2020 Factory Supercross Bikes—Adam Cianciarulo’s Kawasaki KX450

An in-depth look at the longtime Kawasaki rider’s factory KX450.

After a very successful amateur career, moving up to the pro ranks and racing for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team in the 250 class from 2014 to 2019, plus winning the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross 250 class title, Adam Cianciarulo made the jump to the 450 class for 2020 after signing with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team.
After a very successful amateur career, moving up to the pro ranks and racing for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team in the 250 class from 2014 to 2019, plus winning the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross 250 class title, Adam Cianciarulo made the jump to the 450 class for 2020 after signing with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team.Spencer Owens

Adam Cianciarulo is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated 450SX class rookies in recent years. After a very successful amateur career, he went on to win the first Monster Energy AMA Supercross race he entered in Arlington, Texas, back in 2014. Cianciarulo won two more 250SX main events that year before a shoulder injury at the Toronto round derailed his rookie season.

Cianciarulo’s mechanic Justin Shantie graciously provided us with lots of interesting information about the factory KX450 racebike.
Cianciarulo’s mechanic Justin Shantie graciously provided us with lots of interesting information about the factory KX450 racebike.Spencer Owens

The Port Orange, Florida, native remained with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team for the rest of his 250 career and finished second once in the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship in 2017 and twice more in the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship in 2018 and 2019. He captured his first professional title in the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, taking the top honors in the 250MX Class.

Shantie noted that rideability is a big thing for the 450 and that the team didn’t have to pull very much additional power out of the engine for AC.
Shantie noted that rideability is a big thing for the 450 and that the team didn’t have to pull very much additional power out of the engine for AC.Spencer Owens

For 2020, the 23-year-old signed with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team to race in the 450 class in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series and the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. A few rounds into Cianciarulo’s rookie 450 season, we chatted with his mechanic Justin Shantie—also a former member of Mitch Payton’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team—who graciously provided us with lots of interesting information about Cianciarulo’s factory KX450.

Cianciarulo is one of the taller riders on the circuit, standing at 6-foot-1. Toward the end of his 250 career, he seemed to almost have to override the bike due to his size and stature. Now that he’s on a 450, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and according to Shantie, the team doesn’t have to pull very much additional power out of the engine for him.

“Being that it’s a 450, he likes it not necessarily tamed down, but rideability is a big thing for the 450,” Shantie explained. “Right away, he liked the power delivery. The new KX450 is amazing just out of the box anyways, so it was lightly tailored around what he wanted. We didn’t really pull too much out of it. Adam told us, ‘At any given moment, you can get cocky and give it too much and it will get away from you.’ Basically what he started on is what we’re riding. From a comfort and rideability standpoint, everyday he was getting more comfortable on it than when we first started.”

As is the case with most factory Supercross and motocross race teams, the engines are built by a person whose full-time job is to rebuild them as needed. With that, the race team mechanics are alleviated of one of the many duties they are tasked with, and one less part on the motorcycle they have to rebuild from week to week. Consequently, Shantie admitted that he’s not completely familiar with what is inside the engine, but speculated from his general knowledge of the bike and the organization itself.

“I’m not in the engine department, so I don’t really know fully [what’s inside the engine], which is kind of good for us [mechanics] because there’s so much other stuff going on,” Shantie remarked. “Like any other 450, there’s not a lot you have to throw at them, especially with this bike. Kawasaki is pretty conservative as a group anyway, so maybe cams, valves, possibly a piston or rod, and maybe some different transmission ratios for Supercross, and longer gearing and stuff like that.”

The ECU mapping comes from Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) in Japan and the team’s data technician Theo Lockwood handles any changes thereafter. Shantie said that lately the team has been testing different maps to help Cianciarulo and his teammate Eli Tomac get more consistent starts.
The ECU mapping comes from Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) in Japan and the team’s data technician Theo Lockwood handles any changes thereafter. Shantie said that lately the team has been testing different maps to help Cianciarulo and his teammate Eli Tomac get more consistent starts.Spencer Owens

ECU mapping is a very important aspect to the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. They have a full-time data technician on staff to ensure their bikes are mapped as best they can from the drop of the gate all the way to the checkered flag.

“The mapping is done in-house, originally from KHI Japan, and then Theo [Lockwood], our data guy, will do any changes that he’s got to do for each rider,” Shantie said. “We’ve been playing around with the mapping a little bit for starts, just to kind of make it easier on the guys to get some consistent starts.”

Kawasaki has a long-standing relationship with Pro Circuit, which supplies the team with its Ti-6 Pro exhaust systems. Shantie told us Pro Circuit will develop anything they ask for and accommodate any type of special requests.
Kawasaki has a long-standing relationship with Pro Circuit, which supplies the team with its Ti-6 Pro exhaust systems. Shantie told us Pro Circuit will develop anything they ask for and accommodate any type of special requests.Spencer Owens

Kawasaki has a long-standing relationship with Pro Circuit, which supplies the team with its Ti-6 Pro exhaust systems. Shantie told us Pro Circuit will develop anything they ask for and accommodate any type of special requests. When the KX450 was an all-new platform last year, the team ran a custom header pipe that featured a resonance chamber welded onto the underside of the very front of it. For 2020, the resonance chamber is absent from the header pipes the factory KX450s are running and look more similar to an off-the-shelf unit.

When the KX450 was an all-new platform last year, the team ran a custom header pipe that featured a resonance chamber welded onto the underside of the very front of it. For 2020, the resonance chamber is absent from the header pipes the factory KX450s are running and looks more similar to an off-the-shelf unit.
When the KX450 was an all-new platform last year, the team ran a custom header pipe that featured a resonance chamber welded onto the underside of the very front of it. For 2020, the resonance chamber is absent from the header pipes the factory KX450s are running and looks more similar to an off-the-shelf unit.Spencer Owens

“We’ve been playing back and forth with a head pipe that produces a little bit smoother power,” Shantie noted. “It kind of moves [the power] down to where they ride it [in the rpm]. With the muffler, we’re kind of restrained to the sound specs they have here [at Supercross] for the FIM rules, so you’ve got to get it to pass sound every Friday. It’s just something that complements the engine. No big changes on that every year or anything; it’s just kind of tailoring it to the engine [package] that we come up with that year and going from there.”

Like many factory teams in the paddock, Monster Energy Kawasaki relies on Hinson Racing clutch components inside their engines. Shantie mentioned that due to the parts proving to be very durable and Cianciarulo being easy on the clutch in general, he rarely has to replace the clutch out of necessity and mostly does so only as a precautionary measure.

“The clutch is all Hinson components,” Shantie said. “They provide really high-quality—basically bulletproof—clutch components. Adam is actually one of the best I’ve ever seen on a 450 as far as not smoking the clutch. We did like four days on a clutch at the practice track and I changed it just because I felt like it needed to be changed—not necessarily because it was out of spec or anything. On race day, just to be conservative with keeping it fresh, he’ll go all of practice [on a clutch] and then [I’ll install] a [new] clutch [that he’ll run] for the whole night show.”

Works Showa suspension components grace the front and rear of Cianciarulo’s bike. Shantie commented that AC’s suspension setup is a lot stiffer than Tomac’s.
Works Showa suspension components grace the front and rear of Cianciarulo’s bike. Shantie commented that AC’s suspension setup is a lot stiffer than Tomac’s.Spencer Owens

While his teammate Eli Tomac runs KYB suspension on his KX450, Cianciarulo’s bike is equipped with works Showa components from Japan, including a Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) shock.

“[The suspension is] all factory Showa components [including] all the internals, all the cool little trinket stuff they come up with, and all the fancy external stuff with the BFRC shock,” Shantie explained. “[The BFRC shock] is working really, really good for us right now. Every time we go out and test, it just keeps getting better and better. I think he’s really liking the whole thing as a package.”

According to Shantie, the data-acquisition systems they have on the bike are an asset when dialing in the factory Showa units. One such part of the data-acquisition system for the suspension can be seen on the link arm at the bottom of the photo.
According to Shantie, the data-acquisition systems they have on the bike are an asset when dialing in the factory Showa units. One such part of the data-acquisition system for the suspension can be seen on the link arm at the bottom of the photo.Spencer Owens

The team has its own contracted Showa representative that goes to every test and every race to make sure the suspension on Cianciarulo’s bike is dialed in at all times, and works closely with the team’s crew chief, Oscar Wirdeman.

“We originally came up with [a setting] that we started on and then began plugging away from there,” Shantie mused. “We gave him a base setting, went to Monster Cup, and just kept clicking away and kind of finding out how he likes to ride the 450. Originally he said that he thought he was going to have to change how he rides a 450 versus a 250, but he was actually super surprised when he got on it that he could keep his same type of riding technique and that the bike and the suspension, specifically, just complemented his riding. It just really upped his confidence level of the bike and the suspension. Everyday we go out and anything that comes up we’ll address it—whether it needs to be stiffer, it needs to do this here, it needs to go through the whoops better—whatever it is. We’ll just kind of tailor it to [his needs]. If he improves on the bike, we’ll improve the suspension. You try to keep the level of riding and the level of suspension constantly going up together—you can’t have one get in front of the other.”

Cianciarulo runs a works version of Showa’s Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) shock. Shantie mentioned they’ve got it working really well and that every time they go out and test, it just keeps getting better and better.
Cianciarulo runs a works version of Showa’s Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) shock. Shantie mentioned they’ve got it working really well and that every time they go out and test, it just keeps getting better and better.Spencer Owens

In addition to running different suspension components than Tomac, the setup of Cianciarulo’s fork and shock also differ in that they are remarkably firmer.

“For the different riders who I’ve worked for and compared to Eli’s setup, Adam’s is a lot stiffer,” Shantie said. “Initially, when you sit on it, it barely moves. He throws the bike around pretty good on the track. He’s pretty technical of a rider, so you try to keep it from diving and bottoming so that he’s able to corner really well with it, but it’s on the stiff side for sure.”

When asked if Cianciarulo is particular about his suspension setup, Shantie told us he’s not necessarily particular, but that he will definitely let the team know if something comes up and becomes a hindrance to his riding. Shantie also mentioned that the data-acquisition systems they have on the bike are an asset when dialing in the factory Showa units.

“All the data acquisition on the bike helps,” Shantie remarked. “Basically, when he’s getting ready to say something, Oscar will already know [what Adam is feeling] because of the data he sees. Most of the time here lately, before Adam even brings it up, Oscar will say, ‘Hey, does it feel a little soft over here?’ or ‘Hey, is it doing something weird over here?’ [and Adam will respond], ‘Oh yeah, you know what, it is; I do feel that over there.’ So then we’ll address it that way. That’s like a second rider right there; it’s like you can see it before he even notices it.”

Xtrig ROCS triple clamps are employed to help the team get the geometry of the bike set up the way they want it to be.
Xtrig ROCS triple clamps are employed to help the team get the geometry of the bike set up the way they want it to be.Spencer Owens

For the chassis, Monster Energy Kawasaki uses a link arm that is made in-house along with Xtrig ROCS triple clamps that feature different offsets to get the geometry of the bike set up the way they want it to be. Shantie also mentioned that the engine mounts are all stock and have worked really well from how the bike was developed from a production standpoint, so the team has kept with the OEM units on AC’s racebike.

It’s not uncommon to see a second electric start button mounted somewhere on a factory Supercross rider’s bike for them to use in case the main one on the handlebar gets damaged. Cianciarulo’s auxiliary e-start button is fastened to the frame under the right-side radiator shroud.
It’s not uncommon to see a second electric start button mounted somewhere on a factory Supercross rider’s bike for them to use in case the main one on the handlebar gets damaged. Cianciarulo’s auxiliary e-start button is fastened to the frame under the right-side radiator shroud.Spencer Owens

Other chassis parts on Cianciarulo’s machine include D.I.D DirtStar ST-X rims, Renthal sprockets, a D.I.D 520ERT3 chain, a CMI shifter, custom carbon fiber skid plate, carbon fiber rear chain guide, carbon fiber rear brake caliper guard, and carbon fiber guards on both the front brake master cylinder and clutch master cylinder. Cianciarulo prefers to run grip tape on the frame of his KX450 and a hump toward the rear of his seat paired with a D’Cor Visuals seat cover. D’Cor Visuals also provides the graphics, which are applied to Acerbis plastics. Foam is wedged underneath and on the inner side of the rear brake pedal to prevent mud and debris from packing in that area and keeping the brake pedal down.

Foam is wedged underneath and on the inner side of the rear brake pedal to prevent mud and debris from packing in that area and keeping the brake pedal down.
Foam is wedged underneath and on the inner side of the rear brake pedal to prevent mud and debris from packing in that area and keeping the brake pedal down.Spencer Owens

When asked how Cianciarulo likes the handling of his motorcycle, Shantie responded, “His steering is a little bit looser than people I’ve worked with in the past. To me, he’s the kind of rider who jumps into a corner and sets his front end down, and he’s got to really be able to feel the front end to go where he wants to go. Even as tall as he is, he rides off the back a little bit. Here lately, it seems that as long as he can set his front end down and trust it wherever he puts it, he’s happy. And the balance of the bike is really important to him, so making sure the front is not higher than the rear, and the rear is not higher and all stinkbug into the corners.”

In the cockpit, Cianciarulo opts for a Renthal 996 Twinwall handlebar, ARC folding levers, and Renthal dual compound Kevlar grips.
In the cockpit, Cianciarulo opts for a Renthal 996 Twinwall handlebar, ARC folding levers, and Renthal dual compound Kevlar grips.Spencer Owens

As far as the cockpit, Cianciarulo opts for a Renthal 996 Twinwall handlebar, Renthal dual compound Kevlar grips, and ARC folding levers. The levers are customized specifically to his liking with pucks that go in them to set the preload on the pistons however he chooses. As far as the placement of the controls, Shantie said he isn’t very particular about it.

“We changed the bar position [and] rotated it [about] half a degree one day,” Shantie explained. “He liked that; we kind of split that in between one-and-a-half and one, so it’s like a one-and-a-quarter. Every time I build the bike, I put it there, and he’s never moved the bars. He might get on and move a lever up and down a couple millimeters, but other than that, he’s good to go.”