Kawasaki 2012 KX450F the first with launch control
By Mike Hanlon
July 4, 2011
The easiest place to pass everyone else on a motocross circuit is in the run to the first corner and should you grab the hole-shot, the race is yours to lose. All of which makes Kawasaki's latest addition to its 2012 KX450F a killer app for a race bike - it will be the ONLY bike on the grid in 2011/12 with "Launch Control."
Activated by the push of a button, the Launch Control Mode map monitors wheel spin and retards the engine ignition timing to enable the rear tire to gain grip.
Of course the fruit of the pudding will be measured by who gets to the first corner first, but if green bikes do it often enough, Kawasaki has a killer app on its hands.
The system and mapping are claimed to be identical to that of the factory Kawasaki racers so it should be pretty good - if a works rider chooses the computer over himself to handle the job of getting to the first corner first, then the chances are the bike will be a lot better at throttle control than numpties like me and thee.
It's yet another computer-controlled physical aid for a human being that does the job better than a human and we'll be seeing such assistance designed into almost every device we use over the coming decade.
The launch control engine mapping is only relevant until third gear is engaged for the first time, at which point the engine switches back to the normal engine map. The ECU of the 2012 KX450F offers three engine maps (standard, hard or soft) according to track conditions. Changing the engine maps is simple, but cannot be done on the fly - it involves stopping and changing the DFI coupler.
The ultra competitive unlimited motocross category is driving innovation at a remarkable rate at present, largely because it's the only category of motorcycle where a substantial improvement will guarantee that a rider will upgrade every year - if you don't, you'll waste a whole year of your life eating dirt.
Other new offerings on the unlimited Kawasaki contender include adjustable footpeg and handlebar positioning so you can achieve the most comfortable riding position - there are four different handlebar positions and two different footpeg positions
As has been the ongoing trend for several decades, the KX450 is slimmer (the frame is 4 mm slimmer than this year's model) and has a lower center of gravity. There's also a new Uni-Trak rear suspension and a new Petal disc brake up front.