2011 Kawasaki KX450F
You may be excused if you try to catch your breath after just viewing the 2011 Kawasaki KX450F, let alone taking it out on the track for your first practice lap. The KX450F is one of those rare motocrossers which not only will let you trump the competition on Sunday, but allow you to walk in a straight line on Monday, and actually procreate on Tuesday.
The outstanding ergonomics and outrageously pliant suspension of the KX450F truly place it in the leadership position in the class of 2010. The 48mm inverted, Kayaba AOS with DLC coated sliders feature 22-position compression and 20-position rebound dampening adjustment while providing an exceptional 12.4 inches of wheel travel. The rear suspension provides equal wheel travel through its Uni-Trak linkage system and Kayaba shock with 50mm piston and supplies 22-position low-speed and stepless high-speed compression dampening, as well as 22-position rebound dampening and fully adjustable spring preload. That's a whole whack of suspension features and the sum of the parts is even better than you would suspect. The KX450F lands from the highest jump like it was gliding into feather pillows, tames whoopdedoos the size of a cordillera, and simply floats over berms that would swallow a Hummer H1.
If you always wanted a factory ride, well you now have one. The specs of the KX450F are essentially identical to Ryan Villopoto's racer. If you can just borrow his tuners, you should be able to get your 449cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke DOHC four valve cylinder head single with a (yikes!) compression ratio of 12.5:1 and a greater than 1.5:1 oversquare ratio (you've got to be kiddin', right?) bore and stroke of 96.0 mm x 62.1mm to a fairly close approximation of Ryan's powerplant.
When you're riding hell for leather and a rutted hairpin approaches, you can just stand on those miraculous brakes featuring a single semi-floating 250mm petal disc with dual piston caliper in the front and a single 240mm petal disc with single-piston caliper on the rear and haul those considerable 250 pounds of wet weight down in a heck of a hurry.
In fact that would seem to be the 2011 Kawasaki KX450F's only true drawback. It's over 15 lbs heavier than the featherweight 2011 Honda CRF450R and that can translate to tonnage during a hard fought race. If there was any way to shave off that extra weight while maintaining the outstanding properties and performance of the KX450F, the rest of the competition would have to fold up its racing tents and go home.
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2011 Kawasaki KX450F At A Glance
Base MSRP: $9,299
Engine Displacement: 449 cc
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke Single
Bore & Stroke: 96.0 x 62.1 mm
Ignition Type: Digital DC-CDI
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Valve Train Type: DOHC, 4 valves
Transmission Type: 5-speed, return
Final Drive Type: Chain
Front Tire: 90/100-21 57M
Rear Tire: 120/80-19 63M
Wheelbase: 1,480 mm
Saddle Height: 965 mm
Curb Dry Weight: 113.6 kg (250.4 lbs)
Fuel Capacity (US): 7 litres
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released