THE GEAR: Jersey: FXR Racing Revo, Pants: FXR Racing Revo, Helmet: 6D ATR-2, Goggles: Factory Ride Premium Optics, Boots: Alpinestars Tech 10 Supervented.


A: Yes. KTM’s engineers did a very good job of addressing the bad things about the 2024 production KTM 450SXF and enhancing the good stuff. 


A: Over the years motocross racers have learned a few things: (1) Never buy a first-year model. Why not? Because early buyers often become the real-world test riders for whatever the factory didn’t have time to figure out during pre-pro testing. What can go wrong, will go wrong. (2) The “Big Four” Japanese manufacturers work on four-year development schedules. A new model released in 2020 will not be replaced until 2024. And, even if the engineers know that the mapping is wrong, the chain roller explodes, the clutch springs are too weak or, most commonly, the forks are too soft, they are not likely to fix those things until four years or more are up. (3) The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) goes up approximately $200 every year, even though the latest models are often just BNG versions of last year’s bike. (4) Special editions, be they Factory Editions, Works Editions, Special Racers, Anniversary Editions or Rockstar Editions, come in two distinct types—“next year’s bike now” and “this year’s bike all gussied up.” (5) Regardless of which gene pool their DNA comes from, the special edition’s retail price is typically $800 more than the stock production version.


A: KTM has been one of the most aggressive manufacturers when it comes to updating its machines. The Austrians do not live by the industry-standard, four-year production cycle like the Japanese brands. Historically, KTM makes changes in a much shorter cycle and almost always when issues arise that demand their attention.

Take the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition as an example. It was brand new in 2023 and saw no major changes for 2024. According to common logic, it is not due for a major makeover until 2027, but that is not the KTM way. Remember that the 2024-1/2 Factory Edition is an early-release model of the 2025 KTM 450SXF. KTM’s engineers listened to every consumer and media complaint and went back to the drawing board to fix the most egregious  flaws. That is impressive, not to mention expensive.

We took the fuel tank and side panels off to more clearly show the new hole in the shock tower. This is the most visually noticeable change to the frame.


A: Rather than just run through the list of all the updates on what will be the 2025 KTM 450SXF, MXA wants to describe the changes and explain what they are designed to achieve.

Frame. The most obvious flaw with the 2023–2024 frame was that the KTM engineers built a frame best suited to the stiffness requirements of most factory riders. The result was a frame that required over 10 hours to take a set—and during the 10-hour break-in period, it was too stiff, harsh and unforgiving for the Novice, Vet, Intermediate, and local Pro riders who make up the majority of KTM owners. Not to say that there weren’t fast riders who were very comfortable on the super-stiff chassis, just that the average rider doesn’t knock out 10 hours of riding as quickly as a factory rider who hammers out laps every day. KTM took the rap, both from its loyal consumers and, surprisingly, from its highly paid factory riders. Making a plusher chassis was job number one if KTM wanted to make its buyers happy. Here is how they went about making the rigid 2024 Katoom into a resilient 2025.

Shock tower. KTM had replaced its pre-2023 stamped shock tower with a 3mm-thick steel triangulated forging. It was over-built. For the 2024-1/2 Factory Edition and the 2025 KTM 450SXF, the forged shock tower has large relief holes cut into both sides to help feed in a little flex.Forged backbone plates. To stiffen the head tube area in 2023–2024, thick forged steel gussets were welded to the top of the frame’s backbone that wrapped around the steering head. The goal was to stiffen the central control point of the frame, the steering tube, to make the bike turn quicker and more accurately. At the same time, they put a second forged plate on the down tubes, extending below the head tube. We assume this plate was incorporated to better support the steerer tube—which has been prone to breakage in the past.

Frame tubes. On each side of the 2023–2024 KTM chassis, from the shock tower to the footpeg brackets, there are two symmetrical frame tubes. They stiffen the chassis both longitudinally and torsionally, but maybe they did that job a little too well, because KTM’s engineers replaced the curved tubes with new chromoly tubing with thinner wall thicknesses. The goal was to put more spring into chassis movements under high G-loads.

Head stays. Head stays are one of the most commonly changed frame components. These triangle-shaped plates are attached to the frame with two bolts and connected to the cylinder head to help bind the chassis together with the structural mass of the engine. On a yearly basis, you will find manufacturers switching from aluminum to steel head stays, thick to thin head stays, and even recessed head stays. On the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition, the KTM head stays had CNC-machined openings machined in the head stays to soften up the feel and improve front and rear bite.

Swingarm & buffer pad. Starting in 2023, KTM tilted the engine 2 degrees rearward and moved it down 3mm to lessen the 2022-and-earlier KTM’s tendency to squat under hard acceleration. This is unchanged on the 2024-1/2 Factory Edition because the anti-chain torque pluses made the chassis better in consecutive whoops, out of bumpy rutted corners, and any time the throttle was held wide open; however, lowering the countershaft sprocket meant that the chain line had to angle downward at a steeper angle than before. The result was that the chain would eat through the swingarm’s buffer pad at the point of the downward arc. If the bike’s owner didn’t catch the wear on the buffer pad soon enough, the chain would start to eat through the aluminum swingarm, On the new Factory Edition, KTM’s engineers made the portion of the buffer pads that was getting worn out thinner so that the chain would be able to go over it without destroying it. As a failsafe, KTM redesigned the swingarm by shaving down the aluminum’s thickness on the top to make it lower. It should be noted that some of the issues with the chain line can be rectified by switching from the stock 13/51 gearing to 14/52 gearing—largely because the larger countershaft sprocket raises the chain line an added degree; however, the gear ratio will be taller.

The kill button and starter button are housed in a module on the right side of the bars. Don’t get it wet when washing your bike.


A: Forks: There is no use talking about the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition without delving deep into the revisions and refinements that have gone into the WP XACT air forks over the last few model years. Five innovative changes began to be implemented in 2021 and have been updated on the later models. (One will be used in the future.)

(1) Oil bypass notches. Oil bypass notches were machined into the forks to reduce oil pressure peaks when the stanchion bushing and cartridge bushing get close enough together to compress the fork oil. The result is a more fluid feel in the second half of the fork’s stroke.

(2) Air seal. Since the oil bypass notches relieved oil-pressure buildup in the damping leg, WP put four bypass holes in the air seal to lessen air-pressure spikes. These holes help resist J-curve air-pressure spikes.

(3) Hydrostop. In 2023, WP came out with the Hydrostop bottoming control system. It was a modern twist on old-fashioned works fork technology. The Hydrostop bottoming cones used a tapered shape to create an “oil lock” to stop the forks from bottoming. The big plus of Hydrostop is that it resists bottoming with a vengeance. 

(4) Trampoline valve. Perhaps the best feature of the WP XACT air forks is the “trampoline shim,” which, unlike a normal shim that is tightly packed in by other shims and pistons, can bend into a cavity below it more than a normal shim. It’s called a trampoline shim because it flexes under oil pressure, much like a trampoline goes up and down under a gymnast’s body weight. The trampoline valve lessens the mid-stroke spike when the shim stack is over-pressurized.

(5) Fork cap port. If you look closely at the fork cap on the left leg, you will notice a black anodized threaded plug. Do not remove it. It has nothing to do with the forks on the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition. It is where a data acquisition sensor will plug into the forks in the future

Shock/shock linkage: The biggest rear suspension changes revolve around the shock linkage. The shock linkage is all new; however, the updates do not affect the rising-rate curve. It remains the same, as does the 45 N/mm shock spring. The biggest mods are to the actual linkage pieces. The linkage arms were 16.2mm tall on the 2024 model; for 2025, they will be 13.6mm tall and 2mm thinner. The shock bolt that attached to the linkage’s bell crank is downsized from 17mm to 15mm, while the bolt on the other end of the bell crank is reduced from 17mm to 14mm. Even the ribbing on the flat sides of the bell crank, which was 6.3mm, is now 5.3mm wide. 

Why all the downsizing of the link arms, bell crank and bolts? KTM discovered in testing that the 2023–2024 linkage parts were too rigid. The smaller linkage bolts and slimmer linkage arms not only reduce friction but work in conjunction with the previously updated smaller rear axle to provide more feedback from the rear wheel and get the flex back where they wanted it to be. The 2025 production shock linkage is based on the works linkages.

As for the 2024-1/2 shock, it only gets minor updates to the compression valving, largely because the reduced friction and induced flex of the new linkage make the shock move more freely, leading KTM to add a touch more compression damping.

Behind the number plate, strapped to the right fork leg, is the new CUO. This allows you to connect your smartphone to your bike.


A: At this point, you might think that we have covered all the important changes on the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition, but that’s not accurate. Here is the list of updates.

(1) Connectivity Unit Offroad (CUO). Although Yamaha has taken the lead over the past few years when it comes to engine tuning via WiFi, KTM’s new Connectivity Unit can supply beaucoup engine management options and full-blown analysis through the “Rider” section of the KTMconnect app. Riders can access different levels of throttle response, traction control, launch control, engine braking and also engage preset maps for sand, gravel, hard-pack, and wet dirt.

(2) LitPro. The 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition also harnesses the power of LitPro to collect data about speed, acceleration, deceleration, average speed, G-forces, air-time, jump height, gearing, rpm, throttle position, water temperature and traction control. Best of all, LitPro can use its front-fender-mounted GPS unit to map the track you are riding on and playback the lines you use on every lap.

The Connectivity Unit Offroad can be retrofit to 2023-2024 KTMs, Huskys and GasGas models. The retrofit unit retails for $249.99, and to access the high-end LitPro features, you need a $69.99 annual subscription from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

(3) Engine. The 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition powerplant is virtually identical to the 2023-2024 engine. You can expect increased low-end performance from the Akrapovic slip-on muffler and self-selected performance options via the mapping possibilities of the CUO.

(4) Quick Shift. There are two different Quick Shift reaction speeds: one for upshifts through third and fourth gear and one for upshifts for fourth to fifth gears. 

(5) Orange stuff. A lot of the orange stuff is strictly limited to the Factory Edition and won’t necessarily be on the 2025 KTM 450SXF production model, but some of it will. Here is the list: orange-ribbed Factory seat cover; orange powder-coated frame; orange frame protectors; orange rear sprocket; orange anodized, CNC-machined, split, adjustable offset Factory triple clamps; and KTM Factory wheels with D.I.D DirtStar rims laced to fully CNC-machined, orange-anodized hubs.

(6) Radiator shrouds. The new radiator shrouds aren’t as pointy as the 2023–’24 shrouds. They curve inward at the tips to keep them out of the way.

(7) Brake pedal. The brake-pedal tip on previous models could easily be crushed in a collision with another bike or by the ground. For 2025 (and on the Factory Edition), there is a stronger brake pedal and a better reinforced brake pedal tip.

The 450SXF engine didn’t receive any major updates. Most of the focus was on the chassis.


A: The engine, from top to bottom, delivers one long, churning, locomotive style of power. It builds at an unbelievably progressive rate from 5000 rpm to its peak at 9400 rpm. It’s strong on the bottom, stronger in the middle, and strongest on top. It makes an impressive 59.94 horsepower at peak.

Unlike a lot of fast bikes, the KTM remains supremely manageable whether you are tapped-out in fifth or working your way through the esses in third. Torquey, broad, powerful and fun are the watchwords of the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition.

Described in one word, the Factory Edition is more “compliant” than the 2024 model.Q: HOW DOES THE 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF FACTORY EDITION HANDLE?

A: Every MXA test rider, all of whom have lots of hours on MXA’s stock KTM 450SXF, raved about how the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition feels in motion. It is definitely an improvement over the stiff 2024 frame. Plus, it did not take 10 hours of break-in time to get the frame to feel comfortable.

The 2022 KTM 450SXF had squat issues, most evident in consecutive whoops, but by rotating the engine backwards, KTM was able to lower the countershaft sprocket by 3mm, which lessened squat under acceleration by reducing chain torque. You can feel the improvement in rear-wheel traction.

As far as the 2024 crop of motocross bikes go as a group, they are all examples of the “give to get” philosophy of frame design. The 2024 Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, and Suzuki have all sacrificed stability at speed for the ability to turn tight. The result is that these bikes have a tendency to suffer head shake at speed and a touch of over-steer in the corners. These manufacturers focused on cornering prowess at the expense of overall handling.

The 2024 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition is the best all-around handling bike on the track (along with its Austrian stablemates). It is accurate in the corners, laser-guided down the straights, and doesn’t suffer from any chronic tendencies to over-steer in the tight stuff or shake over rough ground. 


A: The hate list:

(1) Start/stop buttons. If you don’t like having the kill button on the right side of the handlebars, Nihilo Concepts makes separate start and stop buttons that retro-fit so you can put the kill button back on the left side.

(2) Chain slack. On the 2024-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition, you need 70mm of chain slack. That translates into four fingers under the chain at the back of the buffer pad. Yes, we know that you have always used three fingers to check your chain tension, but on KTM, Husky and GasGas models, you need to use four. The chain is not right if it doesn’t look too loose.

(3) Finding neutral. Getting the transmission into neutral on the starting line is very hard. It resists being snicked into gear. Our solution is to rev the engine with the clutch pulled in, and when the rpm peaks, we shift into neutral before the rpm drops. 

(4) Gas cap. The gas cap sticks—sometimes to the extent that you can’t get it off at the gas station.

(5) Radiator cap. The plastic radiator cap is a pain to remove. Nihilo Concepts makes a removal tool to make it easier.

(6) Spokes. KTM’s spokes come loose all the time. If you can’t check all the spokes, be sure to check the spokes closest to the rear rim lock; if those spokes are loose, you need to tighten all the spokes. 

(7) Seat height. A massive number of potential KTM racers are disenfranchised by the seat height of the KTM 450SXF. The average height of males in the USA is 5 feet, 9 inches, which means that 50 percent of the male population is over this height and 50 percent is under it. If you are under it, the odds are that your feet won’t be able to touch the ground on the starting line.


A: The like list:

(1) Brakes. The front brake on a KTM is not only powerful but has an incredible range of modulation.  

(2) WP Factory holeshot device. Aftermarket holeshot devices cost anywhere from $100 to $160, so it’s nice that the $12,499 KTM 450SXF comes with one.

(3) Shock collar. WP’s latest shock collar is much easier to use and more durable than it was in the past. 

(4) Vented airbox cover. You get two airbox covers when you buy a KTM: a stock cover and an optional vented cover. MXA test riders always prefer the vented cover, except on dusty or wet tracks. 

(5) Factory skid plate. KTM put threaded bolt holes under the frame to mount their Power Parts skid plate, which comes stock on the 2024-1/2 Factory Edition. 

(6) Washing. The giant air vents below the seat are hard to seal off when you pressure-wash your bike. We run Twin Air’s plastic airbox covers to avoid getting water in the engine.

(7) Frame guards. Most MXA test riders like KTM’s fancy frame guards, but we have test riders who remove them because the thickness of the plastic pushes their feet outward (if you remove them, you will be surprised by how much narrower the bike feels at your boots).

(8) No-tools clickers. You can adjust the WP shock and forks without ever using a tool—only the rebound clicker on the shock is hard to get to, but the clicker comes with a slot for a flat-bladed screwdriver.


A: Factory Editions aren’t always better than the production models that they are based on. In fact, historically, out of 13 years worth of KTM 450SXF Factory Editions, only five years were truly noteworthy. Those five model years were 2012, 2015, 2018, 2022 and 2024. The 2024-1/2 Factory Edition makes the “good list.” Not that the other eight model years were on the “naughty list”; it is just that they weren’t game changers. The 2024-1/2 Factory Edition deserves praise, not just for how well it performs, but for KTM’s willingness to stop the presses and come out with serious upgrades for a bike that had only been on the market for two years. You gotta love that as much as you will love the 2025 KTM 450SXF, which this year’s Factory Edition is a precursor to.

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