The old man loves the KTM 450XC-F! In spite of the agro attitude T-Webb had a hoot during his 3-day test up in Flagstaff, Arizona.
By Tom Webb
I gotta tell you the straight skinny about the 2009 KTM 450XC-F. This machine is a beast, and I mean that in a good way. While I have little information about the changes to the machine I did spend three days riding it hard up in Flagstaff, Arizona. And you can add the fact that I put about 100 hours on our ’08 test bike.
The engine retains its motocross heritage via the dual over-head cam design. There’s only one small difference between this machine heart and the SX, it’s a five-speed gearbox. The other differences between the SX and XC-F are more compliant suspension, a larger gas tank and an 18-inch rear wheel. I’m sure there are other changes but while waiting for Tom Moen to call me with the figures I’m charging ahead. Once I get the info I’ll pass it along.
Tom had to install the F2 switch that lets you toggle between the boost and soft ignition curves. Webb said that the only guy he knows that can use the Boost curve is Kurt Caselli.
Honestly this machine is most definitely NOT a trail bike! It craves a good motocross track, a WORCS closed-course GP or the desert. But tight, nasty, controlled are not in the 450 XC-F’s diet. So, naturally I tested it in the brutally tight, super rocky and quite slimy trails in Flag. The good news was that Flagstaff sits around the 7000-foot range and all the boss trails go nowhere but up. The Katoom starts via a button quite easily and I immediately realized that I’d have to do something with the jetting. I had F2’s Dave Simon on the ride and he’s a jetting wiz so dropped in a leaner pilot, went down 3 sizes on the main and leaned out the needle position-ON THE TRAIL! Once we leaned her out a bit the high elevation tended to soften the snarl. This machine, in spite of being a fire breather never coughed, burped or flamed out during nearly 140 miles [I’d like to tell you that was in one day, but the truth is it was in 3] of tight testing. There’s no doubt that she’s a little gnarly and requires a delicate throttle hand, but man does it gobble on the nasties! I loved the suspension, it feels smoother than last year yet let’s your attack hideous conditions without a flinch. And this is coming from an old fart.
Here’s a quick and dirty on the mods I made during the three days. I installed an F2 switch to let me toggle between the boost and soft ignition curves. And yes I kept it glued in the soft curve. I also installed an F2 Unshock on the rear spring. This little goodie relieves spring binding and makes for cushier suspension action.
The F2 Unshock makes the rear end smoother-bottom line. The unit fits on in seconds (since the KTM shock is so easy to remove) and you’ll immediately feel a smoother, more tractable rear end.
I love this wagon, but it stays in the Wolf garage waiting for either moto, or some of the good GP’s that I like to race. For the gnarly tight events I’d take the 400/450 XC-W. They’re much more efficient in enduro-conditions which equals less pump-a-tude to Mr. Forearm. As it stands, if you can only afford one machine and you want to do-it-all the 450 XC-F is the foam on your latte, the schemer on your bagel, the tear-off on your Scotts [I hate clichés and would not say ‘the cream of the crop].
Over and out