KTM’s aggressive stance in off-road keeps paying out big dividends for the enthusiast. The entire offroad line of machines has been painted with a coat of “new”—new frame, new suspension, new engine and new manners. In the big-bore four-stroke arena, we honestly had to nitpick to find anything glaring or out of sync with the 2023 KTM 450XCF-W. It was strong, rideable, had a good dollop of technical performance goodies, and handling that felt light, a bit soft but oh-so tasty. The 2024 version is meaner, stiffer and has an engorged appetite over the year-old sibling.


The 450XCF-W takes the 450SXF motocross platform introduced last year and gives it the off-road treatment as far as suspension, power delivery and equipment. To be fair, the frame is unlike anything else, because it uses PDS rear suspension without linkage. This year the PDS rear end uses a straight-rate spring. Up front, there’s an entirely new fork. It’s a coil-spring version of the Xact air fork from the motocross line. The motor has its own mapping, with two options on the handlebar switch, as well as traction control. Making just under 58 horsepower, the 450XCF-W powerplant has been tilted back for improved center of gravity and antisquat behavior. It’s fit with a 6-speed gearbox, hydraulic clutch, is fuel-injected and has a radiator fan.


The new hydro-formed frame is designed to act like a shock and absorb harsh inputs. New is the shock mount, no longer on the main tube, and makes for less squat in the chassis. A new shorter and more compact subframe is two-part polyamide and reinforced aluminum. It’s lighter, has enhanced the feel and fully integrated all the electrical components.
A step up comes to the triple clamps on the “W” range, which are now CNC-machined. The bar mounts are not rubber mounted, the bar clamp can be swapped for more room, but they have lost the multiple mounting points from past years. KTM has ditched the XPLOR fork in favor of the all-new 48mm WP XACT closed-cartridge spring fork. It has off-road valving, compression and rebound adjustability at all levels with no tools.

With the new shock mount, the WP XPLOR PDS shock is more compact, improves the anti-squat factor and is fully adjustable with hand clickers. A new hollow, die-cast aluminum and lighter swingarm is designed to offer optimal stiffness and reliability at the lowest possible weight. A new 22mm rear axle has also been fitted to match the new flex characteristics of the chassis.

It comes with all-new bodywork, saddle and fuel tank. The tank holds 2.1 gallons and has a new one-piece fuel pump and filter that provide an improved fuel supply, allowing the tank to be emptied further at the low fuel level. The slimmer bodywork improves rider mobility, the seat has new mounting points and is flatter with better fanny traction.

A new chain guard and chain sliders have been added, resulting in improved durability and less chance of hooking on boots or external objects, as well as reducing dirt buildup around the swingarm and chain guard. Chain-adjustment markings are now also visible from above to allow for quick and easy chain adjustment. The new front fender now incorporates mud fins, which provided good results in redirecting dirt and mud away from the rider and radiators in wet conditions.


The powerplant in the KTM 450XCFW features an incredibly versatile engine character. From the very bottom end near the point of stalling there is an abundance of raw torque. This builds into a linear and smooth midrange with a top end that pulls quite long. The two engine maps drastically change the engine’s personality on the fly. The white map is standard and the most linear and smooth of the two. We found this to be most welcomed when the going got tough. Loose rocks or slippery conditions are where this map shines. You feel more rear-wheel connectivity with this map.

Aggressive highlights the green map. It’s not quite a motocross feeling, but is gnarlier and easily will loft the front wheel with the crack of the throttle. On dry and slippery conditions, we found it harder to maintain traction in this map. With traction control activated, it makes the green map much more controlled via resisted spinning. With traction control activated in the white map, the bike is ultra-tame and docile, which would be fine for mud or slippery conditions. There is the Quickshifter feature this year on the 450XCF-W. When activated, it allows you to “upshift” from second to sixth gear without the clutch and with the throttle wide open. The clutch still functions, but if you were in a desert race doing a bomb run, you could have this activated and focus on banging gears with the throttle matted.

Top marks go to the clutch, which is phenomenal in feel, engagement and it’s easy pull. Another caveat is the lack of vibration; we seem to feel less buzz through the bars this year. The muffler is spark arrestor-equipped and freer-flowing than a dual-sport model. The tone is wonderfully quiet.

The XCF-W models all have gone to the new-generation chassis, and the advantages are immediate. This chassis platform is more stable and planted at higher speeds, something the PDS models have not had a good track record in years past. The turning radius is sufficient and doesn’t include adjustable steering stops any longer. In tight trees, the bike handles and steers with little pilot effort. Footrest mounts have been moved inward, which helps resist hooking up on obstacles. The all-new forged one-piece side stand is quite cool and tucks up nicely, and has a sturdy footprint to avoid the bike sinking into the ground. We’re a little disappointed our bike didn’t come with a skid plate to protect the new frame. The new seat is plenty comfortable, and we like it opposed to last year’s machine, which offers a little wider base for your rear end.

In unison, the all-new closed-cartridge XACT fork and shock have the machine craving nasty terrain and is far more versatile than last year’s suspension package. This new fork features full adjustability of the compression and rebound with zero tools, compression being on the top and rebound on the bottom. While at speed, the XACT fork has immensely more holdup than the XPLOR fork. This provides much more rider comfort and confidence at speed, allowing the bike to track straight and not have any nasty habits. Once the speeds drop and roots and rocks blossom, the fork continues to excel. A plush and forgiving compression stroke allows the bike to eat trail hack with little to no deflection. Kudos to the new fork guards, as they wrap around the lower tubes and offer more protection. Out back, the new XACT shock comes in lighter, more compact and has fully adjustable compression and rebound sans tools. It tracks well, the machine holds its head better, resisting the big squat under acceleration. This keeps it planted, free and up in the stroke to absorb and track.


There are new components and bits all over the machine. The fuel tank is all new and 2.1 gallons, which slims the bike down. Up front, the radiators are new, as well as a screw on the plastic cap we saw on the SX and XC models last year. There is an off-road control unit now that eliminates all fuses on the bike. This simplifies the electrical system and helps with any error detections. The unit features a red or green LED light to detect any malfunctions or where any electrical issue can be instead of the bike blowing fuses.

We like the new handguards on the machine, as they are made from a firmer plastic with a wider hand shield that allows for much more protection. An absolutely welcomed addition is the new LED headlight. You can actually do some serious night-riding adventures with this lamp, and we did plenty of that. Brembo hydraulics are still standard components and performed top-notch as usual. The four-stroke models come standard with a cooling fan, and we absolutely adore this feature, as the machine uses it constantly.

Down low, the 450XCF-W features a new chainguide, which is completely flush and smooth, with the swingarm preventing hangups and trail carnage from breaking the plastic unit. Up on the bars, the start and stop buttons have been combined into one switch like the motocross bikes, and this opens the real estate on your handlebars. Air-filter access and maintenance are still tools-free, and the new airbox allows for more visibility of your air filter when installing to ensure you are fully seated all the way around.

The quick-disconnect fuel line for the fuel tank is tucked up better than the old bike, which will certainly help prevent any failure on the trail. Dunlop tires are standard equipment featuring a MX33 up front and an AT81 out back. For our dry, out-west conditions, this tire combo is hard to beat.


This is the most versatile off-road bike in KTM’s entire line. If you’re a trail rider, you can leave it stock and be happy. If you’re a dual-sport rider, you might have to figure out registration, but it’s reasonably quiet and has the 6-speed gearbox. If you’re a desert racer, you might have to go mining for a little more power, but again, the 6-speed will make it worthwhile, and the new suspension has a much higher versatility factor. This baby rocks.

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