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2009 BMW G450X Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

BMW is out to conquer a new market, enduro bikes, and not with a dual-purpose machine based on their excellent GS line-up, but rather with a single purpose, race-dedicated model. The all-new G450X makes a strong statement with fresh styling and an incredible spec sheet that is sure to have the competition worried. Swinging a leg over it the first time, you get the impression of being perched up high and ready for adventure.

The G450X certainly looks striking, with a wealth of novel mechanical solutions under the skin.

Hard hitting engine & transmission duo
The four-stroke, single-cylinder mill features dual camshafts and four valves, a performance-oriented onboard computer to manage ignition and fuel injection, and a 12:1 compression ratio. Clearly meant to storm the track or trail, it needs 96 octane fuel or better. Thankfully, the German design team saw fit to give the G450X an electric starter and an automatic decompression system. Bore/stroke numbers of 98 x 59.6 mm make it the most over square engine of its class, and thus the most capable of reaching higher rpm levels where the power is produced – good news for racers.

The five-speed gearbox work like magic, with no need to use the clutch for up- or even down-shifts. The cable-operated clutch is mounted on the end of the crankshaft, where a smaller diameter assembly reduces the rotational mass of the engine and adds to its impressive responsiveness.

Innovative frame
The usual high quality suspects are all here: Brembo brakes, adjustable Öhlins shock, adjustable Marzocchi fork, and top drawer equipment when it comes to instruments, levers and controls. But it’s uncharted territory from then on, as the G450X creators have rethought the layout of the chassis, the engine and the rear suspension.

First off, the engine: with the clutch mounted directly on the crankshaft, torque is dispatched to the transmission via two small-diameter gears, eliminating the primary drive train and reducing the engine’s rotating inertia, as well as the width on that side of the bike.

The ultra-simple, multi-tube chassis runs straight from the fork head to the swingarm pivot, which is coaxial with the countershaft. The engine is a stressed member of the chassis and slips “into” the frame from below. There was enough space to rotate it forward, which left enough room for the more efficient air box in the fake fuel tank (the real one being under the seat). What’s more, no more down tube(s) in front of the engine means more room for a nice big and efficient radiator.

A well camouflaged radiator, co axial output shaft sproket /swingarm pivot, and elongated swingarm contribute to the bike's unusually compact appearance, as well as its effectiveness.
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