Last month, we got to test the 2024 KTM 450XCF-W at a media intro in Ohio at the site of the John Penton GNCC. It was just enough to get us excited about the bike and we couldn’t wait to get it to California where we could get more time on it. Last year, this was a bike that very few people seemed to understand. It was a closed-course competition bike that many riders mistook for a green-sticker compliant machine–in other words, people just assumed it was plugged up and overly lean. It wasn’t. It was an extremely capable off-road bike with a six-speed gearbox and excellent power delivery–most definitely not plugged up and overly lean. For 2024 it’s back with the same general personality, but updated with a new chassis, new suspension and a mostly new motor. To clarify, there is a green sticker version of this bike in the KTM line. That one is called the 500XWF.
The 450XCF-W takes the 450SX-F motocross platform introduced last year and gives it the off-road treatment as far as suspension, power delivery and equipment. To be fair, the frame is unlike anything else because it uses PDS rear suspension without linkage. The shock is similar to the one on the new motocross bike, but with different internals and, of course, it connects directly to the swingarm–which is new. This year, the PDS rear end uses a straight-rate spring. Up front, there’s an entirely new fork. It’s a coil-spring version of the Xact air fork from the motocross line. No more Xplor fork. The motor has its own mapping with two options on the handlebar switch as well as traction control. And then there’s that six-speed gearbox, which is something that desert riders have been wanting for a long time. As far as equipment goes, the big news is an LED headlight that actually produces decent candle power for riding at night. Racing at night will still require something bigger. The bike also comes with a radiator fan.
The price for the 2023 KTM 450XCF-W is $11,999.
Now that we’ve ridden the bike at home, we’re even more impressed. The suspension is nothing short of excellent. The previous version of the bike (which we already loved) needed substantial fork work for anything except low-speed rock crawling. It was too soft in stock form, and the Xplor fork didn’t respond well to modification. The new fork is still good in rocks, but it doesn’t dive and misbehave in whoops. It’s stiffer than the old fork, so it may give away a little compliance in first gear, but it’s well-suited for anything faster. The PDS rear suspension is great too. There are still a number of hard-core linkage fans who resist the PDS concept, but we believe this bike will convert many of them.
As far as power goes, the 450XCF-W runs sort of like a heavily modified 500EXC. Dual-sport riders have to speed thousands to get this kind of power out of the 500. It doesn’t have the top-end of the motocross bike, but it’s smooth, torquey and easy to use. Plus, it doesn’t overheat.
This is the most versatile off-road bike in KTM’s entire line. If you’re a trail rider you can leave it stock and be happy. If you’re a dual-sport rider, you might have to figure out registration, but it’s reasonably quiet and has the six-speed gearbox. If you’re a racer, you might have to go mining for a little more power, but again, the six-speed will make it worthwhile and the suspension will be easy to work with. We will be putting a bunch of miles on this bike in upcoming months, so look for a test in the September, 2023 print edition of Dirt Bike.
DUCATI’S FIRST DIRT BIKE
We’ve been hearing rumors that Ducati is in the process of building a motocross bike. This isn’t it, but it’s clearly something new and dirty from the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. The Powerstage RR Limited edition is a high-end electric mountain bike. The special livery designed by Aldo Drudi in collaboration with the Ducati Design Center and inspired by the Desmosedici GP23 (with which the official riders race) in a limited edition of 230 numbered units. It has a full carbon frame with a combination of modern geometrical solutions and high-quality components, such as the new Shimano EP801 drive unit, Öhlins suspension, SRAM GX AXS 12-speed shifter and Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels (29″ front, 27.5″ rear) with carbon rims.
The Powerstage RR Limited Edition can already be ordered from the Ducati network and online at www.ducati.com at a suggested retail price of $11,990 USD (Prices listed are the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices. Prices exclude dealer setup, taxes, freight, title and licensing and are subject to change).
KICKSTART KENNY AT HIGH POINT
Play by Play: Jason Weigandt
Analyst: Ricky Carmichael
Reporter: Jason Thomas
HOW TO WATCH
Saturday, June 17
Pro Motocross Championship: Race Day Live
Peacock @ 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET
Pro Motocross Championship: High Point National [LIVE]
Peacock @ 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET
Monday, June 19
Pro Motocross Championship: High Point National Replay
CNBC, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App
11 p.m. PT [Sunday] / 2 a.m. ET
If you have vintage bikes, you know that seats are very difficult to get right. MotoSeat has a full line of vintage dirt bike seat covers and seat foam. You can design your seat on line here.
CHAD REED JOINS WORLD SUPERCROSS
With less than a month until the 2023 FIM World Supercross season kicks off with the British Grand Prix in Birmingham, WSX is set to announce that Australian supercross legend, Chad Reed will join the team as a “supercross advisor” and broadcast commentator for the upcoming six-race season. One of the most successful supercross riders of all time and the record holder for competing in most ‘main events,’ Reed has expansive supercross experience and knowledge that he will be bringing to the series and its fans in an advisor role on the broadcast team. Additionally, Reed will host exclusive content on WSX.TV.
See you next week!