The dome: Although it looks like a two-stroke pipe, the
stamped pieces are KTM’s resonance chamber.
Pucker up: KTM has forced every manufacturer to up their
brake game for 2016. That’s a side effect of KTM’s effort.
them. But on our dyno (the same one we have used for
every test bike for the last 10 years), it made 58 horsepower. Why don’t we think they are lying if our dyno
reading was less? Every dyno is different, and, as a rule
of thumb, the only comparisons that can be made about
an engine are by running it on the same dyno. On our
dyno it made 58 horsepower. We think that when the
engine loosens up after a few hours we will get 59 out of
it. The 2016 was a little better than the 2015-1/2 Factory
Edition, but not significantly different. It was, however,
a lot better than the 2015 production bike. It made more
horsepower at every point on the curve, especially off the
bottom and across the top.
Stats are not the be-all, end-all of motocross engines,
but the KTM’s 58 horsepower is a solid number, and
when combined with its 36. 5 foot-pounds of torque, you’ll
never have to worry about some bully kicking sand in
your face at the beach.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2016 KTM 450SXF RUN ON
A: Thanks to new ECU changes, the 2016 KTM
jumps to life with half the effort of the Factory Edition.
It starts with less drag on the battery and runs cleaner.
We always felt that our 2015-1/2 Factory Edition had a
flat spot in the powerband and a “lean pop” when it took
a breath before taking off in the midrange. Not so with
the 2016 engine. It is smooth as silk. Although the 2016
KTM 450SXF comes with Launch Control, we never used
it, not even on concrete, because the power delivery is
so smooth that a talented wrist is all you need. It’s also
worth noting that Ryan Dungey’s KTM 450SXF does not
even have Launch Control installed. With a powerband
that pulls longer than any other engine on the track, you
can come out of the gate in second and let the bike rev
in one gear while the green, yellow and red bikes are
shifting (the blue bike makes its best power high in the
range). Once at speed, the power is still manageable.
It’s not white-knuckle scary, but if the brakes weren’t so
great, everything from your eyeballs to your toes would
pucker up as you rocketed into turns.
This is a different kind of power. It doesn’t blast
megawatts as much as it oozes them. You can use as
much as you want, or as little as you need.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2015 KTM 450SXF
A: The MXA wrecking crew loves the neutral
handling of KTM’s chromoly steel chassis. It is the best
all-around-handling bike on the track. It handles instinctively. You just have to think about choosing a line and it
takes it. There is one caveat—you have to fiddle with the
fork leg height to dial it in to perfection. One millimeter
in either direction can make a noticeable difference, and
it’s not unusual for an MXA test rider to come in from
a race and slide his forks down to change the cornering
habits for the next moto.
Q: WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF THE 2016
A: Don’t be silly. We are talking about the lightest
450 bike on the track—and it meets that weight limit
with a battery and electric starter. It has awesome
brakes, a bulletproof hydraulic clutch, flawless shifting,
an air filter that plugs into the airbox (without tools),
a marine-grade wiring harness, quick-release fuel lines,
Dunlop MX32 tires, black Excel rims, in-line fuel filters,
rubber-mounted bars, plastic frame guards, direct-connect
Magic buttons: The button on the right is the starter, while
the switch on the left is the map switch and launch control.