Photos by Donn Maeda | @swapmoto
Rider | Tallon LaFountaine
In the world of motocross suspension specialists, Ross Maeda and enzo racing are highly regarded as one of the best resources around for not only great suspension modifications, but also as a vendor for genuine Kayaba parts and components, like KYB Kit Suspension. Best of all, you can purchase KYB Kit Suspension from enzo with the full works treatment—custom tuned for you, and with or without the enzo Technica QS Subtank System installed on the fork.
Although Maeda was paralyzed nearly a decade ago in a freak motocross crash and can no longer do his own test riding, he has recruited a skilled group of test riders and can also derive feedback from the top professional racers the brand sponsors. The bike that we tested is a 2017 Kawasaki KX450F, equipped with the best the shop has to offer in the suspension department, as well as several key components to help coax the most performance out of the machine.
For the current model, and previous two years, the Kawasaki KX450F has come equipped with a Showa TAC fork. Although we have been able to tune the air fork to our liking, the ride still pales in comparison to that yielded by the KYB mechanical spring fork on the '14 model. enzo Kayaba Kit Suspension is available in both PSF1 (air) and traditional AOS (air oil separate) mechanical spring options, and is accompanied by a matching Kit Shock that is outfitted with an enzo Technica Compression Adjuster and Works-Type Bottoming Bumper. The fork outer tubes and shock body are Kashima coated for durability and longer oil life, and the inner fork tubes are DLC coated for superior action and low friction against the fork seals. What really makes the enzo KYB Kit AOS Fork on this machine special are the enzo Technica QS Subtanks, which add a speed-sensitive spring characteristic to the fork spring element. By adding an additional air chamber with a flow restriction between them, the air spring inside the fork can be manipulated to feel like a large air volume during short stroke use or slow compression, but feel like a small air volume during full stroke movement or at high-speed compression. (Don't be confused with any of the air pressures associated with air forks; the air spring we refer to is the air chamber volume at the top of the fork that is affected by oil level.) On the track, the enzo KX450F feels magical, and the first time we landed from a jump we emitted a sigh of relief, much like when you slip into your favorite chair after a long day. The feeling of a properly set-up mechanical spring fork is indescribable after suffering through the lengthy adaptation to air fork performance—the mid-speed blow-through on compression and subsequent clunk is nowhere to be found! In small braking and acceleration bumps, both ends of the enzo KYB Kit Suspension are super plush and compliant, but the comfort that the subtanks yield up front is amazing, as the system allows the fork to deliver exceptional action in the initial portions of travel under low-speed compressions. As the impacts become larger and faster, the governor between the top of the fork tubes and the subtanks kicks in, and allows the fork to perform as they would without them installed. Overall suspension balance and control is exceptional. The shock also has a plush feel in the initial parts of its stroke before firming up in the deeper portions of its travel. The enzo KYB Kit is not cheap by any means, but the performance yielded by true works-caliber suspension and the on-track advantages it offers is easily justifiable for serious racers.
Aesthetically, the most striking parts on the enzo KX450F are the CRM Composites carbon fiber fuel tank and subframe/airbox combo. Handmade in Italy, the components are used by top-level race teams around the globe. The larger fuel tank is legal in AMA competition and has been used by teams like Monster Energy Kawasaki and GEICO Honda, but the subframe/airbox part is against production rules. Sadly, these gems are not readily available in the United States as there is no distributor. enzo was able to obtain the special parts, thanks to Maeda's friendship with CRM owner Flavio Cavallini.
Engine performance of the KX450F is enhanced by an FMF Racing exhaust and a Rekluse TorqDrive clutch. While the FMF exhaust enhances the KXF's midrange and top-end and really brings the green beast to life, the superior clutch action of the TorqDrive clutch allows the bike to really put the power to the ground in low throttle settings, as there is absolutely no clutch plate slip.
The rider "control panel" of the KX450F is composed of Pro Taper Fuzion bars in the SX Race bend. The flat layout of the bar helps get the rider's weight over the front of the bike, and the adjustable crossbar provides two flex characteristic settings for varying track conditions. Torc1 Racing Vengeance folding levers are made of billet aluminum, have a great feel in your fingers, and fold on impact with the ground to resist damage.
Up front, a massive Braking 280mm Batfly brake rotor handles the stopping duties with more feel and control than we ever would have expected from such a massive disc. A Pro Taper Gold Chain and RS Aluminum Sprockets put the power to the ground, and the bike rolls on a Dubya USA wheelset made with Talon Billet/Carbon hub, Bulldog spokes, and D.I.D STX rims. We must note that we have never had anything but excellent experiences with Dubya USA wheelsets, as they are built with precision and almost never need truing.
A Kawasaki should be green. All green. The Cycra Racing Powerflow Body Kit is available in an all-green option, eliminating the black and white body parts that come stock on the KX450F. Virtually every piece of the Cycra kit is improved upon in comparison to stock, as greater airflow in all applicable parts is worked into the design of the panels. A D'Cor Visuals semi-custom graphics kit looks great and fits and sticks perfectly to the bodywork, while a super-looking SDG Innovations MX9 pleated seat cover complete the aesthetics of the bike.
As a package, the enzo racing Kawasaki KX450F is quite possibly the best all-around-performing green bike we've ridden. Obviously, the crown jewel of the entire package is the enzo KYB Kit Suspension. Speed is nothing without control, and the fork and shock deliver boatloads of control and comfort.
Prices Braking Batfly 280mm Rotor Kit $372.90 Dubya USA Wheelset $1,762.90 enzo KYB Kit Suspension $6,500 (without QS Subtanks) enzo QS Subtanks $350 with KYB Kit Suspension ($450.00 installed on production forks) Cycra Racing Powerflow Body Kit $219.95 D'Cor Visuals Custom Graphics $199 FMF Racing Factory 4.1 Titanium System $899 Pro Taper Fuzion Handlebars $129 Pro Taper RS Aluminum Rear Sprocket $69.99 Pro Taper RS Front Sprocket $25.95 Pro Taper Gold Series Chain $34.95 Rekluse Coremanual TorqDrive Clutch $899 SDG Innovations MX9 Pleated Seat Cover $68.99
Torc1 Vengeance Folding Levers $59.99 each
To learn more about the products used in this build, click the links below…
Braking | www.braking.com
Dubya USA | www.dubyausa.com
enzo | www.enzoracing.com
Cycra Racing | www.cycraracing.com
D’Cor Visuals | www.dcorvisuals.com
FMF Racing | www.fmfracing.com
Pro Taper | www.protaper.com
Rekluse | www.rekluse.com
SDG Innovations | www.sdg-innovations.com
Torc1 | www.torc1racing.com