THERE is one big noticeable thing about the Kawasaki KX450F, its horsepower. It’s right at the pointy end of the pack when it comes to churning up the soil and punching the rider forwards.
That’s all good, but like any production bike it can always benefit from some personalising for best results. Sort these and you’ll have not only a fire breathing monster, but one which you can actually tame. Well, tame a little.
On top of the standard DOHC 4-valve water-cooled configuration, the KXF engine is packed full of race-spec features. A bridged bottom piston, launch control ‘holeshot’ mode, and adjustable engine tuning couplers really make this engine a race ready package.
The chassis features an all aluminium main frame, tapered D-shaped aluminium swingarm with Kawasaki’s Uni-track rear suspension linkage and KYB rear suspension matched to a complete aluminium rear subframe.
The Kayaba PSF (Pneumatic Spring Fork) was introduced in MY13, and after much speculation and debate, the PSF fork has turned out to be a welcome improvement to the mighty KXF.
The air valve on top of the fork allows the rider or mechanic to set the pressure in the forks with ease, which is the equivalent of adjusting your spring rates in your conventional type spring fork.
Internal valving still comes into play, and the PSF fork features the same type of clicker adjustments we are all used to seeing on our modern day MX bikes.
Having both clicker adjustment and pressure adjustment now makes the KXF extremely easy to tune while you’re at the race track.
A specifically designed top triple clamp allows for two handlebar clamp mounting positions, and with the offset handlebar mounts this adds up to a total of four different positions available to locate your handlebars.
The footpeg mounts are also adjustable on the KX450F, with a second position being offered 5mm down from standard which allows the taller rider that bit more room in the cockpit.
On the track
The Kawasaki KX450F is fast. Really Fast. This bike has been tuned with the racer in mind, it has strong aggressive power which comes on immediately once you crack the throttle.
It’s a torquey, yet free-revving engine which offers a great spread of power throughout the rev range. Its strong point is certainly off the bottom and through the mid, where the KX seems to have an endless amount of grunt.
Higher up in the rev range the mighty Kawasaki continues to pull however isn’t as strong, which will encourage riders to keep shifting and keep the engine in the meat of the power.
The standard 13/50 gearing worked well for us at our test track and proved to be a great base setting.
Launch control mode is an exclusive feature on the KX450F. It is a switch located on the handlebars that engages a different engine map, moderating the engine output beyond 7000 RPM in 1st and 2nd gear. Used off the start, it can be a handy tool in the right conditions.
We tested the launch control on varying surfaces and it works surprisingly well. A very nice feature of the KX450F.
Last year we enjoyed the Kayaba PSF air fork on the Kawasaki and one year later we still think it’s a great thing. Getting the suspension dialled in was an easy exercise.
We set the rear shock sag at 102mm, ensured that we had 35 PSI in the forks and off we went. We never strayed too far from the standard clicker settings and most riders will find great comfort within the capabilities of the standard settings.
Most riders will enjoy the standard ergonomic arrangement.
Renthal handlebars set the standard and the 971 bend are very easy to adapt to. The adjustable handlebar mounts can be quite handy for those of us who differ in physical size; we moved the mounts into a position 15mm further forward which really opened up the cockpit and gave us much more room to move around.
The standard footpeg height should be just fine for most riders and we felt no need to move them around during our test. A larger, wider set of foot pegs would certainly be a welcomed move though.
The standard tyres are Bridgestone M403 & M404 intermediate compound, they worked flawlessly on our test track and are a very popular choice for most Aussie MXers.
The standard brakes are solid, reliable items which serve their purpose well. That being said, a larger front disc and improved stopping power would be one of the first items on the Cycle Torque shopping list if the KX450F was in our garage.
Even though it remains unchanged from 2013, the $11,999 2014 KX450F is a great bike.
The powerplant is second to none and is a sure thing to put a smile on your face. The handling characteristics of the Kawasaki are quite good, and with some personal fine-tuning with the suspension, it would be easy to turn the bike into a razor sharp handling machine.
On top of all that the KX450F is one great looking machine with the flo green plastic, and the black rims really top off that factory look.