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MXA’S 90-SECOND TEST: 2014 KAWASAKI KX450F

June 2, 2014
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The Kawasaki KX450F has been the king of the 450 class four out of the last six years (2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014). All kings maintain their thrones by virtue of their power.

50 WORD ANALYSIS

The 2014 Kawasaki KX450F is defined—lock, stock and barrel—by its powerband. Not the most powerful engine on the dyno, the KX450F engine produces an amazingly effective race-style of power. It is, without a doubt, the best race engine made in 2014. The rest of package is average?if that.

WHAT’S GOOD?

Powerband. The KX450F engine is incredible. It is smooth down low, rolls on with authority and is the best all-around race engine of 2014. It doesn’t make the most power, but its 55.05 horsepower is perfectly placed.

Plug-in maps. If you want more power, switch to the white map plug-in. If you want less, go with the black one. The tunability is one of the best features of the KX450F engine package.

Launch Control. Soft dirt? No Launch Control. Hard dirt? Launch Control.

Tires. We loved Bridgestone 403/404 tires?and that’s what comes on the KX450F.

WHAT’S BAD?

Brakes. These old-school brakes won’t stop 239 pounds of runaway locomotive.

Sound. This is the loudest bike on the track. It makes an ear piercing 120.6 decibels.

Clutch. If you intend to keep your bike for a long time get a complete Hinson clutch or, at the very least, stiffer clutch springs..

Shifting. Don’t rush it no matter how big a rush you are in.

Chain guide. Order a T.M. Designworks chain guide kit before you get home from the dealership.

WHAT DID WE CHANGE?

Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking crew changed on the 2014 KX450F.

(1) We ran a T.M. Designworks chain guide.

(2) We added one tooth to the rear sprocket to enable us to shift to third gear sooner.

(3) We installed an oversize front rotor.

(4) We used a complete Hinson clutch.

(5) We ran Splitstream crossover air valves or Works Connection EZ Fill Schrader valves to allow us to check the forks easier.

(6) We ran switched to SKF forks seals after blowing the PSF air fork seals twice.

(7) We cut some threads off the rear master cylinder plunger rod to allow to brake pedal to move downward.

WHAT DO WE THINK?

The only superlative on the 2014 KX450F is the powerband. We live with the rest of the package for the thrill of turning the KX450F throttle.

 

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