Kawasaki KX450F Motorcycle

Staffers' Rides

Ringleader: **Brian Catterson
**MSRP (2009): **$7549
**Miles: **Approx. 30 Hours
**Accessories & Modifications:
Acerbis seat and hand guards

When last seen, our hero was sitting in the dirt at Glen Helen with his bike in his lap, as REM race promoter Frank Thomason asked, "Brian, are you all right?"

"I will be, Frank. Can I have a moment?"

"Take all the time you need..."

That was last spring, and the hyper-extended thumb and slight shoulder separation I suffered have more or less healed. Deciding to ease back into it, I did a couple of practice days at Piru MX-and promptly smacked a dirt embankment, breaking a bone in my hand. I don't even have to crash to get hurt nowadays-that's how good I am! When Kawasaki asked for my KX450F back shortly thereafter, this long-term test came to an anti-climactic close.

Between those two incidents I'd installed a much-needed set of Acerbis Uniko hand guards ($38.95; www.acerbis.com), which bolt to the bars with no need to cut holes in the ends of the grips. They do a fine job of deflecting roost, though those who ride at rocky tracks or in the woods may want something more substantial.

I also tried Acerbis' new X-seat ($199.95). Rotationally-molded from grippy, rubberized plastic and filled with foam, it should prove much more resilient than the stocker.

Maintenance-wise, all I did was clean and lube the air filter after each ride and change the oil and filter every three. Valve lash is due to be checked every six races or 15 hours, but the motor ran so strong all along that they're no doubt still in spec. When the stock Dunlop D756 tires wore out, I replaced them with a set of the new Geomax MX51s, which proved both surefooted and long-lasting. The stock brake pads were still hanging in there, but the chain and sprockets were toast, and the graphics have seen better days.

The one thing I regret is not having played with the fuel-injection mapping. Because to be honest, the best way to make me faster might have been to make the bike slower.

Kawasaki KX450F Motorcycle
Home away from home: the car wash. After nearly two-dozen outings, my long-term motocrosser still looks good as new. You can't see the bent bars in the photo...