KX450X Blythe GP Build
Story by Trevor Hunter
After racing our KX450X earlier in the month at the Ridgecrest NGPC, we learned a few things heading into the next round in Blythe, CA where we’d visit a pure sand track that’s deep and fast. Without getting any seat time on the bike between races, we kept changes to just what we knew needed work. First up, TCS Powersports stiffened up the fork setting as we felt it was too soft in Ridgecrest, riding lower in the stroke and blowing through on bigger hits. The new setting was aimed at combating this without going too far since we wouldn’t be able to get a test in between then. This was the biggest change we made, though we still would have liked to do more with the bike, just we ran out of time.
We also came into this weekend with a Dunlop MX33F/MX12 tire combo since we’d be riding in deep sand and a soft MX track all weekend long. The MX12 tire is like cheating in soft conditions and whenever you’re going in a straight line. It hooks up and drives like no other and is a no brainer when conditions accomodate for it. One thing we’ve learned is it can make the front end light mid-corner to corner exit as it bites so much that it wants to lift the front wheel. It’s something we’ve gotten used to and something we’ll take, good or bad, for the added traction and drive we get.
Our chassis setup did change this weekend and was something we were even looking to experiment with back in Ridgecrest, but Robby Bell and the Precision Concepts Kawasaki Team confirmed what direction we’d head in. Throughout the weekend, we dropped our forks down to flush in the clamps to get more stability on fast sections and prevent our front end from knifing in the corners. Additionally, we settled on sag around 105-106mm which offered good stability/cornering performance around the rough, sandy, and fast course.
We stuck with stock 13/51 gearing for the sand, but we feel we could’ve dropped to a 50T rear and be fine. We’ve also been switching back and forth between couplers and settled on the “mellow” black coupler, even in the sand. The other couplers were a little too abrupt off the bottom and this track featured a lot of tight turns, and paired with a scoop, it was tough to manage at times. With the black coupler, we felt we could ride the bike slightly more aggressively and control it easier.
We still feel the need for a steering stabilizer and we have a GPR unit on order since we have some pretty fast races coming up. We experienced a lot of head shake in some of the really fast and choppy sections of the race course and the stabilizer, as well as spending some more testing time with the suspension, should get this bike in line as we feel it’s close and has a good base. We’ll also play with gearing and some other chassis setup items, along with some mapping, to see how we can dial it in.
In the end, we put the mostly stock KX450X inside the Top 10 in the 450 Pro class – no easy feat. We say it all the time but this helps confirm that bikes these days really are that good and can be raced basically off the showroom floor. Some suspension work was needed since we’re faster and riding rougher terrain than the intended purpose, a big tank, and specific tires are really all that’s changed on this bike.
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