It might not look like much has changed, but several technical changes to the 2010 Kawasaki competition machine will help keep this dirt monster at the cutting edge. Starting with the engine, the 2010 KX450F gains a new piston based on the design used in the works racers, a new camshaft with revised opening to broaden the power band and a new crankshaft with slightly higher inertial mass for more useful power delivery. A new cylinder with a strengthened skirt was added to the mix to keep things reliable, and the right side crankcase has been reinforced at the lower engine mount for improved strength and durability. Kawasaki has also thoroughly revised the clutch for 2010, with the new version being lighter and stronger while using 75% more friction material on the plates, contributing to better feel and more consistent hookup when landing from jumps.An upgraded cooling system, now with thinner and wider radiators and fins that are spaced further apart, greatly reduces the KX450F’s chances of overheating in the midst of a race. Because these radiators are also stronger than the earlier versions, reinforcing brackets are no longer necessary, which helps cut back on weight. More responsiveTo improve response in the low and mid rev range, Kawasaki upgraded the bike’s engine control unit (ECU) resulting in more user-friendly power delivery that is more tame than before. With weight saving being as important as it is in a race bike, the KX450F has been designed around a fuel injection system that does not need a battery to enable it to function. Using only electricity generated by the kick starter, the engine can be started from cold with just three rotations of the crankshaft, delivering electricity first to the ECU, then to the fuel pump and finally to the injector. When the engine is already warm, the bike starts into action with a single kick which is made even easier through an automatic compression release system fitted to the exhaust cam. Several changes have also been made to the frame and suspension for 2010. The frame’s steering head shaft has been reduced in size to offer lighter handling, and a new alloy swing arm with a revised cross section does the same. The new Uni-Trak rear suspension now also mounts the suspension arm below the swing arm to increase wheel travel, which in turn allows for more precise suspension tuning. Serious racers will definitely want to invest in the optional KX FI Calibration kit which contains KX Racing Software, an ECU controller, a mounting bracket and a damper. When used in conjunction with a computer this allows the rider to rewrite data maps and adjust engine characteristics to suit the circumstances and the rider’s preference. The kit comes with seven preset settings that can easily and quickly be selected to give different fuelling and ignition options, including a “Beginner” setting that suppresses engine power for novice riders who could initially be intimidated by the brute power of the bike in full race mode. The 2010 Kawasaki KX450F retails for R74 995.