As promised, KTM will start delivering its new fuel-injected 450 SX-F Factory Edition, also known as the "Dungey Replica," next month, but KTM gave us an early taste of the bike in a quick one-day riding session at Lake Elsinore Raceway.
The 2012 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition includes factory racing Red Bull SX team graphics.
The bike, which will be dressed up in the same clothes as Ryan Dungey's factory racer, complete with the distinctive number "5" on the plates, features many changes over the previous, carbureted model, but the most significant difference is the motor, which is based on the 2012 450 and 500 XC-W motor that we first saw earlier last year on KTM's 2012 big-bore off-road bikes. The single, rather than dual, overhead cam motor is significantly smaller in overall size and lighter in weight (4.4 pounds lighter, in fact), and, thanks to a completely revamped starter motor system and other tweaks, has far less spinning parts in the motor, which reduces oscillating masses and reciprocating weight.
The frame is narrower, has thinner cradle tubes and other modifications to improve lateral rigidity and overall flex of the frame, but overall geometry remains the same. It also has new machined black anodized triple clamps and swingarm, and is fitted with a fully adjustable 48mm USD WP closed-cartridge fork and WP shock.
On the track, the bike still feels very much like the carbureted model but with a few noticeable differences - almost all for the better.
The previous KTM was known for its incredibly powerful motor and the new one is very powerful, too. It seems to have better bark off the bottom while pulling just as hard in the middle as it ever did. However, it doesn't quite feel quite as strong way up top and revs out a bit sooner than the carbureted 450 SX-F. However, it's not a game-changer. As one of our testers put it, the trade off for more punch off the bottom and a little less over-rev on top is well worth it. But don't get us wrong, the KTM is still very fast across the board.
Like we experienced earlier with the 2012 XC's, throttle response is crisp and clean.
Lifting the bike on and off the stand, the KTM still feels a little on the heavy side. Even though the motor is lighter, it gained some of that weight back because of the new fuel-injection system. The good news is, however, that on the track, the bike feels much lighter and more agile than before, which has a lot to do with all that less reciprocating weight in the motor. In fact, the difference is remarkable, you will feel it if you've ridden the carbureted 450 SX-F. The motor runs smoother and you just don't feel every movement of the piston like you did on the previous bike. There's still a hit of vibration felt in the handlebars but not nearly as much as before.
The bike feels compact and narrow, but the midsection of the bike actually feels a little wider, which is a good thing, really, since you have something better grip with your legs, which is a gripe we had with the previous 450.
Suspension seems to be right in the ballpark, but we would've been happy to have been able to spend a bit more time dialing in the forks to improve feel in the rutted turns and small chop, but, otherwise, the suspension is pretty darn good right out of the crate.
Seat padding is extremely soft, probably too soft for most people, but we actually liked it. However, if it's this soft now, we wonder what it will be like down the road.
We'll have more on the KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition in a future issue of Cycle News, but we can safely say that our first impression of the bike is a good one.
The first batch of about 200 Factory Edition models should start showing up on dealer showroom floors in March, followed by another 200 in June. The MSRP will be around $9500, which will include KTM's EFI User Setting Tool (a $500 value) for adjusting the injection and ignition.
The Factory Edition is also sold as a 2012 model.