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MOTOCROSS TEST | 2024 KAWASAKI KX450 | Bike Reviews

Is the all-new 2024 Kawasaki KX450 worth the five year wait for a new model? We throw a leg over it to find out!

Excited is an understatement when it came to light that we would get to ride the all-new 2024 Kawasaki KX450 with huge list of changes. Everything from the motor, chassis, ergos and suspension has had a major overhaul and the bike looks noticeably sleeker, and more pleasing to the eye!

A major overhaul of a motorcycle does not always result in ticking all the boxes. Sometimes the first of a new model is a complete disaster! They’ll get certain things right, but slightly miss the mark in other areas to a point where over the following years they will try to iron out their mistakes. So how did Kawasaki do with their latest incarnation open class machine? Read on.


In its first full-model change in five years Kawasaki claim to have increased engine performance thanks to a new downdraft intake and symmetrically aligned intake and exhaust while also claiming improved handling performance with greater front end feel.

New for 2024 is slimmer ergonomic bodywork with newly designed shrouds, side covers and rear mudguard which are firmer and eliminate any hooking points. There’s a Holeshot Launch Control mode designed to maximize traction out of the gate and a lightweight aluminium perimeter frame redesigned to accommodate the updates to the engine and a quick release side cover accesses the air filter. Engine wise the downdraft intake is 20 degrees steeper than the previous model with a larger diameter 44mm throttle body, the ‘more forward’ positioned muffler is designed for more centralized weight distribution and there’s a completely redesigned header pipe

The fork internal valving is new along with a shock which is 32mm shorter

and there’s a larger diameter hub for the rear wheel only. Smartphone connectivity called ‘Rideology The App KX’ gives riders access to adjust their maps including both fueling and timing and there’s a Brembo brake for the front but Nissin remains on the rear. ODI Lock on grips are now standard on the KX, two new traction control maps (weak and strong)  are accessed via a button on the left side of the handlebars as are two new Power Modes or map settings (Normal’ and ‘Mild’) that can be changed on the fly.


My very first thought was the complete transformation of the power plant in comparison to the older model KX450’s that I’d spent a bit of time on. The 2024 Kawasaki KX450 motor felt really quite docile and lacked the kind of horsepower that I’ve come to expect from open class bikes. The previous year’s motor had a truck load of bottom end torque that would allow you to click up gears as quick as you like, pulling third in most corners while not feeling the need to let the bike rev out too much.

I tried not to focus too much on the motor and really tried to feel the balance and ergonomics of the bike. I was impressed with the slimmer ergos and how comfortable it felt to plant my bum in the seat preparing for corners. Kawasaki were correct in claiming their extra front end feel and moving around the bike, from standing to seating was really nice and comfortable.

After 10 minutes I did start to feel that the overall suspension package was slightly on the soft side for me in comparison to the older model, more so in the rear than the front. The bike seemed to squat a little too much under acceleration and while there weren’t too many bumps on the track I could tell that the rear end was sitting a little low in the stroke and any acceleration bumps would prevent it from driving nicely out of corners. A couple of turns on the preload of the shock spring helped quite a bit to hold up that rear end.


After spending quite a few laps including pit stops to assess and change a few aspects of the bike I was still scratching my head as to how to liven it. The motor was lacking the punch and torque that I was chasing in comparison to the previous model and it became clear to me that Kawasaki had gone in a completely different direction with this motor and the style of customer that they were trying to please.

My first port of call was to try out all the available maps. I was hoping that I was already on the mild map or perhaps even the standard map and that we had an aggressive map to try. However I had already been riding in the standard map from my very first lap, so when I did push down the map button, it lit up the solid blue light indicating that I’d selected the mild map. It did exactly what you’d expect and made the power curve even milder than it already was.

After a bit of investigation chatting to some of the Empire Kawasaki Team technicians I found out that one of the biggest issues is the lack of air able to make it through the small surface area and into the air filter. The team had already received huge power gains by opening up areas around the airbox to deliver more much needed air so we tried removing a small piece of plastic that was easily accessible to see if it made much of a difference and I must admit I could feel it liven up a tad.

The freshly designed motor and ‘ease of riding’ power plant for the 2024 Kawasaki KX450 are aimed at the larger portion of the general public. When it comes to me personally I love a monster of a 450 motor that comes on strong off the bottom and delivers me straight into an impressive midrange. I don’t ride 450’s up near the rev limiter so I don’t mind a motor that tapers off up the top. I’ll choose torque over peak horsepower any day with a 450, it’s a different story with a 250 though.

While I do understand the direction that Kawasaki have gone with this smooth and easy to ride motor, I do believe you’ll do wonders by letting her breathe a little more and going up at least one tooth on the rear sprocket!


It’s clear from the first moments riding the 2024 Kawasaki KX450 that the new slimmer, sleeker design is a step in the right direction. The bike feels light and easy to throw around out on the track while the added front end feel inspires confidence when tipping it into corners. The bike seems to have a nice balance between stability and agility making it feel like it will tackle most situations well.


For 2024 Kawasaki have kept their tried and tested Showa 49mm coil spring fork however they have revised the valving to suit the forward tilted motor and extra weight bias towards the front end. I found the fork to work well right from the get go, and didn’t need to play around too much with the clickers. The rear end took a little more time to get close to how I like it and I believe the rear end to be a little softer than the fork.

For me a stiffer shock spring would go a long way towards solving the issue. However I feel the valving is just a tad on the soft side particularly in the high speed compression where you want to bike to hold up on big hits. Most people will get away with winding the high speed compression in half or even a full turn.


I was really interested in feeling the power of the Brembo front brake as I’ve always been a fan of Brembo’s in the past anytime I’ve used them. For my first few laps on the new KX450 I basically had no front brake and I put it down to being new and having to put the brakes through their usual bedding in period. After 10 minutes the front brake had gotten a little better, but nowhere near what I know their true potential should be. I was convinced that there was some kind of coating or spray that had gone on the disc and then embedded itself into the pads preventing the brakes from working the way they should.

When I came back in I had a chance to talk to some of the other media crew and they all seemed to be having the same issue with the front brake not bedding in. After a couple of hours of riding the brakes had almost come good but my gut tells me that it needed a set of new pads from whatever they had absorbed. Customers can rest assured that the Brembo unit is an extremely solid brake with huge braking power. The Nissin rear brake seemed to bed in nice and quick and worked exceptionally well with nice feel and little to no accidental lock ups.


For 2024 Kawasaki has tailored their big bore weapon for the masses when it comes to both power delivery and handling. I believe that the right person can open up the airbox area and bring this beast to life by letting it breathe a little more. The positive thing is that this bike doesn’t do anything bad out there on the track and it’s a really good base to start from for the majority of the general public.

I loved the ergonomics, the bike looks awesome with the extra green in the plastics and seat cover, and I enjoyed the extra feel to the front end created by the chassis changes. With a little bit of tinkering the 2024 Kawasaki KX450 will be right there in the game!


The all new RIDEOLOGY THE APP KX smartphone technology sounds like it could really be a great thing for the new KX450. Unfortunately on the day we weren’t able to put it to the test out there on the track. The fact that there’s only two maps to choose from (Standard and Mild) means that I feel we’re missing an aggressive map and this Smartphone app could just be the ticket to tune this bike into a bit more of a beast. I feel the first step is to let it breathe a bit more and then make friends with this RIDEOLOGY THE APP KX app! Learn how to use it and you’ll be able to save yourself a couple of maps that you know work well for your particular riding style.



Type                           Single-cylinder four-stroke DOHC, four valves

Displacement            449cc

Bore & Stroke           96.0 x 62.1mm

Cooling                      Liquid-cooled

Compression ratio   12.5:1

Fuel metering           EFI 44mm throttle body

Tank capacity           6.2L

Transmission            Five speed

Clutch                         Wet multi-disc,


Wheelbase                1,480mm

Seat height                960mm

Ground clearance    345mm

Claimed Weight        108.1 kg dry


FRONT                      49mm inverted fork with adjustable compression and rebound damping, 305mm travel

REAR                         Uni Trak with adjustable dual-range (high/low-speed) compression damping, adjustable rebound damping and adjustable spring preload, 307mm travel


Front                           Dual-piston Brembo, semi-floating 270 mm petal disc

Rear                           Single-piston Nissin, 250 mm petal disc


Handlebar                 NA

Front tyre                   Dunlop Geomax 0/100-21 51M

Rear tyre                   Dunlop Geomax 120/80-19 63M


RRP $$13,852


Warranty Three months parts only