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By: Jason Giacchino

March 2007 - Off The Pegs

Anticipating the KFX450R

Kawasaki's KFX450R

Each month I savor the fleeting moments in which I get to thumb through a nice stack of magazines and periodicals with a cold Mountain Dew and a heaping bowl of popcorn. This month witnessed the first photos of Kawasaki’s forthcoming KFX450R gracing the cover of more than one such glossy mag. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t eagerly awaiting the arrival of the green machine later this year as an early 2008 model. This is not to insinuate that I’ll have the spare cash lying around to pick one up for myself prompting such anticipation. The truth of the matter is that with Kawasaki entering the newly reborn stock ATV race scene, the Japanese quartet is now complete. Each of the big four manufacturers will have an entry in the premiere (450cc four stroke) class--a feat that has not been witnessed on American soil since the mid 1980's. What’s more is that the arrival of the Kawasaki assures us performance junkies that certain innovations will become staples to the industry rather than just passing fads. Here is a breakdown of some of the benefits ATV riders and racers can expect by the eminent arrival of the KFX:

Fuel Injection. Any doubters to the theory that the carburetor’s days are numbered will have lost serious ground on this one. When the KFX450R enters the scene, exactly one half of the 450cc class models will have gone the way of the injector. Suzuki took the plunge with their LT-450R in doing away with the carb and managed to snag the world’s attention by proving that fuel injection could not only be done, but be flawless in function as well. Kawasaki will only further demonstrate the potential of this technology by incorporating it into their 450cc entry.

Reverse. Up until now riders have had to choose between the dedicated performance of the 450cc mills or the more user-friendly feature set of lesser sport machines. Kawasaki wisely plans to blend the two concepts together by offering electric start and reverse on their race-ready model. Not every KFX purchased will be used exclusively for race-duty, and Kawasaki knows it. Reverse will be particularly appreciated by trail and aggressive recreation riders looking to balance out performance with ease of use.

Quick Release. This concept has been around for some time, and Kawasaki plans to fully exploit its usefulness with their flagship KFX. The stock headlight assembly and front & rear overlapping fenders will be easily removable for race day. This move only further distances riders of today from those of yesteryear who were forced to purchase a vehicle in need of major transformation before being considered track ready. Trail riders have lights and decent mud coverage, racers have a lean track-ready steed with minimal fuss. Everybody wins.

Contingency. Beginning January 1st through December 31st 2007, Kawasaki will put over $500,000 into their Team Green ATV contingency program. This type of factory support has been absent from the ATV race scene since the 1980's when lawyers and consumer safety groups came crashing in on the ATV market which would ultimately end in the banning of three-wheeler sales and production altogether. Best of all, Kawasaki is spreading their cash among 46 races: The ATVA Motocross series, GNCC (Grand National Cross Country), WPSA (World Power Sports Association), the White-Brothers Four-Stroke Nationals, and WORCS (World Off Road Championship Series). Riders will not have to be KFX450R mounted to cash-in either as Kawasaki is including the KFX700, Brute Force 650 & 750, and Prairie 700 into eligibility.

Competition. There is truth in the old farm adage that the best way to fatten up a pig is to get two pigs. Competition can work wonders as far as motivating the manufacturers to continue allocating R&D dollars into the ATV pot is concerned. Having the four titans do battle on four wheels assures that ATVs will begin enjoying the type of attention their two wheeled cousins have been benefitting from all along. Genuine updates will become an annual affair with total redesigns happening much more often than once every couple of decades. The term BNG (bold new graphics) will hopefully begin to fade out of rider’s memories as they pick up their new model year brochures to study the list of changes to their favorite quads.

It goes without saying that the puzzle will be soon complete when Kawasaki arrives at the track later this year. It is the customer who ultimately wins as the manufacturers begin to take the sport of ATV racing seriously again. Kawasaki may be the last entrant to appear on the battlefield, but now the true competition is about to begin.

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