2016 KTM 450 XC-F

The 2016 KTM 450 XC-F is a pretty awesome machine right off the showroom floor. Other than a few tweaks that KTM added to be more ideal for off-road settings (switching to an 18” rear tire, adding a kickstand and using different suspension settings), it is basically an MX bike. Eric, the head of product development in our Brands Department here at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, has been riding dirt bikes most of his life and has been able to fine-tune what it is that he likes and doesn’t like in a bike by now. He wanted a bike that has the power and performance of an MX bike, but that has the capabilities to handle and perform exceptionally well as an off-road bike. We took the 450 XC-F and built this bike to fit Eric’s riding style and preferences developed over years of riding. We think we came up with a pretty near-perfect off-road bike. Check out what we did!

Eric’s “Must-Have” Accessories

Suspension First things first, our suspension needed a little tweaking. Suspension is everything – arguably the most important component on a bike – and if it isn’t set up correctly it can make or break the comfort, performance or response of your ride. Stock suspension is pretty good these days and manufacturers try to aim for the middle of the road when it comes to setting it up for rider weight (roughly 160-180 pounds). However, if you have a smaller or larger build, ride competitively, or specialize in a certain riding style, chances are the stock suspension settings won’t be ideal.

Precision Concepts Went Through the Suspension

KTM has been incorporating the 4CS fork design into their bikes for the last couple of years, and the forks honestly haven’t been anyone’s favorite. Precision Concepts has some good fixes for them though, so we decided to send our forks off to have them do some adjustments for us. Since this bike was specifically being set up for Eric, we gave Precision Concepts his rider profile – weight, height, experience level and riding style – and they were able to re-valve and re-spring the forks and the shock so that it would make the bike work better for the way he rides. Suspension Makes or Breaks the Ride Protection Top of the Line Carbon Fiber Protection Riding off-road pretty much guarantees that you’ll run across some obstacles along the trail. We ride a lot of rocky desert terrain and tight, mountain single-track, both of which tend to throw some surprises at us along the way in the form of rocks and logs. Protection for our bikes is a must-have so that we aren’t worried about punching holes in the crankcase, denting up the head pipe, etc. We installed the P3 Carbon Fiber skid plate, a P3 carbon fiber pipe guard, the Fastway adjustable linkage guard and the Tusk billet rear disc brake guard to protect the underside of the bike. They’re showing some battle scars already, but they’ve done their job so far and have saved us from some costly damage. Battle Scars Show the Fastway Adjustable Linkage Doing Its Job Handguards may be considered a “nice-to-have” accessory for some, but they are definitely a must-have for us. Not only do they keep our hands shielded from brush, roost and more, they are pretty invaluable protection – for both our hands and our levers – if we ever go down. We prefer not roughing up our hands or replacing broken levers, so we opt for handguards instead. The Off-Road Build is Perfect for the Moab Scene Exhaust In Utah, we do a lot of riding in the mountains or on public lands, which requires that we have a forest-approved spark arrestor. While some machines come stock from the manufacturer with spark arrestors already incorporated into the muffler, the 2016 KTM 450 XC-F does not. Because of the areas we like to ride, switching out the exhaust was a must. The Lexx MXe Slip-On Silencer We switched out the stock muffler on the 450 for the Lexx MXe Slip-On Silencer. We love that the Lexx exhaust is completely tunable – the interchangeable tuning tips make it so that you can run it wide open for the track, use one of the smaller tips with a cone-type spark arrestor screen, put a quiet core in, or go stealth with the trail saver quiet core. It’s durable, generally costs less than the competition and looks pretty good.

Eric’s “Nice-to-Have” Accessories

The rest of the items that we added were more for creature comfort, convenience, look or performance. They aren’t exactly necessities but can make the ride a lot more enjoyable. Tires, Tubes and Wheels For wheels on the 450 XC-F, we went with the Tusk Impact wheel set. They are lightweight 7050 T-6 aluminum, with stainless steel spokes and a forged, machined hub already set up with bearings, seals and spacers. We chose the black rim/black spoke/white hub option to make the wheels stand out and help set the bike apart. We got an extra complete rear wheel assembly as well so we could run a different rear tire, depending on our ride. We mounted a trials tire (Dunlop D803GP) to the extra wheel for mountain riding, and set the bike up with Pirelli Scorpion tires (MX 554 Mid to Hard Terrain and XC Soft to Mid Terrain) for just about everything else. Tire and Wheels are Easy Aftermarket Changes Personal preference comes in to play just about as much as riding terrain does when it comes to tires and tubes, as there are plenty to choose from. We’ve always had really good luck with the Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty tube, so we used them on the 450 XC-F as well. The Dunlop Tire is Great for Mountain Riding Brakes and Drive The stock gearing for the XC-F isn’t great for tight mountain single track riding, so we decided to switch up the sprocket ratio a bit to help with performance. On the rear we went up four teeth and switched to the Primary Drive Aluminum Sprocket. Not only did our performance improve but the orange sprocket contrasting against the white hub looks pretty cool, too. As for the chain, we needed to add some links, so we upgraded to a Primary Drive 520 ORH X-Ring chain. We run the stock gearing for just about everywhere else. Optimized Gearing for Off-Road Riding We replaced both the stock front and rear brake rotors with the Tusk Typhoon Brake Rotors. They are made from durable, tempered stainless steel and work with any brake pad compound. So far on our bikes, we’ve tested these rotors in just about any condition Mother Nature could throw at us. Every time they’ve held up well and worked with efficiency, so we knew they would be great for the XC-F too. Tusk Typhoon Brake Rotors Handling The Scotts Performance Steering Stabilizer is incredibly nice to have, especially in the technical sections and when hitting high-speeds. It really helps to reduce vibration and headshake, and to bring stability to the bars when you are going over rough terrain – which in turn builds your confidence as you ride. Most steering dampers raise your bars a little (this one included), so if you don’t need them sitting a little higher, you might want to look into a different bend for your bars to compensate for the height difference. Steering Stabilizers Make for a Much Nicer Ride Performance The stock ECU mapping that the XC-F comes with off of the showroom floor works well for many riding conditions, but the bike has additional pre-programmed engine maps that can be accessed in order to customize the power of the bike to changing riding conditions. The KTM map switch allows you to have easier access to those alternate settings right from your handlebar. The switch helped to really wake up the bike in the lower gears, and that helps a ton – especially when you are trying to climb or start the bike on inclines. Electrical Riding tight or technical single-track trails heats up your engine pretty quick, with the slower speeds, increased engine effort and limited airflow making it hard to keep your radiator cool. We installed the Trail Tech Digital Radiator Fan kit to help keep the bike from overheating. It’s a pretty simple install, and the customizable kit allows you to set the trigger temperature the fan kicks on at, and also records peak temperatures from the ride. The Trail Tech Digital Radiator Fan Kit Helps Track Temperatures Many places in Utah require your bike to be street legal if you plan to do any riding on the pavement. Since we don’t always want to trailer the bike to every trailhead or riding area, we installed the Tusk Motorycle Enduro Lighting kit. This adds front and rear turn signals, tail/brake lights, and a horn (among other things) and helps us meet street-legal requirements. Since the XC-F is more of a motocross bike with some off-road features, it doesn’t come with a headlight. We added the Baja Designs XL Pro LED Light to make it street legal, but also to allow us to ride at night. The XL Pro is extremely bright, though dimmable. It took a few adjustments to make the light work on the 2016 450 XC-F model, however. The stock stator doesn’t come with enough power from the manufacturer to be able to run the Baja Designs light, so we sent the stator to Baja Designs and they rewound it and made the necessary modifications to help the light run. We had to also take a 2015 headlight mask and adjust it a little to get the XL Pro LED light to mount up and work on the bike. But it works great. Baja Designs Lighting Looks Sharp Extras Most of the rest of the items that were added were for convenience or for looks – and mostly the latter out of the two. To really sync the look of the bike and personalize it to Eric’s style, we added some orange anodized bling (like master cylinder covers and an oil fill plug) and a brand new set of custom graphics from Attack Graphics with Eric’s number to give the bike a polished look. Tusk Bling for the Win Tusk Rear Brake Reservoir Cap Radiator Cap with Temperature Gauge Ready to Roll That’s it for this build. KTM did a great job with this bike but with a few tweaks, it can be even better off-road than they made it out to be. Hopefully we’ve given you some good ideas to help make your KTM more off-road worthy as well. Let us know what you liked, maybe didn’t like, and what you would do to the 2016 450 XC-F if you were doing a build of your own!

Finished Bike Build

Products from the Build

P3 Carbon Hybrid Skid Plate P3 Carbon Head Pipe Heat Shield Fastway Adjustable Linkage Guard with Replaceable Skid Plate
P3 Carbon Hybrid Skid Plate P3 Carbon Heat Pipe Shield Fastway Adjustable Linkage Guard
with Replaceable Skid Plate
Lexx MXe Slip-On Silencer with Mid-Pipe Tusk D-Flex Handguards with MX Shields and Turn Signals Tusk Billet Rear Disc Brake Guard
Lexx MXe Slip-In Silencer with
Mid-Pipe
Tusk D-Flex Handguards with MX
Shields and Turn Signals
Tusk Billet Rear Disc Brake Guard
Tusk Impact Complete Front/Rear Wheel Kit Dunlop D803GP Trials Tire Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty Motorcycle Tube
Tusk Impact Complete Front/Rear
Wheel Kit
Dunlop D803GP Trials Tire Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty
Motorcycle Tube
Tusk Stainless Steel Typhoon Brake Rotor, Front Tusk Stainless Steel Typhoon Brake Rotor, Rear Pirelli Scorpion MX 554 Mid to Hard Terrain Tire, Front
Tusk Stainless Steel Typhoon
Brake Rotor, Front
Tusk Stainless Steel Typhoon
Brake Rotor, Rear
Pirelli Scorpion MX 554 Mid to
Hard Terrain Tire, Front
Pirelli Scorpion XC Soft to Mid Terrain, Rear Primary Drive 520 ORH X-Ring Chain Primary Drive XTS Front Sprocket
Pirelli Scorpion XC Soft to Mid
Terrain, Rear
Primary Drive 520 ORH X-Ring
Chain
Primary Drive XTS Front Sprocket
Primary Drive Rear Aluminum Sprocket, Orange Enduro Engineering Clutch Slave Cylinder Guard Trail Tech Digital Radiator Fan Kit
Primary Drive Rear Aluminum
Sprocket, Orange
Enduro Engineering Clutch Slave
Cylinder Guard
Trail Tech Digital Radiator Fan Kit
Tusk Motorcycle Enduro Lighting Kit Baja Designs XL Pro LED Light Kit Scotts Performance SUB Mount Complete Stabilizer Kit
Tusk Motorcycle Enduro Lighting
Kit
Baja Designs XL Pro LED Light Kit Scotts Performance SUB Mount
Complete Stabilizer Kit
Tusk High Pressure Radiator Cap with Temperature Gauge KTM Ignition Curve Map Switch Tusk Oil Filler Plug
Tusk High Pressure Radiator Cap
with Temperature Gauge
KTM Ignition Curve Map Switch Tusk Oil Filler Plug
Tusk Anodized Clutch Reservoir Cap Tusk Anodized Front Brake Reservoir Tusk Anodized Rear Brake Reservoir Cap
Tusk Anodized Clutch Reservoir
Cap
Tusk Anodized Front Brake
Reservoir
Tusk Anodized Rear Brake
Reservoir Cap
Custom Attack Graphics
Custom Attack Graphics

By Rachel Bretzing