We ride KTM’s 450 SX-F Factory Edition, which features the company’s new engine-mapping connectivity unit
By Ryan Nitzen | Photography by Jesse Ziegler
Since 2012, KTM has started the new year by unveiling their latest Factory Edition machine. Formerly known as the “Dungey Edition,” this model is loaded with a host of race-ready componentry and comes from the factory as sort of a “2021½” model. In year’s past, it has given consumers an early look at the forthcoming model year. The 2021 450 SX-F Factory Edition again rolls off the showroom floor equipped with a few cool goodies straight out of KTM’s Power Parts catalog to give it a look that’s seemingly identical to Cooper Webb’s Supercross-winning bike.
So, what’s different from the Factory Edition and the base model? The biggest thing is the new KTM Connectivity Unit. This Bluetooth tuning device comes standard on the ’21 Factory Edition, and we assume will be a staple on the 2022 base models. Like the name says, this feature connects to the new myKTM Smartphone App and allows the rider to tune his or her engine characteristics much easier.
At first glance it looks like the entire bar pad (where KTM mounts the device) has been replaced by this new Connectivity Unit. However, the device itself is rather small (about the size of a race transponder) and the KTM engineers have designed a cover for it that looks like a regular bar pad. The circle button on the outside of the “bar pad” is what actually allows the device to communicate to your phone.
Once inside the app, there are two modes—prime and advanced. The prime mode only lets the rider tune simple power characteristics, while the advanced mode offers everything in the prime mode plus more in-depth options like track type and track conditions. We stuck with the advanced mode during our day with the new Factory Edition.
The myKTM app offers several variables for the rider to adjust. Engine braking, throttle response, traction control and launch control are available with the aforementioned track type and track conditions. Each engine adjustment is set on a user-friendly sliding scale between one and five, one being the least aggressive and five being the most. Track type has three different settings—hard, gravel and sand, and you can also choose between dry and wet track conditions. You can customize and name these maps before saving them to the engine’s ECU. The created maps are only able to be uploaded into the “map one” option on the handlebar-mounted switch as the standard and more aggressive “map two” setting remains locked.
We noticed these changes to be very distinct out on the track. For starters, we took the engine braking to one (least aggressive) and felt how light and free flowing this made the engine feel. In fact, it made us realize how much we’ve come to rely on the engine braking of the big 450s! Reducing the engine braking gave the KTM a reminiscent two-stroke feeling as we carried speed up and down the hills at the Glen. We then adjusted the throttle response, boosting it up all the way to five. This more aggressive setting did give the bike more bark, especially with strong pull out of the corners. Personally, it was too much oomph for my liking, and I felt I was working harder to hold onto the bike after just a few laps. When I reduced throttle response, the bike was much easier to control but lacked that big-bike grunt we’re all familiar with.
Regardless of settings, the Connectivity Unit is more than just a new-model marketing shtick, and I was pleased that the app made a noticeable difference in the engine characteristics. At the end of the day, our test riders developed a map that reduced engine braking, maintained the middle ground on traction control, and slightly increased the bike’s throttle response. This combination was my personal favorite for its blend of power, responsiveness, and overall rideability.
Other than the new Connectivity Unit, the core of the KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition is relatively unchanged from its stock-trim cousin. Compared to the standard model, you get an orange frame, a Red Bull graphic kit, different seat cover, skid plate and a front disc guard with the Factory Edition. The benefit from all this? Spicier looks and better production.
Performance-wise, you’ll notice the Factory Edition’s Akrapovič slip-on muffler and split triple clamps. The exhaust smooths out the overall engine character, aiding in its ability to carry gears high into the rpm range. And the sound, too! It’s hard to not feel like Cooper Webb out on the track as you roll on the throttle and hear the purr of 450 Austrian cubic centimeters.
The factory-style split triple clamps look great in the anodized orange color but also add improved feeling to the front end. During our 450 Shootout we had no complaints regarding the stock one-piece design on the KTM. That is until we felt the compliance on the Factory Edition. We feel that the split design reduces vibration to the handlebars and frees up the forks enough to make a difference on the bumpy Glen Helen national course. The front end feels light but still maintains a scalpel-like sharpness that can be used to rail outsides or cut down in a tight inside rut. Paired with the ever-improving WP air fork, and this factory front end is certainly a front runner.
While the sticker shock of a new Factory Edition can be a lot to take in, it’s important to remember what you get for the price. A standard 2021 KTM 450 SX-F is listed at an MSRP of $10,199 while the Factory Edition is another $1100 more at $11,299. From our calculations, adding on the clamps, wheels, exhaust, clutch cover, holeshot device and graphic kit / seat cover combo would run up a tab of over $2700 at your local dealer. For a rider who is likely to add on all these goodies anyways, it seems worth it for the extra one-time price bump.
The 2021.5 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition is undoubtedly a cream-of-the-crop race bike right out of the box. Chock full of the KTM Power Parts catalog, this bike rolls off the dealer floor with nearly every add-on you could ever make; save for personal suspension settings. The addition of the new Connectivity Unit also gives KTM riders cutting-edge technology that was previously only available to Yamaha owners. What was once only available to factory race teams has now trickled down to the hands of the weekend warriors. KTM set the standard for the ever-growing Factory Edition market (KTM Factory Edition, Husqvarna Rockstar Edition, Honda Works Edition, Yamaha Racing Edition), and continues to raise the bar year after year. CN
2021 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition Specifications
||Single cylinder 4-stroke
|Bore x Stroke:
||95 x 63.4mm
||Pressure with 2 pumps
||Keihin EFI w/44mm throttle body
||Wet, DDS w/Brembo hydraulics
||Central double-cradle chromoly steel
||XP Xact fork, 48mm, fully adjustable
||Single WP Xact shock, linkage, fully adjustable
|Front Wheel / Tire:
||21 in. / Dunlop Geomax MX33
|Rear Wheel / Tire:
||19 in. / Dunlop Geomax MX33
||Single 260mm disc, Brembo caliper
||Single 220mm disc, Brembo caliper
|Weight (curb, claimed):