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2008 Kawasaki KFX450 Sport ATV Press Intro
2008 Kawasaki KFX450 Sport ATV Press Intro

2008 Kawasaki KFX450R
2008 Kawasaki KFX450R
Columbia, SC - Not long after its official unveiling at the Indy trade show in February, the long awaited racing debut of the 2008 Kawasaki KFX450R finally materialized at the opening round of the Grand National Cross Country Series in Vero Beach, Florida. Interest in the ground-breaking ATV was escalated even further with new Kawasaki factory racer William Yokley piloted the machine to an impressive fourth place finish in his first race on the nearly stock machine. Everyone in attendance was treated to a first-hand look at the most advanced 450cc sport quad currently in production, which utilizes the newest technology such as an aluminum frame and fuel injection. So when I got the call to attend the official press introduction of the KFX450R, I couldn't wait to find out what this new ATV was all about. More importantly, I had to find out if it had the potential to be better than the quad I'm currently racing in the GNCC Series!

Whether it’s building World Championship-winning dirt bikes for the likes of James Stewart or Daytona-winning superbikes, Kawasaki is always going that extra step to be the best. The press introduction for the KFX450R was no exception, as they rolled the big rigs into the beautiful Carolina Adventure World in South Carolina to have a perfect area for everyone to test, evaluate and document the new quad. The Kawasaki Factory ATV Racers were on hand, with William Yokley, Josh Creamer and Jason Luburgh ready to fill everyone in on the competitive details of the quad. ATV Factory Team Manager and racing legend Jimmy White, along with Kawasaki's U.S. race teams head honcho Reid Nordin were in attendance as well as many other people who were instrumental in the development of Kawasaki new entry in the Sport ATV market.

2008 Kawasaki KFX450 Sport ATV clay mock-up
After developing the Chassis, a full scale clay mock-up was assembled to finalize styling

The KFX450R was originally conceived in 2004 as the continuation of Kawasaki's two-stroke race quad program that helped Yokley win many GNCC overalls. William's "works" quad was a Doug Roll chassis that had been modified to accept a current KX250 dirt bike powerplant. The hybrid was a capable machine, but vibration from the non-counterbalanced engine would cause the chassis to fail prematurely and also became too much for even the tough-as-nails Yokley to hold on to for two hours plus.With the introduction of Yamaha's YFZ450 and Honda's TRX450R in 2004, the KFX450R project went into full swing.

The dirt bike lineage is still present in the new quad, which utilizes the same basic engine found in the production KX450F that James Stewart and Tim Ferry are campaigning with great results in the AMA Motocross and Supercross Nationals. The heart of the engine is a 3-ring forged piston with a large diameter 21mm wrist pin. Lightweight titanium is utilized for the engine valves and exhaust header. The proven 4-valve dual-overhead cam configuration is used, and the exhaust cam has a centrifugal compression release system that makes starting easier. Fuel delivery is handled by a state-of-the-art 32-bit digital fuel injection system that delivers consistent fuel amounts at all temperatures and altitudes through a 42mm throttle body. The rev limiter is a two-stage type that changes the fuel mixture at 10,500 rpm and cuts the ignition at 11,000 rpm. One major difference between the bike and quad motor is the reverse gear. A first for a 450 sport quad, the reverse gear should prove vital for cross-country racing and inevitably will be the deciding factor for many potential buyers to choose the KFX over its competitors.

2008 Kawasaki KFX450 Sport ATV engine
2008 Kawasaki KFX450 Sport ATV reverse lever
The KFX450R power plant was adopted from the KX450F Motorcycle with a few modifications. The engine was tilted forward 9 degrees to lower the center of gravity and the reverse gear was added for added maneuverability on the trails or race track, which was a first for a 450 Sport ATV. The reverse lever was conveniently located right along the thumb throttle for easy accessibility without removing your hands from the grips.
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