Caught you! Did you really think it was true: a new bike for $1500? Well, we don't lie here and we're also trying to squeak by in tough times, so we know the pinch of looking at that $7000-plus price tag of a new bike. What we did was take one of our old test bikes, one that had been used and abused, to see what it took to get it back up to new bike performance.Our 2007 Kawasaki KX450F had been ridden hard. After the Dirt Rider test and shootout, we'd loaned it to Dr. Tarlow for the better part of the year, during which time he put his ritualistic two track days a week on it. When the jalopy was ready to be returned to Kawasaki-that is, once we got our 2008 test bike-we couldn't think of a more punished candidate for this project.With the bike cleaned up it looked OK but felt clapped out. Even though it had recently seen new plastic (and a new rear subframe from a pretty good get-off) the seat appeared haggard and the fenders pelted. The bar was mostly straight, but the levers and clutch perch were custom bent (in a bad way) and flapping in the wind. We suspected that the Kawi was going to need a bit more than the obvious external going-over. Once we began looking inside the motor, we were pretty impressed with what we found. The valves were all right in the middle of specification, the bike had great compression and easily passed a leak-down test. Inspecting the clutch revealed very little wear to the outer basket, but we'd plan on replacing the inner one soon; seems the Doc really knows how to hammer the throttle. The plates were still in solid shape. Since the motor was so tight, that would leave us with even more money on the cosmetic side. Which is a good thing, the bike needed it.One positive consideration in keeping a bike for multiple seasons had is that you already have it all set up for yourself. This can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in modifications you'd spend to customize a new ride into personal shape. For instance, the Doc had his suspension valved and set up by MB1, including stiffer springs. He's found that he really liked the FMF MegaBomb header and PowerCore muffler, and he liked the BRP top clamp that placed the bar where he preferred. Those parts and modifications alone are close to $1500 already spent on the old bike. And consider this, you know the bike's history-or is that why this program won't work for you?As we said, we cleaned the bike well and made a list. At the same time we began tearing apart the bike and looking for damaged parts, always greasing and cleaning everything as it went back together. It was a great time to inspect the shock linkage, the swingarm pivot, plus the headset and to lube the clutch cable. Just doing this (and retightening and retorquing all of the bolts and engine mounts) will give a bike, especially one with an aluminum frame, a much fresher feel. While we were freshening up the KX-F it was also time to repack the muffler. Yes, even these four-strokes need to have that done on a regular basis, and FMF sells the packing as a preassembled "pillow" that makes the job pretty easy.Our list of required new parts to get the bike straight, tight and mechanically sound was this: handlebar, clutch lever assembly, front brake lever, front and rear brake pads, chain and sprockets, chain guide, tires and a front rim. We chose an Excel rim, and it swapped right over onto the stock spokes but needed new nipples as the aluminum ones are a bit on the delicate side. We chose Sunline's AV One bar since taking a bit of vibration out of a 450 is always a good idea. Then we tightened up the whole control zone with Sunline's RC-1 clutch perch with the hot-start built in. We even went bling with the blue color; ditto for the brake lever. Having the grip kit makes the bar setup complete and sano with glue, wire and grip donuts included. We used RK's MXZ3 chain and chose a Stealth sprocket, with aluminum inner and a steel-tooth ring for extra durability. Keeping that theme, we mounted Dunlop's 952 front and rear tires. The brake pads had definitely seen better days, so we swapped them out for fresh AP Racing pads. While we were at it we replaced the brake fluid with PRF high-temp fluid from AP and fully bled the system. Routine brake fluid service is a safe bet against boiling the fluid and keeping the master cylinder and caliper in good internal shape. After an engine oil change and a fresh, clean air filter we were ready to ride.