Primary Use: Riding local SoCal motocross tracks
Main Mods: TM Designworks SX Factory Edition Slide-N-Guide Kit (chain slider and rear chain guide)
Moment of Glory: Jumping big jumps at the track with the occasional whip to impress the kids I am coaching (laughs)
Forgettable Experience: Every time I get to the track, it takes me longer the set the three air pressures in the Showa Separate Function (SFF) Triple Air Chamber (TAC) fork than it does to gear up and put on my knee braces.
Aftermath: One TM Designworks SX Factory Edition Slide-N-Guide Kit (chain slider and rear chain guide to replace the worn-out stock unit), two OEM fork seals, one OEM chain, one OEM front sprocket, one OEM rear sprocket, one front tire tube, and four oil changes (one oil change every four hours of run time since the 450 MX Shootout)
In the past few months, I have primarily used the 2018 Kawasaki KX450F as a practice bike at local tracks, and have raced it a couple of times at Glen Helen and at a sand track at Twentynine Palms Marine base for a Pro Invitational race. The bike has performed flawlessly and has always been reliable. All maintenance has strictly been preventative. As a racer, I try to keep my bikes in tip-top working condition. Motorcycles are dangerous enough as it is, so I at least make sure to keep a good chain, sprockets, all bolts tightened to the factory torque spec in order to keep the bike in the best working condition possible to avoid any failures.
Now that I have racked up more than 30 hours on this bike, I have grown quite comfortable with the handling and chassis. The KX450F has a good balance of stability and comfort while still feeling light and nimble in the air and in the corners. As the hours continue rising on the hourmeter, the engine still feels tight and powerful, but I have noticed that the clutch is beginning to fade and doesn’t quite grab as strong as it did 10 hours prior. My next maintenance will be new clutch plates, fibers, and some new tires.
My only real complaint about the bike is the fork action. The Showa Separate Function (SFF) Triple Air Chamber (TAC) fork has a tendency to feel stiff initially and lacks front end comfort and traction. I have tried less air pressure to aid in this, but then it rides harsh as it travels farther into the stroke on hard landings and bottoms more easily. I would love to try bolting on a set of spring forks and testing them back to back to see the difference. I have a feeling the fork is the missing piece to the puzzle. Rumor has it the 2019 KX450F will use a spring fork, but I guess we will have to wait and see.