Ducati Hypermotard 1100 And Kawasaki KX450F

Doin' Time Staffers' Rides

Photography by Mark Kariya, Tracie Peddy, Andrea Wilson

Kawasaki
KX450F
Ringleader: Brian Catterson
MSRP: $7549
Miles: Um, about 8 hours
Average Miles Per Gallon: Um again
Accessories & Modifications: Owner's and service manuals, a few spares and some stick-on numbers

What's this, a long-term motocrosser? Yup. And why not? Motorcyclist's most recent survey showed that 12 percent of readers own dirtbikes, so we ought to have at least one in our test fleet, right? Moreover, even non-dirt riders will find the all-new 2009 Kawasaki KX450F interesting, as it's fuel-injected and offers previously unheard-of latitude for engine tuning.

Having attended the KX's press intro in Tennessee, I already knew what a good bike it was, with phenomenal power and throttle response plus greatly improved stability and steering. And I had a pretty good idea about setup, setting the sag at 109mm and pulling the fork tubes up 3mm through the triple clamps just like we did at the intro. Because I weigh over 200 pounds I'm a candidate for stiffer fork and shock springs, but I'm going to try a novel approach and lose weight instead. Motocross is the total body workout, after all.

The KX's first outing was Troy Lee's annual A Day In The Dirt Grand Prix at Los Angeles County Raceway, where I teamed with Dave Sonsky from Super Streetbike magazine for the Industry race. The KX worked superbly over the long, fast, rough, sandy track, and we finished...well, let's just say we did pretty well for a couple of streetbike guys.

A few weeks later, I entered round one of the 2009 Racing Enterprise Motocross (REM) series at Glen Helen. The Saturday-morning races are run on an old-school, natural-terrain track that attracts a lot of Vet and Industry types. I signed up for the +40 Novice class the first time out and went 2-1 for the win, so I'll be moving up to Intermediate next time. Wish me luck...

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