RIDING THE 2023 1/2 KTM FACTORY EDITION: THE WRAP

This week we got our first chance to ride the 2023 KTM 450SX Factory Edition. This is one of those years when the Factory Edition is more of a Cooper Webb replica than a preview of The Next Big Thing. Last year, remember, the 2022 Factory Edition was the first time we got a chance to see the new chassis and motor. The fact that the 2023 Factory Edition has the same basic frame and motor suggests that the 2024 will be unchanged as well. Our spies have already spotted KTM test riders in the field with what appears to be a 2025 model; that bike does have frame changes.

Ray Obermeyer on the 2023 1/2 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition.

This year’s Factory Edition is all about cosmetics and accessories. It has:
Red Bull Graphics
An orange anodized split triple clamp
An Akapovic exhaust
A WP holeshot device
A Selle Valla Dalle textured seat cover
Orange anodized billet hubs
DID Dirt Star rims
An orange anodized sprocket
An Orange frame
A Hinson clutch cover
Carbon reinforced front brake disc guard
Carbon reinforced skid plate
Vented airbox cover

The only items on that list that should affect performance are the Akrapovic slip-on silencer and the vented airbox cover. Yes, you notice the difference–it’s almost one horsepower on top. The standard bike was already incredibly powerful. It was the dyno champion of our 2023 450 motocross comparison. That comparison did not include special editions, which were not out at the time. That field includes the Kawasaki KX450SR and the Honda CRF450RWE. Both of those bikes have head modifications in addition to racing exhaust systems, and will produce more power than stock. Based on what we already know, however, it’s very unlikely they will out power the KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition. Stock for stock, the KTM starts off with a head start of almost 4 horsepower. Okay, so you get the point. The KTM is fast.

The 2023 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition sells for $12,099.

Much has been written about the KTM’s current frame, which is much stiffer feeling than the previous one. We still don’t think that’s a deal breaker; the Honda frame is probably stiffer yet. But it does put more of a burden on good suspension set up. When Tony Cairoli came to the U.S. at the end of last year, he was forced by AMA rules to ride a production-based bike. He though the frame was far too flexy compared to the works frame he was used to. You can read more about the production KTM 450SX-F here. The full test will appear in the May, 2023 print edition of Dirt Bike.

HUSQVARNA ROCKSTAR EDITION

The Husky Rockstar Edition sells for $12,199.

The Husky counterpart to the KTM Factory Edition is the Rockstar Edition. We just got ahold of one of those, as well, but we haven’t had the opportunity for testing. The bike is similar to the KTM, but has a number of different suppliers. FMF provides the exhaust, it has a Rekluse clutch cover (but the clutch internals are not by Rekluse). The Rims are Excel, the seat cover is Guts and the bars are Pro Taper. It sells for $100 more than the KTM.

KAWASAKI KX250X

We also got our first chance to ride the 2023 Kawasaki KX250X this week. For 2023, the KX250X has its first real update in its short history. Most of the changes are internal, starting with the head and intake. It now has smaller valves, which are set at a different pitch, plus the intake duct is straighter and the upstream injector was relocated from the top to the bottom of the air intake. On top of that, the flywheel rotor is heavier and the headpipe is longer. In the gearbox, first and second gear ratios are taller, so the bike is set up to go faster and shift later in each of those gears.

Sean Lipanovich on the 2023 Kawasaki KX250X.

That five-speed gearbox, by the way, is identical to the one in the motocross model. So is pretty much everything else as far as horsepower goes, from the pipe to the mapping. Kawasaki delivers the bike with the “black” coupler installed in the ignition. Like the motocross bike, the X has three maps preprogrammed into the ECU. You access those maps by installing any one of the three color-coded couplers–the black one is the richest and provides the smoothest power delivery. The only chassis differences that set it off as an off-road bike are suspension set-up, an 18-inch rear wheel, Dunlop AT81 tires and a kickstand. No additional fuel capacity, no hand guards, no skid plate. The good news is that the KX is by nature a good starting point for an off road racer. This is the only Japanese 250 that comes with hydraulic clutch actuation, and in case you haven’t heard, the KX250 motocross bike is way faster this year. According to the dyno, it has about a 1-horsepower increase in peak power, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Down around 8000 rpm, the new bike has a 3-horsepower increase, and that’s especially good news for off-road riding. On a motocross track, you rarely dip into that range, whereas off-road guys virtually live in that zone. We can’t wait to get more time on this bike. Again, the full test will be in the May, 2023 print issue.

OAKLAND REBOOT

Photo by Travis Fant.

The rescheduled Oakland Supercross is taking place this weekend, so the rig drivers are facing a very long drive after Tampa. They’re tough guys. Travis Fant has been the man on the field at all the Supercrosses for Dirt Bike for a very long time, but he’s taking this weekend off–just as the original schedule allowed. We will miss the excellent and prompt photos that Travis provides. but MXA’s Trevor Nelson will be stepping up  to help out. We appreciate it! Come back to dirtbikemagazine.com for live results and Trevor’s photos.

“TAKE A MOMENT, BRO”

Nic Garvin shared this video from a desert sprint enduro he did a couple of weeks ago. This crash would have killed me.  Ah, youth. The first thing the rider said afterward was that the danger should have been marked. If you look back, it was, but the markings were the blue danger cards that the Caselli Foundation has adopted. We might want to rethink that …

Thanks for checking in!

–Ron Lawson

 

 

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