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The KTM 450SX-F is one my top three 450’s to ride for 2020 and with a few mods it quickly becomes my favorite to ride. I usually try to keep these articles to just 5 mods, but I couldn’t leave out a couple key pieces that I really need on the KTM to feel comfortable on the track. These are in no particular order and if you have any questions about any of the mods you see below, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vortex ECU: I would like a little more excitement out of the KTM 450 SX-F’s bottom end so I asked Jamie from Twisted Development. If you’re fine with the KTM’s power disregard this tip, but if you want a cleaner throttle delivery, with more connection to the rear wheel, as well as more overall power, the Vortex is a huge advantage. If I was going to do one engine mod to this bike, this ECU would be it. The Vortex mapped by Twisted gives the KTM more bottom end, but gives me a more connected rear wheel feel when there is square edge. I am not spinning the rear wheel as much while getting more power. You will also get more mid-top end along with a longer pull in each gear. This ECU also allows the rider to work less by using third gear more through corners with increased recovery. To me the only negative would be the $800.00 price tag. Go visit td-racing.com or call 951 698 7222.
Rear Axle/Axle Blocks: Going to a Works Connection Elite axle block kit or Ride Engineering axle block kit will get rid of the fixed left axle block on the stock KTM’s axle. This will help the rear end to move more freely under throttle and improve the shock’s comfort on acceleration chop. Both are great, but you will have to decide if you want a complete axle/axle block kit like Ride Engineering’s or just the blocks themselves like WC’s. www.worksconnection.com
Triple Clamps: After riding back to back with the stock triple clamps and the KTM hard parts clamps I have realized that the stock clamps are stiffer. I have since installed the KTM Hard Parts triple clamp (or the 2019.5 Factory Edition clamp) on the 2020 KTM 450 SX-F with excellent results. The front end has more of a softer initial touch on slap downs and the fork action is smoother on de-cel bumps. It’s crazy to think that the fork feels softer now with the “Hard Parts” clamp installed, but that is exactly how it feels when going to the “Hard Parts” clamp. I was able to increase my compression damping a little to help hold up off-throttle and kept more comfort through the entire stroke (with the stock AER fork) with the “Hard Parts” clamp. I also get slightly more lean angle front end traction (or cornering stability) with this “Hard Parts” clamp because the front end isn’t bouncing around inside long/choppy ruts. www.ktm.com
Rear Brake Pedal Spring: Purchase a Honda CRF450R rear brake pedal spring with the rubber around the spring. The KTM rear brake pedal spring vibrates and will break every 3-4 engine hours. Orrrrrrrrr. Get a KTM rear brake pedal spring and wrap it with plastic tubing, but to me it’s easier just to get the Honda spring and be done with it.
Handlebars: The stock Neken handlebar is too stiff and doesn’t offer too much comfort. Get yourself a set of Pro Taper bars and make your arms and hands happy again. The Pro Taper SX Race bar worked well for riders from 5’8 to 6’1. The SX Race bend comes in a crossbar or crossbar-less style and is 800mm width, 87mm height, 54.5 rise, and 54mm sweep. If you’re looking for a better “stand up feel” from your KTM look for handlebar close to this measurement. If you do like the stock bar try the Pro Taper Husqvarna Stock bend. www.protaper.com
Muffler: To me FMF makes the best muffler system for the KTM 450 SX-F. There are some other companies that have other bikes dialed in more, but on the KTM, FMF has got it dialed. You will get more low to mid RPM response as well as more mid range pulling power. Top end is increased plus the over-rev is as good as stock. It is one of the few times that I was impressed because it was actually better than stock in almost all areas. The downside is that you must keep up on muffler packing (every 10-12 engine hours) because the FMF will blow out and that could damage your expensive titanium can. Did I mention that you will lose almost two pounds with this system? If you slap on spring forks you will be gaining almost three pounds. You can get most of that back with a 4.1 Titanium FMF Muffler system. www.fmfracing.com
Bonus Tip/Enzo WP/KYB Fork Conversion Kit (Husqvarna FC450): For $1595.00 you can upgrade your stock WP AER fork to a KYB spring fork. Enzo does this conversion and although it took me a while to try this (and on the FC450, I may add), I will say it’s one of the best fork mods I have ridden with on the FC450. This kit converts various current model WP front inner and outer tubes to accept the KYB AOS internal damping system. KYB AOS cartridge, rebound rod, compression base valve with standard caps, bottoming cones, springs and standard spring perches fit into the standard WP inner and outer tubes with the installation of the special machined conversion axle lugs. The damping and spring rate are set up for the individual customer’s requirements and the difference on the track is noticeable right away. Small bump comfort is a problem on the WP AER fork (on or off throttle), but the ENZO WP/KYB conversion gives you more front wheel traction/feel on small bumps and allows the rider to increase his/her lean angle more through corner via more front end traction. The KYB/WP conversion also doesn’t have that mid stroke harshness like the AER fork can get late in the day and the damping control that the Enzo system has is much improved. Damping control is something that I want for performance when I start pushing the FC/KTM and the KYB conversion allows me to do this easier while being more in control. I will say the WP/KYB conversion still doesn’t have the comfort like the Yamaha’s SSS fork on de-cel bumps, but compared to the AER fork, the WP/KYB conversion has more control when the track gets rough. I will be doing a comparison between the WP Cone Valve fork and the Enzo WP/KYB conversion on an upcoming RMATMC Keefer Tested Podcast. www.enzoracing.com