Whether the chassis or suspension changes are most responsible, the '08 KX450F is the best turning edition to date, and it has always been happy in turns. A low-in-the-rear, high-in-the-front feeling some riders noted in '06 and '07 is gone, and the chassis feels level and balanced for corner entrances. Front wheel feedback is solid, and riders tend to trust this bike in any sort of turn situation. When a bike has quick turning, stability can suffer, but that isn't the case here. Kawasaki managed to keep the bike happy at speed as well.Having slightly stiffer suspension and the extensive use of friction-dodging coatings paid off with excellent performance. The bike rides up in the stroke in the rough but settles for corners like it should. For jump faces the action is lively enough to let you load the suspension and get extra lift, but it remains calm enough for sharp and abrupt takeoffs.As far as the rider accommodations go, the KX feels a bit more compact than other brands, but not overly so. Nothing interferes with the normal ranges of movement we use while riding. In other words, Kawasaki took a bike we thought was really nice and made it even better. It has excellent handling, massive but controllable power and fine suspension. About the only consistent complaint concerned the exhaust note. At high rpm the bike is loud, and the muffler sounds blown out even when brand-new. It will take a shootout to really find out where the bike falls, but right now it looks very strong for 2008.What's Hot
Suspension action is smooth and controlled.Engine is house-trained but still a meat-eater when revved.Starting is very easy hot or cold.What's Not
Exhaust note is loud and sounds odd.Specifications
Claimed dry weight: 220 lb
Actual weight (ready to ride, no gas): 236 lb
Seat height: 37.8 in.
Seat-to-footpeg distance: 20.5 in.Opinions
Last year, I didn't really get along with the big KX-F. With snappy power and iffy handling, I didn't like to ride it much at all. This year, with small yet simple changes, I think the bike has improved in most areas and taken a big step backward in others. First, the good stuff: I love the new power delivery on the KX-F. The heavier flywheel delivers the ponies with less of a punch, and I think it's just enough calmness to bring this bike back into contention as a shootout winner. Also, the handling is better. The increased flex in the frame is making this dude lace into turns better than ever. Straight-line stability is sweet, too. On a sour note, the KX450F sounds like a clapped-out piece of crap with a broken muffler. The stock sound is horrendous and bugs me to the point of not wanting to ride the bike. I'm not ignorant enough to think noise is power; no one else should be, either. By being creative with ignition maps and electronics, I'm sure Kawasaki has the bike sound testing just fine, but open the throttle when you're actually riding the bike, and you'll be greeted with the strangest muffler tone ever to come out of a stock bike.
-Jesse Ziegler/5'10''/175 lb/Squid of the MonthKawasaki made some very nice changes for 2008, and the KX450F is a definite weapon. The power is vastly improved in terms of ease of use, but not dumbed down as far as sheer output goes. The balance and feel of the bike is more level and neutral than ever, and that rear end's tendency to kick up over sharp bumps is pretty much cured. I don't like the volume or the tone of the exhaust note, and the bike is a little scrunchy with a too-soft seat. What that means is I could easily fix any problem I have with this bike. And the bike is definitely worth taking the time to make it work.
-Karel Kramer/6'1"/210 lb/Novice