First Look: 2018 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition

Vital MX: Since Monster Energy Cup a few weeks back, we've been awaiting the unveiling of KTM's newest 450. At that race, they clearly had a new machine but under the old bodywork/fuel tank/etc. KTM has done testing like this during the week, but at a race it was definitely new. So what's new with the KTM 450 SX-F for the 2018 Factory Edition/2019 production bike? First up is all new bodywork, which is obvious at a glance. Beyond that is a new chassis, continuing KTM's tuning of their chromoly frame. As for performance, the new KTM 450 SX-F has some serious updates for their engine as well. The 450 SX-F already has the lightest powerplant in the class, but they've heavily revised the cylinder head to lose more weight along with a host of bottom end improvements. For more on the new KTM, scroll below for the official word and plenty of photos of the new machine.


Our Thoughts from the KTM Press Launch:

KTM is pushing forward again with a new 450 SX-F, being launched under their Factory Edition guise for the team to race in the 2018 Supercross season. As most know, this is also a forward look towards the 2019 KTM 450 SX-F.

Updates include an all-new frame and updated swingarm. The new frame is the usual, looking for stiffness and flex in certain areas, along with working with the updated intake and cylinder head on this machine. The swingarm is the same main part of last year's but is now longer in a sense, as the slot for the rear wheel has been extended five millimeters. 

As for the engine, the majority of the updates are in the cylinder head, which is more compact which results in a whole pound being trimmed off their already lightweight engine. Beyond that, it's also 15mms shorter in height and features new treatments on the cams and cam chain to reduce friction. While the height of the cylinder head has been reduced, the intake maintains its original height, so the intake now comes in from a higher angle, offering better airflow and more power.

Power is also modified through the new exhaust system, which has a larger resonance chamber and a layout that allows for a shorter exhaust can which still meets the low sound restrictions that KTM follows. Overall goals in this department were to broaden out the power, make the system lighter and more centered in the bike for mass control. This new exhaust has a traditional mid-pipe, meaning it's easier to remove the shock and exhaust system without them interfering with one another.

In the bottom-end, the 2018.5 450 SX-F Factory Edition features an all new transmission made by Pankl, a company known for their cranks in F1 and is well-attached to the KTM brand.

Suspension-wise, the KTM 450 SX-F continues on WP's AER 48 air fork, which with the new chassis has updated settings to comply with changes in flex and stiffness. The triple clamps are CNC-machined to be stiffer to deal with the longitudinal stiffness of the frame but keeps the rubber mounted bar-mounts for comfort. Listening to the KTM team, their goal with the frame was based off what they had already accomplished. The last go around they were really centered on comfort, but wanted to make the new bike more precise. Thus when you hear increased stiffness, they wanted to make the bike quicker responding for the top guys while keeping the comfort that their last generation frame had gained.

As for the shock, it gains a new setting and piston. The stock shock body fits within the new frame but the race team gets a wildly new body to work with this chassis and intake.

The bodywork is all-new and the main focus was to clean up the contact points between the rider and the bike, offering more grip and confidence. One of the main changes was dropping the radiators 12mm and changing the angles of the units, this didn't effect cooling but allowed for a more compact package, lower center of weight and allowing the shrouds to be slimmer where the riders wanted it.

So to wrap things up, KTM has gone stiffer and for more comfort, more power, an all-new look with added rider usability on the bike, and has dropped over three more pounds along the way (but they were added back to the total due to the skidplate, larger frame guards and brake disc cover).

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  • manandmachine

    12/5/2017 10:42 PM

    KTM should just make it official and make the bike red. In ten short years they have taken Honda’s spot at the top.

    I guess that in a sense you do get more Honda 450 per dollar/per pound.

    Orange is the new Red

  • navalseabee

    12/5/2017 4:09 PM

    221 pounds no fuel, wow!

  • MX Guy

    12/4/2017 11:50 AM

    That's one beefy header

  • twotwosix

    12/4/2017 11:26 AM

    This year's FE is really more about getting a 2019 early. LOTS of changes from a normal 2018.

  • mikebrownsound

    12/4/2017 10:43 AM

    For whatever reason i am not super excited. She is nice but i expected more visual changes.

  • TymeMoto

    12/4/2017 10:05 AM

    No Akrapovic?

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