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Thinking about making the switch from Kawi over to KTM.

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A little background, I've been a hardcore Kawi guy since 2009. I've owned an 09, 12, 13, and currently own a 2016 KX450F. In-between the 12-13 I owned a 2013 KTM 350 SXF, but it just didn't have enough get up and go in the sand it made it hard to TQ out of things since you always had to be high in the RPM range and the forks blew even after throwing money at them.

The 16 KX450F is a great bike, but the forks are inconsistent.

So, thinking about a 17 450SXF. Anyone make the switch?

How are the new air-forks holding up? All the reviews are good, but it would be good to hear some real world feedback. It's a lot of money to drop without riding one. I rode the 15 KTM 450SXF at Washougal demo days, but those 4CS forks were just junk.

Thanks in advance!

 

Edited by XtremeDuners

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We made this exact change last year; we had two 2016 KX450F's and swapped them for two 2017 450SXF's.  I'll start by saying that we were very happy with the KX's and thought the forks (since you mentioned them specifically) were great after an Enzo re-valve.  With that said, the 2017 SXF is a much better bike on many levels in our opinion.  We have had no issues after 25 hours on each bike.  Some specific comments:

The power is amazing, very linear, almost electric.

The forks are the best air forks on the market and actually give all the spring forks we've used in the past (e.g., Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, etc.) a run for their money.  They were great stock and even better after Enzo re-valve.

Handling is great, very neutral.  The steel frame may take a little time to get used to but you can really feel the different flex characteristics vs. aluminum frames. 

Bike is very light and almost looks like a 125 sitting next to my 2015 YZ450F in the garage.  Ergos are good for taller riders as we are all over 6 feet.

All the other stuff you always hear: electric start, brakes, hyd clutch, etc.  I will say this is the best cutch we have ever used.  One of my riders is a clutch abuser, and went through a new clutch every 4 - 5 rides on the KX, but is still on the original clutch on the SXF.

I thought it was a gimmick, but one of my guys actually uses the different maps and traction control based on tracks, conditions, etc.

Come down to SoCal and you can test ride one of ours!1  I highly recommend making the change.

 

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Thanks for the reply and I'd love to head that way and try one out! But, it's about 1100 miles.

Definitely a tough decision.

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I'd be surprised if you regret it. Have a 2017 450 SXF. Loved the old YZ steel frame. Certainly prefer the new KTM frame over the perimeter frame. The bike feels like it's more forgiving. Motor is very good. Suspension pretty good out of the box. And, the bike is very slim. Standing on the pegs feels like you are in a natural standing position.
Overall, of all the bikes I've owned (multiples of everything except Suzukis) this bike has been my hands down favorite.

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We made the switch  from Honda to a 15.5 450SXF.

No regrets

The KTM is easier to maintain. Normal wear parts,  last much longer. 

There were 2 things that sucked on our KTM

the stock exhaust. to take it off requires taking the rear sub frame off. Replaced with 3 pc FMF problem solved.

the 4CS forks were less than useless. Solved that problem with Ohlins cartridge upgrade for about the retail cost a revalve.

 

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Thanks everyone for the replies. I got everything lined up and I pick the new bike on Monday.

I couldn't find a dealer that would budge a penny off the price, crazy. Sure hope I made the right choice.

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The AER forks are 200% better than the 4cs forks. You'll probably need a couple of shims pulled from the midvalve though. So if they feel a little harsh in the midstroke, that's why. They went overboard on that shim stack.

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Can someone school me on what rear wheels will swap into the 17?

I'm looking to build an extra wheel/paddle set-up for the sand.

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15 onwards front and rear , rear only 13 onwards, you can use older front going back to the start of the big axle forks if you use the spacers from the 17

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I ended up buying a new wheel set-up for the sand. $700 later, after the sprocket, rotor, etc...

When buying the new sprocket I noticed that it's a 48 tooth, which at first glance seems tall, unless of course it's inline with the trans ratio. Anyone gear these down a little? How's the 48 tooth do on tight tracks? I'm jonesing to ride this thing, but it's monsoon season up here in WA.

Edited by XtremeDuners

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I'm stepping up to 49 tooth. The gap between 2nd and 3rd for needs to be addressed. Need a little more bite in 3rd. Found I run out of motor on tight stuff out of corners and 3rd is a tad tall. Just ordered new stuff. Stock sprocket lasted 20 hours and I was too cheap to buy a new one until I needed it

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That's what I figured, but I suppose I'll try it out first and see what happens.

Any suggestions on fork settings? I'm about 200lbs with gear. I figured I'd start at 147 PSI in the forks? Where'd everyone end up with compression/rebound?

Thanks!

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I run 151 at 235 with gear. No idea where my clickers. I click until it feels okay. You will be able come way out on compression though.

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My 2 cents on gearing. I have the '16 450 (my first KTM) and I have left the gearing stock. I had always gone up a tooth on my other bikes. I think it's spot on. It will pull third in corners, and if they are tight 2nd gives room to rev on exit.

I took out the spark arrestor screen (pull off end cap and use a round file or die grinder to cut screen out). Seemed to give some extra off idle response. I got sick of the dick dance to remove pipe so I bought a PC T-6.

I also recommend to every KTM owner to understand how the cold start works and that you can adjust high idle and low idle. Obviously different than any other bike! Pulled OUT on yellow knob is go position!

If you have any backfire problems or buy an exhaust, run different fuels, etc. highly recommend getting a TPS jumper (tpstool.com) and check TPS voltage. Mine was waaay low from factory and backfired like a bitch.

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Thanks for the insight, I'll probably try out the stock gearing before I make any gearing decisions. I didn't know about the idle on the low end, so I guess I'll read up on that!

I did have to do some research to figure out the proper starting procedure and think I have it all figured out.

I have to keep the S/A because I ride the Oregon dunes, but will keep in the mind the TPS information, thanks!

Any insight on skid plates? I never ride the woods, its either the MX track or the dunes. I wonder if I even need one. This is the first bike I've ever bought without one stock, other than my 350 which I had for a very very short period.

Edited by XtremeDuners

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I really like the TM Designworks "MX/Offroad Frame Coverage Skid Plate" on my 450 SXFs.  Relatively inexpensive, easy to install and lasts a long time.  Doesn't do much other than protect the frame and cases but that's all I need for MX tracks.

KTM-KTGP-455-Frameplate-WS-BtSd.jpg 

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That's exactly what I'd be interested in putting on the bike, assuming that it's that polyurethane or hard plastic (whatever it is...)

Thanks!

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On 2/20/2017 at 10:03 AM, XtremeDuners said:

I ended up buying a new wheel set-up for the sand. $700 later, after the sprocket, rotor, etc...

When buying the new sprocket I noticed that it's a 48 tooth, which at first glance seems tall, unless of course it's inline with the trans ratio. Anyone gear these down a little? How's the 48 tooth do on tight tracks? I'm jonesing to ride this thing, but it's monsoon season up here in WA.

I went to a 50. Someone here said that was too extreme and it was going to feel like a 20 or 30% change. To be honest, I really could not tell the difference except that I quit hitting dead spot between some gears. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed mine. The wonderful handling, light weight and e-start have increased my fun factor a lot. At 54, riding was getting a bit discouraging because I was wearing out so fast on my past Yamaha's. The hour meter is moving a lot faster on this bike :-)

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