Photo: Trevor Nelson

(1) THE TIME LINE. Given budget constraints, an accelerated production schedule, the pace of development and return on investment requirements, KTM cannot make every year’s Factory Edition as groundbreaking as the first one back in 2012. There is no doubt that the 2012-1/2, 2015-1/2 and 2018-1/2 Factory Editions were groundbreaking machines—the other six years not so much. Carbon dating the nine-year history of the 450SXF Factory Edition reveals that every three years KTM has something special in the works, much like Halley’s Comet, that will most likely happen with the 2021-1/2 model—not so much with the 2020-1/2 model.

(2) THE RULEBOOK. In order for the KTM Factory team to race next year’s bike this year, KTM must have at least 400 bikes available for sale to the public—200 Factory Editions by March 1 and 200 more by June 1. If those production numbers aren’t met, any KTM rider who raced a 2020-1/2 450SXF Factory Edition in the 2020 AMA Supercross series will be disqualified from every race he was entered in.

(3) JOB ONE. Since KTM has to produce 400 motorcycles before the specs of next year’s bike are finalized, get them down a makeshift assembly line, load them into a freighter and deliver them into the hands of consumers on schedule, building Factory Editions is a major undertaking. But, over it history it has lived up to the promise of being next year’s KTM 450SXF six months earlier than the arrival of the production models. That is that makes Factory Editions special. And while Honda has it’s own Work Edition CRF450, it comes out at the same time as the stock 2021 CRF450—thus it lacks the timeliness of the KTM Factory Edition.

(4) BOLT-ON FOOF. Not every part on the 2020-1/2 Factory Edition is hard to come by—a lot of it is just bolt-on foof. Take the Hinson clutch cover; it is not a Hinson Billetproof clutch, just a cosmetic cover. Or, the Red Bull graphics, PowerParts seat, orange rear fender, PowerParts skid plate and Akrapovic muffler (not the Akrapovic exhaust system that the race team uses, just a slip-on muffler). There is nothing wrong with these value-added pieces, but they don’t make the Factory Edition perform better. In fact, the slip-on muffler actually hurts the performance compared to the stock OEM muffler.

(5) POWERPLANT. Nothing in the engine has been touched for 2021; however, there is new mapping. Map 1 is the stock map. It isn’t much different from the 2020 map, but when paired with a much more aggressive Map 2, which is based on the infamous “American map,” there is a much larger difference. Plus, the MXA test riders like to combine Maps 1 and 2 with Traction Control (TC) to give them four mapping options.

(6) XACT FORKS. Although the WP Xact forks look identical to the 2020 OEM forks, the internals have six major differences. First, there is an oil bypass notched into the outer fork legs to reduce pressure peaks when the stanchion bushing and cartridge bushing get close enough together to compress the fork oil. Second, there is a trampoline shim stack that has the ability to flex at the end of the stroke to lessen harshness. Third, the negative chamber’s cross-over bleed slot is twice as long as it was on the 2020 forks, plus the negative air chamber spacer, which was doubled in size to lessen air space in 2018, has been downsized for 2021 to increase the negative chamber’s air space. Fourth, the air seal on the left fork leg has four bypass holes to relieve pressure buildup. Fifth, the bottoming cone in the damping leg has been replaced with a bump-stop rubber O-ring. Sixth, you don’t need a screwdriver to adjust the rebound damping; you can now turn the rebound clicker under the right fork leg by hand.

2020 KTM Factory Edition 450SXF-9362

(7) XACT SHOCK. The rear shock gets new damping characteristics for an improved ride. Plus, the shock gets a more durable O-ring for the internal link piston. Finally, the shock linkage operates on new, low-friction SKF seals for freer movement of the shock linkage.

(8) ROLLING CHASSIS. There are no changes to the frame geometry or fittings, but as always, the Factory Edition frame is painted orange. The wheels are built on orange anodized Factory PowerParts hubs with D.I.D DirtStar rims laced with a cross-three spoke pattern on the front wheel. 

(9) TRIPLE CLAMPS. The triple clamps are also from PowerParts and feature slots that allow the clamps to wrap around the stanchion tube more fully. Additionally, you can change the fork offset from the stock 22mm to 20mm by loosening the 27mm nut under the steering stem and rotating the stem 180 degrees. On a historical note, this is not the first time that KTM has offered adjustable offset. Back in 2005, you could change the 20mm offset to 18mm offset.

(10) COST. The very first 2012-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition cost $9595. The retail price of the 2020-1/2 KTM 450SXF is $11,099. That is $1100 more expensive than the the box-stock 2020 KTM 450SX ($9999). The increase in cost is more than offset by the PowerParts Factory wheelset ($924) and the Factory triple clamps ($623), which means that the orange frame, holeshot device, orange sprocket, skid plate, semi-floating front brake rotor, Red Bull team graphics, Akrapovic muffler, XACT valving, Selle Dalla Valle seat, maps, front disc guard and Hinson clutch cover are free.

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