A key feature for the 2012 Kawasaki KX450F, never before seen on a production motocross bike. Riders can easily activate the new Launch Control mode. The push-button system is activated by a touch of the switch on the left handlebar, and optimizes off-the-line acceleration by altering ignition timing in first and second gears to help maximize grip and reduce the chance of excessive wheelspin. Shifting into third gear automatically deactivates Launch Control Mode and returns the ignition timing to the parameters of the installed ignition map. The Launch Control’s effectiveness is further enhanced by a chassis designed to maximize suspension performance and rear wheel traction.
No other production motocrosser offers a higher degree of adjustability to the rider interface or engine character than the new 2012 Kawasaki KX450F. With a choice of four different handlebar positions, two footpeg positions, and virtually unlimited ignition mapping capabilities thanks to its advanced Digital Fuel Injection (DFI®) system the Kawasaki KX450F is uniquely able to adapt to changing track and surface conditions and meet the needs of a surprisingly wide range of riders.
The DFI system comes with pre-programmed ignition maps, but new for 2012, these maps are interchangeable without the use of a laptop computer or other separate electronic devices. Maps can quickly and easily be changed between three settings standard, hard (conditions) and soft (conditions) by swapping the DFI wire coupler cap clipped to the side of the steering head. No additional accessories are needed to alternate between preprogrammed settings simply install the coupler cap with your desired ignition mode and start winning. The ECU is also still fully re-programmable by using the accessory KX FI Calibration Kit, the same tool used by Kawasaki factory and privateer teams in AMA and FIM racing.
The KX450F delivers improved mid- to high-end power and a wider powerband, thanks to numerous upgrades. The KX450F’s race-proven bridge-box bottom piston allows for optimum strength just like last year, but has been revised to optimize its rigidity balance and enhance mid- high-rpm character. A new thinner top piston ring with upgraded surface treatment reduces friction and helps improve throttle response. A new intake cam offers a slight increase in intake valve lift and allows the motor to breathe deeper, boosting power as well. The resulting combination offers a wider spread of torque and increased high-rpm performance. That extra power makes it to the ground more effectively than ever, thanks to the new electronics, plus multiple transmission upgrades and chassis improvements designed to complement the bolder power delivery.
The five-speed manual transmission handles the torque load with an ideal balance of precision and durability, thanks to an extra dog on the gears (up from 3 to 4) which improves shift feel. A new, shorter shift fork gives a smoother, more positive feel and reduces stress when changing gears, making shift action more efficient, while a new first gear is 2.8 mm thicker to enhance strength and durability. A new shift lever moves the pedal 3mm farther from the footpeg and offers greater durability. Finally, heavier clutch springs help channel the engine’s considerable torque when rocketing out of the gate.
Not only have the electronics, engine and gearbox been extensively upgraded, but a new frame and slimmer rider compartment also join the party for 2012. A total width reduction of 4mm across the main frame spars gives the 2012 KX450F the most slender mid-section ever. Chassis rigidity has been refined by altering the shape of the ribbing inside the new frame, creating more flex in the upper portion and stiffening the lower sections around the swingarm pivot. These changes helped increase rear wheel traction and also allowed additional room for the alternate footpeg mounting position.
In another industry-first innovation, the 2012 KX450F offers two footpeg positions to choose from. The alternate position places the footpegs five millimeters lower than stock, which not only allows for taller riders, but lowers the center of gravity and gives the rider a lower point of view, adding to both physical and psychological stability.
The tie rod arm of the Uni-Trak® rear suspension linkage is now slimmer, offering slightly less rigidity for added rear-wheel traction. Kawasaki will also offer an optional rear suspension tie rod, which can be used to reduce seat height. The optional unit is one millimeter shorter than stock, which translates to a six millimeter reduction in seat height – a subtle but effective change for “inseam challenged” riders.
The Kayaba rear shock features a beefy 50mm piston and also receives a top-shelf Kashima Coat surface treatment in its internals. Ample adjustability of the shock body helps ensure smooth, reliable and consistent action of the rear suspension that not only offers superior performance, but also helps the rider relax and conserve valuable strength on the way to the finish line.
Up front, the Kayaba Air-Oil-Separate (AOS) fork keeps oil and air in separate chambers for remarkably stable damping performance during long motos. A revised lower triple clamp contributes to improved fork action. The new clamp can be recognized by its rear-opening design. The super-hard Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coating on the outer surface of the inner fork tubes and high-tech Kashima Coat treatment on the inner surface of the outer fork tubes significantly reduce drag compared to a standard fork assembly and help deliver supple, fade-free fork action.
Mass centralization and a lower center of gravity were additional targets for the 2012 KX450F, so a new fuel tank, upgraded bodywork and a shorter muffler help relocate weight toward the center of the motorcycle and make the new KX more nimble than ever.
The new fuel tank has a shorter overall height and a narrower top section, which forms a straighter, smoother line with the seat and allows greater freedom of movement for the rider. The new fuel tank also houses an upgraded fuel pump, which is lighter in weight thanks to an integrated filter cover which wraps around the inlet port and acts as a fuel trap. This also eliminates the need for a pressure regulator fuel return hose.
The new header pipe has a shorter length and features a tapered mid-section. The new silencer is a full 60mm shorter than its predecessor, but features a revised cross-section and the same overall volume as the 2011 model and meets noise regulations.
A new rigid-mount wave-type front brake rotor, slimmer front tire and new seat foam add to the lengthy list of improvements made to the 2012 KX450F. Minimalist body work, revised shrouds and smaller number plates contribute to the slender feel and sleek new looks of Kawasaki’s flagship motocross machine. Sparing no attention to detail, the seams between the radiator shrouds, seat and side covers are very flush fitting, which helps prevent snags and allow the rider to alter position and maneuver the bike more effectively.
A blue alumite finish on the oil cap and two caps on the generator cover highlight the upgraded appearance of the KX450F motor, and match the blue finish on the suspension adjusters and splashes of color in the new graphics. A new embossed logo on the clutch cover features a trick design that reveals a raised Kawasaki racing insignia as the black paint is worn away by the rider’s boot.
The 2011 KX450F is available in Kawasaki Lime Green, with black alumite-coated rims, blue anodized highlights and aggressive graphics.
Racers who ride their KX450F at designated events are eligible to receive support from Team Green™, Kawasaki’s amateur racing support program. Each year, Team Green provides regional support vehicles and highly trained technicians at more than 100 events throughout the United States, offering technical information and assistance to those who race Kawasaki products. Kawasaki also offers a comprehensive contingency program for amateur and professional riders who place well at designated events.
2012 Kawasaki KX450F Specifications and Technical Details
MSRP Price: $8,399.00 USD
Liquid-cooled, four-stroke single with DOHC and four-valve cylinder head
Bore x stroke
96.0 x 62.1mm
43mm Keihin throttle body
Rake / trail
26.9 degrees / 4.4 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel
Uni-Trak® linkage system and Kayaba shock with 50mm piston, 22-position low-speed and stepless high-speed compression dampning, 22-position rebound dampening and fully adjustable spring preload / 12.4 in.
Front tire size
Rear tire size
Single 250mm petal disc with dual piston caliper
Single 240mm petal disc with single-piston caliper