Kawasaki stepped up their game and then some with the new 2019 KX450. As the surprise front runner in several shootouts, this bike was one we had to get our hands on to see what was so amazing.

As it turns out, there’s a lot. With an all new frame, motor, and swing arm, and with the long -awaited return of spring forks, Kawasaki went all in on the KX450 . We did too! Watch the video and keep reading below to see what we did in the build to make this bike become a fast favorite.

Suspension

The return of the spring forks in the 2019 was arguably the biggest change on the bike. Even when riding on straight stock suspension, the balance was much improved from the years prior. That being said, there were still some improvements that needed to be made. For starters, the shock spring itself was too stiff, while the valving was too soft, blowing through strokes quickly just to deliver a kick on hard impacts. The forks could maintain the beginning of the stroke and adsorb the smaller bumps, but needed more hold up and dampening in the middle part of the stroke to prevent the front end from diving under hard braking. We slapped on a lighter shock spring and then sent the suspension to MX1 to be revalved. Thankfully, MX1 solved our suspension problems and made it so that the bike will stay up in stroke and work for our rider’s weight, skill, and riding style.

Motor

In addition to the fork upgrade, the motor received significant improvements for 2019. On first ride, it was impossible not to notice how much lighter it was, no doubt contributing to the overall eight pounds the KX450 shed in comparison to its predecessors. The motor is not only lighter –it is lively, more free-revving, and has a quick throttle response. The only change we decided to make was to add a 4.1 Titanium Exhaust from FMF to clean up the power and make the ride more consistent.

This system optimizes the power output, making it easy to utilize the ample power the motor already provides.

Comfort

Changing the handlebar size and/or bend is a significant change any rider can make to improve comfort and enhance the ride. We upgraded the stock 7/8” bars to 1 1/8” ODI’s and added a one-piece handlebar clamp. This one-piece clamp, in comparison to the two-piece, gives the bars some extra reinforcement to protect them from any bending or tweaking on impact. While these changes worked well for us, remember that bar sizes and bends all depend on the rider and their style.

The KX450 came stock with over-sized pegs, but they were considerably hefty and dull. To get some pegs with better grip, we added the Tusk Billet Race Foot Pegs. Constructed with a 6061 T6 aluminum body and stainless steel teeth, these over-sized pegs are the lightweight, durable, and comfortable addition this bike needed. We also installed the Acerbis Foot Peg Covers. The small rubber inserts are exceptional at keeping mud out and keeping the pegs horizontal, which is great for this bike specifically. The way the bike rides in ruts or corners can cause the peg to get stuck vertically, so the added barrier makes the ride much easier.

Protection

Moving on, the Works Connection Radiator Braces were the best things we could add to protect the radiators on the bike. Repairing a radiator is expensive, so braces are an inexpensive and effective alternative. This brand is lightweight, CNC’d from 5052 aluminum, and easy to install. The stock braces were not very durable, so the enhancement was well worth the cost.

Looking at more body parts, the 2019 KX450 didn’t come with a stock skid plate. Much like the radiator braces, the cost of a skid plate is minuscule compared to the cost of repairs–in this case the shifter, brake pedal, cases , etc. We picked up an inexpensive Kawasaki brand skid plate to prevent this damage. It looks great on the bike, which is an extra benefit.

The disc guard is another layer of insurance we included on the bike. Since the stock guard was just thin plastic, we switched it out for the Tusk Disc Brake Guard. Having reliable disc guards is imperative for making sure mud or other debris are kept out of your brakes.

Performance

Next we focused on changes for performance. We added the Rekluse Torque Drive Clutch Pack – all of the value of a new clutch with half of the cost. The clutch kit boasts longevity with the increased performance, easily managing friction and heat. Their sleek cover is also much stronger than stock, holding up to tip overs, hard corners, or even complete wipeouts.

To further increase the performance, we had to make some changes to the brakes. Don’t get us wrong, the stock brakes did have some impressive stopping power, but they weren’t quite enough. Common complaints with the brakes on the KX450 revolved around their modulation. Basically, riders felt as though they weren’t able to accurately control the brakes, causing either too little feedback that comes with low modulation, or the lever-bottoming-out, weak kind of braking that comes with too much modulation. This had to be fixed, so we installed the Ride Engineering Brake Caliper. As expected, the new caliper intensifies braking power and betters the overall feel when braking.

Shiny and slick, the Tusk Impact Wheels were the next obvious enhancement. Tusk has made some incredibly durable and lasting wheels that look great too. Customizable color combinations are really just the icing on the cake for these bad boys as they also greatly improve the ride. Dunlop MX33’s were a must to top off the new lightweight wheels, prepping the bike for a day of smooth riding.

Drive Components

We mentioned that we nixed the stock chain for the MX Race Chain from Primary Drive, but this chain deserves more than just a mere mention. Switching the standard X- or O-ring chain for a race chain is actually a significant change, so let’s talk anatomy of a chain for a minute. Within those standard chains, there are seals in the links that keep lubrication in the chain. That’s great for desert and off-road riding, but not for racing. Primary Drive’s Race Chain doesn’t have those seals, so the chain is thinner and therefore lighter, leading to less drag and more horsepower. Keep in mind, however, that a chain without those seals will require more maintenance (though, let’s be honest, we all could stand to maintain our chains a little better), so be very aware of your chain’s lubrication–or possible lack thereof.

Fresh Look

None of this would be worth it if the bike didn’t look good, so we got with Attack Graphics and Tusk to hook us up. One zebra print complete graphics kit, a new seat cover, and several anodized accessories later, we finally looked the part.

Comment

Tell Us What You Think

We already loved Kawasaki’s 2019 KX450, but think the mods we made took it to the next level.

What did you think of this bike? Think it needs something new, or that the build should’ve gone a different way? Let us know in the comments below.

Parts Available at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC

Tusk Billet Race Foot PegsTusk Folding Shift LeverTusk Aluminum Brake PedalRide Engineering Billet Front Brake CaliperRide Engineering One-Piece Oversized Handlebar MountAcerbis Foot Peg Covers

Rekluse TorqDrive Clutch Pack Rekluse Core Manual TorqueDrive Clutch FMF Factory 4.1 RCT Anodized System with Carbon End Cap
Rekluse TorqDrive Clutch Pack Rekluse Core Manual TorqDrive Clutch FMF Factory 4.1 RCT Anodized System with Carbon End Cap
Primary Drive 520 Gold Plated MX Race Chain Primary Drive Aluminum Sprocket Works Connection Aluminum Radiator Braces
Primary Drive 520 Gold Plated MX Race Chain Primary Drive Rear Aluminum Sprocket Works Connection Radiator Braces
Tusk Billet Rear Disc Brake Guard Works Connection MX Skid Plate Odi CFT Podium Handlebars
Tusk Billet Rear Disc Brake Guard Works Connection MX Skid Plate Odi CFT Podium Handlebars
Tusk Billet Race Foot Pegs Tusk Folding Shift Lever Tusk Aluminum Brake Pedal
Ride Engineering Billet Front Brake Caliper Ride Engineering One-Piece Oversized Handlebar Mount Acerbis Foot Peg Covers
Tusk Impact Complete Front/Rear Wheel Kit Dunlop MX3S Geomax Soft-Intermediate Terrain Tire Dunlop MX33 Geomax Soft-Intermediate Terrain Tire Tusk Impact Complete Front/Rear Wheel Kit Dunlop MX3S Geomax Soft-Intermediate Terrain Tire Dunlop MX33 Geomax Soft-Intermediate Terrain Tire Attack Graphics Factory Seat Cover Tusk Anodized Brake Reservoir Cap Attack Graphics Custom Blitz Complete Bike Graphics Kit Attack Graphics Factory Seat Cover Tusk Anodized Brake Reservoir Cap Attack Graphics Custom Blitz Complete Bike Graphics Kit