built into a monster with enough power
for the fastest pro racers.
IS IT FAST?
Yes. The KFX hauls. Peak power and
acceleration are on the same insane
level as other 450 sport quads, but
Yamaha’s new YFZ450R and Can-Am’s
DS450X mx can get to the first turn a
bit quicker with a highly skilled rider at
the controls. The machines are close
enough that a better rider on the KFX
can get away from the slightly quicker
YFZ450R and the Can-Am.
The Kawasaki has amazingly solid
low-end and midrange power for a
machine that pulls so well on top, and
the transmission is a joy to use, with
slick, positive shifts with or without
the clutch. The clutch has a light pull
and laughs at abuse, but the engine’s
power is so broad that there’s rarely a
need to torture it.
HOW IS THE POWER DELIVERY?
The KFX responds instantly, hits
hard and pulls to a high rev ceiling,
so the motor makes quick work of a
motocross track’s turns and jumps, but
it’s controllable enough for
technical woods riding. You
can short-shift it and let it
pull, or scream the engine—
both work. If you’re anywhere
close to the right gear,
clearing jumps and forceful
turn exits are easy on the
Kawasaki. Blow it and you
can clutch your way into all
the power you need. Really blow it and
you can hit the thumb lever for reverse
and be back in the action before other
450 riders that need to back up are
back on their quads.
WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES IT
The KFX450R has compression- and
rebound-adjustable piggyback reservoir
front shocks. The piggyback reservoir
rear shock has adjustable high- and
low-speed compression damping and
adjustable rebound damping. Spring
preload is also adjustable.
HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK?
The suspension has the typical, stock
450 race quad-firm ride quality with
decent bottoming resistance, but the
machine feels busy on choppy terrain.
We found a few clicks of the adjusters
improves the KFX’s feel a great deal.
We like the stock compression
damping setting (eight clicks out),
but we went to seven clicks out from
the stock nine on rebound. On the
rear shock, the stock high-speed
compression is on target, but we
went to six clicks out on low-speed
compression and six clicks out
on rebound. The stock low-speed
compression setting is 11. Stock
rebound is seven.
HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
The KFX has the quick, agile
handling we expect from a light,
woods-width 450, and the strong,
compact aluminum frame gives the
machine excellent balance and weight
distribution, but we wanted to calm the
steering down some for high speeds
in open terrain. Run it stock for tight
woods, but if you ride fast fire roads
and desert, toe in the front end an
eighth inch from center to give the KFX
a more relaxed, planted feel.
HOW DOES IT JUMP?
All it asks is, “How high?” The
compact, tossable KFX is easy to
control on takeoff and in the air, and the
engine has quick, solid launch power
for short approaches.
The KFX hasn’t got as much
suspension travel as motocross-ready
quads like the Can-Am DS 450X mx
YFZ450R, so it’s not as forgiving on
HOW ARE THE BRAKES?
Awesome. One of the joys of
graduating to a race 450 from a trail
quad is the incredible power and
precise feel of the brakes. The front
Black wheels and outer fenders, Metallic Blue
shock springs and cool graphics almost make
the Special Edition too sexy for the dirt!
The piggyback reservoir rear shock has adjustable high-and low-speed compression damping, adjustable rebound
and spring preload adjustment. The rear wheels have
The Kawasaki is light and compact, with smart, centralized weight distribution, so
it feels even lighter than it is.