A few years back Kawasaki showed just how committed to the off-road competition market they were with the introduction of the all-new KX250X and KX450X models based off the popular motocross models already in production. Fast-forward to 2024 when Kawasaki announced a new GNCC race team and a complete redesign of the KX450X model. It’s safe to say Kawasaki is still committed to the off-road racing market.

Just like almost every other major motorcycle manufacturer, Kawasaki bases the off-road competition models off the motocross versions with a few changes. When it comes to the KX450X, that list of differences is not very long. It reads like this: internal suspension valving is softer in both the shock and fork, Dunlop AT81 tires replace the MX34 versions, and a 18-inch rear wheel replaces the 19-inch version that comes stock on the motocross models. Kawasaki also includes a kickstand that is built into the footpeg mount on the left side of the motorcycle. List complete.For 2024 Kawasaki completely redesigned the KX450X model, changing almost every aspect of the motorcycle in some way. About the only thing that didn’t change is the green color of the motorcycle, but even with that the Kawasaki engineers gave it all-new styling. Here is the list of what is new for 2024.


The 2024 Kawasaki KX450X has a suggested retail cost of $10,699.

• Center-port exhaust system with a tall head with a unique look.

• Completely new main frame and subframe design.

• Internal engine changes to piston rings, connecting rod, rod bearings and crankshaft.

• New intake boot now goes over the shock, much like a Honda.

• Air filter is flat and slides into place.

• Airbox has a removable plug for more airflow.

• Brembo front braking system.

• Redesigned Nissin rear brake caliper.

• Smaller rear brake rotor at 240mm.

• Handlebar-mounted switch with mild and aggressive maps available on the fly.

• Addition of traction control.

• Kawasaki now offers a smartphone app for engine tuning called Rideology KX.

• Shorter Showa shock with new Uni-Track linkage system and preload ring that locks in place.

• Free piston in the Showa fork is shorter, and the O-ring material was changed to reduce friction by around 80 percent.

• ODI lock-on grips.

• All-new plastic styling for rider comfort and overall slimmer profile.

• Increased rear hub size to 58mm in diameter.

With a new main frame, subframe, air box, intake track, shock, fork internal coatings, Brembo front braking components, and they also got rid of the coupler mapping system for an all-new smartphone-app-based system, allowing a variety of features similar to what other manufacturers offer. The KX450X has leveled the playing field with all the other major manufacturers when it comes to offroad 450 competition models.

The previous Kawasaki’s KX450X did nothing outstandingly amazing, but it did do just about everything very well, making the overall package better than its individual parts. This made it a favorite among test riders, because it was predictable in just about every aspect. They knew what it was going to do all the time, making them comfortable.

The major complaint from most people on the old KX450X was that it wasn’t especially fast. We figured that the new model would be a beast and, in our opinion, would ruin everything. Boy, were we wrong. The new KX450X has a similar overall power output as the previous year’s model. In stock form it comes off the bottom noticeably softer and transitions into the midrange without the hit, and then revs longer on top, more like a 250F would. For most riders, this type of power will be enough, but for the faster, more aggressive rider, it’s going to need more bottom-end and midrange power. This is where Kawasaki’s new Rideology app system, which allows mapping changes with the use of just about any smartphone, will come in very handy. With limited testing and a little help from the Kawasaki media department, we came up with a map that brings some bark back to the low end without sacrificing the revs up top. Other aftermarket companies also have pre-programmed maps that they have designed to work with their exhaust or performance bolt-on items. The previous KX450X model seemed to run hot on tight, technical trails, and the 2024 model does the same and seems to get hotter faster.

In previous years the KX450X was predictable and had planted overall handling characteristics that made it a favorite. The 2024 model is quicker-handling and lacks a little bit of stability in stock trim at higher speeds, and under hard braking it can get a little twitchy up front. To combat this during testing, we stiffened up the fork and added a couple of clicks of rebound to keep it higher in the stroke and prevent it from diving, ultimately giving us that twitchy feeling.

We have seen a trend by manufacturers going towards quicker-turning 450cc machines. Unfortunately, when manufacturers start going this way in the handling department, they tend to increase the rigid or harsh feeling as well. Kawasaki somehow managed to retain an overall very compliant or rider-friendly feel. Kawasaki will also be offering optional engine mounts that will allow the rider to increase or decrease the rigidity characteristic of the chassis.

Kawasaki changed the overall styling of its 2024 model with a focus on making the rider cockpit more comfortable and reducing snag areas. The entire radiator shroud, airbox cover, and number-plate side panel can be taken off and installed as pretty much one piece with an interlocking design. The same is possible on the exhaust side as well. Overall, it feels slimmer around the radiators, and when moving around on the bike, it’s easier to squeeze with all the side-by-side covers fitting flush against each other. We aren’t going to lie, the airbox cover that allows tool-less air-filter changes has us jumping for joy.

The Brembo front braking system stands out visually on the 2024 KX450, and with the full-floating front rotor, it has slightly increased performance over the Nissin unit from last year, but most people commented on the improved comfort feel of the wider brake lever itself. In the rear, Kawasaki still uses Nissin but upgraded the caliper design, retaining the use of a 240mm disc.

Another change that was unanimously received as an improvement is the addition of a medium-to-soft compound, ODI, half-waffle, bolt-on grip system. We think Kawasaki did this just to silence the Dirt Bike staff from complaining about our hands hurting after riding with the plastic grips they used in previous years.

We loved the old Kawasaki KX450X, but the new version is definitely not a step backwards. It has a few things that we appreciate immediately and some things that we will need some time to figure out with some more testing. Kawasaki made some much-needed technology upgrades with the new Rideology smartphone app system and some manual upgrades with the new no-tools-needed air-filter access. In true Kawasaki fashion, they have managed to look at what is working for other manufacturers and put the Team Green spin on it to offer a competitive overall package to the end user.

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