2008 KTM 450 XC - A Year With - Dirt Rider Magazine

You know those "They can take my guns when they pry them from my cold, dead hands" bumper stickers? I'm not actually ready to die for the KTM 450 XC, but they will have to pry my hands away from the grips. Honestly, after the initial introduction to the XC lineup, I felt they would do better on the track than on the trail. The edges of the suspension and power delivery simply felt too sharp off-road. Soon I found that I could be very happy riding MX at my level on the XC. I even chose it for the Mammoth Mountain MX in addition to many practice days at local tracks like Piru MX, I-5MX, LACR and Milestone MX. Sure, I made it a point to avoid landing short or radically overjumping, but the suspension was super plush and the power was ultra-smooth and didn't tire me out. Yet more of the hours came off-road than moto. Most of my time was spent on trails in the high desert of SoCal, but I did hit some Nevada and mountain trails, too. By the time I'd ventured back off-road, the suspension had broken in and the light weight was addicting, so I overlooked less suspension compliance in the rocks and chop. Most enduro-style 450cc four-strokes are over 250 pounds with no gas. This 450 XC weighs 237 with an empty three-gallon tank and a kickstand. I easily felt that weight difference off-road. But since MX 450s are 232 to 236 pounds, it wasn't that far off, nor was it a disadvantage at the track.Because I used the XC for all types of riding, it got the wheels ridden off of it. It wasn't a full-fledged long-term bike, so it never got an hourmeter, but it went through roughly 20 rear tires. One of the few regular problems was its habit of boiling over when ridden hard in low-speed conditions, and that seemed to grow continually worse. Eventually the water pump seal and shaft became worn and had to be replaced. That replacement seal didn't last long, but a third has held up well. In the end, the "overheating" was traced to a bad radiator cap. After a new one, it never boiled over without cause.We found excessive ring gap on the long-term 2007 KTM 450 SX, so our XC came apart to compare. It, too, was worn well beyond the service limit yet still running perfectly. The piston and valves were still solid, so only new gaskets and the rings were replaced. The valves have never needed adjustment.In the end, the stuff that wore out or broke amounted to a radiator cap, three different water pump seals and a pump shaft, piston rings and a head gasket. Replacing the radiator cap earlier might have prevented a lot of this. There were consumable expenses as well, since I do change the oil a lot and keep up with the air and oil filters. The chain and sprockets are shot now but are still working. If you can't tell, I enjoyed the heck out of this bike. It babied me on the track and provided thrills and brute force off-road when the throttle was twisted far enough. All that, and the 450 XC was reliable with a smiles-per-dollar ratio that was right on.The best things I did for the bike were:
* Merge adjustable leak jet-magic for the carburetion and the powerband.
* FMF Q4-I like a quiet pipe for off-road. This one has a spark arrestor, too.
* Enduro Engineering tall, firm seat and handlebar mount spacers-which gave 200 percent more comfort seated or standing for my 6 foot 1 inch frame.
* Sunline AV-One handlebar-it drastically reduced vibration to my hands.
* Scotts steering damper-don't even need to hold on in the rough on-track or off.
* Dunlop D745 front and D952 rear tires-the 745 works great everywhere, and the long-wearing, reasonably priced 952 rear is extra cool for a powerful bike I ride this often.
The things I wish I had done or tried:
* E-Line pipe guards would have avoided a lot of melted riding pants.
* A 19-inch wheel would have made moto even more fun with less wheel hop in chop and on jump landings.
* Zip-Ty Waterless Racing Coolant would have been a smart move. It rocked in my last KTM, but I never got around to it.