work the rider more in deep sand. The
Raptor rider can lope along or rev it
out, and the plush seat and suspension
make it more fun to rail bowls and ride
ridges. However, the KFX has a quick-adjust clutch perch and reinforced rims,
so you can run lower tire pressures
without worry of bending a lip. It also
weighs about 30 pounds less than the
WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
Yamaha by a wide margin. The KFX
seat hardly has any foam padding at
has highly adjustable shocks with dual-
rate springs, but its shocks are more
tuned for aggressive riding. The ride on
trail junk is a bit harsh, but both ends
resist bottoming on bigger hits much
better than the 700. Faster riders will
want the damping adjustments of the
700R shocks for sure.
WHO’S BETTER IN THE DUNES?
Yamaha. Although the Kawasaki is
more fun to jump in the dunes and its
suspension soaks up landings better,
its high-revving engine and stiff ride
also has a great engine package, and
the power delivery is crisp and smooth.
The 42mm EFI throttle body and 32-bit
ECU delivers a great combination
of low-end hit and high-speed over-rev, and the transmission also has
excellent gear spacing. Also, the
reverse-selection sequence is quicker
and easier on the KFX, as the Raptor’s
reverse requires taking your right hand
off of the handlebar to manipulate the
knob on the fender.
WHAT ABOUT HANDLING?
Both are good, but the more-
compact Kawasaki handles better.
The KFX450R is a bit wider at 46.1
inches, and it has a shorter wheelbase
for carving corners quicker. The
Kawasaki’s engine is also much shorter
and placed lower in the chassis, which
also sits lower due to slightly less
front-suspension travel. The KFX is
more fun to flick around in the air and
brake-slide pivot in turns, but it also
feels less planted on hardpacked dirt.
The Yamaha has a higher center of
gravity due to the tall engine and tends
to bicycle in high-traction turns, but
it has a longer wheelbase and more
suspension squat for better traction and
WHICH HAS BETTER SUSPENSION?
Yamaha has more, but Kawasaki has
better. Since the front shocks can only
be adjusted for preload on the base
700, there’s little tuning to be done, but
Yamaha did a good job on spring and
damping rates. The Raptor delivers a
plush ride on chop and soaks up big
hits and G-outs well. It has a half-inch
more front travel, and the nice seat
adds to the plush feel. The KFX450R
The 449cc KFX engine has a 96mm, high-compression piston (12:1),
so it wants at least 91-octane gasoline to feed the 42mm EFI throttle
body. It has a quick-change clutch cover and magnesium covers.
Despite having the cylinder slanted forward, the Raptor 700’s engine
is taller due to the long, 84mm stroke. The 102mm piston has 9.2:1
compression, so it runs fine on regular unleaded. The four-valve,
686cc engine is fed by a 44mm EFI throttle body, and the exhaust is
Both machines turn well and predictably, but the Kawasaki has a bit more width and a lower
center of gravity, so it turns a bit tighter and carries more speed. It has less wiggle room,
though, and taller riders complain about their boots hitting the front plastic.