One designed to master the E2 class and the other one the MX3 class, these KTMs have recently gotten under our radar and we were able to detect high-performance combined with lightness and extreme agility. The new KTM 450 XC-F and the 2009 KTM 505 XC-F go one step further in their evolution towards veritable mountain goats and that’s well worth getting a closer look at, especially now that competing on natural courses is greater fun and more challenging then ever before.
As the Austrian manufacturer thought us, in these cases they rely on the same unbeatable chassis powered by two engine alternatives, which also make the difference between the 450 model and the 505 one. KTM likes to slightly exaggerate when naming other bike’s bigger sibling and this is the case too. The engine is of the same single cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4 valves type and while the smaller version will displace precisely 449.30 cc, the bigger one will brag about 477.52 cc, which isn’t quite in accordance with the name, but something has to make a first difference. Both engines are liquid cooled and electrically started, but what we have liked to see was the introduction of a fuel-injection system to meet the continuously evolving demands of racing. Yet, it seems that the Keihin MX FCR 39 still gets the job done so riders will have to work with that and that only, at least for now.
Both the smaller and bigger engine couples with a five-speed semi-close-ratio transmission developed specially for the XC series so this is kind of a middle solution between what you would get on a motocross ride and a veritable Enduro one. KTM does like to call this an Enduro as well although there are plenty of racing features on the bike to work with.
Weighing approximately 238.76 pounds with no fuel inside their 2.38 gallons tanks, the KTM bikes qualify for some impressive power-to-weight ratios and are backed up by chassis features such as the WP suspensions – 48 mm USD fork capable of 11.81 inches of wheel travel and PDS monoshock offering 13.19 inches of wheel travel – aluminum, removable subframe and Renthal or Neken aluminum handlebar.
These things feature adjustable trail while the steering head angle is of the same degree as in the case of veritable motocross bikes (63.5 degrees).So is the large wheelbase (58.07±0.39 inches) while the performance Brembo brakes (260 mm front disc working with two pistons and a 220 mm rear disc working with a single piston) are sure to put their fingerprint on the overall performance of the two bikes.
Derived from the KTM 450 XC-G Racing, the 450 XC-F was first introduced in 2008 and its bigger displacement version, the 505 XC-F was a direct evolution from the new born model. Before being turned into XC-F, XC-G Racing featured the same engine configuration, but that unit mated to a six-speed gearbox and that’s the first thing that KTM changed when lining the thing up to the XC-F lineup.
Apart from engine and chassis, the XC-G Racing also donated its fame of being high-performing, sharp handing as well as reliable and distinctive looking.
That helped set the two bikes apart from the competing models which, in their big majority, are Japanese. Among those, Honda is an unmistakable leader with the 2009 CRF450X while the 2009 Yamaha WR450F is a close call as well. Suzuki retrieved from this battle so Kawasaki’s 2009 KLX450R is the only big hard enduro alternative left from what was once a successful union between these two last manufacturers. Still, Japan offers no bigger contender than the 450 cc ones already mentioned.
So it’s back to Europe, where Husqvarna, apart from the TC450 model, also offers the TC510 as an almost identically performing model which tightens the battle between the two European manufacturers with a taste for diversity.
First of all, a bike will stand out visually and the Austrians from KTM show a lot of good taste both when drawing the bodywork lines and when selecting the color combinations and decals. Everything about the 450/505 XC-F is aggressive – the fenders, the number plates and body panels as well as the narrow seat, racing bars and even the aluminum silencer – and nothing apart from the hand guards will even give a clue that KTM actually designed this as an Enduro bike.
The seat is of the same height as in the case of big SX models (38.78 inches, unlike the previous model year’s 36.42 inches seat height) so these are serious bikes that we’re dealing with, despite the low weight. Wheels are available in large (18-inch) and even larger (21-inch) diameter and contrast nicely with the forks, engine and swingarm.
Like in the case of all KTM Off-Road Competition models, these two feature Orange as the distinctive color and the 2009 decals are quite eccentric, perfectly adequate for the extreme rider.
We’ve had quite a ride last year on the 2008 KTM 450 XC-F so the 505 XC-F is the one that blinked an eye at us as it brings more fun and excitement on the treacherous terrain that the bikes are built to traverse. We’ve come to find that the slightly bigger engine is like a shot of steroids for what we consider to be the base model. The front wheel lifts easier, but the bike still requires skills in order for that to develop into a wheelie. Also, it makes for a much more potent hill climber.
With the seat positioned a little bit higher, the rider will feel like riding on top of the bike and not as an integrated part of it, but that’s only in the very few moments when he’ll actually be sitting. Everything else regarding the chassis hasn’t changed so the riding experience is pretty much the same.
We simply can’t get over the fact that KTM and Husky offer even larger displacement models than the Japanese makers, but that’s only when we forget that these two have built their reputations with such models.
Going for the best does have an influence on the MSRP, which in the case of the 2009 KTM 450 XC-F starts at $8,698 and at $8,998 in the case of our tester. Either way, these bikes are significantly more expensive than what the Japanese have to offer.
KTM keeps their big XC-F models on an uphill path without seriously modifying the engine or significantly tweaking the chassis, but it’s something with these bikes that keeps on satisfying a big crowd even though their prices might indicate the contrary. We must admit that we’re part of that crowd as, each and every year, we’re doing our best to test ride one of these blasts even though for only a little while.
Engine and Transmission
Engine type: Single cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4 valves
Displacement: 449.30 cc / 477.52 cc - 505 XC-F
Bore x stroke: 97/60.8 mm (3.82/2.39") / 100 x 60.8 mm (3.94 x 2.39") - 505 XC-F
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Starter/Battery: E-Starter / 4 Ah
Transmission: 5 gears XC semi-close-ratio
Carburetor: Keihin MX FCR 39
Control: 4 V / OHC with cam levers
Lubrication: Pressure lubrication with 2 Eaton pumps
Engine: lubrication: 10W50
Primary drive: 29:74
Final drive: 14:52
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: Wet multi-disc clutch, operated hydraulically
Ignition: Kokusan digital SX
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Central double-cradle-type 25CrMo4
Subframe: Aluminium 7020, removable
Handlebar: Neken/Renthal Aluminium Ø 28/22 mm (1.10/0.87")
Front suspension: WP USD Ø 48 mm (1.89")
Rear suspension: WP monoshock PDS
Suspension travel front/rear: 300/335 mm (11.81/13.19")
Front brake: 260mm (10.24") disc, Brembo double piston
Rear brake: 220mm (8.6") disc, Brembo single piston
Rims, front/rear: 1.60 x 21"; 2.15 x 18"
Tires, front/rear: 80/100-21"; 110/100-18"
Chain: X-ring chain 5/8 x 1/4"
Main silencer: Aluminium
Steering head angle: 63.5°
Wheel base: 1475±10 mm (58.07±0.39")
Ground clearance (unloaded): 380 mm (15")
Seat height: 985mm (38.78")
Tank capacity: approx. 9 liters (2.38 gal)
Weight (no fuel): approx. 108.3 kg (238.76 lbs)