We picked up the 2019 450 XC-F at the beginning of 2019, and instantly knew the bike was something special. After the first ride, we were stunned by how lightweight, sleek, and stable KTM’s newest offering was. It certainly lived up to manufacturer’s reputation of producing podium-level bikes for racers, but we wanted this to be more than just a racing bike. We wanted to take KTM’s dependability with us, whether it was slick rock riding in Moab, local single track mountain trails, endurocross races, or even trail cleaning. So, we took KTM’s beast of a 450 and broadened its uses to make it a jack-of-all-trades for any everyday rider.

Subscribe to YouTube

Motor

One of the main talking points of the new 450 XC-F was the changes that were made to the motor. While the lower profile cylinder was definitely a plus, many consumers weren’t fans of the new power characteristics. For those that were seeking snappy power, the 450 XC-F didn’t deliver those instantly-high horsepower numbers like models in the past did. We took this into consideration and, after putting some hours on our KTM, we realized we were really having to lean on the throttle. In other words, we were doing everything we could to eek as much power out of the machine as possible. We just weren’t accessing the bike’s power fast enough, so we decided to make some changes.

The most impactful change to the bike’s power came from something fairly small: swapping out the throttle cam. Stock, the 450 XC-F comes with what KTM calls their “gray” throttle cam. It offers a longer pull, one that’s too long for our liking. So, we switched out the gray cam for KTM’s black cam. The black cam has a shorter pull, and helped us jump out of corners and accelerate more quickly without sacrificing our comfort or riding position.

Exhaust

With our motor fine-tuned, we turned our attention to the exhaust. Higher power output usually necessitates a new exhaust, but we found ourselves needing a new system for other reasons, too. After taking a spill in some hard-pack gravel, and another across some ice, we ended up damaging the stock setup. For our replacement, we went with the best and installed the FMF Full System.

Unbelievably lightweight and durable, the new system gave us the peace of mind the stock exhaust did not. It also performed better, giving us reliable power through the rev range.

Playing it Cool

Our new motor and exhaust system were all set up, but we decided that we needed one more thing: a radiator fan kit. These kits are a lifesaver on slow and technical terrain, allowing us to ride for longer without worrying about overheating our engine. We opted to install the Tusk Digital Radiator Fan Kit.

Easy to install and easier to use, the Tusk kit helped us feel more confident and secure about our motor’s performance.

Protection

Next up, we had to decide how we wanted to protect our new engine upgrades. The first addition we made was the AXP Racing Xtrem HDPE Skid Plate. The high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic construction is 8mm thick, offering unmatched coverage. The biggest plus of this product, however, is its built-in linkage guard that is convenient and boasts a quality that’s second to none.

For more protection components, we looked to Bullet Proof Designs. Their Radiator Guard, Chain Guide Guard, and Disc Guard are all strong, billet aluminum pieces made in a variety of colorways. This helped give our bike a customized look, all while safeguarding the investments we had made.

We rounded out our safety features with the Tusk D-Flex Handguards. This bike is going to take us on a lot of adventures, so we wanted to make sure we could be ready for whatever terrain we might encounter. Plus, the guards protected our levers nicely, making them an inexpensive and effective addition.

Drive

When it came to the drive system, we already knew that Primary Drive products were what we wanted. Their chain and sprocket kits are as strong as they are lightweight, and are able to withstand the rigors of adventure riding. With their Gold X-Ring Chain and Front Steel and Rear Aluminum Sprockets, our bike was looking blinged out.

We also opted to swap out the stock dome spring washer for the Primary Drive model. This is a huge upgrade from stock as the OE washer loses its spring faster than it should. The Primary Drive counterpart is made of higher quality steel, helping it retain its spring longer.

There was only one more upgrade we needed to make to our drive system: tires and wheels. To fit our bike’s color scheme and personality, the Tusk Impact Wheels were a no-brainer. Rather than getting the complete wheel kit, we purchased the rim, hub, and spokes separately to maximize our customization opportunities. Laced with a black rim, orange hub, and black spokes, our wheels were looking fresh and ready to take on some new tires.

Our KTM needed tires as versatile as it was, and the Michelin Star Cross 5 Medium Tires did the trick. Their all-around tread is capable from slick rock to sandy trails, and their Comfort Casing Technology (CCT) provide shock absorption to reduce rider fatigue. Though these tires are already strong and lasting, we also decided to add Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty Tubes in the front and rear. These tubes help prevent pinch flats, keeping our tires secure no matter where we’re riding.

Handling

With the motor, exhaust, protection, and drive features figured out, our bike was finally looking the part. Now, we just needed to make sure it was riding as good as it looked. We started with the AER air forks. Don’t get us wrong, these forks are some of the best of their kind that we’ve ever seen, but there are always some downsides to air forks and their characteristics. For one thing, they tend to run high in stroke. It’s harder to get the tires to stay down in a rut or corner, and in the slower stuff like rocks or logs, the riding is just too harsh. To get us more comfortable on the bike, the forks were shipped off to Kreft Moto. Kreft specializes in WP suspension, and boy, have they found their niche. They’ve honed in their suspension skills, and have developed proprietary technology to help. In this case, we were after their Revalve Control. This feature is an external piece at the bottom of the fork that allows the rider to control or change valving without having to break anything down. That means that we can go from moto in the morning, change the suspension, and be cruising trails in the afternoon. It’s awesome technology that only Kreft is using, so we took full advantage of that as well as their attentive micro-finishing to the lower fork tubes and shock shaft. Once we got everything back, our suspension was set up to our weight, riding skill, and style, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Our suspension was down pat, but there was still more to do to optimize our 450’s handling. First up was the Ride Engineering Show Steering Damper. This was a great option for us. The damper is not bulky, which means we don’t have to sacrifice our bar height or comfort to accommodate for the product. When riding, the damper offers resistance when the wheel gets pulled in uneven terrain, and keeps the bike straight when it’s hard for the rider to hold on.

Ride Engineering also hooked us up with a One Piece Bar Mount. In the case of a crash, the mount helps to keep the handlebars rigid and unmoving, preventing injuries and tweaking of the bars. This is a good thing, because we want to make sure our sleek Fasst Flexx handlebars stay in prime condition for as long as possible. The Fasst bars are super strong, so they help absorb the impacts and jolts of the ride, letting us ride longer without feeling the effects.

To connect our Tusk D-Flex Handguards to the bike, we used the Tusk Flexx Bar Handguard Mounts. This allowed us to mount the warp around handguard while maintained the flexibility of the bars. We topped the bars off with the ODI Emig Lock-On Grips. The grips are the whole package: they’re comfortable, look great, and are easy to install.

Our focus on handling wrapped up with the Stegz Steg Pegz. A good pair of foot pegs should do a lot of things, and the Stegz offering checks all the boxes. Designed to grab onto the back of riders’ boots, the foot pegs keep riders in a good, forward riding position, keeping them on the bike and reliving arm pressure and fatigue. They were an awesome final addition to round out the capabilities of our KTM.

Body

With the internals of the machine taken care of, it was time to focus on the body. There were a lot of things we changed, but one thing we decided to keep the same was the gas tank. The stock tank is already slim, not to mention it already gives us the range that we need.

For the changes, we decked out our machine with Acerbis products. Their X-Brake Disc Guards, X-Brake Frame Guards, X-Power Crank Case and Clutch Cover and Plastics Kit played to the factory look of our bike. Their colorways were the perfect complement and, with a full matte graphics kit and seat cover from Attack Graphics, our bike was finished off and easily the best looking bike on the trail (it will be, too, until you do this build for yourself).

The Wrap-Up

And just like that, our build was complete. Our KTM’s power was restored with a little spunk and spirit to take us from trail, to track, to rock, to race with enough ease for most everyday users. In the end, our 450 XC-F build is only the beginning of many adventures to come.

Comment

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think about our build? Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments below!

Parts Available at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC

Fasst Flexx 1 1/8 Handlebar KTM Lock-On Throttle Tube Ride Engineering Handlebar Mount
Fasst Flexx 1 1/8 Handlebar

KTM Lock-On Throttle Tube Ride Engineering Handlebar Mount
Ride Engineering Bar Mount Bushing Kit Ride Engineering Showa Steering Damper and Steering Head Stabilizer Bracket Kit Tusk D-Flex Pro Handguards
Ride Engineering Bar Mount Bushing Kit Ride Engineering Steering Stabilizer Mount Tusk D-flex Pro Handguards
Tusk Flexx Bar Handguard Mounts ODI Emig Lock-On Grips Tusk Front Brake Reservoir Cap
Tusk Flexx Bar Handguard Mounts ODI Emig Lock-On Grips Tusk Front Brake Reservoir Cap
Tusk Rear Brake Reservoir Cap AXP Racing Xtrem HDPE Skid Plate Acerbis Plastic Kit Orange/Black
Tusk Rear Brake Reservoir Cap AXP Racing Xtrem HDPE Skid Plate Acerbis Plastic Kit Orange/Black
Acerbis X-Grip Frame Guards Attack Graphics Graphic Kit Attack Graphics Factory Seat Cover
Acerbis X-Grip Frame Guards Attack Graphics Graphic Kit Attack Graphics Factory Seat Cover
Tusk Billet Steering Stem Nut Tusk Oil Filter Cover Tusk Front Brake Rotor
Tusk Billet Steering Stem Nut Tusk Oil Filter Cover Tusk Front Brake Rotor
Tusk Rear Brake Rotor Tusk Oil Filler Plug KTM FMF Factory 4.1 RCT Titanium Silencer with Carbon End Cap
Tusk Rear Brake Rotor Tusk Oil Filler Plug KTM FMF Factory 4.1 RCT Titanium Silencer with Carbon End Cap
KTM FMF Titanium Megabomb Plus Header Primary Drive Alloy Sprocket & Chain Acerbis Chain Guide/Slider Kit Black
KTM FMF Titanium Megabomb Plus Header

Primary Drive Alloy Sprocket & Chain Acerbis Chain Guide/Slider Kit Black
Bullet Proof Designs Chain Guide Guard Primary Drive Dome Spring Washer Tusk Folding Shift Lever
Bullet Proof Designs Chain Guide Guard Primary Drive Dome Spring Washer Tusk Folding Shift Lever
Tusk Aluminum Brake Pedal Stegz Steg Pegz Tusk Kickstand
Tusk Aluminum Brake Pedal Stegz Steg Pegz Tusk Kickstand
Tusk Nyloc Axle Nut Tusk Axle Blocks Bullet Proof Designs Radiator Guards
Tusk Nyloc Axle Nut Tusk Axle Blocks Bullet Proof Designs Radiator Guards
Tusk Digital Radiator Fan Kit Trail Tech Stator Kit (80 Watt) Tusk Billet Fork Adjuster Knobs
Tusk Digital Radiator Fan Kit Trail Tech Stator Kit (80 Watt) Tusk Billet Fork Adjuster Knobs
Tusk Impact Wheel Set Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty Motorcycle Tube Michelin StarCross 5 Medium Terrain Tire
Tusk Impact Wheel Set Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty Motorcycle Tube

Michelin StarCross 5 Medium Terrain Tire
Acerbis X-Brake Vented Front Disc Cover with Mounting Kit Bullet Proof Designs Rear Disc Guard Tusk Rubber Valve Support/Seal
Acerbis X-Brake Vented Front Disc Cover with Mounting Kit Bullet Proof Designs Rear Disc Guard Tusk Rubber Valve Support/Seal
Tusk Rim Lock Nut/Spacer
Tusk Rim Lock Nut/Spacer