MotoOnline.com.au tests the 2020 KTM 450 EXC-F.
KTM recently hosted it’s 2020 EXC-F and EXC international media launch in Bassella, Spain, where the new generation enduro models were showcased for the very first time. MotoOnline.com.au had the opportunity to sample the entire range, including the 2020 KTM 450 EXC-F.
Where we rode:
The media launch took place at Bassella Experiences, about two and half east of Barcelona in Spain. The venue is a dedicated off-road park, and a unique 12km enduro loop, including a special test, was put together for the international press to put the bikes to the test. The trail offered varying surfaces and obstacles, including challenging rock sections, steep ascents and descents, tight and technical trail, plus fast and flowing trails. It really was the perfect venue to experience the entire collection, especially the 450 EXC-F.
Year model 2020 marks a new generation and a complete overhaul from its predecessor, and in the latest incarnation of the 450 EXC-F, KTM’s target was to make the bike more rideable, and they’ve achieved this by reworking key components. The engine is more efficient and produces greater power, the chassis has adjusted stiffness, the cooling system has been refined and the exhaust system is completely new to compliment the engine and electronics updates. All-new bodywork immediately catches the eye, however there’s more to it than just aesthetics – the panels have been intelligently designed to maintain strength while cutting down weight, while they’ve been reworked to slim the bike down, particularly on the exhaust number plate, which is now symmetrical with the left-hand side. The airbox has also undergone a makeover to improve airflow, and despite the adjustments, it still utilises the same air filter as its predecessor. As always, the KTM is fitted with only best componentry, including WP XPLOR suspension, Brembo brakes – which are clear standout – hydraulic clutch, Giant rims, Neken handlebars and electric starter.
The new generation EXC-F chassis is the result of years of development, and it’s felt on the 450 with just how agile it is in the most tight and technical of trails. It retains the same geometry as it’s predecessor, although stiffness levels have been adjusted in key areas of the frame, offering a more playful, yet stable, ride. You can really see why the 450 EXC-F is such a formidable machine in enduro racing, as pushing through trails is seamless, overcoming obstacles is made easy and the stability of the bike promotes confidence to just attack what’s in front of you. All-new for 2020 is the WP XPLOR fork and WP XPLOR shock. The fork is 48 mm diameter, and is a split fork design developed by WP and KTM. While each side is fitted with springs, they have separate damping functions – compression damping is on the left and the rebound on the right. At 75kg and intermediate skill level, the fork felt a little stiff in standard trim, although in saying that, I didn’t alter the clickers at all. You can really feel the potential with the fork, and I think additional time on the bike with some fine tuning would be all that’s needed to settle on a comfortable setting. The shock utilises KTM’s PDS (progressive damping system) design, unlike its motocross siblings – this is where the shock is directly linked to the swingarm without an additional linkage system, reducing weight and lowering the chances of hooking on rocks. The WP XPLOR shock offered a comforting feeling in standard trim, once again, I didn’t adjust the clickers. Straight off the bat, the bike tracked exceptionally well, particularly in the rougher and rockier sections of the trail, and provided plenty of confidence to push the limits further. The suspension package really compliments the reworked frame, and I felt comfortable and confident in just matter of minutes.
The KTM 450 EXC-F’s powerplant has received a boost in rideability, efficiency and power for 2020. The engine is fitted with a newly-developed SOHC cylinder head which is much more compact, 15mm lower and 500g lighter, enhancing mass centralisation and handling, while the crankshaft is located in an ideal position close to the centre of gravity, utilising a short connecting rod, which makes for an overall compact and lightweight engine with a snappy power delivery. The 450 has a much more ‘racier’ feel to it, and in comparison to the 500, you can definitely maximise the power that’s on tap, especially in sections such as a special test. With traction control and two maps on offer, you can really transform the bike to your liking and ability. The ECU features new maps for 2020 adapted to the new exhaust, airbox and engine configuration, and it regulates the unique traction control feature as well as the smooth and aggressive maps. I personally stuck to the smooth map, which enabled me to manage the outright power of the bike, while also taking advantage of torque higher in the rev-range when needed.
The 450 sits in an unusual spot between the 350 and the 500 enduro models, although it certainly deserves its place. The EXC-F platform is a strong one with an exceptional chassis, great suspension, and premium components – and that’s only strengthened with the 450 powerplant and it’s accompanying electronics package. It truly is ‘Ready to Race’, and having the luxury of tuning the bikes power delivery via the mapping switch on the fly makes this bike suitable and competitive for beginners right through to professionals.
Engine type: Four-stroke, single cylinder
Bore/stroke: 95mm x 63.4mm
Seat height: 960mm
Weight: 105.5kg (dry)
Fuel capacity: 9.2l
More details: www.ktm.com/au