Aaron Plessinger’s Factory Red Bull KTM 450SXF Factory Edition
Aaron Plessinger signed with Red Bull KTM during the fall of 2021. He spent a large majority of his pro career with Yamaha and decided to switch things up. Before his departure he was able to wrap up a 250 title for the blucru. Aaron brings a fun flavor to the race side and makes for a fan favorite in the pits. We sat down with mechanic Jade Dungey to go over the details on Aaron’s KTM 450SXF. This bike isn’t just new to them but its new to us also. We haven’t even tested the new Factory Edition in stock trim yet. This made is even more worth our while to learn what the team has done to the bike and what they think about it so far.
THE FRONT END
Starting at the front of the bike you will find a DID DirtStar ST-X Rim with DID spokes/nipples. Usually the teams will beef up the spokes and go to an oversized set up but these were OE size. You can see that each spoke has been braced with wire to keep them from getting loose or unsecured. Dunlop provides the rubber to the team. This is a spec Dunlop front tire that is similar to the MX33 that you can find at your local dealer. Dunlop uses the teams to help develop their tires and eventually these will make it to the consumer level.
The front brake system is a Brembo works part. It has larger pistons inside for better stopping power in race scenarios. That is paired with a 260mm Motomaster front brake rotor. You can see that the front brake hangar is also a factory part provided to the team.
Aaron likes the front brake to be stiff but a little progressive. There is an adjustment on the lever itself to help fine tune the specific needs Aaron is asking for on the brakes. Both the clutch and brake side levers are a billet component. In this photo you can see that the front brake reservoir is covered with a carbon piece. This protects the housing from damage during a race. Rocks can fly into this area and damage the brakes. It’s rare but could happen and the team does not want a DNF. You can see Aaron is on a soft compound Renthal grip with grip donuts. Jade really didn’t know if Aaron ran them or not. He just added them at the beginning of the season and Aaron hasn’t said anything about it. Aaron is very picky about his levers. He runs his clutch lever and front brake lever a little lower than most but they have to be spot on when Aaron goes racing. Balance of the bike and levers are his two picky areas of the motorcycle.
Plessinger is using titanium axles on his bike. He really can’t tell a difference from what Jade Dungey told us but decided to get with titanium from and rear. All the bikes are adjusted for the rider and trying to keep weight in mind. The KTM’s in stock trim are some of the lightest bikes on the showroom floor so you can imagine how light the team can get them. We have heard in years past that the team will actually keep the bike 1lb heavier over the legal weight limit just in case. If the rear wheel shreds knobs off it could cause the bike to be underweight and the team could face penalties. Assuming this goes for Husqvarna and GASGAS. GASGAS is the lightest 450 in the class in stock trim.
Up front Aaron Plessinger is running a 52mm front fork. KTM has two in house employees that are dedicated to dialing in the suspension for their riders.
Out in the open and for everyone to see. Factory KTM is running data acquisition on their front forks. The team can get a ton of feedback using this on their bikes. The rider can give personal feedback on how suspension is working but its nice to back that up with readings they are getting during practice or races.
Jade explained to us that Aaron runs a pretty tall bar mount and those are paired with an 827 Renthal handlebar. This is really similar to a 996 bend.
The new button suite on the KTM Factoy Editions has really simplified the handlebars. You can the kill and start switch on one mount now. The riders have an option to put the start map switch on their bikes. AP opts out of this switch and feels comfortable enough to handle it on his own without the electronics help. You can also see the billet throttle housing in this photo. The clutch side is similar. Both are used for durability. Back in the day a cast one was damaged with Ryan Dungey on the team in 2016. At that point the team made the switch to these billet housings for added protection.
Aaron Plessinger runs his Kite start button about as deep as you can go to be safe without ripping the fork guard off. The hook is actually built into the WP forks for the device when it is engaged. He’s the deepest of all his teammates right now. They will make adjustments when they got to outdoors because of the grate system that Supercross is using in comparison to concrete.
The team has several options to run for triple clamps. There is a solid clamp and then the split design shown above. Aaron chose the split design and preferred the flex characteristics on this in comparison to the more solid mounted design. Plessinger is running right now the standard offset.
If you look just behind the front number plate you will see the antenna on Aaron Plessinger’s KTM 450SXF. This antenna is for the data system. It is hidden there so no rocks hit it and the GPS is still working properly.
The radiators are an OE component that are polished. The team does use a 2.0 radiator cap over the 1.8 that comes on the bike. Bikes in Supercross don’t get that hot in comparison to outdoors but its still nice to have a little wiggle room. They will definitely get hot during mud races.
With the fuel tank and gas cap the KTM Factory racing group uses a different design. This comes out of Europe. The capacity doesn’t change from stock. The new cap threads on really nice and they can personalize them with the riders name. ETS fuel is used inside the fuel tank. It has a really high boiling point and really clean burn from what Jade told the Dirt Bike Magazine staff. We also asked how much fuel he puts in the motorcycle while AP rides. Jade told us he goes 3/4 of a tank. A lof of the mechanics will do measurements to save on weight. He said he doesn’t get too crazy because he doesn’t want the stress of a red flag and Aaron not having enough fuel. The bike is so light already that adding a little extra fuel isn’t going to mess things up.
Layton and Kelly come up with the engine package on Aaron Plessinger’s KTM 450SXF. Each rider does get tuned for different mapping but Jade did say that right now all the riders on the team are on a very similar engine package.
Akrapovic handles the exhaust for Factory KTM. The exhaust is tailored to the engine package provided by the team. Jade said that everything about this exhaust is top notch. The fitment, coating, durability is some of the best Jade has worked with as a factory mechanic.
Jade told us that the bike is insanely fast but the team tunes it so it is all rideable power. The team has a few more parts to fine tune the engine they are waiting on and expect to be adding them soon. Jade said that Aaron is very pleased with the KTM engine already and gelled with the bike immediately. There were two key areas that the bike does really well. In the whoops the power is easy to throttle and there is a lot of traction off the gate during starts.
Inside the clutch all Hinson components are used on the KTM 450SXF. They provide the covers and internals for Aaron Plessinger. They actually do all the akadizing on the engine cases also. The akadize method is used for durability and also keeps the engine a little cooler during operation. The ignition cover looks brand new after a race because the akadize is so durable in comparison to an oem case.
You can see that right now Aaron Plessinger is using OEM engine hangars. The team does have options for the bike but they are sticking with the stock components at the moment. Jade loves to glamour up bikes so he vapor blasts the engine hangars to add the factory feel to the bike.
The Rear End
On all of Aaron Plessinger’s pivots and axles titanium is used for material. He had the choice on what to go with and to keep the bike a little lighter they went titanium on all of it.
The footpegs look identical to the oem footpegs on the all new 2022 KTM 450SXf Factory Edition. Pankl actually makes these footpegs for the factory team. These are 3D printed from scratch. Jade said that they are extremely sharp and cast last up to 30 hours before replacement with AP on the bike. These pegs are paired up with a titanium pin in the mount. The pins and ti hardware all together is provided by Mettech.
Alpinestars actually has special grip added to Aaron Plessinger’s boots for extra traction while riding. There isn’t a whole lot of grip tape added to the motorcycle. AP actually hooks his boots between the frame and side panels for the whoops so he is locked in place. Jade does run DeCal Works grip tape on the frame that is custom is more for cosmetics and keeping the frame nice. The team does have an Acerbis frame guard option also if they want to run that instead.
The rear brake is similar to stock but the coatings are different for added durability. You can see the factory rear brake hangar above as well.
The rear brake master cylinder is factory. What makes it factory? When these are rolling off the assembly line the team will pull them before the sight glass is bored through. Removing the sight glass adds to durability and loss of fluid in the event of collision or debris. The team doesn’t want to take risks having a window that can be shattered causing loss of fluid. You can also see the WP Xact rear shock in this photo. The team has messed with the air shock on the previous platform. We are waiting to see if it makes a comeback this season on Aaron’s bike or maybe a GASGAS. Aaron likes the bike lower in the rear and taller in the front. A lot of riders like to squat the back end of the bike out. The team does have a couple different variations for linkage. They are pretty close to the OEM spec that they started with on the bike. As the season goes further in, expect the team to make changes to this to find more comfort and stability.
Aaron runs a 13/50 ratio on his Renthal sprockets. For the nationals and supercross Jade will use a rivet link instead of the master link that you typically find on a chain like this DID gold chain shown above. Jade doesn’t want to take the chance of something kicking the master link off and losing a chain during racing. KTM has more rear wheel adjustability than other manufacturers. Because they have a lot more wiggle room, the team can position the rear wheel further back and give the bike a more planted feel for Supercross.
Like we said earlier in the post, Dunlop provides spec tires for Aaron Plessinger’s bike. This is a 120 rear and they have no messed with the 110 much. These specific tires are based of the MX33 line that you can find at local dealers.
Akrapovic makes the skid plate and rear chain guide for the motorcyle. The skid plate was designed around the stock one and has rubber mounting points added to it. Akrapovic already worked around rigidity characteristics and the frame to provide protection but not change the way the frame feels on track. Jade said that these items are extremely durable and will last him an entire season.
Twin Air provides all the air filters to the team. They will run a supercross specific filter compared to a more robust design for outdoors. The seat is straight off the dealer floor. The new orange seat is what you will find on your 2022 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition if you purchase one. There has been no modifications to the foam or material.
Parts have been difficult due to the pandemic but Jade did say that KTM is absolutely dedicated to racing and making it happen. Plessinger jumped on the bike in October and they have plenty of parts to use as they prepared for the 2022 Supercross season. Jade said that KTM works extremely fast and the communication between the US and Austria is next to none. They can develop parts and get them on the bikes within a week or so. This is such a huge advantage for KTM. Usually what you see on the KTM will end up going into production the following year on an OEM bike that you find at your dealer. The Japanese take some time and it may take a couple years before you get some of the goodies from the race side.