The Torture Test - Northland Motorsports/Precision Concepts Race Team 2009 Kawasaki KX450F - Dirt Rider Magazine

Even though it didn't make the cut, this big Kawasaki still impressed us with its plush suspension and overall stability.

About the bike:
The average off road rider uses his bike for trail riding as well as riding the motocross tracks when he doesn't want to travel so far from home. We chose the 09 Kawasaki KX450F because it made a lot of sense as an all around bike. It comes with a fast motor, so it is more cost effective to smooth out the motor than to hop it up. The handling is very neutral and for most riders, very easy to adapt to. It has very few weak traits that we feel are easily addressed.We installed a Scott's stabilizer to allow the rider to relax his grip, and as the average person doesn't need motocross valving on the trail, we loosened it up enough to improve it on the trail, but it is versatile enough that clicker adjustments will allow for days on the practice track. A large fuel tank extends mileage, so you can spend the day on the trail when your buddies call. Most of the other products have been added to smooth out the motor and chassis for the average person to enjoy long distance riding and to add durability in items like the chain slider and guide. These modifications do not inhibit this bike's ability to be a strong moto bike. With the new fuel injection, starting is so easy that the magic button isn't as necessary. Even if you fall over after dabbing your foot in a tight section, there's no flooding and the lighter weight of the bike makes it more versatile.This KX450 has enough fuel capacity and controlled stability for desert riding, durable products and plushness for trail while still maintaining a strong chassis and motor that will readily adapt to the occasional day at the track. With this bike, you don't need any others in your garage!Parts and modifications:
Precision Concepts Racing: www.precisionconcepts.net; 877-976-3486
Suspension modifications: $474.99
1.8 radiator cap: $34.99
ECU reprogramming: $125.00BRP: www.brpmoto.com; 800-834-9363
Triple clamps and bar mounts: $219.95
Chain guide: $69.95
Chain Slider: $89.95Renthal: www.renthal.com; 661-257-2986
997 Black Twinwall bars: $119.99
13T front sprocket: $25.95
50T rear sprocket: 64.95
Kevlar tapered dual compound grips (G166): $19.95RK/Excel: www.rkexcelamerica.com; 760-732+3161
RK 520SXO 120 link chain: $99.95Maxxis: www.maxxistires.com; 877-976-3486
80/100-21 SI front tire: $83.95
110/90-19 SI rear tire: $101.95
Heavy duty front tube: $15.95
Heavy duty rear tube: $21.95Scott' Performance: www.scottsperformance.com; 818-248-6747
Stabilizer: $330.00
Frame bracket: $89.99Acerbis: www.acerbis.it; 800-659-1440
Uniko vented hand guards: $38.95AP Racing: www.apracingusa.com; 877-976-3486
LMP294ORR front pads: $35.99
LMP390ORR rear pads: $35.99
PRF hi temp brake fluid: $34.00Works Connection: www.worksconnection.com; 530-642-9488
Elite Clutch Perch: $139.99Hinson Racing: www.hinsonracing.com; 909-946-2942
HS263 steel basket: $269.99
H267 Pressure plate kit; $499.99
Clutch cover: $169.99E-line: www.elineaccessories.com; 508-295-0812
Skid plate: $159.99IMS Products: www.imsproducts.com; 951-653-7720
Fuel tank; $275.00
EVO fuel tank foam: $49.99
Big Foot footpegs: $96.99FMF: www.fmfracing.com; 310-900-3600
Factory 4.1 stainless slip on exhaust: $359.99
Power bomb head pipe: $199.99DT-1 Racing: www.dt1filters.com;559-651-4120
Air filter: $23.95

Alexander Smith is usually pretty partial to two-strokes, but he adapted very well to the KX450F's rideable power. The strong torque and a relatively mellow hit allow this bike to be ridden off-road with confidence.

Dirt Rider Post Torture Evaluation****The best all-around bike because:
With plush, rideable suspension, a mellow power spread and tons of stability, this is one of the least scary 450s that we've ever ridden off-road. The fuel-injection, great brakes and all-around feel all lent themselves to this confident attitude, making this bike a popular choice among our testing group.Not the best all-around bike because:
With stability usually comes weight, and this machine had a heavy, large feeling to it that we just couldn't shed. The large feeling was augmented by the soft-sided suspension, and in combination with the mellow motor gave the impression that the bike was a tad too weighty and a bit too slow to really compete with the top bikes in this test.Dirt Rider SaysIf you think about it, the quest to build the best all-around bike really should begin with the best all-around bike. For some, this could mean a bike that has one really outstanding characteristic. For others, the best all-around bike is that which does everything well but nothing really well. And for the crew behind the Northland Motorsports/ Precision Concepts Torture Test entry, the best all-around platform is the 2009 KX450F. A renowned powerhouse with solid handling, a strong motor and tried-and-true durability, the KX450F is the choice of many riders both within off-road riding and in the moto scene, and thus was Northland/ PC's top choice to throw into the DR Torture Test mill.When test riders Ryan Orr, Steve Hengeveld, Alexander Smith, Jerry Bernardo and I first hit the trails on the Northland Motorsports/Precision Concepts Kawasaki KX450F, we found that the bike mirrored its stock counterpart in terms of performance, although several key characteristics had been altered to make the machine more "all-around" capable. Most notably, the Precision Concepts-modified suspension on the big Kawasaki was infused with pure stability. Be it in a straight line, tight woods, small bumps, large chops or at low speed, medium speed and ludicrous speed, this bike stayed to course and provided a balanced platform of solidity that refused to be budged out of line. As far as suspension that doesn't have any surprises and won't flick you off at random, Precision Concepts hit the nail squarely on the head with this plush setting, though we still weren't able to completely bottom it out. Our testers varied quite a bit weight-wise, and each of us was more than satisfied with how the suspension held the bike on the trail and on the track.Sure, the straight-line stability and suspension character of this bike were top-notch, but what of when you tried to corner it? Yet again, this bike impressed us with its cornering proficiency in both off-road and moto scenarios. The soft character of the suspension allowed the bike to really settle well in turns, and this more than anything helped the motor to hook up and be put to good use. This was apparent on the motocross track at Rynoland, as well as on some of the more wide-open Grand Prix areas. Yet even in tight terrain, the big bike felt well suspended and fun to ride, thanks largely to the plush character of the fork and shock. The brakes, too, were excellent and very controllable when it came to feel and adjustment.In terms of power, the Northland Motorsports/ Precision Concepts Kawasaki can best be described as linear. The bike's builders set out to make the engine more rideable, and they certainly did just that by mellowing out the machine's character, which in turn made the delivery extremely useable. For riders like myself who aren't super hot on having too much motor in a bike (making it hard to control and, as such, totally scary), the Northland KX-F's easy to handle temper was a relief. Contrary to what you may think, riding a fast bike does not necessarily mean that you will ride the bike fast, and all of our testers were conscious of how this seemingly "slower" attitude could actually translate into big savings on the stop watch. And, of course, a rideable bike is one that can be ridden for long periods of time, greatly increasing the all-day fun factor of this machine.As with any all-around bike, this machine made sacrifices in several areas, and unfortunately they were enough in this case to keep the Northland Motorsports/ Precision Concepts team out of the top six. Quite possibly the biggest downside to the KX450F is that Northland/ Precision concepts essentially took the biggest-feeling 450 motocross out there and bulked it up by adding a big tank. This, combined with the small weight gains seen in some of the mods, led our test riders to feel that the bike was large and heavy, a sensation that was only compounded by the soft-feeling suspension. Compared to a lightweight bike that feels maneuverable and nimble, this machine felt extremely planted and far too heavy for its own good. Granted, with the heavy feeling comes that healthy dose of stability that we all crave, but in this instance it was a bit overdone.Our other main complaint with the bike was also a product of one of its major benefits. As with the stability (which was manifested by a heavy feeling), the useable motor had a fault in that it felt slightly tame. Sure, the rideability of this bike is huge cause for praise, but the reality is that a bit more explosiveness would have helped this big machine to feel like it wasn't having so much trouble lugging its own weight around. Personally, I can't bash the motor too much because I really liked it, but in speaking for all of our riders a little more hit wouldn't have been a bad thing.All together, the Northland Motorsports/ Precision Concepts KX450F is a great bike with a very solid package, but it wasn't exactly the all-around machine that we were looking for. Still, we have to praise the bike for its friendly personality, comfortable suspension and simple (read: not too expensive) nature. In an age where faster and stiffer modifications seem to be all the rage, this machine was a breath of fresh air. -Chris Denison

This motor was really linear, which also made it rally easy to ride and very mellow. The power was easy to ride and nice and smooth. I thought it was a good all around bike because you could do a lot of things with it. The suspension worked really well on tight stuff, and even on the moto track the off-road suspension soaked up the bumps. Out of our group , this would be my top pick! - Steve Hengeveld/ 5'7"/ 155 lbs./ ProWhile this machine felt powerful, it was definitely not as explosive as other 450s in the test. The power was a lot more manageable, especially on tight stuff, and the suspension helped make it easy to ride. Also, these were my favorite brakes of anything that I tested; very smooth action and great control. -Alexander Smith/ 6'1"/ 155 lbs. / Expert****Editor's Note
This year's Dirt Rider Torture Test was set it up like a screening for a reality TV show: Bring what you have and prepare for whatever happens. The idea was to show up at the Torture Test with the best all-around, one-bike-does-it-all off-road dirt bike, with no guidelines or requirements from our side. It was wide open, but everyone knew going in that it would be tough to make the cut to get into the final group of bikes you see in the magazine. Of course, they didn't all make it to the pages of Dirt Rider. Some missed out ever so slightly, some by a longer ways. This is a full test of one of the bikes that missed the final cut. The competition was tough but lurking in this field of bikes you can likely find an example of the perfect bike that fits your needs, or learn what other riders or people in the industry think is the best bike in the whole world. For the people and companies that built each of these bikes, it was the best bike they could deliver.-Jimmy Lewis, Editor Dirt Rider Magazine