The 2006 KX450F has proven itself to be a solid performer, particularly for a first year run model. The engine has been durable and fast enough to run with any other colour on the track. Every rider who steps off a KX450F comments on the power of the bike and its competitiveness right out of the crate. Kawasaki obviously believes it’s onto a good thing, because news on the 2007 model doesn’t reveal a complete makeover. For 2007, it looks more like Kawasaki has massaged any teething issues that riders and race teams faced in the bike’s inaugural year and added a five-speed gearbox. When the base package is as good as the KX450F, developing a race weapon for factory riders becomes a whole lot easier. Dan Reardon is a long time Kawasaki rider and he has firm ideas on how his bike should feel and perform, but his debut year on a factory team represented his first taste at the best equipment money can buy.
LET IT SLIDE
How low do your like your handlebars? Daniel Reardon likes ‘em real low and it’s the first thing I noticed when stepping on board. They are a low bend TAG option and are rolled back too far for my liking. The trend towards low ‘bars has me confused. Is it simply old school or is it so old school that it’s now new school? Either way, those babies are down there. His levers run horizontal to the ground and the overall sitting position is far too cramped for us tall guys.
The brakes are strong with a 270mm Braking oversized rotor and a Goodridge line up front. The controls are light with Reardon choosing a Works Connection Elite Perch to replace the standard clutch lever and assembly. Dan runs 57mm wide Pro Circuit stainless steel footpegs, which makes standing and moving around the bike much easier. Although movement on the bike is limited by the seriously abrasive grip tape he has plastered to the radiator shrouds and side number plates. The grip provided by this stuff is impressive, but it tears up riding pants faster than you ever thought possible.
Dan and his chief spannerman Charlie Costanzo have spent countless hours on engine testing during the season. Charlie claims he’s built several different styles of motors for Reardon, but he keeps going back to the same one – the engine he won the final five motos with in the 2006 Nokia MX Nationals.
Reardon’s 450F powerplant doesn’t have rapid fire response, nor does it race through the rev range. In fact, just off idle, the power feels a little lazy compared to other 450s I’ve ridden. The mid-range is where it all happens and there’s a broad, torquey and impressive amount of power to play with. Reardon’s engine works harder than the stocker, has a wider spread of power and revs out much further. It’s definitely faster than stock through the middle and up top, but very little happens down low. The reason for this is Reardon simply doesn’t ride in the lower part of the rpm. He carries plenty of corner speed and doesn’t need the initial thrust off idle. Rather than roll the throttle on, Reardo rips it open, so smooth, progressive power doesn’t suit his riding style. With Reardo, the gas is either on or off and Charlie has built an engine to reflect exactly that.
REAR WHEEL STEERING
Within two corners of riding Reardon’s factory Kawie I noticed the back of the bike sits low and the green machine doesn’t turn the way an owner’s manual says it should. The bike likes to be throttle or rear wheel steered. Coming into turns, I had to lean to the inside, crack the throttle wide and steer it like a speed boat. Getting weight over the front wheel isn’t the key to success with this package, grabbing handfuls of throttle is.
To perfect the whole rear wheel steering set up, the shock rides low and the fork sits tall with a firm stroke. Reardon uses a Pro Circuit shock linkage to lower the back end, while altered fork valving helps keep the front high. Front wheel traction could be an issue on hard-packed tracks, but on the loamy surface I rode the bike on, Reardon’s set up worked a treat.
Reardon’s bike isn’t set up the way the owner’s manual would suggest, but how can you argue with the guy’s speed on the track and his impressive five-race win streak? The whole package isn’t what you’d call text book, but it obviously works for Daniel Reardon. Charlie and Dan put in the hard work this year with the end result being a race bike that suits Reardon perfectly. The engine and suspension package compliment each other well and all the effort put in has been reflected in Dan’s impressive results. As team manager Ross McWatters said at the end of our test session, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
DANIEL REARDON’S 2006 KX450F BUILD
Tag 1008 handlebars: $179.95 (including pad)
Answer grips: $19.95
Pro Circuit triple clamps: $1229.85 (includes top and bottom clamp and Bar mount)
Pro Circuit shock linkage: $279.95
Pro Circuit Launch Control: $199.95
Pro Circuit footpegs: $199.95
Works Connection Elite clutch perch: $239
Vortex X10 CDi: $549
SPP Graphics: $400 (includes radiator shroud graphics, trim kit and number plate backgrounds)
Answer Clear Hi Grip Contact: $33
Ringmaster Hi Grip seat cover: $132
Akrapovic exhaust: $1560.00
Braking 270mm front rotor: $414.95 (includes caliper bracket)
Goodridge braided brakelines: $135
Rush air filter: $41.00
Race Tech fork/shock springs: $169/$149
Hinson Clutch: $1599 (includes inner hub, outer pressure plate, springs and clutch cover)
SFB Ignition Cover: $239
Silkolene Pro4 motor oil: $22.80 (1-litre)
Motominder engine hour meter: $109