[KTM]

FIRST LOOK: 2023 KTM SX & SX-F MODELS

3 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: KTM Images

KTM’s PR department has been in overdrive in recent weeks, drip-feeding teaser imagery about their 2023 SX and SX-F models, which have been widely expected to come in for a major overhaul. And today’s official unveiling of KTM’s new range confirms that these 2023 models are in fact new-generation bikes, which come with major changes to frame, subframe, swingarm, suspension, engines, bodywork, seat, fuel tank and a heap of other componentry. The entire range’s transmissions get the Quickshifter function, an anti-squat frame concept, and Polyamide-reinforced alloy subframes, but it’s the two-strokes that are the headline act for this innovative new 2023 range. All three full-sized two-banger MX models get fuel injection (including an electronic power-valve) and an electric starter for the first time, plus there’s an all-new Open-class beast, the 300SX! As KTM puts it, “Welcome to the era of smartercross. These are the most innovative and high-performing ready to race motocross bikes ever built”.

300 SX

The 2023 KTM SX range will be in available at authorised KTM dealerships in Australia and New Zealand from August, 2022 (for the two-stroke minicycles and four-stroke SX-F), with the larger two-stroke SX models expected to arrive from November, 2022.

In the meantime, let’s dive in and take a look at the changes for 2023, thanks to KTM’s comprehensive (and somewhat quirky) press release. Because there have been so many changes on these 2023 bikes, we’ll start with the PR’s “Highlights” list, before checking out the 2023 range’s promo video and fleshing out the 2023 updates in greater detail…

2023 KTM SX COLLECTION – HIGHLIGHTS

  • New, innovative and highly advanced generation of KTM SX motorcycles with unrivalled feeling and performance across 12 different models and the most complete collection from kids to Pro ass-kickers.
  • Brand new anti-squat frame concept with redesigned and revitalized chassis setting and architecture. Even more centralization.
  • Ergonomics bringing the rider in closer contact with the bike to help the stability, agility and feel.
  • Lighter, more powerful engines and distinctive fuel-injected two-stroke motors.
  • Greater usability to make the motocross experience easier and more intuitive than ever before.

2023 KTM SX RANGE – THE DETAIL

In the rough and tumble world of competitive motocross, KTM has long been a dominant leader in innovation, starting the trend way back in 1986 when it became the first manufacturer to produce an MX machine with front and rear disc brakes.

The KTM 350SX-F was another experimental and successful debut for KTM – not mentioning an almost unending list of two-stroke engine innovations in the two-wheel off-road motorsport realm. The success of this relentless pursuit of always being at the cutting edge is obvious.

For 2023, that trend continues. Nothing has changed.

HOW DO YOU BETTER DOMINANCE?

Eight premier-class FIM MXGP World Championships in 12 years. More than 300 MXGP and MX2 victories since 2004. Five of the last eight AMA 450SX Supercross titles. Cairoli, Dungey, Herlings, Musquin, Prado, Webb, Vialle and more. The track is our treat. At KTM, we still have the widest and most outstanding motocross range to be found on any circuit or in any dealership. So, how do you better dominance?

Like any champion racer we search every single corner for gains, for performance and for perfection. The 2023 KTM SXs will reshape the market as well as riders’ expectations. We haven’t changed our approach for outright excellence, so that means we’ve changed quite a bit for 2023.

We still have 12 models that scale from electric learner bikes through to two-stroke minicycles (50, 65, 85cc) to larger two-stroke thrillers at 125, 250 and 300cc capacity. The KTM SX-Fs consist of 250, 350 and 450 four-strokes. A potential AMA 450SX winner or MXGP world champion can grow in orange from his or her first metres on the dirt right up until those last few corners as a winner at the very highest level. So, we have the bikes, but why jump into the family? Why embrace the KTM DNA? Well, the KTM SXs are the most powerful in each class and have the finest components. They are the most race focused.

Racing informs us to empower you. The 2023 KTM SXs are sleeker, slimmer, more controllable, the most desirable. They are our best expression of the ultimate motocross ‘race’ so we’re ready for when you want to get really serious.

BEHIND THE GATE: PREPARATION & EQUIPMENT

We are market leaders with the use of cutting-edge ideas and technology throughout our motorcycle portfolio and the 2023 KTM SXs are primed. Partnerships with companies such as Keihin, Pankl and Brembo means performance possibilities have expanded. The 2023 KTM SX range will count on two maps (one standard, softer and linear power and another for a more aggressive response), launch control*, traction control*, a ‘roll-over’ sensor for large crashes, an hour meter as standard with electronic fuel injection status and a fuel indicator through the Keihin engine management system. Other preparatory steps come through the tool-free adjustments now possible with the latest spec WP Suspension engineering. New 7.2l polythene fuel tanks can be filled (feeding into the protected one-piece fuel pump and filter) and a quick spin of the Excel alloy wheel rims is quicker and easier to check thanks to the fresh spoke ‘nipple’ design. You’re READY TO RACE.

GATE-DROP & SURGING INTO ACTION

Fired up with the electric starter (on all models) KTM SXs hammer along the straight and into the corners and jumps with aplomb. Our engine packages are more compact, more durable, more serviceable and offer the best power-to-weight ratio across the board.

New cylinder heads translate into performance gains but rearwards rotation of the engines by 2º has given better centralization and a more profound effect for the chassis concept. Brand new five-speed Pankl Racing Systems transmissions with an additional sensor for the four-strokes mean that up-shifts (from 2nd gear onwards) are slicker thanks to the Quickshifter function. The Quickshifter can be disabled with a switch on the handlebar but a weight-optimized shift shaft in the transmission itself means that the operating force of the changes is now less and therefore easier. A Brembo hydraulic clutch ensures top-of-the-range dependability whatever the conditions.

With our two-strokes, less carbs = more muscle. We’ve graced our KTM SXs with a new electronic fuel injection to ensure simplicity, enjoyment and uniqueness. Therefore, the SXs get a new 39mm throttle body with injectors positioned for pinpoint response. A ‘remix to the premix’ counts on a TPS-sensor for better behavior while idle and for the fuel-air mixture (not forgetting the cold-start mechanism, which is the same as the KTM SX-Fs). The effect is ‘more’: more power, more response, more assurance, more ease, more fun.

450 SX-F

FINDING THE FLOW, THEN ATTACKING THE TRACK

The demands of competition, fitness and the track set the tone for any moto. It’s in the depths of this hard, physical stage of a race when the connection and feeling with any motorcycle can make the difference and fully harness the excitement and fulfilment. We’ve taken our chassis and frame design principals back to the core and have sought better dynamics, stability and strength. ‘Longitudinal rigidity’ is a key phrase and with accentuated rider feeling coming through an ‘anti-squat’ philosophy. This has been achieved by a new frame and mounts, subframe, swingarm, engine repositioning, ergonomics and WP Suspension tech.

The frame is hydro-formed, laser-cut and robot-welded. The wall thickness has been optimized to achieve improved specific rigidity in high stress areas such as the steering head and all new shock mounts. The KTM SX two-strokes have new parallel frame mounts. The design is sportier with sights on extra agility; an example comes through the new inwardly moved footpegs for even greater clearance in ruts and for dropping the bike flat for jump scrubs. New footpegs are even larger in surface area, even if the die casting means they are lighter than before. Stiffness has been dialed with lighter die-cast hollow swingarms (new casting processes allow for even more weight saving) and a new rear axle.

The WP Suspension XACT shock is shorter and lighter. The internal flow of liquids is more flush, reliable and resistant, and the shock’s smaller dimensions lower the chances of pollutants and dirt intrusion. The shape permits higher ground clearance with the linkage and advanced damping means better traction as the bike ingests the bumps with the new geometry setting. Entering corners or landing jumps any KTM SX can take full profit from WP XACT forks with AER air technology featuring a new hydrostop for more effective performance and more ‘bottoming’ resistance.

The 2023 KTM SXs are narrower and honed, but we have managed to increase contact area and surfaces to allow even more input into the handling of the bike. The flat orange seat – offering excellent grip and a stance emphasizing greater control – and the reworked front fender are other identifiable marks. The ‘mud flaps’ of the fender prevents excessive soil being flicked up towards the rider and the radiator in particularly wet conditions.

FINISHING THE MOTO STRONG

You’ve gone faster and longer than ever, but any Pro racer will tell you that the last two to three laps of any moto are key. This is where the versatility and usability of the new KTM SXs are further fortes. The rate of energy absorption is high thanks to the forgiving chassis and other components such as the fresh CNC milled triple clamps with optimized bar mounts and wider grip surface area. This leads to less handlebar ‘twist’. The whole unit is protected by a new number plate design. The subframe is now a finely engineered hybrid thanks to polyamide reinforced aluminum, applying strength into the lower part of the frame and extending flexibility for control and comfort in upper sections. The subframe has been designed with advanced finite element analysis and weighs less than 2kg.

Count on the last centimetres of traction and performance provided by the Dunlop Geomax MX33 tyres; chosen for the 2023 KTM SX line-up after a careful testing and selection process.

Once across the finish line, it will be time to recover, to reset and to think about the next outing. At this point riders will consider some ‘mods’ and this is when accompanying KTM PowerParts and KTM PowerWear will have you covered. Riding gear, protection and extra parts and much more can be found and have been especially crafted for our 2023 KTM SX incarnations.

Welcome to the future. But don’t just take our word for it; watch out for a very special and exclusive video series on KTM digital channels to further breakdown the 2023 KTM SX range.

* Only for SX-F models.

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