First Look: 2019 Kawasaki KX450

The time is finally here, we had seen pre-production versions of the new 2019 KX450 all over the world wide web, but now clad in alloy, metal, and plastic, the real production KX450 is here for all to touch. Lots of new and even a first for Japanese motocross bikes. The most obvious elephant in the room, and its been a big one for the past few years, the death of the air fork. It was a nice run but the savings in weight, the hassle of checking more than one air pressure was too much to handle and even Kawasaki has gone back to what is based off one of the best spring forks of all time, the Showa 49mm A kit. Also note Kawasaki has dropped the F at the end of the model, this is a good indication they have no plans to build a two-stroke in the near future.

The second play everyone has pulled from the KTM playbook (except Suzuki) is electric start, again, it weighs more but most riders want it, especially older ones that still remember trying to start a KX500 or early four-strokes.

The third and a first as far as we know of, the 2019 KX450 is the first production Japanese motocross bike with a hydraulic clutch.

Now back to the 2019 KX450, if it’s even slightly better than the 2018, they have already won the battle. Yet, this new filly is just that, a new breed. Starting with the chassis, the frame is new, aside from just housing the new powerplant it also alters flex and rigidity and all of that jazz.

We already talked about the new 49mm Showa A-Kit copy fork, but like Kaw, they also come with DLC coatings down low on every unit sold. A new shock out back as well as new linkage curve complements the new chassis.

The engine, yes the lifeblood of the 2019 KX. It’s pretty much a new design and like we mentioned above, comes with an electric start and hydraulic clutch. The engine is also said put out more ponies to the rear wheel. The head now features follow-fingers between the cam and valve to allow for larger valves and higher lift and duration, a design Kawasaki says comes from World Superbike Racing. Because of this, they have raised the rev limiter and increased valve size to 40mm intake and 33mm in the exhaust. The piston is a bridge-box design and the cylinder is offset 8.5mm for the least amount of friction possible. All of this should mean more HP. The graphic from Kaw says it does but we will have to wait and see if our butt backs up the graph.

With regard to power management, Kawasaki still has adjustability but it is still through swapping out couplers or using the Kawasaki KX calibration handheld computer (sold separate). The KX does have launch control as well.

The chassis also sports new plastics for more rider comforts, adjustable footpeg and bar positions like always. The chassis and frame is slightly slimmer as are the radiator shrouds.

The brakes are 270mm up front and a larger 250mm out back, the front axle is now 22mm so older spare wheels might not work now.

Pretty much this bike is new from the ground up and has all of the features that one might ask for, new chassis, more power, e-start, hydraulic clutch, spring fork, better brakes and adjustability. The only other element we would have liked is an easier and more simple engine management system, then again we have been spoiled with Yamaha’s smart phone app.


The Kawasaki KX450 has been a workhorse for years, just did everything really well, and fit such a wide variety of riders and skill levels, that is why it has been so appealing. Hopefully they retained some of those traits and made improvements. We like the niceties and upgrades like the hydraulic clutch, electric start, 49mm spring fork, and adjustability to the ergonomics. Now if the engine is faster and easy to ride, the chassis turns on rails and the ergos are slightly slimmer, this bike cold be a real winner. DBT will not have a first ride out tomorrow but we hope to get our hands on a new KX450F very soon.

Engine4-stroke, 1-cylinder, DOHC, water-cooled
Displacement: 449cc
Bore x Stroke: 96.0 x 62.1mm
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Fuel SystemDFI® with 44mm Keihin throttle body
IgnitionDigital CDI with electric start
Transmission5-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Chain
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 49mm inverted coil-spring telescopic fork with adjustable compression and rebound damping/12.0 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: New Uni-Trak® with adjustable dual-range (high/low-speed) compression damping, adjustable rebound damping and adjustable preload/12.1 in
Front Tire: 80/100-21
Rear Tire: 120/80-19
Front Brakes: Single semi-floating 270mm Braking® petal disc with dual-piston caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 250mm Braking® petal disc with single-piston caliper
Frame TypeAluminum perimeter
Rake / Trai: l27.6°/4.8 in
Overall Length: 86.0 in
Overall Width: 32.7 in
Overall Height: 50.2 in
Ground Clearance: 13.4 in
Seat Height: 37.6 in
Curb Weight: 232.3 lb without fuel / 242.4 lb**
Fuel Capacity: 1.64 gal
Wheelbase: 58.5 in
Color Choices: Lime Green
Warranty: Not Available

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