I would have to say that the '09 KTM 450 SX-F is definitely an improvement compared to last year's bike. Not that the '08 was bad, it's just that last year, with such a strong motor, the stock suspension couldn't keep up with it. Well, KTM got word of that, because it tuned the suspension big time, and even though the '08 had a bitchin motor, Orange stepped up the '09 in that department, too.The suspension on the new KTM is very plush. A little too soft for my top speed, but when I back it down some, it works quite well. It soaked up small chop and never really acted unpredictably; a huge improvement from the '08, as that edition was very unpredictable and didn't seem to work quite right riding fast or slow.One negative about the new suspension would be the sensitivity of the compression and rebound adjustments. One click on the adjusters makes a huge difference and makes it a bit tough to find that perfect setting. It seemed that a single click was too much; it would either make it too soft or too harsh. I just couldn't find a happy medium. If the adjustment were maybe half or even a quarter of a click, the bike could definitely be dialed in. Even with this, it's still the best stock KTM suspension I've felt, and it's good to see it complement the Austrian company's motor.The 450 SX-F's awesome motor now has better power delivery. KTM smoothed out the delivery compared to last year, and the bike seems to have a little more bottom-end. None of this took away from the mid to top-end boost, though, because it still revs like no other 450.Now, I don't usually like to rev out four-strokes, but it is nice to have some extra rev when I don't feel like squeezing in that extra shift from time to time. The KTM is an easy bike to ride; not easy as in slow, but easy as in I don't have to always be in the right gear. The bike can rip out of turns in second gear with plenty of traction and keep pulling hard or it can pull third through the same turn, just as easily, with plenty of drive. It all depends on how you want to ride it. Ride it smooth or hard, either way, it always finds traction and puts the power to the ground.Now I have to say it even though it's said every time the KTM is brought up: How can you go wrong with electric start? It is so nice to just push a button and not have to kick your motorcycle like a caveman. When will the other MXers follow suit?I feel the '09 KTM 450 is closer than ever to putting it to the Japanese 450s. I was definitely impressed. With its great motor and suspension to match I can't wait to ride the KTM back to back with the big four.
-Chris Barrett/6'1"/180 lb/ProThe 2009 KTM 450 SX-F was a very easy-riding bike. The powerband was extremely smooth, and the throttle response was incredible. The suspension needed a little fine-tuning and adjusting to fit my riding style and my weight, but when we got the suspension tuned for me the bike ran insanely through all of the braking bumps at both high and low speeds.The angle of the fork on this bike is in the perfect spot for railing some ruts. The bike likes to get into a rut and flow with it; I never had a problem with the front end wanting to hop out. The best thing about the bike is its brakes. The front brake on this bike has incredible stopping power, but it's not to the point to where it wants to throw you over the bar. The rear brake also has incredible stopping power. Being new to 450s and having just bought a 2008 Honda CRF450R, I really enjoyed riding this KTM.
-Jake Scarbrough/6'1"/180 lb/Novice