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New kx450f's handle considerably better than older ones? Best 450 for smaller rider?

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Okay so I've been a Kawasaki fan all of my life and I've had numerous Kawasaki bikes. I recently put the 08 250f aside and purchased my first 450, a 2009 KX450F. Now I'm sold on the power that a 450 has to offer but my only complaint is, is that this Kawasaki feels so much heavier, bulkier and is so much harder for me to turn than my friends CRF's or YZF's. I am a smaller guy at 5' 6" and about 150 pounds and was just wondering if the newer Kawasaki's like 13 and up turn and feel considerably lighter underneath you? I know suspension and rider skill obviously has a lot to do with it but the point of my post is that I really don't want to switch brands, but if the Kawasaki 450 feels so bulky to me I may be forced to :( . Just want to see what your smaller riders are riding for 450s and if any of you guys are on a kawi.. Cheers!

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Okay so I've been a Kawasaki fan all of my life and I've had numerous Kawasaki bikes. I recently put the 08 250f aside and purchased my first 450, a 2009 KX450F. Now I'm sold on the power that a 450 has to offer but my only complaint is, is that this Kawasaki feels so much heavier, bulkier and is so much harder for me to turn than my friends CRF's or YZF's. I am a smaller guy at 5' 6" and about 150 pounds and was just wondering if the newer Kawasaki's like 13 and up turn and feel considerably lighter underneath you? I know suspension and rider skill obviously has a lot to do with it but the point of my post is that I really don't want to switch brands, but if the Kawasaki 450 feels so bulky to me I may be forced to :( . Just want to see what your smaller riders are riding for 450s and if any of you guys are on a kawi.. Cheers!

I'm not a 150lbs guy, but I have owned my share or 07-09 250F's and an 09 KX450F and now a 13 KX. Anyways, 450's are just big heavy feeling bikes, the engine inertia has something to do with that too, but I can say the does 13 turn better, feels more flickable in the air than my 09 did and they did lose some weight and tuck the everything in a little. Keep in mind, kawis are not sharp turning bikes in stock form, but are stable at speed.

 

So, to answer your question, yes, the newer bikes are lighter and more compact and you can feel it too.

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switch it up to a honda suzuki, yamaha, if you want it to be more flickable. i rode a carbed rmz450 and it felt like a 250f compared to my kx450.  i am 3 inches taller but 40lbs heavier and i love the kx450 except how heavy it is. once you practice enough on it you shouldnt have a problem though. once i forgot about how my other bikes were it wasnt a issue. except for when that thing pile drove into the ground lol. feels like getting nailed by a sledge hammer.  if you are going to buy a 13--15 just for better handling i would wait a few months to see what the new edition will be for upcoming year. i figure they will improve more on how heavy it feels, but who know?

 

being shorter i would get the bars set back  and weld some tabs on the pegs then sharpen them it will raise you up a mm or 2 but it all helps getting the bike to feel smaller. i love yz 2 strokes they have the small position i like, once i got the kx450 close to that position it was a huge improvement for me.

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Thats all really good input, it breaks my heart to switch from a kawi but like i said im thinking ktm next. At least now i know it is a valid stereotype that kawis are the straight line monster and not the most flickable, specially for me.. But yah you guys said it its amazing how much other bikes can feel like a bmx bike compared to a kawi 450.

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Not sure I agree that the KX450 feels that much different with respect to weight than other 450s.  I really think it depends on what you like.  I had an 06 CRF450 that I really liked and then went to a 2013 KTM450 FE and just didn't get along with the handling (everything else was great with that bike).  Now on a 14KX450 and the power is the best of any bike I have ridden and the handling is good and very predictable.  For me, it doesn't knife and rarely pushes and doesn't do anything that surprises me.  Yeah it takes some input to keep it leaned over in a deep rut but nothing that I would consider looking at another bike to correct.  Besides the newer CRFs, all the other 450s seem to weight about the same.  I am 5'8 and about 195 lbs, 45+B/C and only ride moto.  

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really though i would just get your controls set to your size. get the rear to sit lowwer and raise the forks 4-6mm in the clamps. some RC bend renthals with them tipped back a few notches from center. practice with it small for 5 full days of 2 hrs of practice and i would bet you will get comfortable on it.  i really like the 09 motor. it revved nice i could run my 13/52 gearing combo with the revs it pulled to really well. the pro circuit link lowers the rear end a little. you might need a different spring to get the height low and the sag correct.  personally i wouldnt really want any other 450 than a kx they just are what they are and once you get used to them its hard to get away.

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Sag and everything is set for me, the actual seat height is fine for me the way it sits now, but like i said its more just the overall bulkiness feeling to the bike. I did manage to briefly hop on a buddys 12 kx450 and it did feel better and hes got it set for 200lbs ....the point of me getting the 09 is because i wanted to see if i liked the power of a 450 (and it was a smokin deal) ... Thats all good info phantom. The pegs on the bike are like bent down now cuz the pins are a little bent, i bet that would make a huge difference as well !

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I don't own a KX450 but I have ridden friends' 08s, 09s and then a 14 KX450 recently. I really disliked the 08 and 09s just because I felt like the cornering just wasn't for me, at all. The 14, however, really surprised me. It wasn't a true carver by any means but it didn't do anything that I disliked. It seemed very usable and I really enjoyed that bike. The newer 12+ style does feel a little lighter/slimmer too, in my opinion. I would say the newer Hondas are the most light-feeling and flickable of the 450s though.

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Sag and everything is set for me, the actual seat height is fine for me the way it sits now, but like i said its more just the overall bulkiness feeling to the bike. I did manage to briefly hop on a buddys 12 kx450 and it did feel better and hes got it set for 200lbs ....the point of me getting the 09 is because i wanted to see if i liked the power of a 450 (and it was a smokin deal) ... Thats all good info phantom. The pegs on the bike are like bent down now cuz the pins are a little bent, i bet that would make a huge difference as well !

what i mean with keeping the rear low is more about setting it up to handle good. if it isnt low and you set the forks @ 6mm up in the clamps your rear sits to high. the bike is unbalanced at that point. the forks being slid up isnt a must for everyone but it was for me. so i had to get the rear to sit low to get it all working together. i would grab a set of pins and bushings or what not and while you got them pegs off just dab a mig weld on some of the worn tips. grind them to a v and see where your at. you might end up gaining a bunch of leverage with putting yourself in a more secure position? have fun  with that tank! lol

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I think everything made in '08 or '09 was a tank in comparison to anything offered these days

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Thats all really good input, it breaks my heart to switch from a kawi but like i said im thinking ktm next. At least now i know it is a valid stereotype that kawis are the straight line monster and not the most flickable, specially for me.. But yah you guys said it its amazing how much other bikes can feel like a bmx bike compared to a kawi 450.

I doubt you will be happier with a KTM unless you go to a 350 or 250F. I switched *from* a '13 KTM 450SXF to my '13 KX450F and found the KXF to be an easier and more comfortable bike to ride. The KTM felt really tall compared to the KXF (I'm just average height 5'9").

 

If you truly want a light flickable bike, buy the Honda. It is the smallest feeling 450 out there.

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I have 2 Honda 450r. Yamaha YZ250 (2t) and a 2013 Kawi450f,  IMO the Kawi doesnt feel any heavier than the Honda, but its on older bike (08)

I weigh 120lbs and 5'6" and I race it in Open "B" in NHHA and it handles extremely well however I had the suspension done by TBT for my weight and riding style.

 

I have ridden my buddies RM 450 and it really turned well, but it seemed "twitchy" to me, but that could be setup, so many variables can change that.  But that being said I NEVER see any Zuks racin in the desert, a few Yamahas, some Hondas and a SEA OF ORANGE!! 

 

But this is in off-road racing not track, but on the track I have no complaints about the handling on the KX, yeah my YZ feels lighter because it is, but I absolutely love my KX, torque for days, waaay faster than my old Honda that I was racing, and it was a 2008, fully ported, Stage 3 cam and dual springs, and has a 488 big bore kit, the Kawi stomps it! 

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Did some bike upgrading this summer, since my son and I both ride motocross it gave me a chance to try quite a few bikes. Had picked up 08 kx450 for my son, I liked it much better than my 08 CRF450 I had. Sold the Honda and got rmz450 2011, once I got suspension set up for me I preferred it over the 08 kx450.

 

About mid summer I snagged a great deal on a 2012 kx450 and upgraded my sons 08, the 12 did everything better than the 08 and honestly I liked it better than the rmz, it doesn't turn quite as sharp and the rear end doesn't stick quite as hard as RMZ but suspension is so much more plush and refined and after riding the 12 KX450 the rmz engine feels like a turd, even with white coupler and full FMF system. The Kawasaki's rip, especially 12 because of different cams and power slides are a breeze.

 

So anyhow the RMZ is now up for sale as I found great deal on a 2013 KX450f, the suspension was done by Factory connection and it absolutely rocks ! These newer Kawasakis are so predictable and easy to ride. Personally I prefer the air forks over the spring, its plush and has great bottoming resistance. Also on the Newer KX the front end sticks like glue, its amazing how hard I can push the kx on slippery parts of my track. Ive ran same front tires on all my bikes so its easy to see differnces, the rmz even had 20mm clamps.

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Personally I prefer the air forks over the spring

 

If you're ever 100 miles into the outback and ya lose an air seal, you'll think hard about those springs :)

Edited by Slackkinhard

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I may not be the best source of 450 info since all i have owned is 250f. But i have ridden a 12 crf450f and liked it but the power felt less then my kawi 250f. I also rode a friends 2014 kx450f and i thought it felt alot like my 250f wieght and flickability wise. The motor on the other hand kinda caught me by suprise. Im thinking about 450 for my next bike also. But if i do i think i will remap to tone it down just a tad.

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was just wondering if the newer Kawasaki's like 13 and up turn and feel considerably lighter underneath you?

2012 model KX450F has the current generation frame.  The current frame is narrower than the earlier models and more flexible longitudinally, in the rear. So over rough ground it beats you up less. 

 

2013+ got the first gen air fork. So if you don't like the air fork this means the 12 is something special.  2008-10 had the best KYB spring fork, since Kawi/KYB made some fork parts a bit cheaper in the 11 and 12.

 

2010+ has the current linkage. You can buy an optional longer pull rod part from Kawi. Do it.

 

If you want any KX450F to feel less top heavy, then get some 22 or 21mm offset triples. They work.

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So it really sounds like as long as the bike is set up for "you" you can achieve alot handling wise.... Ive never had a bikes suspension done 100% for me, either wait i am gonna stick with my kawis, i may just stick with a 250 for now, as i do miss the higher rev.... Time will tell. Thanks for all the input guys.

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