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The 3 key upgrades in the 2021 KTM SX-F motocross range

The three key upgrades you need to know about the 2021 KTM SX-F motocross range.
The 3 key upgrades in the 2021 KTM SX-F motocross range

by Jeremy Hammer

June 24, 2020

The 2021 KTM SX-F motocross range was finally unveiled today, and while on the surface there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to look at it, there are a few key upgrades you should know about.

KTM already has such a good package as it is, especially in this current generation of bike, so it’s not surprising that this year’s bikes aren’t a complete overhaul.

But there are actually three key upgrades on the 2021 KTM four-stroke motocross bikes, and one of them is actually quite a massive advancement.

Before I get stuck into the key upgrades, I wanted to share the minor updates. So obviously the first one is the updated graphics, which is pretty standard across motocross bikes, and for this year, KTM has added in more black to the graphics with a hint of blue, which is a pretty nice touch and actually one of my favourite standard designs from KTM yet. 

The other minor update is that the entire SX-F range has been fitted with Dunlop MX33 tyres, and that pretty rounds off the minor changes for year model 2021 - everything else, except for the three upgrades I’m about to tell you about, are exactly the same as the 2020 model.

So moving onto the key upgrades, I’ll start with the suspension.

KTM says it’s worked with WP to rework both the XACT forks and shock, changing some internal hardware along with revising some of the settings.

2021 ktm sxf

According to their press release, the configuration is now slightly firmer both at the front and the rear, which is supposed to give us riders more confidence and reassurance. 

Obviously we’re all at different weights and riding levels, so the settings that come from the factory are likely to be immediately changed, but the upgraded internal components could be beneficial for us.

It seems as though more attention has been put into reworking the front XACT fork with AER technology, and I won’t get into the technical jargon - but basically, KTM says the changes should provide us with greater feedback.

So the suspension upgrades aren't massive - some of us will notice them, and some of us wouldn’t have a clue that anything has changed, but it’s cool to see they’re chasing improvements everywhere they can.

Now the next key upgrade is based on the engine, although only the 450 SX-F - both the 350- and 250 models have essentially been untouched for 2021, while the 450 has some updated components.

2021 ktm sxf

KTM has described the upgrades as modifications to the piston, crankshaft, engine casing, rocker arms and shift locker, which are designed to make the bike more reliable, reduce weight, and make engine maintenance easier. 

It’s interesting that only these changes have been made to the 450 and not the other four-stroke models, and also that they’re aimed at increased reliability and aren’t exactly performance-focused. 

But the KTM 450 SX-F already produces a staggering 63 horsepower in standard trim, so it probably doesn’t need a boost in the performance department.

Now the third and final upgrade is an interesting one, and as I said at the start, it’s a pretty big advancement for KTM, but the thing is you’ll have to purchase it as an extra. 

So that third upgrade is the ability to tune the bike via your iPhone or Android device through KTM’s all-new myKTM app. 

2021 ktm sx-f

You’ll need a KTM PowerParts Connectivity Unit, which is the additional purchase you’ll need to make, and it’s basically a bar pad that houses a connection to the bike.

Before I get into the details - this will only work on 2021 KTM four-stroke models, and the 2020 Factory Edition 450 - so if you think you can just buy the Connectivity Unit for your older KTM model and download the app, it won’t work. 

So the app connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows you to completely tune the engine with your mobile phone - there’s a simple setting, where you can make basic adjustments, and then there’s a more advanced section where you can make more detail adjustments to your bike’s power delivery, depending on the track and conditions you’re riding.

So if you want more or less torque or responsiveness in certain parts of the power delivery, you can adjust between motos with your phone. 

2021 ktm sxf

There’s also some presets installed to make things easier, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or professional, it caters for all levels of riders.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this in motocross - Yamaha actually released their own Power Tuner app a couple of years ago, but this KTM one looks really simple to use.

One additional thing with the myKTM app is that there’s actually a section to help you set up your suspension - it’s pretty basic in that respect, but you simply put in your height and weight, and it will calculate your sag and things like that. 

So it’s a really cool upgrade that KTM has come through with, even if it will come at an additional cost.


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