There are two camps of new bikes developing in the early stages of 2009 introductions. There are drastically changed, wildly-new models and then there are the tweaked and tuned. Break it down to redesigns and refinements.The 2009 KTM 450 SXF is definitely in the refinement drawer. With a close look at components and characteristics that really needed improvements, KTM built what could be their best 450 yet.What's NewQuite a lot, actually. KTM took the 450 SX to the drawing board for 2009 and they efficiently refined the bike into a performer.The biggest changes in terms of what you'll feel on the track center around handling.--The 2009 KTM 450 SXF has a new front fork assembly that consists of new bottoming cones to help smooth those super-huge landings and a stiffer spring rate up from last year's 4.8 to a 5.0 (N/m). New valving settings are shimmed in to accommodate the heavier springs. The point of all this springing and valving is to reduce the amount of oil and give more of the suspending duties to spring and valves for a plusher feel across the board. The harsh, in-your-hands feel we discovered in all of last years' SX models is definitely addressed here and the changes work.--Adding to the new-found supple-like settings in the fork is a new outer fork tube. Yes, its factory-bling finish draws a drool or two but the focus is on performance. The new tube is lighter, thinner and provides more flex to the front. This is produced from a new supplier and is featured on all new KTM models (see our comments on the new fork in our 250XC test here: www.dirtrider.com/features/141_0807_2009_ktm_250_xc/index.html)--Another front end refinement is hand-clickers for compression settings. The small little star-shaped knobs are a tool-less way to dial in the ride. They became a bit gummed up after a few hours and were hard to use. Add a shot of lube to these when you're washing the bike and they'll keep moving freely.--Shock treatment is given to the KTM as well. While the spring rate remains the same as last year, the PDS needle is beefed up from an 11.5mm unit to a hefty 14mm poker. This needle is essentially the linkage in a dual piston shock system. It acts similar to a carb needle in that upon compression, the amount of oil passing by the needle is reduced the farther the shock travels. When the needle closes off the bypass, the valving moves to the secondary piston and the rate of damping force increases. The angle of the shock puts a certain amount of rising rate (like a linkage) on the shock, but the internal valving adds even more dimension to this.-- The new needle requires its own set of internal shock components to go along with the new sizing and valving settings are refined to match the new guts.--The engine head stay is now a lot less rigid. It does not triangulate to the mounts on the upper frame tube and is similar in design to the head stays on the two-strokes.Let's move to the motor. The '08 450 SXF was a class favorite for many with its smooth power and strong top-end pull. For '09, KTM made some solid improvements to get more power sooner.--Internally, the cylinder remains the same, but the piston is a new part number and is lighter in weight; likely to get the rpm up quicker. This bike makes power at higher rpm and KTM seems to be trying to get it there sooner.--The valve train features new valve springs, lighter finger followers for the valves and the same cams as '08 with just a bit different timing setting to work with the new head. Again, this looks to be an effort to boost the speed at which this bike revs.--The intake and exhaust port are reshaped and compliment a new cylinder-to-carb manifold and new exhaust manifold. The tuning to the airflow continues through the cylinder head here...a precursor to fuel injection? We can't say for sure, but it's not likely the only reason for the change. The bike's motor runs different from last year for sure, and we're sure these tweaks all lead up to the way it performs.--There is a new water pump sealControls, style, parts and pieces.--The KTM's stellar front brake power gains some control for '09 through a new master cylinder, caliper, caliper mount, pads and lever. The unit appears much lighter (at least less bulky) than last year's assembly.--Clutch control is updated as well with an all new fold-away, crash-resistant lever that is narrower and smoother with a quick-adjust knob for customizing lever reach. The hydraulic clutch master cylinder is also streamlined and the system is overhauled to provide smoother engagement. If you want more control and a lighter lever feel, we hear the master cylinder from a 125SX will give that to you.--The new KTM graphics are rebellious and edgy. There are intricate details like throttle cables, trophies, supercross rhythm sections and freestyle ramps superimposed into the traditional black and orange theme.--Plastic frame guards are now standard on the bike with a burn-protection extension built in to the exhaust side. Your pants will love this.--Ignition and clutch engine covers feature longer-lasting coating (at least its color has changed to match the metal underneath) for a newer-looking bike, farther down the road.--Triple clamps receive factory coloring. Yes, it's black.