We’ll admit it; here at TransWorld Motocross the KTM450SX-F hasn’t faired too well in the four-stroke shootouts. In the past, the bike’s handling characteristics held it back, making for a pretty unfriendly ride all around, and leaving it at the tail-end of the finishing order. In a nutshell, the bike just wasn’t fun to ride, but that’s all changed for 2007, as KTM has gone back to the drawing board with nearly all of their bikes; changing everything from the swingarm to the engine.
We recently took delivery of the highly anticipated all-new 2007 KTM450SX-F at Elsinore MX Park, and we came away impressed with what KTM has accomplished with their newest steed. It’s probably easier to talk about what KTM didn’t change on the bike, than what’s new; but we’ll just hit some of the key features that help to make this one of the trickest bikes around.
For starters, KTM completely re-designed the 450 chassis with the idea of making it more rider-friendly. The frame is made to have a rigid feel, yet still remain light and nimble. An all-new swingarm is also added, and designed with new geometry that flexes accordingly to match the PDS shock. To compliment the frame, KTM also included completely redesigned and improved suspension. Up front, is a new 48mm WP USD fully adjustable closed-cartridge bladder fork, which, out on the track, smoothes things out considerably. The shock is new as well, and features a wider range of settings that—like the fork—gives the KTM suspension a more progressive feel.
In the engine department, KTM threw out the old 450 power plant and started over. One of the biggest changes—and most obvious when you look at the bike—is the absence of a kick-starter. The ’07 450 is electric start; the first KTM SX model to have this feature. KTM claims that this saves weight, and that the ’07 model is actually lighter than the ’06 450SX-F. The engine has a four-speed transmission, while up on top are four titanium valves housed inside a magnesium cylinder head cover. And while we are on that subject, every cover on the engine is made from magnesium to save weight.
Out on the track, the new 450SX-F is a breath of fresh air when compared to the previous models, as the bike does everything better than the ’06 450. We can now confidently turn, jump, ride down rough straights, and hit gnarly braking bumps. The new suspension and chassis no doubt help with this, as the forks and shock work really well together. The sketchy feeling when charging into corners—over rough braking bumps—is also not a factor, and the big orange machine turns like some of the best Japanese bikes out there. As for the motor, we liked it. KTM has always been known for their fast bikes and this year they didn’t disappoint us. The new motor works really well, and has a nice smooth power output that won’t rip your arms out when accelerating. Probably one of the coolest new features on the bike is the electric starter. We know what you’re thinking, and no the bike isn’t heavier because of the push-button start. In fact—like we mentioned before—it is actually lighter than last year, and believe us, we stalled it a couple times and it was much easier to start when all you have to do is push a button rather than kick away. One gripe about the starter, though—and we guess you could say this about most four-strokes—is that at times it can be difficult to re-start in gear; you must have the bike in neutral.
READY OR NOT…
In the end, we came away pleasantly surprised with how KTM’s newest entry into the big-bore four-stroke wars performs. And while we still have some time to put on this bike before coming to a full conclusion on how good it actually is, we can say with confidence that, unlike other years, this bike is probably going to be a contender in this year’s TransWorld Motocross/i> 450cc Four-Stroke Shootout—it’s that good.
FIRST IMPRESSION VIDEO
Be sure to check out the first video of the 2007 KTM450SX-F. Hear from KTM about the changes to the bike, see it in action and get a first hand review from Brendan Lutes
To get to the videos, you can click the individual link in the right column, or click the Video link on the left to get to our ever-growing collection of movies.
To view the videos, you’ll need the latest version of Quicktime, which works for both Mac and PC, is available as a free download at www.apple.com/quicktime/download.