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Administrator 05-23-2011 01:57 PM

2011 Kawasaki KX450F Review
 

Original Article:
2011 Kawasaki KX450F Review

Please discuss the Motorcycle.com article 2011 Kawasaki KX450F Review in our Motorcycle Forums below. Use the reply button to let others know your comments or feedback on the article. Constructive criticism is always appreciated, along with your thoughts and personal opinions on the bikes and products we have tested.

Duken4evr 06-05-2011 07:03 AM

It is amazing what altering the ignition curve can do to tame the power curve on a bike like this. Very cool that Kawi is making it easy for owners to tweak their settings. This bike would be interesting for high elevation Colorado. FI is great to have and the rider can let the environment do the power smoothing for him!

My bike is a Husaberg FE450. Amazing how it somehow finds traction instead of wheelspin on dry trails, yet still has a big load of smooth power. A perfect off road engine :)

Kevin_Duke 06-05-2011 09:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Duken4evr (Post 261109)
It is amazing what altering the ignition curve can do to tame the power curve on a bike like this. Very cool that Kawi is making it easy for owners to tweak their settings. This bike would be interesting for high elevation Colorado. FI is great to have and the rider can let the environment do the power smoothing for him!

My bike is a Husaberg FE450. Amazing how it somehow finds traction instead of wheelspin on dry trails, yet still has a big load of smooth power. A perfect off road engine :)

I dig the design of the 'Bergs. Any drawbacks to the lay-down engine layout?

Duken4evr 06-05-2011 03:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kevin_Duke (Post 261112)
I dig the design of the 'Bergs. Any drawbacks to the lay-down engine layout?

Welcome to extreme thread hijacking!

The only real drawback that is sort of inherent to the 'Berg's engine design is you have to pull the left radiator to gain access to the valve cover for checking the valve clearance. That is a mild PITA, no big deal really though. On the plus side, the air filter stays clean for a longer time that is typical due to it's location up front and high, away from the dirt churning rear tire. Accessing it could not be any easier. Remove the seat and there it is.

One thing Husaberg did that I like is they went with a single oil supply in this motor, vs. the KTM which has separate gear and engine oil. Maintenance is easier with a single oil source. I think the oil engine oil probably stays a bit cooler too since there are 1.5 quarts lubing the entire works, although these things do run hot. If I were designing it, I would have done the oil in the frame thing, as this sheds a lot of heat. Like any high perf 4 stroke, high quality synthetic oil changed often is needed.

The sharing of many if not most parts on the entire bike with proven KTM stuff is way cool. The bike is made of good metal and overall is very well made with 2 exceptions. Fuel pumps are known to be dodgy and the stock fuel filter is not up to the task, allowing the injector to clog. The cure for the filter is easy, add an inline canister one (the unit from a Can-Am quad has proven to work well in the 'Berg world) and line the bottom of the fuel tank with reflective tape to keep some heat away. I hear other FI equipped bikes are having these issues as well. Hot gas can cause the impeller on the fuel pump to bind. After it cools down, it generally works again, but the pump is toast at that point. Some run a tiny amount of 2 stroke oil in the gas to lube the fuel pump. Mine has been fine so far, but then again, the bottom of my gas tank probably has enough heat shield on it to survive re-entry from orbit. Imagine that...

The layout's effect on handling is very noticible due to the crank being up and back. I really think Husberg is onto something with this idea. Even when rpms are higher, the bike is still more than willing to turn. I have a trail prepped '01 CR250 in the garage, and the 'Berg snaps and turns nearly as easily as the lightweight 2 stroke. It is a little lively in the front end, like the 2 stroke, but not bad at all. It is not "lively" as in head shaky, just a light effort yields a response. This adds up over the course of a day of hard trail riding. I find I am not completely sore, tired and beat up the next day after riding on the Husaberg. The old Suzuki DRZ 400 was a school bus replete in yellow paint while the 'Berg is a turn and burn fighter jet. Unfair DRZ comparisons aside, my WR450 mounted buddy took a spin on the 'Berg and exclaimed like Will Smith in Independence Day "I have got to get me one of these!"

Another effect. Wheelies are anytime anywhere. The bike balances well once the front end is up and just loves to ride wheelies. Best wheelie bike ever, really brings out the trail squid in me!

The '01 CR250 (which has revalved off road oriented set up suspension that really works incredibly well - best fork I have ever ridden behind) rules when it is moist and tacky and on scary fast rocky downhills, but the 'Berg is unbeatable on typical dry dusty trails. It has reliable front end traction, light handling and lots of hooked up 4 stroke power. The thing just pushes forward hard and yet controllably like an electric motor from hell, much like the KTM 450 XC-W from which is sprang I suppose. Very easy to manage and yet a plentiful deep well of power.

Another 70 degree engine trait - intake song. The trumpet points straight down at the engine and the air box of course is in your lap. Grab a handful and it growls out a deep and very cool intake song and it whistles on closed throttle and at idle. it is a sonic treat. The fuel injection works seamlessly. Creamy and instant response.

Really getting used to the bike now. Rode the last 9 years on the DRZ400 and going to this 'Berg, well, I feel like superman :) Knee deep whoops, logs, rocky dropoffs, with the instant engine and chassis response, hooked up feel and plush on the edge of being too soft but just firm enough suspension (quite good for rocky rooty Colorado), it is all cake. Learning that one can get away with quite a bit on this bike. It encourages the rider to go for it. On the gas riding smooth and fast. I love the damn thing! :cool:

Gratuitous photo of the new bike in action on the rocks in Moab :)


Kevin_Duke 06-08-2011 12:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Duken4evr (Post 261119)
Welcome to extreme thread hijacking!

The only real drawback that is sort of inherent to the 'Berg's engine design is you have to pull the left radiator to gain access to the valve cover for checking the valve clearance. That is a mild PITA, no big deal really though. On the plus side, the air filter stays clean for a longer time that is typical due to it's location up front and high, away from the dirt churning rear tire. Accessing it could not be any easier. Remove the seat and there it is.

One thing Husaberg did that I like is they went with a single oil supply in this motor, vs. the KTM which has separate gear and engine oil. Maintenance is easier with a single oil source. I think the oil engine oil probably stays a bit cooler too since there are 1.5 quarts lubing the entire works, although these things do run hot. If I were designing it, I would have done the oil in the frame thing, as this sheds a lot of heat. Like any high perf 4 stroke, high quality synthetic oil changed often is needed.

The sharing of many if not most parts on the entire bike with proven KTM stuff is way cool. The bike is made of good metal and overall is very well made with 2 exceptions. Fuel pumps are known to be dodgy and the stock fuel filter is not up to the task, allowing the injector to clog. The cure for the filter is easy, add an inline canister one (the unit from a Can-Am quad has proven to work well in the 'Berg world) and line the bottom of the fuel tank with reflective tape to keep some heat away. I hear other FI equipped bikes are having these issues as well. Hot gas can cause the impeller on the fuel pump to bind. After it cools down, it generally works again, but the pump is toast at that point. Some run a tiny amount of 2 stroke oil in the gas to lube the fuel pump. Mine has been fine so far, but then again, the bottom of my gas tank probably has enough heat shield on it to survive re-entry from orbit. Imagine that...

The layout's effect on handling is very noticible due to the crank being up and back. I really think Husberg is onto something with this idea. Even when rpms are higher, the bike is still more than willing to turn. I have a trail prepped '01 CR250 in the garage, and the 'Berg snaps and turns nearly as easily as the lightweight 2 stroke. It is a little lively in the front end, like the 2 stroke, but not bad at all. It is not "lively" as in head shaky, just a light effort yields a response. This adds up over the course of a day of hard trail riding. I find I am not completely sore, tired and beat up the next day after riding on the Husaberg. The old Suzuki DRZ 400 was a school bus replete in yellow paint while the 'Berg is a turn and burn fighter jet. Unfair DRZ comparisons aside, my WR450 mounted buddy took a spin on the 'Berg and exclaimed like Will Smith in Independence Day "I have got to get me one of these!"

Another effect. Wheelies are anytime anywhere. The bike balances well once the front end is up and just loves to ride wheelies. Best wheelie bike ever, really brings out the trail squid in me!

The '01 CR250 (which has revalved off road oriented set up suspension that really works incredibly well - best fork I have ever ridden behind) rules when it is moist and tacky and on scary fast rocky downhills, but the 'Berg is unbeatable on typical dry dusty trails. It has reliable front end traction, light handling and lots of hooked up 4 stroke power. The thing just pushes forward hard and yet controllably like an electric motor from hell, much like the KTM 450 XC-W from which is sprang I suppose. Very easy to manage and yet a plentiful deep well of power.

Another 70 degree engine trait - intake song. The trumpet points straight down at the engine and the air box of course is in your lap. Grab a handful and it growls out a deep and very cool intake song and it whistles on closed throttle and at idle. it is a sonic treat. The fuel injection works seamlessly. Creamy and instant response.

Really getting used to the bike now. Rode the last 9 years on the DRZ400 and going to this 'Berg, well, I feel like superman :) Knee deep whoops, logs, rocky dropoffs, with the instant engine and chassis response, hooked up feel and plush on the edge of being too soft but just firm enough suspension (quite good for rocky rooty Colorado), it is all cake. Learning that one can get away with quite a bit on this bike. It encourages the rider to go for it. On the gas riding smooth and fast. I love the damn thing! :cool:

Gratuitous photo of the new bike in action on the rocks in Moab :)

Wow, great report. Glad to hear that an unconventional design doesn't have big limitations. Have fun on that thing!

Duken4evr 06-09-2011 06:50 AM

The bike is pretty "normal" to ride and work on. Jimmy Lewis is a big fan of these things. Reading his stuff convinced me to buy it in the first place :)

Durability appears to be on par with the KTM 450 bikes with the XC4 motor. They share a lot of the same parts. It is a quantum leap in this area over the pre 2009, pre KTM era 'Bergs. Those are very exotic and cool bikes, but they can be a handful to keep running.


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