2019 KTM 450 SX-F Review | Motocross Track Test
We spent a day on the new 2019 KTM 450 SX-F out at Fox Raceway (formerly Pala Raceway) in Pala, California. Here is what we found out after our first day of riding KTM’s motocross and supercross flagship motorcycle.
1 . The 2019 KTM 450 SX-F received its updates directly from the 2018 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition. This is the standard formula for KTM—the Factory Edition is a precursor of what’s to come the following year. Think of it as a more refined bike than the FE, and without the bling. The biggest change is the new cylinder head.
Overall, the new 2019 KTM 450 SX-F is much smaller physically and the center of gravity is lower. The frame is new, with increased rigidity the main focus. New bodywork is also added to make it easier to move around on.
2. The 2019 KTM 450 SX-F’s new motor is very user friendly. In the old days, that was code for slow—not the case with this bike. The 450 SX-F has the most linear power delivery of any 450 we have ridden. It doesn’t feel like it’s jerking your arms out of the sockets when pinning the throttle coming out of turns. It simply has a super strong smooth pull from the bottom to top, and there is a lot of top-end power. It also revs out further than any 450 motocrosser.
3. The handlebar-mounted map switch has two power modes, plus traction control. We never found the need for traction control out at Pala, but it might be helpful on a dry, slick, or super wet track. Of the power maps, 1 is relatively mild and 2 is aggressive. While we usually prefer the softer maps on 450s, on the SX-F the power is so smooth we actually liked Map 2 more. In Map 2, the motor doesn’t really hit any harder, it just revs quicker, allowing you to work through the new five-speed Pankl transmission faster.
4. KTM is the only manufacturer still using an air fork. While others have abandoned the air fork concept and gone back conventional spring forks, KTM has totally embraced it with its WP AER forks. Fortunately, it’s working for KTM.
The WP AER forks are really good and super easy to adjust. For 2019, KTM stiffened the settings a little. While we didn’t get a chance to compare it directly to the 2018, the new settings are pretty well spot on for us.
5. The linkage-assisted WP shock matches well with the forks. The 2019 KTM 450 SX-F suspension is perfectly balanced, front to rear. We just set the sag to our weight and went out. No other changes were needed for our day at Pala. When we spend more time on the bike at other tracks fine-tuning might be wanted, but not for this single day testing.
6. The 2019 KTM 450 SX-F is lightest motocross motorcycle in it class. The weight, or lack thereof, can really be felt. It doesn’t matter what part of the track your on, whether its jumps, turns, whoops, or fast straights, less weight makes for a better handling more maneuverable bike. The KTM 450 SX-F handles great in all those areas.
7. The new bodywork is sleek. While this does make the 2019 KTM 450 SX-F look better, more importantly it improves how you feel when you’re on the bike. From getting all the way up on the narrow tank in the corners to getting all the way back on the seat, the entire transition is seamless. On most 450s there is a large bulge in the side panels for the muffler. KTM has kept the rear narrow, which is a major reason its so easy to move around on.
8. Turning is superb. Between the light weight, perfectly balanced suspension, neutral chassis, and easy to move around bodywork the 2019 KTM 450 SX-F is an awesome turning bike! It’s the thing that really stands out the most to us. The best part is that it’s not done through a raked in front end or anything extreme that would hurt the handling in other areas. The bikes handling is just so correct and easy to ride, you can pretty much put it anywhere you want.
9. Brembo brakes are excellent. KTM has been using Brembo calipers for years, and they simply stop a motocrosser better than anything else available.
10. Electric start and hydraulic clutch aren’t new, but we’re glad they’re back. KTM has had both features for years and they were the first manufacture to equip their bikes with such features. Both are items we want on our bikes.
11. KTM lives up to its Ready to Race motto with the detail. With equipment such as a Neken tapered handlebar, gripper seat cover, ODI clamp on grips, Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires, the KTM needs nothing more to hit the track and win.
12. Our initial ride on the 2019 KTM 450 SX-F has whetted our appetite for more. If it’s this good the first time out, we can’t wait to test it on the variety of tracks we race in Southern California, as well as spending some time setting it up perfectly.
Action photography by Brandon Krause
- Helmet: Bell Moto-9 Carbon Flex
- Goggles: Fox Air Defence
- Pants + jersey: Axo Motion Vented
- Gloves: Axo Padlock
- Socks: Axo MX Long
- Boots: TCX Comp 2 Michelin
2019 KTM 450 SX-F Specs
- Type: Single cylinder four-stroke
- Displacement: 450cc
- Bore x stroke: 94 x 63.4mm
- Compression ratio: 12.75:1
- Valve train: SOHC; four valves
- Fueling: 44mm Keihin throttle body
- Ignition: Keihin EMS
- Starting: Electric w/ 12.8-volt, 2 Ah lithium-ion battery
- Lubrication: Pressurized w/ two pumps
- Transmission: 5-speed Pankl
- Clutch: Wet multi-disc DDS w/ Brembo hydraulics
- Frame: Central double-cradle chromoly
- Subframe: Aluminum
- Handlebar: Neken aluminum, 22-28mm taper
- Front suspension: Fully adjustable inverted WP AER 48 fork; 12.2 inches
- Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable WP shock; 11.8 inches
- Wheels: Excel
- Front wheel: 1.60 x 21”
- Rear wheel: 2.15 x 19”
- Tires: Dunlop Geomax MX3S
- Front tire: 80/100 x 21
- Rear tire: 110/90 x 19
- Front brake: 260mm floating disc w/ Brembo hydraulics
- Rear brake: 220mm fixed disc w/ Brembo hydraulics
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 58.5 inches
- Rake: 26.1 degrees
- Triple clamp offset: 22mm
- Seat height: 37.4 inches
- Ground clearance: 14.8 inches
- Fuel capacity: 1.85 gallons
- Wet weight: 232 pounds
2019 KTM 450 SX-F Price:
- $9899 MSRP