2008 KTM XC 450 Review

Story by Matt Fredmonsky, Photography by Brian Fredmonsky, Nov. 14, 2008

Competition in ATV racing today is fierce, particularly in the trails of the Grand National Cross Country tour.

Few manufacturers understand this better than a relative newcomer to the ATV scene – orange-clad, Austrian-based KTM. Factory KTM GNCC racer Adam McGill proved the company’s ‘Ready to Race’ slogan by finishing third overall in this year’s series on his KTM 525 XC. His teammate, Taylor Kiser, was close behind with a sixth overall in the 2008 pro class.

Both riders accomplished this feat in their first year on a first-year machine designed specifically for cross country racing.

KTM, as a multi-time two-wheeled GNCC title holder, came very close to a title during its ATV racing debut. KTM invited us for a day-long test of its 450 and 525 XC models at a recent KTM Ride Experience on the grounds of Crow Canyon Action Extreme Sports in Uhrichsville, Ohio.

Before clicking the starter button, we spent the morning looking over the test model KTM had provided us and the KTM Hard Equipment ‘photo shoot’ model KTM hauled in its 18-wheeler to the Crow Canyon demo ride.

First, we spent some time sitting on the machine analyzing its ergonomics. The most obvious difference when compared to most other sport ATVs is the length of the hydraulic clutch and front brake levers. The short levers are a nod to the quad’s two-wheeled cousins and cater to a more race oriented style of riding in which the rider maintains one or two fingers on the levers at all times.

The wide foot pegs include a kick-up to keep your boots from sliding off. The pegs also seemed angled slightly towards the front of the quad and created a more aggressive riding stance.

The peg angle seemed to push our knees forward more so than on other quads and left us feeling as if we were hunching over the Magura tapered aluminum bars, which are somewhat lower than we prefer. But the fender location offered a lot of leg room and maneuverability, particularly with the wide seat, and encouraged a mobile rider to work their weight aggressively around the quad.

Overall, the ergonomics provide a very neutral, natural feeling with enough opportunity for fine tuning via the four-way adjustable handlebar clamps.

Austrian Engineering

The engine on the XC models is borrowed from proven KTM dirt bike models and modified for ATV performance levels. The engines in both models are virtually identical, except for the bore – 89mm on the 450 and 95mm on the 525. Innovative engine features include interchangeable cylinder heads, a curved radiator for improved airflow and the elimination of an external oil tank.

Air intake is directed through a large air box and filter located beneath the seat and designed for two things – maximum water protection and ease of maintenance. No tools are required for removing or replacing the air filter. KTM opted to avoid the complexity of fuel injection and funnels air and fuel through a Keihin FCR MX-39 carburetor.


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