Although MDK is the official arm of KTM racing, they have always produced race bikes for a select list of privateers on other brands. One of those privateers is MXA’s Dennis Stapleton. Stapleton, apart from his MXA duties, also races the WORCS series and the AMA Nationals with support from Kawasaki, MXA and MDK.
Through Stapleton’s connection at MDK, where he also helps out as a durability test rider for race parts, the MXA wrecking crew made arrangements to get a full-blown MDK Kawasaki KX450F?a bike that is essentially what MDK would be racing if they were a Kawasaki team instead of the KTM team.
Oh, by the way, the initials MDK are those of team owner Mark D. Kvamme (a very successful entrepreneur and racer from the Bay Area).The MXA wrecking crew was eager to test MDK Motorsports’ KX450F.
SHOP TALK: WHAT ARE THE PARTS AND PIECES?
In an effort to fight heat buildup, which can be a curse on an open-loop, fuel-injected bike, a $189.95 Boyesen Supercooler water pump and impeller (with $29.95 Supercooler elbow) were installed. Team Kawasaki runs the Boyesen Supercooler and, for Stapleton, the ultra-long WORCS races put an even bigger load on the coolant system. Additionally, a high-pressure CV4 radiator cap, radiator hoses and temperature strips were employed in the fight against heat.
Although MDK’s team is sponsored by Dunlop, Stapleton outfitted his KX450F with Bridgestone 201/202 tires. The 201/202 combo is designed for intermediate to soft terrain. The MXA wrecking crew prefers the more intermediate-focused 403/404 combo, but Stapleton is more interested in the sandy, wooded terrain often found in the WORCS series.
To get the most out of the 2009 KX450F, you have to make careful choices on where you spend your money. MXA focused on handling, gearing and brakes.
THE MOST UNIQUE PART OF THE MDK MOTORSPORTS KX450F WAS THE CZ O-RING CHAIN. YOU READ THAT RIGHT! THE SAME CZ FROM THE GOOD OLD DAYS. THE CHAINS ARE PRODUCED AT ONE OF THE OLD CZ FACTORIES IN STRAKONICE, CZECH REPUBLIC.
The most unique part of the MDK Motorsports KX450F was the CZ O-ring chain. You read that right! The same CZ from the good old days. The chains are produced at one of the old CZ factories in Strakonice, Czech Republic, by a company called CZ Retezy. When the Iron Curtain fell and CZ failed as a motorcycle manufacturer, the factory turned its attention toward automobile components, chains, tools and casting machines. You can read more about them at www.czchains.com. The Czech chain is guided through a $69.95 BRP polymer chain guide.
In a nod to handling, the MDK KX450F used Ride Engineering 22mm offset triple clamps (although for WORCS racing there is less urgency in cornering, so the stock 23mm clamps would suffice). The Ride clamps retail for $419.90 in green or black anodizing.
At one time Kawasaki was at the head of the wide footpeg movement, but not anymore. To keep the bike up-to-date, $96.00 IMS Bigfoot footpegs were installed. The Bigfoot is a 57mm-wide, cast stainless steel peg with a proprietary tooth design.
To finish out the KX450F, Decal Works printed a custom graphics kit ($199.00), T-6 number plate backgrounds ($69.95) and radiator louver decals ($59.95). No bike would be complete without Works Connection case guards, a skid plate, axle blocks and complete clutch lever. www.worksconnection.com
TEST RIDE: TWIST AND GO
THE SUSPENSION WAS SET UP FOR STAPLETON’S PERSONAL TASTE. HE SAID IT WOULD WORK BEST FOR ANYONE WHO WAS “REALLY FAST OR REALLY SLOW.” WE HAD BOTH SPEEDS OF TEST RIDERS RIDE THE BIKE, AND THEY ARE PRETTY SURE THAT THIS SETUP ONLY WORKS WELL IF YOUR NAME IS DENNIS STAPLETON.
The suspension was set up for Stapleton’s personal taste. He said it would work best for anyone who was “really fast or really slow.” We had both speeds of test riders ride the bike, and they are pretty sure that this setup only works well if your name is Dennis Stapleton. The shock ramps up very quickly and is harsh in the second half of the stroke. The damping is strange, because it isn’t Supercross stiff, but it isn’t very fluid either. When hard on the gas or hard on the brakes, the bike tracks straight, stays stable through turns and soldiers through the big bumps. It just doesn’t like anything in the middle.
WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
Apart from what we already knew would be an issue, we loved every aspect of the MDK Motorsports KX450F. It stopped on a dime, went like a rocket and handled like it was on rails.