping rock
dings caused by roost from the rear of the front wheel.
( 2) Shift lever. When the shift lever is in the stock
position it is too low, and when you move it up one
notch, it is too high. MXA places their shift levers
between two blocks on a hydraulic press and bows the
middle of the shift lever to raise the tip.
( 3) Air filter cage. Never stick the air filter into the
airbox without double-checking to make sure that the
filter’s back edge is sealed against the intake tract.
( 4) Black frame guards. It’s kind of pointless to
paint the frame orange and then install black plastic
frame guards, especially when KTM has orange frame
guards in stock.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Weight. KTM shaved 1.3 pounds off of the 2015
model. If they did that every year it would be weightless
in 220 years.