I’m not going to lie, I was pretty dam nervous riding to the track with this bike. In recent years I have had quite a lot of seat time on a 150 sx, 250 sx-f and a couple of weeks on a 350 sx-f , but other than riding some enduro on the 450 EXC I have spent no time on a 450. 450cc is a lot of motor on a tight motocross track, just under 47hp on this KTM. I was excited but couldn’t get the thought out of my head that this thing was about to f%^k me up!
It fired up first press of the electric start and I hit the track. Having ridden other KTM SX’s the KISKA designed ergonomics felt familiar straight away which helped me to get comfortable pretty quickly. The motor kicks ass. The brakes too. The suspension was ok, but felt a little harsh. The bike felt like it was pushing wide in the corners to start with, but I gradually figured out all I had to do to get it turning better was give it some smooth throttle to get the back to slide around a bit.
At the X-Bowl arena on the advice of Josef Dobes I left the bike in 3rd gear around the whole track and it really worked well. To a long time 2 stroke rider like myself not having to shift is a weird situation to be in, but I found it was helping me focus more on other parts of my riding. I felt a bit like I was tiptoeing around the track, but I kept coming up on people in front of me all the time. Was I really going that fast??! It required almost no clutch and the power of the engine was remarkably linear making it very easy to ride, but it roars when you really crack it open. Throttle control was the name of the game though and the more I focused on that the better the bike felt. The KTM 450 sx-f is a lot easier to ride than I had been expecting. So far I am really impressed. I am not sure why more people don’t ride 450’s??! I’d never even considered one before so I shouldn’t really be surprised. 450’s are for people like Ken Roczen, James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed and Villopoto. Surely not for mere mortals??! Maybe they are though. You can ride amazingly fast, but they are also quite a lot of fun. Cant wait to get out and ride it again!
big thanks to Zajcmaster for taking the photos!