The Kawasaki KX450F ends its time at DIRT ACTION
WORDS MATT BERNARD
PHOTOGRAPHY CRAIG BERNARD
The last 12 months with the Kawasaki KX450F have flown by. We have completed the whole DIRT ACTION Amcross series, raced the Hattah Desert Race and had a ball — and absolutely no mechanical problems — along the way.
My time with the 450 got off to a rough-and-tumble start. I entered the final round of the 2011 DIRT ACTION Amcross series in the open class, a secondary class to what I was racing at the time. I got as far as the first turn of the first race where I was wiped out by a rider on the inside.
The 450 was bent and parked in the van for the rest of the meeting. It wasn’t the most enjoyable start to our time together, but it could only get better — and did.
As soon as I bolted the Renthal Twinwall handlebars to the KX450F I was comfortable on board. The standard ’bars were a little high for my liking and I was much more comfortable with the McGrath bend Renthals.
The standard suspension on the KX450F was pretty good. I took it to Factory Spec for a revalve and was hooked up with a bunch of trick-as Suspension Direct components for Ken at Factory Spec to work his magic with. Kashima coated fork tubes and a Kashima coated shock body were just the start of the list of trick parts that were used to build the suspension on the bike.
With heavier springs, a revalve and the SDi parts, the bike handled on a whole different level. Once the suspension was bolted into the bike I never looked back; I began to get more and more confident on the bike. I stuck to the mellowest plug on offer from Kawasaki and, combined with the Yoshimura exhaust system, the engine was broad, strong and easy to use. The more I rode it, the better it felt.
OK, so maybe not bulletproof, but Mattproof. This thing handled the year really well. It was the first 450 I’ve had for a full 12 months and, being mainly a 250F racer, I got spat off the thing a lot. I never bent a subframe, the ARC levers never snapped and the ’bars stayed straight. It stood up to the test, without a doubt.
Mechanically, the extent of the mechanical issues I had with the bike was a snapped spoke from coming together with another rider. I kept the Motul 7100 flowing through the KX, changed the FunnelWeb filters often and got through the year without a DNF. The Kawasaki was a dream bike to live with for 12 months. I have very little to complain about. The oil filter cover is pretty darn sharp, so you need to watch that, and I wore out the chain runner after about 10 hours.
The DIRT ACTION Amcross series wrapped up at Leeton which you can read all about in this issue. I entered the round equal seventh. If I had a really good day I could maybe jump to fifth, but it would take some luck and for me to pull my finger out.
The first two races I didn’t use the holeshot button as I pulled a mega holeshot without it at Goulburn and started well back. When the tracks are so fast it’s hard to catch up if you don’t have a great start and it showed. I finished seventh in the first and 10th in the second. I was so bummed and knew I had to turn it around.
I forgot about my fluke holeshot without the button and went back to using the Works Connection holeshot button in the last race as I had all year. I pulled a great start and rounded lap one in fourth or fifth. I hung with the front guys for a couple of laps and ended the race in sixth. I was pretty happy with that as I was riding like a busted arse in the first two.
I didn’t know until I crossed the line that two of the guys who were near me in the points had gone down in a big pile-up and had only scored a few points. I ended up taking home fifth place in the overall points and, after leaving round one outside the top 20, I was absolutely pumped with fifth.
Like a 12-year-old kid on the podium, I’d just like to thank Rudi, Bargs and the team at Kawasaki for all their help and to agreeing to the project; my mum, dad and Katrina for their help at all the races; Damo for giving me time off to practise; Daimler Trucks Sydney for getting me to Leeton; and all the suppliers who came on board with the project Kawasaki KX450F. It’s one wicked machine, so thanks. I’ll miss the big green machine!
The Motul lubes kept the bike in tip-top shape. The full range of products that Motul does is top-shelf stuff. The air-filter oil worked with the FunnelWeb filters to keep any dirt or dust from passing through the filter, Motul 7100 kept the internals happy, the E-Z Lube kept the moving parts in good nick and stopped them from rusting, Shine & Go took care of the looks department and the Brake Clean was used often to make sure none of the above ended up on the brake discs and pads.
The DIRT ACTION project KX450F uses Pirelli Scorpion Mid-Soft tyres. www.linkint.com.au