motocross bikes are too powerful for mortal man, you are
about to have your psyche realigned. While Honda has
promoted the idea that the only way to make a 450cc
motocross bike manageable is to make it slow, KTM
blows that idea out of the waters with a very powerful
engine that is super easy to ride. In fact, with five more
horsepower than the CRF450, the KTM is actually more
pleasant than the CRF450 at throttle tip-in. It can be ridden through corners at quarter throttle, half throttle or
full throttle without breaking loose or creating sweaty
palms. There is a power setting for every kind of track
situation—from slick off-cambers to loose sand to deep
loam. Then, when the time comes to cover ground quickly, all you have to do is touch the clutch or twist your
wrist and it switches from rheostat to rampaging bull.
The pleasant low-to-mid transition becomes stronger
as the rpm increases—and when you need max power,
you’ve got it in reserve. Best of all, the 2016 KTM 450SXF
powerband pulls forever. In fact, half of the MXA test
riders thought that the powerband was too manageable.
They wanted more of a thrill ride, not just for the
adrenaline rush, but to get the KTM up on the pipe and
churning quicker. Our Pro test riders added one tooth to
the rear sprocket to liven up the hit.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2016 KTM 450SXF RUN ON
A: We know that KTM claims that the 2016 450SXF
makes over 60 horsepower, and we don’t disbelieve
who run stock suspension, even on their Yamahas.
Would we prefer to have Yamaha SSS forks on our
2016 KTM 450SXF? Yes, we would, but we would
also prefer to have Yamaha SSS forks on our KX450F,
RM-Z450, CRF450 and anything else with two wheels.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE REAR SHOCK?
A: The relationship between the forks and the
shock is a tangled web of mysterious forces. The simple
explanation, without a lot of techno mumbo-jumbo, is
that when the forks don’t work, the shock can’t work.
Past WP forks were too soft initially and way too harsh
at the end of the stroke. When the fork travel came to a
screeching halt against WP’s wall of damping, the excess
forces would rotate through the axis of the frame and
make the shock kick. Had last year’s WP forks absorbed
more energy, the shock wouldn’t have had to deal with
the double whammy of conflicting actions and reactions.
And that is what is so much better about the 2016
model. Since the forks are plusher and move deeper into
their stroke before trying to erase the downward motion,
the shock is under less load—and the result is that the
rear end is a big improvement over previous KTMs. Yes,
KTM did re-valve the shock to work better, but in truth,
re-valving the forks is what improved the shock.
Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2016 KTM 450SXF?
A: If you are from the school of thought that 450cc