Derived from the 450 XC-G Racing, the new KTM 450 XC-F takes the standards of the class even higher as it features a totally new engine and an extremely versatile chassis, both being especially designed and built for extreme off-road use.
Perfect both for the on-and-off-road terrain, the ’07 SX-derived all-new 450 XC-F is the bike that performs like a true MX machine on the motocross track and yet manages to cover miles and miles of trails, woods, rocks, and virtually whatever you will encounter. So what does the trick on this new released motorcycle that makes everyone ask about it?
A truly unique combination consisting in the SX chassis featuring large-section oval chrome-molybden tubes, an electric started 450cc motor that comes also straight from the motocross ride, but mated to a five-speed gearbox that seems to be perfect for the type of exploitation that this highly acclaimed KTM will suffer.
At a first look, it seems a bit difficult to place the KTM 450 XC-F in a certain category, motocross or off-road, and even though it is hard to believe, we are actually talking about an Enduro motorcycle which doesn’t betray its identity by featuring a headlight and mirrors.
2008 Honda CRF450X
The given circumstances position it against the Honda CRF450X which is also derived from racing and for 2008 goes a step further and features Honda Progressive Steering Damper and a retuned 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder Unicam four-stroke engine. Offered for $7,399, the CRF450X looks like a good deal.
2008 Yamaha WR450F
Also advantageous and awesome performing is the Yamaha WR450F. This thumper is famous for its strong-pulling 449cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke; five titanium valves engine, but the $7,199 suggested retail price shouldn’t be neglected either.
2008 Kawasaki KLX450R
Both great performing and fairly cheap is the Kawasaki KLX450R which also enters the scene as a derivation of racing bikes, the KX. Equipped with a 449cc four-stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, water cooled engine that proves able not only against the Japanese motorcycles, but also against the bike I got on for a test ride.
2008 Husqvarna TC450
At the KTM 450 XC-F Husqvarna replies with the TC450 motocrosser. Yes, even though the bikes are practically the same the two manufacturers set them apart by choosing to go for different categories. Even so, the 449cc four-stroke, four valves, DOHC, liquid cooled single on the Husqy is up against KTM’s 449.30cc liquid cooled, single cylinder, four-stroke.
2008 KTM 450 XC-F
But when it comes to looks, the Orange motorcycle is the one that seems to attract more viewers as it is aggressively styled in order to remind of the KTM motocross bikes.
Crampon tires, blacked-out rims, forks, mudguards and muffler, all do their magic and position the XC-F on a motocross track where it would blend in perfectly.
Also, the bike’s plastics which are pretty much all the same in the XC lineup are sharp-looking and contribute at the compact look that the Austrian manufacturer aims for its products.
The high fenders and the number panel also talk about competition, but we’ll have to suppress our instincts as the bike is more worthy of a headlight then the number panel (at least theoretically).
Seat is narrow for a better feel of the bike and the handlebars are pretty tall, leaving no incommode feel while giving the bike a go.
And this reminds me of the blast I had while riding the all-new KTM 450 XC-F. The bike’s crucial elements are taken right out the previous SX model and modified (if necessarily) for better off-road performance. For example, the SX engine received a modified exhaust cam timing which has the purpose of delivering more low-to-mid-range power. This modification combined with lightening the engine’s mobile elements determines the bike to perform better on the off-road while being set a little apart from the track. If the looks are kind of tricky, the riding feel clearly positions this KTM in its class.
Even though well at home on the motocross track where the KTM 450 XC-F accelerates strongly out of corners in second or third gear and doing jumps like a true motocrosser, a rider will still prefer to ride it hard and have it put in limit situations in the unknown terrain, and that is what I needed to do in order to get the much required feedback.
I noticed that the 450cc four-stroke engine is able to take the XC-F on the steepest hills and most abrupt rocks and back. It is the result of the Austrian manufacturer’s decision to provide low-and-mid grunt that does all the difference. Plenty of power all through the rev range! The engine feels and sounds like a four-stroke racer, leaving the rider surprised of the impressive pull that comes in less than a blink of an eye after twisting the throttle.
The engine which starts thumping with the help of a battery and a magic button delivers its power through a five-speed transmission that had me love it with the first gear that I switched. Even though riders claimed to have expected a six-gear unit, I must say that I rode the XC at full throttle in fifth gear and even though the engine isn’t tuned for high-end pull, I still didn’t feel the need for a sixth gear that would have made the engine seem less potent (at least until you would twist the bike’s throttle). KTM played a little with the gear ratios, resulting in broad amounts of power in all the five speeds of its gearbox.
I was so amazed by how the powerplant did its job that I didn’t even noticed, cared or intended to find out in the first few hours of riding this off-roader, but after emptying a full gas of tank and being aware that my bottom didn’t suffered much stress I started giving credit to the narrow foam seat and the ergonomically arranged footpegs and handlebars. The only stress that I had that day and which resulted in a muscular fever the day after was generated by a strong-pulling motor that never hesitated to lift up the front wheel when I required it to.
Further to be tested on the bumps ahead were the suspensions (PDS WP shock and cartridge fork). I didn’t manage to reach the fork’s bottom end although I did succeed to pull out some very demanding jumps. This is proof of the bike’s racy attitude and I will have to say that the soaking up bumps part is successfully accomplished by this new-released off-road motorcycle. The fact that the bumps don’t make things harsh on your back is very helpful and reassuring, but the foam seat isn’t quite inviting.
What also left me craving for a 450 XC-F were the Brembo brakes. Up front a 10.24” petal disc supports all the pressure of the two pistons while at the rear a single piston does the trick on an 8.6” also petal disc. Grabbing a handful of the brake lever results in immediate extreme braking power that would not only determine you to name it the strongest braking motorcycle in the E2 class, but you’ll never underestimate a KTM motorcycle again.
Have it put against any bike in its class and the KTM 450 XC-F will not only make a point concerning performance, looks and aggressive attitude, but also demonstrate how its $7,948 MSRP is competitive two considering the fact that this is a new launch and bring to the scene a brand new feel.
Positioned in one of the most successful KTM lineup that has only now started being consolidated, the four-stroke off-road bike known as the amazing KTM 450 XC-F is the reincarnation of the SX racer in a bike available to the large public.
It not only retains the power, handling and feel thanks to the frame and engine that were transferred and improved from the SX, but it takes the meaning of performance to a whole new level.