We got our first ride on the 2020 KTM 450SX-F this week at Fox Raceway on the Pala Indian reservation. The track layout was a shortened version from the National MX held there last month, but it was fun and the conditions were excellent. The bike itself is similar to the Factory Edition released last winter. It’s not a year of big changes from KTM, which is fine with us. We already love the bike.
The suspension is identical to that of the Factory Edition and has a few valving and internal changes from the production 2019 model. The fork is still a WP air fork, but it’s now called the Xact model. There’s a change in final gearing (the rear sprocket went up a tooth). The biggest change is in mapping. The KTM still has a handlebar-mounted switch that allows you to change maps on the fly, but previously there was almost no difference between map one and map two. Now there’s a great, big difference. Map one might be the same, but in map two, there’s a solid increase in power across the board. Now, you really can say that one is mild and two is aggressive.
Map two is designed to work well with a vented airbox. Last year, many KTMs were victims of the most savage amateur hacksaw attacks imaginable as riders attempted to create their own airbox vents. Now, KTM gives you an extra left side numberplate with nice, neat vents already cut. Even with the vented airbox and in map two, the KTM still has a very smooth, gentle power delivery. When we say it’s smooth, we don’t mean it’s slow. The KTM is still very powerful and for 2020 it’s probably more powerful than ever. But considering all that, the power delivery is remarkable even and easy to control. The riders who complained that the 2019 model was too sleepy down low might be satisfied somewhat, but in the grand ranking of 450 motocross bikes, the KTM is still milder than a Honda or Yamaha. It’s probably more aggressive than the Husqvarna, but we have yet to ride those two bikes back to back.
We like years like this when a manufacturer has only mild changes that address complaints from the previous year–especially on a bike that we love this much. In 2019, the frame was made stiffer and that resulted in a little bit of harshness for the average rider. It was, we suspect, aimed more at the Cooper Webbs of the world. KTM addressed that somewhat with changes in the Factory Edition’s suspension. Interestingly enough, the riders who want a cushier ride are now being channeled toward the Husqvarna FC450. Last week, we got our first ride on that bike, and found that it has softer setting than the KTM. This could be the beginning of a real marketing split between the two brands. We have more testing to do on both bikes. The Husqvarna FC450 test will appear in the September, 2019 print edition of Dirt Bike, and the KTM test will be in October.
SOUTHWICK THIS WEEKEND
Southwick is here! This is one of the last true outdoor nationals with deep sand and whoops like the good old days. This year it won’t be quite as much of a shock to the riders as they had a nice sandy warm up (and I do mean warm) at Florida. If you can watch it on MAV TV (first motos) and NBC Sports (second motos), good for you. If not, all the results will be posted here live. For all of Dirt Bike’s extended National MX coverage, click here.
OLD SCHOOL SCRAMBLES
Rocket Rex will be competing for the first time with the Old School Scrambles Racing Group this Sunday, June 30, 2019 during Rnd 4 of the TT Scrambles Championship Series out at Glen Helen Raceway aboard two finely tuned post-vintage Maico’s provided by Gary Kortz of www.SoCalMaico.com. Gary, who is highly active in the behind the scenes actions of the OSSRG and dedicated to the “Kid’s Ride Free” program with his “No Kid Leaves Empty Handed” campaign, is also known for providing race ready machines to legendary factory racer’s and well known icons of the sport such as Grant Langston, Scott Burnworth, Mark Kiel and now Rex Staten. The Maico brand lives on forever through Mr. Kortz’s efforts at SoCal Maico and we are very happy to have him on our team!
TT Scrambles practice on Saturday from 2-4pm, over night camping and, as always, Kid’s Race Free with the OSSRG, thanks to Rod Lake Racing!
SATURDAY, JUNE 29, 2019
*****Practice & Overnight camping
Gates open @ 7:00am to 8:00pm
Practice from 2:00pm to 6:00pm
Practice Fee: $20, payable at the gate
Camping Fee: $10 per vehicle, per night
(Note: If camping, you’ll be required to pay your $10 gate fee for Sunday)
SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2019
OSSRG TT Scrambles Round 4
Gates open @ 6:00am
Gate Fee: $10 per person, children under 5 FREE
Sign-Up: 7:00am to 8:30am
Riders Meeting: 9:00am
Practice: After rider’s meeting
Racing to follow…
CLASS QUESTIONS can be directed to:
HONDA AMA VINTAGE DAYS
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days features vintage and post-vintage racing July 5-7 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The flat track competition takes place July 6 at the Ashland County Fairgrounds in Ashland, Ohio, and is a round of the AMA Vintage Flat Track National Championship Series. Visit www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com/page/vintage-racing-2019.Three-time AMA Grand National Champion and AMA Superbike Champion Bubba Shobert and nine-time AMA national off-road champion Scott Summers will be co-grand marshals of the event. Both are longtime Honda riders and among the winningest racers in professional motorcycle competition. For more information, visit www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com.