The 2019 Kawasaki KX450 is totally new. We don’t imply the standard year-to-year definition of “new,” the place a lot of the bits and items of an present mannequin are massaged and get new half numbers. That’s occurred to the KX450 a number of occasions since 2006, however wanting again, the totally different variations mix collectively. The 2019 KX gained’t mix anymore. It’s a totally totally different sort of Kawasaki. For that matter, it’s a totally totally different type of Japanese 450 MX bike.
The whole lot comes at a worth. The brand new KX carries an MSRP that’s $450 greater than final yr’s bike. It’s nonetheless $300 lower than a KTM.
Motor modifications have been to be anticipated, and market forces kind of demanded electrical begin. The Kawasaki methodology up to now was to make use of as a lot of the prevailing bike as potential with new elements grafted into place. Look again to the primary fuel-injected KX and also you’ll see that philosophy in motion. This time the motor was redesigned from scratch, and Kawasaki engineers weren’t timid about utilizing profitable designs from elsewhere. The clearest instance of that is using finger-followers within the valve practice. We’ve seen this design on the KTM 250 and 350, in addition to on the 2018 Honda CRF250R, however that is the primary time we’ve seen it on a 450. These are little levers between the cams and the valves. At first, it appears odd. Isn’t the entire level in DOHC to get rid of rocker arms? Apparently, the fingers are so small and lightweight that they don’t introduce the drag and weight of the large rockers used on SOHC motors. They do permit a lot higher raise with out the drawbacks of getting massive cam lobes (i.e., aspect masses and the necessity for stiff valve springs).
The hydraulic clutch is a primary for a Japanese motocross bike.
Subsequent on the shock record was the hydraulic clutch. We figured this might by no means occur on a motocross bike from Japan. The twist is that even Eli Tomac’s works KX450 doesn’t have one. The manufacturing unit Hondas ridden by Ken Roczen and Christian Craig do, however the function was a no-show on the Honda CRF450R Works Version for 2019. The one on the brand new KX450 is manufactured by Nissin and appears utterly totally different from the one utilized by the Honda manufacturing unit workforce.
Kawasaki additionally spent a while with Keihin rethinking the throttle physique. It’s 1mm bigger now (44mm), however the largest change is the orientation of the throttle butterfly. It now pivots with the highest shifting ahead and the underside shifting backward when it opens. That is vital as a result of the brand new fine-spray injectors are situated on the prime, so the gasoline has a extra direct circulate down into the motor. We are saying “down” as a result of the throttle physique is angled extra downward, and the motor itself is extra vertical than ever, with solely a Three-degree ahead tilt. The middle line of the cylinder, nevertheless, is offset Eight.5mm ahead, which is claimed to scale back general friction.
Right here’s one other first for a Japanese 450—the rod makes use of a plain bearing for the large finish slightly than rollers. Kawasaki launched this on the KX250 first, and KTM has used this design for a variety of years. The brand new piston is 17 grams lighter. The gasoline pump is extra compact and the shift drum is new.
The rear brake rotor is now 250mm. The entrance continues to be 270mm, nevertheless it’s extra highly effective than ever due to a brand new grasp cylinder.
On the chassis aspect of the ledger, the body and swingarm went on a food plan. The swingarm has all the time been comprised of a forged part and two extruded arms, however now these arms are longer and the forged half is smaller. Between that and the body modifications, there’s been a lack of almost 2 kilos. All of that weight—after which some—returned elsewhere. The 49mm Showa fork, particularly, has good old style coil springs—two of them. The Triple Air is gone. Nobody will miss it a lot, however springs are heavier than air, and Kawasaki additionally gave the entrance finish an awesome, massive 22mm axle. Whenever you add up all of the good points and losses, the 2019 KX450 weighs in a contact heavier. On the fabulous Dust Bike neutron scale, it’s 233 kilos with out gasoline, whereas the 2018 mannequin was 231. That also makes it the lightest of the Japanese 450s, all of that are across the 240-pound mark. The light-weight champion of 2018 was the KTM at 225.
There are tons and plenty of different particulars to speak about right here. The air filter is now accessible from the aspect. The brakes have been revamped; there’s a brand new grasp cylinder in entrance and an enormous 250mm rotor within the rear. The exhaust is totally different, with an extended head pipe and a quieter muffler. A number of issues are the identical too. The KX nonetheless has launch management (a function Kawasaki launched), and every bike comes with three color-coded digital couplers that assist you to richen or lean the EFI mapping. For additional tuning, Kawasaki sells a handheld digital calibration controller, however it’ll value you $700.
Kawasaki modified every thing for 2019. The brand new KX provides up nothing.
REV IT AND HOLD ON
Think about an enormous 250F that makes round 60 horsepower on prime. That’s the brand new KX450. The motor is revvy, responsive and has an enormous top-end punch. Clearly, Kawasaki engineers needed to shut the facility hole that existed between the 2018 KX and the Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Husky. It was fairly extreme; on the dyno, the KX was four or 5 horsepower down. Whereas we haven’t examined many different 2019 fashions, we will say with confidence that the brand new Kawasaki isn’t missing energy. It’s quick, and it revs like loopy.
Each time the higher boundary for energy is pushed slightly larger, we marvel if we’ve reached the purpose of diminishing returns. Perhaps we’ve, however the fact is that energy is enjoyable, and Kawasaki has carried out a superb job of creating it manageable. As we stated, the bike revs and acts like a big 250. It makes energy with a clean development to an ultra-high redline. Down low, the bike won’t even hit as arduous because the 2018 KX did. Should you keep in mind, that bike was the torque champion of the 450 class between 5000 rpm and 6000 rpm. Now the hit is smoother and the facility comes later. In case you keep on the throttle all the best way to the highest, you higher deliver your A recreation. The KX is a brute on prime. We tried the totally different EFI curves offered by the couplers. Final yr we favored the usual (inexperienced) or the lean (white) ones greatest. Now, it’s both the usual or the black (wealthy). The wealthy one makes it just a bit much less nervous down low, which is useful on some tracks.
One of many features of the KX that we actually respect is the truth that it nonetheless feels mild, regardless of all that energy. We’ve lengthy held that horsepower makes a motorcycle really feel heavy, however it’s not true on this case. The KX feels a lot lighter than both the size or the dyno numbers mirror. We love the best way the bike handles. That’s one factor that hasn’t modified. Through the years, the KX has persistently been a really impartial bike. It began off very similar to the early Honda, however because the CRF turned increasingly hyperactive through the years, the Kawasaki continued to have that very same balanced really feel—medium secure, medium agile. The brand new bike hasn’t modified, however the class common has. Now the bike could be very secure in comparison with its friends. Regardless of all of the modifications, you’d nonetheless acknowledge the KX as a KX simply by the best way it feels.
- Wonderful energy
- Hydraulic clutch
- Electrical begin
- Mild general weight
- Wonderful brakes
- Aspect-access airbox
- Onerous grips
- 7/eighth handlebar
- Troublesome preload entry
- No on-the-fly map change
SPRINGS ARE BACK
If anybody function has been rejected by the general public in recent times, it’s the air fork. The Showa Triple Air fork that got here on the 2018 KX450F might be made to work nicely, however you virtually needed to locate the correct mixture of air strain and damping settings accidentally. You can make the fork softer by including air strain, however regardless of all of the telephone apps and calculators that have been supposed to assist within the course of, riders have been usually confused. The one exception to the air-fork rejection was the WP AER 48 on current KTMs, nevertheless it was acquired nicely just because it was easy and its coil-spring predecessor was so universally disliked.
Now it’s protected to say that coil-spring forks are again, at the very least on Japan’s choices. It seems that whereas they have been gone, they obtained higher. The 49mm Showa that comes on the KX makes use of what they name A-kit know-how. It’s a must to perceive that this isn’t an A-kit fork, which sells for nearly $6000. The fork on the manufacturing KX does have some options that have been initially launched on works bikes, such because the titanium nitride coating on the inside tubes, the Kashima coating on inner elements and an outsized piston. Kawasaki additionally gave elements of this fork what it calls a “Dimplish” end, which is a texture that retains oil.
Even when the fork isn’t like what Tomac makes use of, it’s nonetheless excellent and has little or no stiction. This isn’t a step backwards to the 2014 spring fork. That is the place that fork can be if it had acquired all the identical engineering consideration that was lavished on the air fork. Most riders liked it from the phrase go. It’s plush with out an excessive amount of dive. For those who experience arduous on a monitor that has massive jumps, the inventory settings are in all probability too smooth. That’s simply fastened with a number of clicks of compression damping. Massive, quick riders may want stiffer springs, however that’s okay with us. We might slightly have it that means than have it begin off with Supercross settings. One disadvantage is that springs value cash whereas air is free.
Within the rear, the Kawasaki is sweet, identical to all the time. Set the preload to 102mm or so and experience. We aren’t massive followers of the brand new preload adjuster, which is product of plastic with a set screw. We modify preload far more typically than the typical individual, as a result of check riders are available all sizes, and the plastic collar is already displaying put on.
PARTS, PARTS, PARTS
How about that clutch? It’s good. We all know that some riders insist that they like the texture of a cable-actuated clutch. To us, that is like Aussies who say they just like the style of Vegemite. It simply proves you could get used to something. The brand new clutch could be very clean, and the engagement all the time occurs proper whenever you anticipate it. Some riders commented that the motion was too near the grip, and there’s no straightforward approach to regulate this, solely to vary the attain. The pull isn’t essentially any lighter than it was with the 2018 mannequin, both, however that’s solely as a result of the Kawasaki already had the lightest clutch pull within the 450 class. It nonetheless does.
We weren’t even fascinated with the brand new brakes till the primary journey. Kawasaki brakes have been weak for a very long time, however now they is perhaps the strongest available on the market, even in comparison with Euro bikes. We love the side-access air filter. We additionally just like the quieter muffler. We nonetheless like the truth that the bike could be very adjustable. Not solely are there 4 handlebar positions, the footpegs may be moved 5mm downward for riders with lengthy legs. The one issues we’ve got to complain about are the brief, exhausting grips and the 7/Eight-inch handlebar. We expect Kawasaki intentionally gave us these things simply to be sporting.
The brand new KX450 is extra than simply good. It’s a very nice motorbike that proves what Japan can do.