This week the 2021 KTM 450SX-F was dropped on us and we spent a couple of days getting to know it at Glen Helen Raceway. This isn’t a year of big changes for the KTM. There are two things worth knowing about the new 450SX: the front suspension has major changes and now KTM has its own smartphone app for changing EFI settings. If you have a 2020 ½ Factory Edition, you already have those features–for the most part.

Mark Tilley on the 2021 KTM 450SX-F.

The Smartphone app isn’t yet available in the U.S. If you are familiar with Yamaha’s Power Tuner, you already know what to expect. The biggest difference is that the KTM doesn’t come with the transmitter pre-installed. You have to buy it separately, whereas every Yamaha sold already has that hardwired in place. 

The MSRP of the KTM 450SX-F went up $100 for 2021; now $10,199.

Two weeks ago we got to ride the 2021 Husqvarna FC450, which is a blood brother to the KTM 450SX-F, so we thought we knew what to expect. The differences turned out to be bigger than we anticipated. They both have WP Xact air forks and WP shocks, but the Husky is 10mm lower. This was done with shorter cartridges and sanction tubes in front, while in the rear, the shock and the linkage were both altered. The KTM has the same linkage and shock as last year, although valving has changed. The KTM’s fork has a very long list of differences this year, but travel isn’t one of them. The new fork has a trampoline-style mid valve, a different bottoming system (neoprene instead of hydraulic) and a bunch of smaller items like a rebound clicker that needs no screwdriver. Most suspension tuners say that the mid-valve is a game-changer for WP and long overdue. All this was first previewed on the Factory Edition, although the production 2021 model has still more valving changes, simply because WP engineers have had more testing time since the Factory Edition was introduced.

The WP Xact air fork is much improved. for 2021.

If you paid attention to all the 2020 shootouts that popped up virtually everywhere, they mostly said the same things about the KTM, even though the ultimate ranking varied from one to the other. The common element was that suspension was the bike’s biggest shortcoming. It wasn’t like the old days where the KTM was virtually disqualified by having an archaic fork and shock; it simply wasn’t as comfortable as the Japanese 450. It’s going to be a new story in 2021. KTM has closed the gap. The fork is excellent. It’s now such a non-issue that we are picking issues with the rear shock.

All of the other things we love about the KTM are still in play. It has a super-wide powerband and a smooth delivery. We tested it with the vented airbox cover in place, whereas our Husky still has the unvented cover, so we can’t do any apples-to-apples comparisons yet, but it seems to be playing out the same way it did last year. The KTM has more hit and the vented airbox cover exaggerates that difference. We love the fact that the Husky is developing its own, independent personality, and the lower seat height fits that new image perfectly. You can read our first impression of the Husky FC450 by clicking here. The full test of the 2021 KTM 450SX-F will appear in the November, 2020 print edition of Dirt Bike.

2021 YAMAHA YZ450F

Two weeks ago, we received our 2021 Yamaha YZ450F. The video of that first ride was held until August 5, by agreement with Yamaha. You can watch our first ride YZ450F video by clicking here.

That bike is mechanically unchanged for 2021. Still, I got to spend a fair amount of time riding it and even raced it once. It’s a great motorcycle with two unassailable strengths: it’s very, very fast and has excellent suspension. That’s most of the game, right there.

The first time I actually rode the bike was at REM Saturday MX. Not to brag, but I pulled a big honkin’ holeshot the first time I rode the bike. Don’t ask how I finished. The photo evidence is below, courtesy of Debbi Tamietti. Look for the test of the 2021 Yamaha YZ450F in the November print edition of Dirt Bike.

Photo by Debbi Tamietti. Big honkin’ holeshot by me.


Next Friday is the Maxxis Casey Folks Vegas to Reno, which is the longest off-road race in America. This year, the course is approximately 515-miles with thirteen pits. 60 miles is the longest distance between
any pit. This is a great event and should have excellent turnout. Go to www.BITD.com for more information.


This weekend is the 3 Bros 10 Hours of Glen Helen. This will be held mostly at night, with a start time of 4:00 p.m. Saturday and a finish time at 2:00 a.m. I helped the SRA guys and Glen Helen mark the course, and it should be excellent. Virtually all of the 9-mile course is accessible with the water truck, so that means it will at least start off with very little dust.  No promises about hour 6 or so. The event is expected to draw about 70 teams so it should spread out nicely. Go to Glenhelen.com for more info.


Glen Helen has  been very busy during the week. It’s been an informal national on the big track. Here are some of the riders who were fun to watch Thursday.

Justin Barcia is great to watch, He’s always doing something weird. Photographers love him; other riders no so much.
Zach Bell can go toe to toe with any of the national motocross pros.
Dylan Ferrandis just signed with Yamaha for 2021.
    Jerry Robin was going very fast on a very ugly Husky 450. He always looks great on raceday.
Steven Tokarski works in Yamaha’s testing department. He was doing laps on the 2021 Monster Energy 450.
Kei Aiello was one of the WORCS guys mixing it up with the Pro MXers and doing well.


Another day is in the books at the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship and as the motos continue to unfold, the championship picture across all 36 classes is beginning to take shape. As both the heat and humidity at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch continues to climb with each passing day, the challenge of winning will become increasingly difficult. That is poised to potentially work in the favor of a large contingent of riders who currently sit atop the overall classification.

Thus far, exactly half of the total classes have seen just one rider stand atop the podium after two motos, providing a critical advantage to the following competitors across 18 divisions:

Levi Kitchen                250 B Limited & 450 B Limited
Cameron Horver         450 C
Dakota Bender            250 C Jr. (12-17) Limited
Maximus Vohland       125cc (12-17) B/C & Schoolboy 1 (12-17) B/C
Garrett Alumbaugh     125 C
Jordan Jarvis              Women
Katie Benson              Girls (11-16)
Kris Keefer                  Senior (40+)
Ryder Difrancesco      Supermini 2 (13-16)
Haiden Deegan           Mini Sr. 1 (12-14) & Mini Sr. 2 (13-15)
Darren Pine                85cc (7-9) Limited
Luke Fauser                85cc (10-12) Limited
Seth Dennis                65cc (10-11) Limited
Anderson Waldele      51cc (4-6) Shaft Drive Limited
Kade Nightingale        Mini-E (4-6) Jr.

See you next time!


–Ron Lawson



Comments are closed.