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2023 450 Shootout

450 SML Shootout In-Depth | 2023 Kawasaki KX450



“The Kawasaki engine is impressive in how well-rounded it is. The low-end is powerful yet manageable, the mid-range is strong, and the top-end feels competitive with everything else. Nothing stands out as being amazing, power-wise, but the engine is solid everywhere.” – Foster

“The Kawasaki is a blend of stability and agile handling. It is likely the most stable bike in the class, but it still corners extremely well.” – Foster

“I like the longer feel that the Kawasaki has in comparison to the other bikes. However, the rider compartment is slim and narrow. Larger riders tend to lean towards the Kawasaki for this reason. plus there is a huge amount of adjustability with the KX.” – Foster

“If I were to own this bike I would stiffen the suspension for my weight and speed, especially to help absorb big landings. The rest of the bike would be great for me, as is.” – Foster

Rene Garcia on the Kawasaki KX450

“The Kawasaki powerband is amazing. It pulls like a tractor with a ton of throttle response. However, it has a linear power delivery that makes it feel strong and smooth. One of my favorite engines in the class.” – Garcia

“I have always loved the Kawasaki and it feels like home when I jump on it, even though I don’t spend much time on one except for the shootout days. The ergonomics are great and the bike is slim and smooth to move on.” – Garcia

“The KX450 is super stable but it corners very, very well, too. How did they do that? You wouldn’;t expect a bike that is this good at speed to be so good in the corners, but it is. You can also trust the Kawasaki under power as it slides great.” – Garcia

“There are a couple of things that I really don’t like about the Kawasaki: the hard grips and the huge muffler. I would change those two things immediately. Not even more performance when it comes to the pipe – just to cut some weight and look better.” – Garcia

Donn Maeda on the Kawasaki KX450

“The Kawasaki has a very strong engine, but it is smooth and easy to control. I love its versatility, as it is great in a taller gear, but also great being revved out in each gear. I do with the maps were easier to change than the clunky coupler system, but since I like the standard green coupler the best, I usually toss the others anyway.” – Maeda

“I’ve actually been riding and racing the 2022 KX450SR, and when I jumped on the standard KX450 during the shootout I actually felt it was easier to ride because of its tractable roll-on power. It does sign off up top quicker than the SR, though.” – Maeda

“The KX450 has a long, stable feel that is great at speed and in the roughest sections of the track. That said, it is amazing how well the bike corners; whether it’s a rut, a loamy corner, or even a flat, slippery turn.” – Maeda

“I could race the bike stock all year long as everything about it suits me just fine. My first changes, though, would be the grips and the goliath muffler. I haven’t actually found an aftermarket exhaust that I prefer over stock as far as performance, but the thing is so huge, I just have to switch it out.” – Maeda

Kyle Puerner on the Kawasaki KX450

“There is a great feel to the KX450 engine. It’s not the hands-down fastest, but it has a smooth feel with power everywhere. There is no big hit, but it makes power everywhere with no holes in the powerband.” – Puerner

“The Kawasaki is easy to ride in a taller gear, and third gear especially is really versatile. I like to ride in a taller gear to put less tension on the rear end, and the KX450 can pull a tall gear with ease.” – Puerner

“I trust the Kawasaki more than any other bike in the shootout. It’s very stable, yet corners very well, too. I can get up to speed quicker on the Kawasaki than any other bike, including the KTM, which is my usual bike of choice.” – Puerner

“I love the Kawasaki ergonomics. The frame fits between my legs well and I can always seem to grip it easily. In fact, I can grip this bike with my knees and legs better than any of the others.” – Puerner

Brian Smith on the Kawasaki KX450

“The Kawasaki engine is great1 The engine is string everywhere and it did not have any weak spots for me at all. Green is very easy to ride and go fast on.” – Scrub Daddy

“Handling and suspension are both amazing. I like the suspension right out of the box and don’t have to make any adjustments to it. The bike has a balanced feel and I can trust it completely from the first lap.” – Scrub Daddy

The way the bike feels when you sit on it is really nice. I think it feels thin like everything else, but you can really grip the bike easily. I like the handlebar positions and I wouldn’t change it, even though you can.” – Scrub Daddy

“The bike corners really well and it is also easy to move around in the air. It gives me confidence in the fast sections of the track too, even when they are real rough.” – Scrub Daddy

Kyle Vara on the Kawasaki KX450

“The KX450 engine is strong all the way through the power curve with no weaknesses. It does drop off way on the high end, but you should be grabbing a shift by that point anyway.” – Vara

“The Kawasaki is very easy to go fast on as the power is easy to control and make good use of. The power is linear but strong, and even if you fall off the pipe a little stab at the clutch is all it takes to get the engine ripping again.” – Vara

“The Kawasaki has a rear-end bias, but it still corners amazingly well. The bike tracks great when you’re accelerating out of a corner and the rear end eats up acceleration chop. The bike is very stable and confidence-inspiring because it is so predictable.” – Vara

“The bike fits me well in the stock condition, but the Kawi is the most adjustable with al;l of the footpeg and handlebar settings that are available. I would have to guess that this is the best bike for taller riders, too.” – Vara

Chase Curtis

Chase Curtis is an avid motocross and MTB rider, and he is the SML Video Editor. Completely self-taught, Chase is one of the best video editors in the sport and one of our biggest assets.

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