Ever wonder if there are sibling rivalries at the KTM factory where they are pumping out two different brands trying to accomplish the same things? Well, we have no idea about the politics that go on behind the doors at the factory but when we put these two brothers head-to-head at the track there is one winner for sure: The rider who buys the right bike. Since these are two different animals locking horns when they cross paths, it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
Plain and simple, stock verses stock, the KTM 450 SX-F is a better motocross bike and the Husaberg FX 450 is better on the trail. KTM is no longer offering the four-stroke XCs, but the SX-F got that extra gear inside the transmission, so we felt it was a wheel and gas tank away from full XC status. The roughly $900.00 (with a complete wheel, but less if you just laced up a rim) parts budget to off-road equip our SX nearly equalizes the price difference between these two as well. So we made our own XC and rode both bikes at the track and on the trails to see if there was a clear cut winner in the one-bike-does-it-all category.
Riding the bikes back-to-back at the track reveals that the Husaberg lacks snap and can be a little too plush if not outright mushy in the suspension. So you don’t even feel the bumps that makes the KTM dance in comparison. It sucks up the jump faces and lacks the spring (or has too much of it really) the KTM gets when going airborne. Though the Husaberg FI is incredible, it still doesn’t feel as snappy and aggressive as the KTM, ever, but the sheer Husaberg power and solid throttle response will make you loathe the necessary SX-F fuel-screw tuning. The Husaberg feels light, sometimes even lighter than the KTM. And the Berg is thin, but it isn’t better than the small tanked KTM here. However, a KTM that is slightly off in jetting can stall pretty easily compared to the Berg, and it doesn’t fire up instantly. Now we’re complaining about electric starting!
Switch from the track to the trail and the tables are turned, but not as much as you’d think. The biggest change is to the KTM from the weight and girth the larger gas tank and heavier 18″ rear wheel add to it. You don’t necessarily have to make these changes, but they do provide distinct advantages. The 18″ wheel helps calm the stiff moto suspension and the tank can add miles or get you that extra lap or two without a pit in a hare scramble. The bottom line on the suspension: the SX-F feels out of its element more off-road than the FX does on the track at normal-guy riding speeds. Off-road the Husaberg rules with its much lighter feeling, better turning (especially in the tight stuff) and suspension that is super compliant and refusing to ricochet off of everything. But the most advantageous thing the Husaberg has is its fuel injection and the always spot-on throttle response at any RPM. The SX-F is finicky by comparison and even with the perfect fuel screw setting it can’t match the tractability of the FX.
So, now you are looking at racing off-road with either of these bikes and it comes down to the speed of the event. The faster you plan on going and the faster the terrain, the better and better the KTM becomes. Its few flaws just don’t show up at speed. And the more tight and technical the terrain becomes the more the Husaberg’s advantages shine, and in these conditions they shine brightly. Neither of these bikes suffered so much in the other’s domain that would stop us from riding them there. It turns out making the right choice has never been so easy because it is so hard to go wrong.Just a quick feature rundown might answer a lot of questions explain a lot of the advantages of each bike:KTM
18 and 19-inch wheels
Small and large gas tank
Dual map ignition
Top Speed: 91 mphHusaberg
Six-speed gear box
Lighter clutch pull
3 or 10-way tunable ignition/FI control
Top speed: 89.4 mph