Race Test: 2010 KRT Kawasaki KX450F //
POSTED: 22 Oct 2010 | SECTION: Motocross | POSTED BY:Alex Gobert
MotoOnline.com.au takes a quick spin on Billy Mackenzie’s Kawasaki Racing Team KX450F.
We’ve all been thrown in at the deep end at some stage during life, and it’s usually how you step up to the plate that defines the end result of the task at hand.
In the case of testing Scottish star Billy Mackenzie’s Kawasaki Racing Team KX450F, I had doubted my dirt bike talents, only to be pleasantly surprised by a rider-friendly factory weapon at the first twist of the throttle.
The opportunity came during Kawasaki’s press launch of the 2011 model KX250F at Louee in New South Wales just weeks following the MX Nationals season finale, where Mackenzie managed to take second place overall in the series.
Mackenzie spent much of the season as the fastest on track despite suffering a wrist injury at Canberra’s second round, an injury that would affect him throughout the year and eventually force him to finish second in the points behind triple defending champion Jay Marmont.
As an ex-world championship contender and a guy who has won races at an international level on an assortment of factory equipment, BillyMac’s decision to revert to domestic competition – especially in Australia – came as a shock to many for 2010.
With a resume boasting grand prix wins, the Queensland-based Kawasaki Racing Team knew that the task of building a bike capable of meeting Mackenzie’s demands would be a massive challenge in itself.
While KRT is the factory team in Australia, bikes here are nowhere near the level of the highly customised GP machinery, but Mackenzie says that his KX450F in Oz is one of the best race bikes he’s ever had.
KRT started with a production model that can be purchased straight off the showroom floor, before modifying it via a large range of aftermarket parts and components.
The highlight of the package is the top level Pro Circuit-built Showa suspension developed in the United States specifically for Mackenzie to ensure the handling meets his demands.
It has a lower than usual front-end and relatively tall rear, something that the team says is done to compensate for his European style of standing up more than the regular Aussie rider would.
What this does on track for a rider like myself is make the front-end unstable at speed, but when you’re a tall rider standing up on the ’pegs and on the gas like BillyMac, the rear squats and the package comes together.
KRT is proud of its engine, modified in-house, which boasts power gains across the range, while still remaining quite rider friendly unless you’re on it at 10-10ths.
I compared it to a big-bore off-road bike, where it’s oh so smooth off the bottom, but lethally quick when you’re well into the mid-range of the powerband.
There are also touches such as Tag handlebars (a tall bend considering BillyMac’s height), ASV levers, wider footpegs and a custom hump in the seat to help keep Billy forward on the bike.
Michelin tyres, Braking brake components and various Light Speed carbon-fibre goodies add to the overall make-up of the ride.
It’s not everyday you get to sample one of the trickest factory motocross race bikes in the world, but just one cruisy moto has upped my admiration for the top guys of the sport even more.
It may be factory, but it’s still up to the rider to extract the majority of the performance out of it if victory is on the cards come Sunday afternoon at the MX Nationals rounds.