2015 KTM 450 SX-F Web Impression

Happy New Year! Well… not really. We know its only June but new bike season can never come too early for us motorcycle fanatics. Dirt Rider just received the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F and after our initial ride, we wanted to share what we thought about the Austrian big-bore motocross thumper. Below are some key points of the new orange steed but look for a more in depth test on the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F in the October issue of Dirt Rider Magazine.

Changes: Most of the changes that were made to the 2014 KTM 450 Factory Edition model were rolled over to the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F (except for all new fork settings and oil pick up screen O-rings). KTM changed the front-end geometry by moving the front axle back from 35mm to 33mm with less offset to the axle lug, however the triple clamp offset remains the same as the 2014 model. The new closed cartridge 4CS fork is lighter in weight and has a lighter spring with different valving. Although the 4CS is not a Separate Function Fork it does have a compression adjuster on top of one fork leg and a rebound adjuster on the other for easier tuning. The shock has an extra 4mm of stroke and the linkage pull rod is 2.5mm longer. The crossover tube (the part of the frame that the shock linkage bolts to) is now made from a single, forged, one-piece design that KTM claims makes it a more rigid and precise mounting point. Finally, the bike comes stock with Dunlop MX 52 tires and a long awaited, beautifully powder-coated orange frame.

Out of the box, we want to give kudos to the KTM engineers and designers for making such a beautiful piece of machinery. We’d be hard pressed not to say the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F is the best looking production bike out on the market today. The orange frame just adds to its flare and the all-new black Excel rims really make the bike look trick. The 2015 KTM 450 SX-F’s motor is buttery smooth down low and very easy to manage around the track. It will not rip your arms off coming out of corners but once in the mid-range be prepared to hold on. Once in the mid-range the bike is almost too responsive. The mid’s throttle response is so crisp that sometimes (when fatigue sets in and you’re not prepared) the big orange thumper can get away from you in a hurry. The KTM rewarded us when we rolled corners and rode most of the track in third gear. Letting the rpm creep up, (while smooth on the throttle) will put a huge smile under your helmet, especially once in the top end since the KTM 450 SX-F motor pulls so far that sometimes you think you are riding a high revving, beefy 250F! If you like smooth power, you can lug the orange pumpkin or, if you like a screamer, rev it out. The KTM caters to both styles of riding.

Suspension on the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F still takes some getting used to. The new WP 4CS fork does have added comfort over the 2014 model on corner entrances (especially through the mid-stroke) and will give you a better feeling through the handlebar on small acceleration chop. The only negative thing that we experienced was on flat landings; the fork will deflect and does leave you with some added jarring to the wrists. However, from experience from the 2014 KTM 450 Factory Edition we do know it takes at least a few hours to get the 4CS broke in and feeling better. The WP shock (along with the new linkage) feels like it has loads of comfort when the track gets rough and choppy. This is especially noticed when exiting corners with holes and square edges. The shock feels more planted to the ground and will keep forward momentum better than the 2014 model. Coming into corners the rear end stayed down (more connected to the ground) which gave us confidence to keep the throttle on longer before setting up for corners. The overall balance of the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F just feels better. When the track gets rough and hard-packed, the steel frame really shines through. The bike attitude is more predictable than ever before; with past KTM 450’s, they seemed to always want to do something different almost every lap. Not the new 2015 version.

Brakes are always a ten-out-of-ten when it comes to KTM and the 2015 450 is no exception. We noticed that the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F has the smoothest and lightest throttle pull around and while that is good when you are “fresh” early in your ride, it’s not so good when you start to get tired. Use caution when you get arm pump or start to feel fatigued as you might whiskey throttle out on the track with the easy-twisting throttle. There is noticeably less vibration on the 2015 SX-F model vs. the 2014 version. When the rpm go up, the vibration is not as noticeable through the handlebar like in years past.

At the end of the day we are impressed with the changes KTM has made and look forward to putting more time on the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F. Over the next few weeks we will be pounding laps and tinkering with the orange beast at many different types of tracks so make sure you pick up the October issue of Dirt Rider to see what we find out.