MotoOnline.com.au rides and reviews the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F.
This season has been a stellar year for KTM, wrapping up the 2014 American Motocross Championship with Ken Roczen on the 450 SX-F and taking home the FIM MXGP World Championship with Antonio Cairoli aboard the 350 SX-F. Kirk Gibbs also rode the 450 SX-F to second overall in our MX Nationals MX1 series.
As you can imagine, rolling up to Appin’s Macarthur Motorcycle Club with a range of KTM’s 2015 models ready for myself and Dylan Wills to rip, we were excited. We decided to throw a leg over the ‘big dog’ right off the bat and see what the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F had to offer!
For 2015 the Austrian manufacturer hasn’t thrown a large amount of changes at their strong range of motocross machines, instead refining the previous model to bring them to the next level for the new year.
Suspension changes are the big deal for 2015 with KTM and the 4CS (four chamber system) fork by WP is now fitted. This updated fork design is great, it responds to changes very well and provides great front end feel at all times. Both myself and Dylan opted to go five clicks softer on the compression and one click slower on the rebound.
Initially we were experiencing a slightly harsh ride in the front-end, but with these changes, which were done out on the track with a turn off a dial (no tools required), we were both quite satisfied with the performance of the fork on the 450 SX-F.
Adding to the improved front-end performance is the new 22mm front axle (formerly 26mm) for 2015. The new axle provides improved rider feedback and also saves 40 grams. The new fork stubs now feature an offset of 33mm instead of 35mm, which together with increased trail deliver greater ride stability. They also accommodate newly developed, 50 gram lighter fork protectors.
With an all-new front-end set-up, the 2015 450 SX-F also receives a rear end upgrade with a longer shock and an updated linkage to optimise geometry. The flatter progression with a higher initial rate ensures greater stability and lowers the rear-end. In addition, the new design saves another 40 grams of weight.
These updated suspension components are mounted to a lightweight, high strength, chrome-molybdenum steel frame. The frame combines maximum longitudinal stiffness with optimum torsional stiffness. A forged and milled cross-tube connects the two frame halves with the connecting rod of the linkage on the new SX frame for 2015.
Being the only manufacturer (besides Husqvarna) to stick with the steel frame design, the KTMs do feature unique characteristics, but these characteristics are really quite good. If you’re riding hard pack tracks, you’ll notice these even more compared to a soft, sandy surface – the bikes hook up.
KTM has worked out the perfect amount of rigidity to allow the 60 horsepower 450 SX-F to really put that power to the ground.
The compact powerhouse, featuring an overhead camshaft and state-of-the-art electronic fuel injection system, is seriously fast. But in saying that, it’s also very useable and easy to ride. Both myself, an intermediate/clubman rider, and Dylan, your current 2014 Australian Supercross Championship SXD Champion, can both swing a leg over this bike and absolutely love it.
If you’d like to go balls to the wall and hold the 450 SX-F wide open, that’s no issues at all. The chassis will allow you to do so. Or if you’re like me and would rather cruise around, ride a gear taller and enjoy the endless torque, that will also work for you.
Ergonomically the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F remains the same slim and comfortable bike that it was for 2014. The bodywork design allows for seamless movement around the bike without any boot catching or other annoying things going on.
For 2015 KTM have gone with a fresh graphic design using a lot more white compared to previous models, both myself and Dylan are huge fans of this design. The added white, paired with the orange frame, black Excel rims, black spokes and polished hubs really stands out. One downside is that you’ll struggle to make the bike look much better than it does in stock form!
In the cockpit, the tapered Renthal Fatbar 827 handlebar can be fixed in a choice of four positions. We opted to leave the ‘bars in the stock position while rolling them back slightly to suit our riding styles. For 2015, the 450 SX-F is also equipped with softer two-component grips to spare the rider’s hands.
As always, the 2015 450 SX-F features high-tech brakes from Brembo paired with lightweight wave discs. These brakes are impressive, there’s no denying that KTM has the best brakes on the market today and they just work so well. With 60 horsepower underneath you, those Brembo brakes front and rear and quite a nice feature to have.
You once again have the luxury of electric start – the magic button. KTM have their electric start system dialed and it’s something that every prospective KTM buyer out there will absolutely love.
Overall, the 2015 KTM 450 SX-F is a winner. The engine package is strong, the chassis provides excellent performance overall and it looks factory right out of the box. And at the premium price of $11,995, it really is ‘Ready to Race’ at whatever level you’re personally capable of.