Get A New Bike For $1500 - 2007 Kawasaki KX450F - Dirt Rider Magazine

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.

The little things go a long way. Bars, levers, brakes and tires are the first parts riders should be looking at. They're what connects you to the bike, the bike to the ground and keeps the bike under control.After all this we were still under $1000 total. We found the One Industries black camo kit which replaced our tattered fenders and shrouds while giving our bike a distinctly updated look. It was so much of a change of style that Doc T paced the length of the garage two times looking for his trusty old KX-F.Not only did the bike look new, save for the polished frame rails and slight nicks on the motor-nothing that a quick shot of a cleaning product wouldn't buff out-but it now felt new. The seat cover tightened up the seat foam. Holding onto new grips on a perfectly straight bar does wonders to how fresh a bike feels. It started right up like always, but the exhaust note was now crisp, sharp and less ratty, not to mention quieter. And nothing rattled. Not the muffler core, not the bar, not the formerly sloppy levers or the loose chain on worn sprockets. And another big plus: The lever ratio of the Sunline clutch perch was slightly different than stock, and it made the lever pull much lighter with better feel. For those riders who like a smaller-diameter lever feel, these Sunlines are great. From the first laps we could tell the bar was taking the edge off of any vibration as well. The bike felt pretty new. The brakes were actually better than ever. Compared to the stock parts, the AP pads truly have better bite and really good feel to go along with it; they were even better than an oversize kit we had tried on the bike earlier in the season. Having a good new chain and sprockets aids safety, performance and helps the bike feel fresh. And one of the biggest aids was the new front rim, especially when jumping. No longer did it feel as if the wheel was totally out of balance, like a supershaker when it was spinning fast.We were so pleased with the bike we wanted to make it even more like a 2008. One of the biggest changes to the chassis on the new KX-F is the front engine mount and its spacing. We ordered up the spacers and the longer bolts and swapped them out, back to back, at the track. This same change is what makes the off-road KLX feel so light, and it worked the same magic on this '07 KX. It's mostly felt initiating turns, where the bike feels lighter and turns in much easier. Also, on jump faces and especially in the air the once-stiff and rigid bike is a lot more flickable. For about $85 we got a lot of the 2008 KX-F. When we put the Doc back on the bike he wondered what we did to the motor. Freshening up a bike has that kind of effect, though to be honest we did drop the rear sprocket from a 52 to a 51, so some extra speed in each gear might have added to his positive impression.Was this project a success? Hell yes. Sure we were lucky that we didn't need more internal engine stuff to start out with, but it shows how beneficial taking care of a four-stroke motor can be. Keep the filter clean, change the oil often and don't use the rev-limiter as a shift indicator or a brake going into turns. But even a new clutch kit or a piston and gasket kit runs between $150 to $200 each. If you take the right steps with almost any well-cared-for bike, you can get it back to a shape so close to brand-new that after a few rides you really couldn't tell the difference! Your bank account will thank you for it, and try putting a price on the fun times. The thousands you'll come out ahead will buy a lot of gas and track day fees!Project 2007 KX450F
Kawasaki: See your local dealer;
Bracket, part No. 32190-0330: $25.84
Bracket, part No. 32190-0331: $25.84
Collar (10mm spacer), part No. 92152-0595: $3.67 (2)
Bolt, part No. 92153-1869: $9.48
Bolt, part No. 92153-1870: $6.62 (2)
Nut, part No. 92152-0595: $2.38 (2)
Spoke nipples: $2.10 (36)AP Racing:
Brake pads, front and rear: $35.99 ea.
PRF Racing brake fluid: $29.95 (16 oz)RK Excel America: 760.732.3161;
GB 520 MXZ3-120 chain: $93.31
Silver Excel front rim: $132
Front sprocket: $25
Stealth rear sprocket: $80Sunline: 661.257.2756;
RC-1 forged flex lever perch set: $169
Forged flex brake lever: $49.95
AV One OS handlebar: $89.95
Progrip double-diamond kit: $16.95One Industries:
Black camo kit: $179
Phat numbers: $13.95Dunlop Tires: 800.845.8378;
D952 rear tire: $95.03
D952 front tire: $85.86BRP:
Chain guide: $69.95

Jimmy Lewis likes to roost for cheap.