Web Impression: 2009 KTM 450SXF - Dirt Rider Magazine

KTM's new 450 has arrived. We just completed our first full day of testing on the big orange ride and here is your dirtrider.com web impression.First out of the gate you need to notice how cool KTM graphics are this year. They're black and bad-ace with little details like freestyle ramps, a guy holding a pit board and supercross rhythm sections illustrated throughout. Super cool. And the bike is still starts with the push of a button.Who cares about graphics, really though? We'll get down to what really matters.The front end of the KTM 450 features abundant changes. The outer fork tube is from a new vendor and besides being a factory fork-like color they boast reduced wall thickness to aid in flex and feel in the front. Also, the fork spring has dropped down a rate and a new bottoming cone and internal settings have been adjusted to dial in the ride.After our first few hours on the bike, it's clear to see these changes to the fork (and to the shock) are improving the KTM's ride.The PDS shock receives a beefy 14mm needle instead of the 11.5mm unit and all coinciding components have been changed to match. The shock spring rate stays the same as last year.We noted these changes bringing big improvements to the KTM feel in our KTM 250 XC web impression. Essentially, KTM has eliminated the excessive feedback to the riders' hands that last year's bikes delivered. No more jarring in the palms, the new front end seems to soak things up much better and the bottoming resistance is holding it's own. We're still dialing it in since we feel the overall character is a bit soft for faster paced riders and have found the bike takes adjustments well. Plus, it's offering us a lot of options through the clickers, as the range of adjustment is wide. In general, we're going stiffer to eliminate some wallow we're experiencing at stock settings when we approach fast race pace. We'll have all the settings in our first test, which will go live on dirtrider.com next week.There are more ride improvements on this bike (like reduced rigidity in the headstay) that seem to be aiding the ride as well.We're initially very happy with the handling and suspension of the KTM 450 after our first day.The power on this bike has been updated as well. There is something going on inside the cylinder head (we'll spoil the surprise in our first test), along with a new intake tract and exhaust flange that is increasing the connectivity of your right wrist and the rear wheel.Where last year's bike felt loose on the bottom and tighter on top, this new bike delivers a direct link to the rear wheel throughout the power range. It's not yet as free-revving on top as our '08 when tested back-to-back, but in our experience these motors will rev up as they break in for a few hours. Both motors felt as controllable in their delivery as you can expect from a 450 with the '09 seemingly searching for more power quicker.What was noticeable right away when comparing these bikes ('08 and '09) was the weight feel in the front end. The fork changes, engine headstay modifications and other small details like it's all-new front brake caliper and mounting assembly seem to have taken the weight off the front end of the bike and moved it to a happy, invisible place.This loss-of-weight and increase in response is likely a combination of all these changes KTM made; including engine, shock and controls (all new skinnier levers mount to a new-bend handlebar).We're heading out now to test this beast at a couple of different tracks. Check back for updates on the KTM 450 SXF, more 2009 motocross and off-road bike introductions and all the first tests right here at dirtrider.com.

The light feel of the KTM makes quick hops a blast.
Graphics with killer details!
The power is pumped up for '09. And you control it simply by rotating your right wrist.