'12 KX450?

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8/25/2021 8:09 AM

The backstory:
So got back into riding after an 8year break since my kids wanted to start riding..couldn't afford a new bike so I picked up an 01 RM250 thinking I'd just be riding casually, chasing my kids around and play riding in the desert when our friends do their trips on holiday weekends..well that didn't last long and we've been motoing down as much as possible and have been racing..

I have my RM pretty dialed, love the chassis and have been doing well on it but it is down on power even compared to newer two strokes Ive raced..The main drawback is the gearbox..2nd is super short and 3rd is too tall...bike doesn't have much overrev so Im basically riding it like a fast 125..lots of clutch and shifting..like I said I can't afford a new bike right now with the kids and I riding/racing..if I could I would prob have a newer 2stroke or a husky 350 with spring conversion..

My friend has a low hour '12 KX450 he parked muddy and with broken spokes in my barn 6years ago where it's been rotting ever since..he just told me he isn't going to ride anymore and I can ride/race it if I want...I keep my bikes nice so obviously I would have to do a complete teardown and soda blast all the mud stains/corrosion off it and regrease everything...if it was just that I would give it a try as it would be a minimal investment but it has those cheap DNA wheels on it so I would have to get a wheelset for it and respring it...

All the kawis I've ridden/owned in the past (all pre '12) felt tall and had horrible turn in..I'm a front end steering kind of guy, both my last 450's before I quit were RMZ's and I'll take sharp handling over stability or allot of power any day..

So my question is am I going to be able to get that thing to handle to my liking? I dont want to spend $ on wheels, bars, springs, new plastics on a bike I'm going to hate..I know it's been awhile but does anyone remember how their '12's handled? maybe with some clamps and shortening the rear shock I could get it comfortable? I'm 5'10 170lbs with short legs..sitting on it now it feels big but the bars are in the forward position..For the money I spend to get this thing going I could prob get the cyl ported on my RM so third gear would be more usable but am obviously still going to be at a disadvantage against 450's....

Thanks for the suggestions..

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8/25/2021 8:22 AM

I rode a buddies 2013 (or 14?) back in 2014 and at the time thought exactly what you described about the bike. Tall, kind of straight up and down, kind of hard to turn. I am pretty sure the 12 is the same frame/ergos. I don't think that was a great generation for kawi's those years. I wouldn't go crazy dropping $ into wheels, suspension, etc. Also for a bike that's been sitting that long, you might look at making sure injectors, fuel system, etc are working properly b4 the other things as well.

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8/25/2021 8:25 AM

The kx450 is the furthest thing from a front steering bike. Im sure you could make it do it but i dont know if its cheaper than buying a suzuki or honda that does it already.

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8/25/2021 8:26 AM

The 2012 KX450 is a beast! That bike was so freaking powerful and had a good layout. Chassis was pretty balanced and it was a great bike. Turning was fine but the other builders as well as Kawi has really stepped up the handling game since 2012 but not exactly game changing.

I would summarize that the 2012 Kawi KX450 was a neutral handling bike with a great motor. Very adjustable and i would think that you would be able to get it to handle to your liking. The only other bike from that era to consider would be the Honda (too quick handling and busy....overkill), Yamaha (blah), KTM (not ready for prime time yet), and Suzuki (great front end bike in 2012)


That's all i got for you bud.

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8/25/2021 9:10 AM

Moto520 wrote:

The 2012 KX450 is a beast! That bike was so freaking powerful and had a good layout. Chassis was pretty balanced and it was a ...more

Even though I had a 13, I agree with everything said in this post. I actually had my 13 cornering very well with 21.5mm triple clamps and the factory lowering link that they offered at the time. The power of this bike was awesome and i would easily put it above the power of my 19 kx450. The power of this bike made it very easy to steer with the rear. I loved everything about this bike and happily rode it for 5 seasons. No issues what so ever.

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8/25/2021 9:34 AM

I think the bike felt very similar to a 2006-2008 Honda CRF450R. It's the closest handling to this bike IMO. 2012 still had the spring forks as well (i think they went to air in 2013 but i could be mistaken).

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8/25/2021 11:12 AM

Coming from my 09 and 11 KX450s, the 12 and 13 felt awesome and much more nimble. However, I’d imagine that if I rode one now, it would feel like a tank compared to my 18 KX and now my KTM.

One perk of the 12 is the last year of the spring KYB forks. In 13 they went to the PSF 1 air. Although ironically I liked those far better than my SFF TAC forks on my 18.

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8/25/2021 11:34 AM

I have a 12 and it isn’t the best cornering bike but it is hella stable. I have the Ride Engineering 21.5mm clamps and if I could do it again I would’ve bought the 20mm clamps and put a lower link in the rear.

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8/25/2021 12:21 PM

Thanks for the input...If I can find a cheap enough wheelset and clamps maybe I'll give it a go...kind of hate seeing it rot..

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8/25/2021 9:48 PM

The best mod you can do to a 12 KX450F is a 13 intake cam. In 12 (12 only) they decided to add some lift to the intake cam. I did not like the effect on the power delivery at all

. Yes, it was fast, but so were the previous with slightly less lift. I found it just wanted to spin a lot and was not very easy to ride. They switched back to the pre 2012 cam in 13

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ride

8/25/2021 11:10 PM

Moto520 wrote:

The 2012 KX450 is a beast! That bike was so freaking powerful and had a good layout. Chassis was pretty balanced and it was a ...more

The first sentence really sums it up. The 12 Kawi was a complete beast. I loved how gnarly powerful the motor was. It was UNREAL! I rode nothing but Kawi big bikes from 2005-2013 so I knew how to make them work for me, but they were definitely not a front steering bike and they were so stable! If I had the chance to buy a mint 12 Kawi with low yours, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

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2017 RMZ450
2005 YZ250-sold :,(
1998 YZ250
2005 KX250F

80% of the time it works every time
IG @2HRacing
Thanks to : Factory Effex, N2Dirt, Acerbis, DT1, Fasthouse, Matix, FMF, ASV, 100% & Mika Metals

8/26/2021 5:05 AM

mattyhamz2 wrote:

The first sentence really sums it up. The 12 Kawi was a complete beast. I loved how gnarly powerful the motor was. It was ...more

You think you would be happy with the handling now that you ride RM-Zs? When I switched to Suzuki’s back in the day it was really the first time I felt totally comfortable..Looking at the bike build section I’ve had the sudden urge to get an RMZ 250..I think I’m actually faster than I ever was even after 8years off and being almost 40 years old probably due to the fact I’m riding a slower bike. I never raced when I was riding 450’s in my late 20’s but I used to get arm pump after a couple laps. Can do 30’s no
Problem now and my last couple laps are usually the fastest in the 16min races I’ve been doing..granted my diet is better but I do think not holding on to a powerful bike has helped. Even though I have to ride it harder I feel like I can get a flow going better instead of always worrying about throttle control.

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8/26/2021 5:41 AM
Edited Date/Time: 8/26/2021 5:42 AM

Moto520 wrote:

The 2012 KX450 is a beast! That bike was so freaking powerful and had a good layout. Chassis was pretty balanced and it was a ...more

Would second all of the info above as I had a '12 KX450 as well and loved it.

The only issue I had was with the cylinder temp sensor throwing a code and the fix was having Jonny Lightning in Corona, CA, installing some super high end German water-tight connectors onto my existing temp sensor. The issue being, the stock couplers just aren't water-tight enough. I was lucky to have Weston Peick's dad, Lou to steer me in the right directions, and Lou had learned of that shop from the Hart & Huntington team who were having their temp sensors fixed up there as well.

http://www.jonnylightning.net/

Other than that, my '12 KX450 was plenty reliable, I had nearly 200 hours on it when I sold it to fund my KX500 purchase!

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Do It In The Dirt!

8/26/2021 6:31 AM

wydopen wrote:

Thanks for the input...If I can find a cheap enough wheelset and clamps maybe I'll give it a go...kind of hate seeing it rot.. ...more

Are the DNA wheels that bad?

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8/26/2021 7:31 AM

The 12 was actually a great bike. Idk about front/rear biasbut I thought it handled a lot like my YZ250 at the time. Ended up buying a 13.

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8/26/2021 7:50 AM

wydopen wrote:

Thanks for the input...If I can find a cheap enough wheelset and clamps maybe I'll give it a go...kind of hate seeing it rot.. ...more

soggy wrote:

Are the DNA wheels that bad?

He was breaking spokes regularly when he was riding...Guess I could just relace them with quality spokes..the nipples are super long on them...Im sure the hubs would be fine..

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