Sep 21, 2019

A Motocross Profile: The Kawasaki KX450F

Rusty G

A Look At the Kawasaki KX450F

When it comes to popular motocross models, the Kawasaki KX450F stands out. The build of the bike was inspired and sourced directly from the world’s premier Kawasaki race team; it was developed from the highest levels of racing, and it’s designed to be the bike that builds champions. Just as you would expect from a Kawasaki, the bike is technologically advanced, graceful, and powerful.

The race-winning bike has a lightweight and powerful engine that was developed by the Kawasaki factory race team to be ready to go at the crack of a throttle. And when you take a look at the History of Kawasaki Motorcycles, this innovation doesn't surprise us. But it took awhile for the KX450F to get to the 2018 model. At first, the liquid-cooled DOHC 449 cc four-valve, four-stroke bike was pulled in 2005 due to catastrophic frame failure. Kawasaki regrouped and the motocross motorcycle was seriously remodeled in 2006. After that, the KX450F came back better than ever and (safely) won the BooKoo Arenacross, Hare and Hounds, and AM World Supercross GP titles.

Video source: Motocross Action Magazine

When the bike first hit the market in 2005, the 4-speed KX450F broke with the industry standard of 5-speed transmissions, and it got a lot of flack. So, in 2007, the bike underwent more changes. That year, the engine and frame were refined and, finally, it was upgraded to a 5-speed transmission. In 2012, the frame of the bike was revamped and received significant modifications to the engine and electronics.

Kawasaki says the model is the most powerful, lightweight, and agile KX450F to date.  The bike features “a unique system unto itself” with Launch Control. Designed to prevent wheel-spin at takeoff, Launch Control automatically disengages ignition timing in first and second gear to help maximize traction. When a switch is activated, the bike’s computer modifies the acceleration factors and, basically, puts all the bike’s power to the ground. Once you shift into third gear, full power is restored and normal ignition mapping resumes immediately.

Video source: TransWorld Motocross

Kawasaki motocross loves precise cornering, and the KX450F features a lightweight aluminum perimeter frame that helps just that. The ultra-thin specifications of the perimeter spars create a narrow profile that helps overall performance and easier movement. As if the build and performance aren’t enough, the Kawasaki KX450F is also popular since you can extensively customize the ECU with optional Kawasaki motocross software. By simply changing a plug-and-play module, the bike’s Digital Fuel Injection (DFI) coupler system allows for immediate trackside changes to the ECU for standard, soft track, and hard track mappings.

Kawasaki Motocross KX450F Specs

  • MSRP: $12,999
  • Predecessor: Honda XRV750
  • Class: Dual-sport
  • Engine: 998cc parallel-twin
  • Bore / stroke: 3.62 in × 2.96 in
  • Power: 94 hp @ 7,500 rpm
  • Torque: 72 lbf⋅ft @ 6,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, chain final drive
  • Frame Type: Steel semi-double cradle
  • Front Suspension: 45mm inverted Showa fork, 9.0 in travel
  • Rear Suspension: Single prolink shock, 8.7 in travel
  • Brakes, Front: Dual 310mm disc
  • Brakes, Rear: Single 256 mm disc
  • Tire, Front: 90/90-R21 tube type
  • Tire, Rear: 150/70-R18 tube type
  • Wheelbase: 62 in
  • Seat Height: 34.5–33.5 in

Want more cool Kawasaki reads? Check out the story behind the birth of the Kawasaki iconic green color.

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