Frankie Bellissimo and Kyle Beaton ride the new KX450F
MXP Test Rider/Video Photographer – Frankie Bellissimo
2013 Kawasaki KX450F – Media Bike Test – Zaca Station, California
A perfect time in an incredible place for an up close look and feel for the real green monster. With the test session taking place during the work week allowed for a full attendance from some of the leading media companies and bike testers in North America. Jeff Comello from Canadian Kawasaki Motors educated the MXP’s team of Chris Pomeroy, Kyle Beaton, and myself as we travelled to and from the track on the smooth Pacific Coast Hwy; passing a cow herd or two. The testing facility is located in between orchard-style rolling hills with dry trees scattered along. The track conditions at Zaca Station were a dark tilled loam dirt allowing for a deep, solid, multiple berm pattern. The jump faces were left solid and remained the same all day that created multiple lines. If you wanted to jump from one side to another, this was the place, although you may just jump off the side of a hill so you needed to get acquainted with the jump designs and depths of the valleys. Safe flowing table tops were your gateway to long, speeding downhills followed with fast paced step up hill climbs.
On hand in the Kawasaki trailer was really the heart and soul of the development of the company. From the wonderful coordination of the onsite facility with mechanics, specific technicians, brand marketing educators, and a chef crew that cared to please the whole group involved. Bikes were constantly maintained and updated to your personal settings to allow for maximum riding efficiency. When you were dialed with your bike, a riders meeting was set up to show all the actual new changes for 2013 including:
Adjustable Couplers Swap
Front Fork Air Pressure Management
Adjustable Handlebar Mounts
Front and Rear improvements
This fully tailored production was proud certification that Kawasaki listens to their riders, clients, and high tech development program to give you a perfect bike, a bike that you can change positioning, suspension and motor just like the top teams in the world. If you are taller than the average motocross rider, there are adjustments to move your triple clamps forward, taller settings for the large size pegs, and brake peddle settings for larger boots. This is only the start as you move onto the suspension, and the new front pneumatic spring fork (PSF). This complete springless air system allows you to add or take away air according to the rider’s weight and abilities with a regular air pump and a Kawasaki fitted attachment. You are now able to further collapse the front shocks to fit them into smaller luggage making traveling more convenient. The ability to change and modify your motor to the changing track textures during the day would seem amazing and something that the team of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, would only be able to do. New for 2013 are three interchangeable Couplers Caps that have specific mappings of power settings for Standard, Hard, and Soft terrain, that allows you to manage your KX450F power.
As a tester for the bike, I can confidently say that all the effort and multiple changes and information is backed up 150%. This is not 1984 where the all-new 250cc has just launched and the guy is pulling a sweet wheelie for the cover. This is 2013 and the bike is more like a rocket bike out of Star Wars. In a way that’s what we are riding and it’s amazing how the Dirt Bike Revolution has continued to evolve. At a height of 5’9” and a weight of 185lbs, right away I felt at home on the bike and centre balanced. Standard position of components seemed to fit my likings and I was onto the track. The main thing that came to my attention was the usable power and how in control I was of a very powerful bike. The KX450F pulled hard out of corners with smooth acceleration allowing for ample speed for large sized jump features, and stable mobility for easy scrubs and whips. It would keep solid power to the ground through line changes crossing other rutted lines giving direct credit to the suspension. I was able to feel noticeable changes with the swap of a coupler cap as the the track conditions deteriorated and making more hard pack and dry loose dirt in the corners. You did not want the hard punch at the low end spinning out the rear end but a subtle response to keep the power tracking.
At the end of two days of riding and filming, I come away with a greater knowledge about Kawasaki’s innovation of the machine and its compatibility with the rider. This was an exceptional overview of the KX450F and I recommend this brand to any motorcycle enthusiast who is looking for the best in performance, adaptability and high quality.
MXP Test Rider – Kyle Beaton
Do I have some good news for all you moto freaks out there. Last week I was invited down to Santa Barbara for the 2013 Kawasaki KX450F intro and media ride. The intro took place at the most amazing motocross track I have ever ridden, Zaca Station. The MXP crew and I showed up bright and early on the first day to meet and greet fifteen other media folks from across North America. Our crew was assigned two, fresh, out of the box 450Fs.
At first I was a little iffy about riding the 450 since I’m more of a 250 guy, but after doing a lap on this bike I fell in love with it. I felt comfortable right away and it was really easy to move around to make it go where I wanted. It felt very light and nimble, almost like my 250F. After getting warmed up on the bike everyone sat around while the Kawasaki guys did their speech and went over all the changes for 2013. Some of the major changes from 2012 are the all-new and very cool air forks, and also a new swing arm for added stability. The air fork had me a little skeptical on how they would react and feel. I guess you could say I ate my words and questions about them because they worked amazing. After getting one of the tech guys to set them up a bit and play with the air pressure and clickers for my weight, I was set to go back out and see how they felt. They were very stable and allowed the bike to track and corner on a dime. You could predict what the front end was going to do. We then went on to play with different air pressures to see the differences. By only changing the pressure by a pound or two, you could feel the difference. With the forks now being air, that eliminates the spring set up in them and allows any rider to adjust the front end with just a tweak of air pressure. How cool is that. No need to spend big money on springs anymore. I do think that Canadian air would be better as Chris Pomeroy would say.
The power delivery was very smooth and controllable. You were able to set it up to whatever sort of powerband torque you wanted by simply changing the three couplers you receive. (standard, hard pack. and soft terrain)
Some of the other changes to the 2013 model are a new front break master cylinder, rear brake disc, chain guides, front number plate and fender, and silver engine covers. The 2013 model also has adjustable hanle bar mounts, adjustable foot pegs, launch control and three different couplers for motor tuning, which has all been carried over from 2012. With all these tools and features, how could you not want to go out and purchase the 2013 KX450F. Makes life easier and cheaper with not having to send or take your bike in to get modified parts put on to set it up for you. You’re able to do it all yourself. I give this bike a perfect score and cant wait to get one myself. Till next time, keep ‘er pinned and rubber side down. braaaaaaap
MXPFilms of the event to come!!!