Honda CRF 450 R, KTM 450 SX-F: Cross comparison
History has proven it often enough: If the balance of power seems immutable, can only one thing help? Revolution. The hierarchy of the 450 crossers is indeed fixed: The Honda CRF 450 R (7940 euros) rules the comparison tests. The persecutors repeatedly failed due to the homogeneous overall concept of the CRF. Now KTM is rehearsing with the 4th50 SX-F (8198 euros) the uprising. Above all, the completely new dohc engine signals attack: two balance shafts, extremely short stroke and equipped exclusively with an electric starter. And now that the Japanese competition has completely relied on aluminum frames, one leaves
With a heavily modified single-loop tubular steel frame, cast aluminum swing arm and directly hinged shock absorber, the chassis continues its own path.
The Honda technicians remain true to this in their own way. Exhaust valves reduced from 31 to 33 millimeters and a carburettor aperture enlarged from 40 to 41 millimeters, these are the most important modifications for the 2007 model year.
The first curiosity satisfies the scales. Sets the Honda with 104.5 kilograms
(weighed with empty tank) the best value in this class, the KTM is at 106.4 kilograms on the level of the previous kickstart competition. And anyone who was allowed to wake up a four-stroke engine once with the push of a button will be lost to the wimp league forever.
Keyword wimp. Despite the spectacular appearance, the SX-F targets normal crossers. The new engine proves to be completely uncomplicated in character. Cultivated pressure from the lower speed range and an easily manageable medium range are rounded off by extreme revving to an extremely user-friendly package. Even on the hardest slopes, the KTM finds easy traction, making it easy to use power efficiently and in a way that is easy on your condition. On top of that, the good start skilfully conceals the true potency of the new engine, which? see performance diagram ?? compared to the class leader Honda is hardly a nakedness.
In this respect, the KTM driver can do without the optional second ignition curve stored in the CDI unit, which is supposed to allow the engine to work more smoothly at low speeds. Only an insignificantly cut performance can be felt in the speed peak (see diagram). In addition, the cable connector entrusted with this task dangles extremely provisionally over the cooler. The hydraulically operated clutch works with a constant pressure point, the four-speed gearbox can be shifted as smooth as butter.
The Honda engine is macho. Although the technical changes were aimed at improved drivability, the CRF still demands the whole man. After a very cultivated start in the lower rev range, it works
Unit from mid-speed to the point. This rich punch, which makes the Honda a dreamlike power bike for top pilots, brings less experienced crossers to their limits, at least on hard, low-traction surfaces. Nevertheless: The smoothness, the clearly defined shiftable five-speed gearbox and the easy-to-dose clutch reinforce the already very valuable impression of the red.
This continues with the subject of the chassis. Handlebars, footrests, bench, levers ?? the finish is perfect, everything looks homogeneous. As is the handling. With the Honda from every Spe-
cialization. Are there more stable machines on fast straights or more agile in tight turns? but not the combination of both. However, the suspension tuning evolves towards the horse’s foot. Is that feather-
leg tight, but still acceptable
coordinated, it still suffers years ago
Exemplary Showa fork meanwhile has clear weaknesses in response and hard pressure damping. It shakes your hands sore on battered slopes.
The alignment of the KTM chassis is very clear. Razor-sharp and ultra-handy, the SX-F can be bent around corners and only pays for it on fast, bumpy straights with occasional handlebars. The Austrians also succeed in setting up the suspension better from year to year. This is how the new 48 fork from WP Suspension works-
towering and only reveals itself when responding to small waves.
For faster or heavier pilots, the spring rate should be tighter,
so as not to close the front when braking
immerse yourself deeply. What besides-
which could completely eliminate the last remaining tendency to kick the PDS monoshock. Otherwise, the directly linked shock absorber works extremely comfortably, swallows small waves easily and delivers good traction even with angular acceleration holes. In need of improvement: the much too soft seat foam and the unprotected exhaust manifold that melts the heels and inside of the right boot.
Anyway, the palace revolution was a success, KTM ousted Honda from the throne. For now. Because the competition in blue,
Yellow and Green have also increased for 2007. dl / pm
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