The 2012 Kawasaki KX450F in all its glory.

By John Basher

    It’s not every day that the MXA wrecking crew is given the opportunity to travel across the country to test a brand new motocross bike (okay, it is, but it’s still cool). Kawasaki did just that, as they flew MXA test rider Dennis Stapleton and myself to South Bend, Indiana (Red Bud is just across the Michigan border) to put the 2012 Kawasaki KX450F through its paces.

Dennis Stapleton rearranges a berm that the National riders will hit in less than a month when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Red Bud.

    We consider ourselves lucky to be given the opportunity to ride a pristine track (Red Bud is considered by many to be the crown jewel of all National circuits) on a squeaky clean motocross machine. With a hazy sun hanging overhead, we were met by Kawasaki’s PR staff. The Kawasaki folks were welcoming and armed us with a fresh 2012 KX450F (with zero hours of ride time).

Notice the blue engine plugs, wave front rotor, different styling, and Bridgestone 403/404 tires.

    After stickering the bike with numbers (thank you very much, DeCal Works), Stapleton suited up for the action photo shoot. In short order he clicked third gear, held the bike wide open, and sailed over LaRocco’s Leap. It was death-defying! To experience jumping LaRocco’s Leap, check out the video that we will have up tomorrow evening on the website. It’s a huuuuuge jump.

Third gear pinned – that’s how fast you need to go in order to clear LaRocco’s Leap. It’s was a breeze for Stapleton on the KX450F.

    By the end of the hot and humid day we had logged nearly six hours on the 2012 KX450F. We played with the Launch Control button, moved the bar mounts, messed with the various ignition couplers, and adjusted the suspension. Stay tuned as we continue testing the ?12 KX450F. Tomorrow we head back to Red Bud for day number two of our amazing trip.

The muffler has a new design. It is also 60mm shorter than last year’s muffler.

Unique to the 2012 Kawasaki KX450F is the Launch Control button (right). Press the button down for two seconds to activate the system, which retards the ignition timing for more consistent throttle response off the starting line. It deactivates once the bike is shifted into third gear.

We tinkered with the four-way adjustable bar mounts. Taller riders seemed to like the bars in the forward mounting hole.

Simply remove the green coupler and replace it with either of the optional couplers to quickly change the bike’s mapping. There’s a more aggressive hit coupler, as well as a softer hit coupler.

If there’s a huge American flag, it means that we’re either at (a) Glen Helen, or (b) Red Bud. Given the humidity, we were reminded that we were at Reeeeeeed Buuuuuuuuuddddd!

Stapleton squeezes the slimmer profile bike. The sleekness was immediately noticeable.

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