The 2019 KX450 was a bolt out of the blue. Without any real hype, we suddenly saw a brand-new machine with all the big-hitting goodness that any green-blooded rider could hope for. Now we ride the 2020 version, and not only does it feel radioactive, it looks it too.

This is certainly one of those colour schemes that will go down in history as memorable. For good or for bad, the 2020 KX450 has gone all green. The traditional colours you would expect for the airbox/mudflap combo have been changed to green, as are the number boards – leaving no one in any doubt as to what brand of bike this is. Kawasaki are obviously proud of their identity as the mean green racing machines and it is something that goes far beyond the way that their bikes look. Our test at Pirinis left me in no doubt as to how intense this new bike has become.

Green Dragon

I was given a baptism by fire. My bike had come equipped with the aggressive EFI coupling and I had not thought to check or ask about it. After all, the maps don’t usually make too much of a difference anyway – or at least I thought. Well, I can tell you that the power was so instant that it almost felt like I was riding a monster with the sneezles. Even in the higher gears – as I tend to ride when wanting to tame a bike down, it still felt so responsive that I could swear the engine almost prophesized what my throttle hand was about to do and jumped in with both guns blazing.

It wasn’t until after the bike’s owner had ridden the bike himself and exclaimed that he didn’t know how I had been able to ride it that we changed couplers back to the stock setting, where I discovered a much more manageable machine. Not that you would call it mild-mannered, mind you.

There were a million changes to the engine last year that could have contributed to it having such good response. Well, too many to list here without losing your attention. An interesting side-note that I discovered while researching this bike is that it actually makes less power than the previous generation of KX450 up until fairly high in the rev range, and yet you would swear it makes oodles more power the whole way through.

What it produces is a power delivery that most people will get a hoot out of. In saying that, it will pay to use the softer EFI coupler any time you are worried about your arms not being up to the challenge. This is definitely a bike where you want to take note of which map you are using in order to get maximum enjoyment from your ride. If you are in softer soil and your arms can handle it, then feel free to go for the aggressive coupler. But most mere mortals on normal tracks will be better on the stock or easy map, especially in slippery sections like some of what we had at Pirini.


Mr Muscles

Fortunately, the track had dried enough to give the suspension a thorough flogging as well. Not surprisingly I was pleased with the plushness of those beautiful 49mm spring forks. Aside from the bliss of not needing to bend my brain on all that was entailed in the old air forks if something wasn’t quite right, what I like most is how smooth the spring forks work through the middle of the stroke. But there was one reservation.

These forks were susceptible to blowing through the stroke on harder hits, to the point of bottoming. While you could effectively go up a spring rate or two with air forks by pumping the pressure up, on spring forks it is more serious of a job and something of an expense. Personally, I think the effort and expense of going to a heavier fork spring would be worth it in my case, partly because of my penchant for some pretty extreme G-forces, but also because of something that has everything to do with the rear of this bike.

We noticed that the shock felt over sprung. Checking the sag, everything seemed pretty good, but on the track, it just felt like the rear overwhelmed the front a little. You might think that you wouldn’t notice it, but there was more to it than only bottoming the fork. I mainly noticed it under sharp accelerating bumps where the rear didn’t squat nicely, and while it didn’t really bother me much, it was an indication that the balance could do with some tuning. I remember that last year we went five or six clicks firmer on the fork compression and rebound while we only made the shock a little bit harder. For this test we could have also given the bike a wee bit more sag, but that could have been at the risk of losing one of the best things about this generation of KX450 – which is how well it turns.


For many years the biggest Kawasaki was extremely stable. It would brush aside any potential threat of being kicked sideways as though swatting a fly, but its Kryptonite was tight turns. Fortunately, the engineers have been able to find a happy place that allows the big green to turn better than ever. Want to cut inside that rut? Go for it. This bike wouldn’t be your first choice for some of the tighter tracks found in the North Island, but it will get the job done and really reward you on the faster or softer sections.

On a similar vein, Kawasaki are on a seemingly endless quest to make their bikes narrower to help in that quest for flickability. Last year it was the area between radiator shrouds that received that treatment. It is now to the point of feeling more like a 250cc machine between your knees – especially when standing – and that is helped even more with possibly the smoothest and most rounded plastics found on any brand.

There is simply nothing for your boots or knees to get caught up on. I wonder if Eli Tomac himself had something to do with this, who just won his third consecutive AMA Motocross Championship aboard this machine. I say that because I think he had a problem with getting caught up on the shrouds of his previous bike and this bike takes smoothness to the extreme. Not only do the radiator shrouds curve like a VW Beetle over the top and around the front, but they also extend in one unbroken strip almost to the back of the seat. That is not to say that the ergonomics will completely suit everyone’s tastes.

There is something rather quirky about the handlebars. They don’t seem to have much of a sweep backwards, encouraging you to get over the front of the bike more. That can be a good thing if you stand a lot as Eli does, but can make the bike feel a bit restrictive to sit on. The handlebars also feel like they are on the tall side. They are a crossbar style handlebar, which could easily be swapped out for a tapered version, but you will want to test and see if all the gadgets on the left handlebar will fit first.

Techy Bits

Competing for room with the left handlebar grip is a kill switch, launch control button and hydraulic unit for the clutch that dominates the space. A tapered handlebar might struggle to fit all of those things, but that is not to say we are complaining about any of it.

Having a hydraulic clutch has no doubt been the tipping point that Kawasaki needed to bring some people back to their side. It promises a smooth pull at all times in all conditions – which could be the silver bullet should conditions get extreme. I wouldn’t say that the pull is noticeably lighter than a cable would be, you just know that it isn’t going to fade. In saying that, any riders that always have their pointing finger resting on the clutch will want to be careful that they are not unconsciously slipping the clutch at the risk of burning it out before its time. It is slipping the moment you put any pressure on it, which is another one of the reasons why this bike feels like such an extreme racing machine.

Not only is the clutch and throttle super sensitive, the brakes are definitely cut from the same cloth. Coming into a rut I was made well aware that finesse was essential, both to avoid locking the rear and also to avoid the front brakes pulling me up too quickly. What it creates is an incredibly fun machine that takes the idea of “Racing Machine” to the extreme. Because everything is so responsive, very quickly you learn to respect and appreciate its aggressive attitude. This bike is guaranteed to give you the grin factor, which is good because very few people just use these bikes to get from A to B. We do it for adrenaline, which the 2020 KX450 delivers in spades.

By now you may have noticed that I have not told you about many changes for 2020. The reason is that there are simply no changes for this year apart from the green plastics. Yes, a lot of their R&D time and effort would have gone into the development of the new KX250F, but I am sure that had they been sure about the need to change something on this bike then they would have done it. You could look at it like this – they were careful enough to test the new bike so completely last year that it didn’t need any improvements. It could be some peace of mind to many people. Kawasaki dealers across the country also get a second chance to either sell or order more of what is essentially the same bike according to customer demand. And by now most people will know what kind of adjustments they would want to make to one of these bikes – if any.

I hopped on for one more ride, pushed that magical button to fire it into life and gave the launch control another test. Now that we had installed the green EFI coupler I was riding a more manageable bike.

But something within me wanted to go back to the wildness of the white coupling and the intensity of a racing start without the launch control – despite the fact that both decisions would cost me. Deep down, most dirt bikers share the desire to feel like they are on a Factory Race Team bike. Kawasaki might as well bring it out pre-printed with number one plates. Whether or not it is the right machine to propel you to earning that position depends on your desire. Eli Tomac has already proven that the bike can do it, and the cool thing is that I am pretty sure that this bike will make you feel like you could too.

2019 was a year of domination for KTM’s Jorge Prado where the young Spaniard demonstrated his talent, dedication and consistency to take his second consecutive FIM MX2 Motocross World Championship title. With 31 moto wins and 16 overalls including 14 1-1 finishes this season, the 18-year-old has been nothing short of exceptional aboard his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 250 SX-F, which earned its 11th title win from the last 12 campaigns. In celebration of Prado’s incredible year, KTM created something special and is now pleased to announce the limited edition KTM 250 SX-F PRADO MY2020.

This READY TO RACE machine offers premium components such as Factory triple clamps anodized in orange, a composite skid plate and a Selle Dalla Valle Factory seat. In addition, this sublime model that formed the basis of Prado’s championship winning bike has a race-inspired orange frame, semi-floating front disc, a front brake disc guard, an orange rear sprocket, a Regina gold chain and of course Red Bull KTM Factory Racing style graphics with Prado’s number ‘61’ front and rear. For riders who want the sharpest weapon with an exclusive specification, they should look no further than the KTM 250 SX-F PRADO.

“To have a production bike with the number ‘61’ on it is something that you can only dream of as a child – it’s really special and I think it looks great. We’ve had a fantastic season and I’d like to thank KTM for this celebration of our success together. It’s really cool. I am very proud to be part of the orange family and it’s a big honor to see the KTM 250 SX-F PRADO machine go into production,” confirms Prado.

When it comes to a championship-winning pedigree, the KTM 450 SX-F is a model developed in racing with victory in mind. A lot of this incredible bike’s success can be associated with legendary rider Antonio ‘Tony’ Cairoli, who continues to build a legacy thanks to his nine world championship titles and continued presence at the sharp end of the MXGP field.


Cairoli helped shape the latest generation of this proven race-winner, which is simply the most competitive Motocross bike out on track. In tribute to a legend, KTM would like to announce the launch of the KTM 450 SX-F CAIROLI MY2020. This bike is even more READY TO RACE and, like the KTM 250 SX-F PRADO, enjoys exquisite features as well as exclusive Red Bull KTM Factory Racing graphics with Cairoli’s globally recognised ‘222’ number.


“My bike is something really special to me and over the years we have made so many big steps in development of the KTM 450 SX-F as we hunted success at the races. A lot of work went into the latest generation of the 450 and I love racing as much as I always have. To have this tribute from KTM is very humbling. To see riders out there with the number 222 on a bike that looks so much like my Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine is really cool. It’s an exceptional bike that has been developed by the best engineers in the world, and this is a really special model. I look forward to seeing them out there,” said Cairoli.

“At KTM we are proud to have two of the world’s greatest Motocross athletes influence the development of our machines and we are happy to take full advantage of it. In celebration of Prado’s incredible season and in tribute to Cairoli’s continued success in MXGP we decided to build two special models that feature some premium components and a true Factory look. They will be available on a strictly limited basis in European dealers during the final quarter of 2019,” told KTM Senior Product Manager Offroad, Joachim Sauer.

For more information please visit your local KTM dealer or

Words and Photos: KTM Press Service

Chad heads to Spain to test the new Enduro range from KTM and discovers a surprising new bike!

The conditions and surrounds couldn’t have been more perfect. The Basella off-road park in northern Spain, at the foothill of the Pyrenees mountains just short of Andorra, was the perfect venue. KTM laid out the red carpet with a multitude of tracks, and a specific skills area to test every model. KTM Factory team riders Johnny Walker and Taddy Blazusiak were on hand, as well as WP technicians and KTM staff. With the full fleet of bikes glittering in the Spanish sunlight, this was going to be one of those days you can only dream about.

What are our choices for 2020?

Considering KTM made a move to TPi 2-stroke models only two years ago, the fact that the enduro range features almost 60% new parts is an incredible job, showing that the Austrian firm is keen to remain at the front. In fact, the entire KTM range has received a significant upgrade for 2020, plus there’s a new fuel-injected two-stroke 150 which joins the party, along with a limited edition Erzbergrodeo 300 EXC TPI.

The enduro range for 2020 consists of seven models, starting with the all-new 150EXC TPI, which is homologated for Euro 4. The 250EXC TPI and 300EXC TPI complete the fuel-injected two-stroke range. If you opt for 4-stroke, you have a choice of four different models, 250EXC-F, 350EXC-F, 450EXC-F and finally the 500EXC-F.

KTM’s racing experience and expertise is unquestionable and continues to be at the forefront of all racing, and the latest range of enduro bikes benefit from the latest innovations gained in racing, not just in enduro, but motocross and even MotoGP. For 2020 each model is around 60% new, with the 150EXC being an entirely new bike for 2020.

What’s new for 2020?

Although the new 2020 bikes may not appear completely different to the untrained eye, they have a massive list of changes, which soon add up. Underneath the bodywork is a new frame, designed to give more torsional stiffness but more flex in places. The cylinder head to frame mounting is new, and on the 250/300 EXC models, the engine has rotated forwards to improve the front wheel grip by transferring more weight towards the front of the bike. The rear subframe is lighter but longer by 40mm to increase strength. WP suspension has been improved across all models, with new adjusters, a new mid-valve piston and revised settings. Fork rings also come as standard on all models, which measure movement and clean at the same time – it’s the little things that make a good bike great… At the rear, the WP adjustable shock receives revised damping and, being the Enduro range, still runs the linkless PDS system directly mounting to the rear swingarm.

Engine-wise, it’s now been two years since the launch of KTM very clever fuel-injected TPI 250 and 300 bikes, which means the new bikes benefit from the 24 months of development and racing. According to KTM, the range of 2-stroke engines are more efficient, with improved performance and now feature a new air pressure sensor, which communicates to the ECU, that compensates the fuel injection dependant on air pressure. The four-stroke machines receive an increase in performance and not necessarily peak power. Interestingly the kick-start has been completely removed from the four-stroke engines, not even an optional accessory, which allows completely new exhaust routing and a cleaner appearance.

Kick-starts are still optional on the 250 and 300 TPi models, and they both receive completely new exhausts to improve performance and reduce noise. The new exhaust comes with an easily distinguishable corrugated surface on the header pipes to add strength against debris, (see pic). Radiators are new on all machines, with increased cooling and mounted 12mm lower, the big 450 and 500 are fitted with electric fans as standard. Airboxes are also completely new.

Appearance, as you’d expect, involves new graphics, but also new thinner sculpted bodywork and a new seat. The seat has more padding than before, more so towards the rear without compromising seat height, which is the same as previously. The bodywork is noticeable thinner towards the rear. We could go on for pages with the list of changes there has been so many, with parts like the fuel tanks (which are new), even the oil tank has more flexible mounting points for improved longevity, demonstrating that KTM hasn’t left any rocks unturned. But the proof is in the riding, so let’s get going.

Less talk. Let’s ride

The completely new 150 TPI benefits from the engine and chassis changes mentioned above. It takes all the qualities of the proven 2-stroke models with direct fuel-injection and proven reliability. Interestingly, the kick start remains, and it doesn’t have the corrugated surface on the exhaust. I’d describe myself as club level rider, which is why I loved the rev-happy 150 2-stroke as it felt like a very fast mountain bike, it was that light. You can have fun, wring its neck and it’s not going to jump back at you and bite you in the arse. There’s even a two-way throttle map that softens the power further.

The throttle response was impressive, in the tighter wooded sections it will happily pull you through the tight sections, and equally, out in the open you can ride it wide open clicking through the gearbox – I felt like a teenager again! I’m relatively light, and short, and prefer to ride more technical tracks, not wide open, so the 150 won’t fit everyone. But I loved its toy-like ability to make me smile, and if you were a fan of the old 200 XC-W, then this could well be the bike you were waiting for.

250 and 300TPI

The 250TPi was my first choice of bike for the day’s riding. I’ve ridden the now ‘old’ model many times previously. KTM has made the 250TPi easier to live with, and it’s so manageable at low rpm when you’re negotiating tight sections. Considering it’s a 250, it’s not the animal you’d expect. However, higher in the rpm it is still aggressive, more MX than enduro. Again, like the 150 there are two ride modes, which softens or sharpens the fuelling which can be easily switched over on the fly, as long as you’re below 4,000rpm.

The 300 felt a little easier to ride, not as MX like which may sound strange, but as it has more torque, I found I wasn’t chasing the revs as much. But in more experienced hands, the opposite might occur.

Both are manageable and light, which encouraged me to push my skill levels, taking on trails I wouldn’t normally. The slimmer rear-end allows you to really hang off the rear down deep drops, and the seat feels grippier and softer than before.

250 EXC-F

The 250 4-stroke is the friendly dog of the bunch. I raced one last year, and it was a doddle to ride, the perfect beginners’ bike and in many ways is actually easier than the lighter 2-stroke 150. The feeling the 250 provides inspires confidence. The power in the low rpm is lazy like an old diesel Land Rover; it’s happy to plod along and pull you out of any scenario. But when the pace picks up, the 250 will pick up her skirt and run. Yes, you must use the gearbox a little more, but arguably that makes it more fun.


350 EXC-F

It’s easy to see why the 350 is so popular – its all-round ability is a clear highlight. For many of the riders on the world launch, from club level riders to former international racers, the 350 4-stroke was always in their top two. It has the ease-of-use of the 250, even inexperienced hands won’t find it intimidating, and equally more experienced riders will appreciate the extra grunt the 350 delivers, without being scary. It’s quick but still manageable. I didn’t find myself simply being a passenger but always felt in control, up to a point. The 350 is the perfect all-round bike, ideal for a leisurely ride with mates, yet can compete the next day.

450 – 500 EXC-F

For me, you really notice the increase in weight and power. I’m only 5’7 and at Clubman level and felt a little intimated by the 500. Saying that, at low rpm you can tickle the big girl around and it’s not the animal you’d expect. But then it leads you into a false sense of security, kinda thinking ‘this 500 isn’t all that.’ Then you tickle the throttle a little bit more, listen to airbox gasp for air, before you’re propelled forward at an alarming speed. On the open section, I loved the power. It’s like riding the same adrenalin rush you get from riding a Superbike on the road. But I could easily see myself getting into a messy situation on the 500. The ride quality is impressive, the suspension feels plush, and there is traction control and two rider modes. You can tame the beast, and it’s impressive that KTM can produce such a powerful bike which is rideable even for inexperienced hands. But if you poke the 500 in the eye it will still bite you.

You can afford to be lazy with the 450 as, like the 500, it will pull up a mountainside. It does feel physically smaller and lighter than the 500, and I had less tendency to miss apexes and ride wide as I did on the 500. The brakes are impressive on both models, but I felt I could physically get the 450 to turn easier than the 500. In many ways, the 450 makes a lot more sense than the 500, but for me, if you’re going to go big 4-stroke you may as well go big. If you’re going out for a few drinks, have a few and don’t come home ’til sunrise.

Pro’s Perspective

Chad had his views of the range, but what about from a serious extreme enduro competitor? Wayne Braybrook has five ISDE Gold medals, is a Scott Trial winner, Hells Gate Extreme Enduro winner, and was 4th at Erzberg in 2007.

The 150 is the new kid on the block, and the 250 and 300 have received updates. The 150 surprised me as you tend to think of it as an over-bored 125, you’d think you’d have to be in bottom gear all the time, but you don’t. When you crack the throttle it’s a busy little bee; you can get on with it and have some fun, weight wise like a 125.

The 250 is the MX bike of the bunch – loads of punch, strong power but easy to manage, as like the 300 easy to manage. There’s no power valve hit anymore with these bikes as the new mapping is excellent – almost seamless. The new TPI means you don’t have to precise with the throttle, you can ride them both hard. The 300 will pull a gear stronger than the 250, making it easier to ride.

The 250-F is your benchmark bike, the Clubman hobby bike. It does everything, pulls everywhere and just does its job. The 350 in the right hands is the weapon of choice. It’s what Johnny uses. It has heaps and heaps of torque, pulls super strong, but is very easy to ride. The suspension is super plush, it’s not aggressive, and you don’t have to be careful with it, you can ride it hard.

The 450, for me, was the disappointment of the day. It was aggressive and seemed super quick off the bottom. I know it’s a shorter stroke than the 500, which would lead it to be more MX, but it had too much lower down. The 500 was a big donkey! Heaps and heaps of torque, but it’s a big lump there’s no hiding the fact. To get it turned, you need to be physical with it. On the open fast stuff, that’s fine, but the stuff we had today, not so much.

Changes At A Glance

Cooling System:
All the new EXC models feature a 12mm lower radiator location, with the radiators themselves a new shape with new spoilers.

The frames are still chrome-moly, but have been redesigned with the cylinder head connected to the frame for optimised stiffness. The engine is rotated downwards by 1-degree for increased front wheel grip, and the sub-frame is 40mm longer

Completely new for 2020, the 250 and 300cc models receive heavy duty pipes, with the corrugated outer shell of the expansion chamber a lot more resistant to impacts. They’re quieter, too, along with being 200g lighter. The 4-strokes now get two-piece headers for easier removal, with the shorter end-can improving mass centralisation.

A new design increases airflow and therefore throttle response. The 2-strokes get a new intake funnel which houses the new air temp sensor, while the rigid cage makes filter changes a doddle.

Fuel Tank:
All models get a new polyethylene fuel tank with enhanced ergonomics and slightly more capacity, with all models getting a fuel level sensor.

All models get a super lightweight 2 Amp-hour lithium battery for reliable starting and reduced weight, while a reworked wiring harness sees most of the electrical components in a single area beneath the seat making them easily accessible and more reliable.

The graphics are ‘sportier’, while the bodywork has been redesigned to offer ‘complete harmony between rider and bike.’ The wheels get newly designed aluminium spoke nipples meaning less frequent tightening of the spokes is required. A new seat features more padding and is held on using one lateral screw. Finally, the bars are tapered Neken featuring four different positions, while the grips are from ODI with the left side a lock-on grip meaning no glue or lock wire is required. Two different interchangeable throttle cams are available on the 4-strokes.

All models get WP XPLOR 48mm USD items with a new calibrated mid-valve position as well as new upper fork caps with new clicker adjusters for easier adjustment. Forged triple clamps with 22mm of offset allow four different handlebar positions. The rear sees the WP XPLOR PDS shock fitted with a second piston and cup for further bottoming resistance.

Words: Adam ‘Chad’ Child Pics: Sebas Romero and Marco Camelli

With the launch of the 2020 Yamaha motocrossers taking place on the hard-pack GP track at Teutschenthal in Germany, we sent our Euro-tester Dave Willet along for a ride. He came back seriously impressed.

The YZ450F has been one of the best big-bore bikes for a few years, and the newer version takes it to a new level. Ten years of fine-tuning the reverse-engined YZ450F has made a huge difference and turned that original 2010 bike from being a technically advanced but flawed machine into a lighter, faster and more user-friendly bike that’s a proven winner at all levels.

Over the years there have been significant changes to the frame to tighten up the handling, while the DOHC slant-back motor and Kayaba SSS spring suspension has been regularly upgraded and altered so, in reality, the new bike shares nothing with that original machine.

The new 2020 YZ450F might look similar to its ancestors but has had a significant makeover and is lighter, has more power and the handling is more precise. The electric-start engine has been redesigned and is more compact and lighter, and the revised configuration enhances the bike’s mass centralised design. After all, it’s the angle of the motor in the chassis that uses the rotating forces to affect the handling and make the bike feel lighter than it actually is.

Lighter, sharper, smarter

One of the key engine improvements for 2020 is the cylinder that’s lighter and more compact, and is home to a new high-compression bridge-box design piston. There’s a handlebar-mounted mapping switch, and the bike retains built-in WiFi so you can tune the motor track-side with your smartphone. The Power Tuner app can also record race log information and monitor a range of data, including system diagnosis, engine run time and lots more.

The motor is held inside a new frame that features thinner main spars together with thicker down tubes and new engine mounts. There’s a more rigid front caliper with new brake pads, while a new lightweight rear caliper and new rear disc reduce unsprung weight. And, of course, the new cam covers sport the cool blue finish.

The 450 has definitely progressed a lot in the right direction over the years. Even though it may look similar to the 2019 model, believe me, it’s not. Yamaha needs to be applauded for the drive and passion in pushing forward the development of the YZF range. Yamaha has taken on board the feedback from the factory teams, privateer teams and even the motocross community in general to produce a bike which meets their needs. And the changes really shine through in the new bike.

The 2019 model was a fine machine, but was known to lose the front end a little, and not have a totally positive planted feeling in and through the turns. It also felt a little wide and the power was aggressive for the average rider. You could say the previous models had to be ridden from the rear wheel and that required a unique style and skill.

The modifications to the 2020 YZ450F make the machine a game-changer. Since 2018 when the 450 received a massive makeover, Yamaha has built very fast and competitive bikes, but the new bike is a truly awesome machine with a mega on-track feel. It’s the best YZ450F by far.


Beast Mode

Yamaha’s plan was to make the YZ450F lighter with more controllable power and to improve the mass centralisation with a more compact engine. The new frame and revised suspension, complemented by the low centre of gravity, aids the manoeuvrability yet makes it more stable all around the track. Certainly, when entering and exiting corners, the difference can be felt. And more importantly, it now stays planted through the turn.

Riding the bike on the hard-pack GP track at Teutschenthal in Germany, I could place the bike wherever I wanted to and switch lines with ease. I never felt like the front end was going to break traction, and I never had to resort to a single foot dab to save a crash at any time.

The new frame definitely feels slimmer, and the extra flex provides a better feeling like you are more connected to the track. You don’t buy a 450 unless you like loads of grunt, and the power is just incredible. It’s strong and fast yet so ridable. It’s very much like Romain Febvre’s factory bike I tested when he won the world title which had such a usable, linear-feeling power curve. Like the factory machine, the new YZF pulls high gears yet loves to be revved if needed too.

With the standard settings, it’s quick but very useable and not too scary. I also tried a different, bespoke engine map which one of the engineers made for me on the day. I asked for the bike to be even stronger, so he retarded the ignition and gave the bike more fuel which transformed the motor into a beast, but one that was still manageable. The drive was insane, and the over-rev improved, meaning I could hold a gear longer into a turn and really get the bike to grunt out. There grip and drive was incredible, and it gave me bags of confidence.

Yamaha has never experimented with air suspension, which means total focus has been on continually developing the KYB spring forks and shock. The suspension is firmer than before, and the result is a more balanced bike as you don’t get that front end dip. Yamaha seems to have a real ability in delivering suspension settings that are pretty much ideal for so many different levels and abilities of rider.

To get it right for me, all I had to do was make a few adjustments. I made the front compression firmer and the rebound faster by two clicks and I set my rear sag at 100mm instead of the 95mm recommended by Yamaha. If there was one thing I’d improve on the bike, it would be the clutch action and feel. It works fine, but the bracket doesn’t feel quite right. I think it’s time to add a hydraulic clutch to finish off this modern new machine.

Technical Highlights

Ultra-compact new 450cc engine, increased power with total control Lighter and more compact rearward-slanted cylinder

Mass centralised design

Yamaha Power Tuner for instant track-side tuning via a smartphone Handlebar switch for easily adjustable mapping

Compact electric starter with ultra-light battery

Launch Control System (LCS) optimises engine output for quicker starts Advanced fuel injection system for optimum power

Angled radiators ensure effective engine cooling

Robust transmission and clutch for positive shifting

Compact mass-centralised wraparound exhaust

Forward mounted muffler

Lighter aluminium bilateral frame delivers sharper handling Slimline body and seat for ultimate ergonomics

Class-leading KYB® coil spring-type speed-sensitive front suspension Link-type rear suspension with specially-tuned KYB® shock Lightweight wheels with blue rims

270mm front disc with uprated caliper aggressive pad material New rear disc and more compact caliper

4-position adjustable rubber-mounted handlebar clamp

Embedded graphics give extended durability

Tapered aluminium handlebars with quick-adjust clutch perch Wider and lighter footrests

Words by Dave Willet

Italian manufacturer, Beta Motorcycles have unveiled their new RR Racing bikes for 2020, a comletely new generation of Enduro bikes, to be brought to New Zealand by Euromoto Co. – a division of Triumph New Zealand Ltd.

First spotted back in July, the new Beta RR Racing range consists of 7 models – 125, 250, and 300cc 2T (2-stroke), and 350, 390, 430, and 480cc 4T (4-stroke). Compared to the respective standard versions, the RR Racing MY 2020 range stands out with upgraded suspension, reduced weight, and a host of special components for racing efficiency.

The RR Racing models will feature Kayaba AOS forks. The new KYB spring forks feature a 48mm closed-cartridge design, and are world-renowned worldwide as being top-of-the-range. A close collaboration between Beta and Kayaba has created a bespoke product which features a new fork shoe design, and a unique calibration that is reserved specifically for the RR models. The use of anodised internal components allows for minimal sliding friction, while the customary compression and rebound adjusters allow for easy use and calibration, to get the optimum settings in any terrain. Offering excellent operation in all conditions, the KYB forks are ultra-reliable, easy to tune, and considerably lighter than before – up to half a kilogram lighter than the 2019 model.

The new ZF 46mm shock absorber has new calibration settings, allowing the rider to get the absolute best performance from the new chassis. The RR Racing models also feature a distinct black anodised triple clamp.

Other racing inspired upgrades to the RR Racing models include: a quick-release front wheel pin, to allow for faster front tyre repairs, Vertigo hand guards, Metzeler Six Days tyres, Ergal footrests, a new battery charging system for the 4T models, and a the 125cc 2T receives a new expansion chamber to improve performance across the entire power curve. New racing graphics and a host of coloured anodised parts complete the look of the new RR Racing models.