First Ride Video: BMW G450X

TWO Editor John Cantlie sends us back his first impressions of BMW's pepped-up off-roader

THREE YEARS in the making, BMW finally break into the serious enduro market with their all-new G450X.

Not to be confused with the existing 650X models, the 450 is a proper, sharp-nosed, full power enduro bike aimed directly at the Austrian and Japanese competition.

It looks very smart in its white and blue livery (although only time will tell how smart it remains looking after a few good crashes), and technically it’s very clever. BMW have put the gearbox sprocket in direct line with the swingarm pivot – the pivot actually goes THROUGH the gearbox drive shaft – and this eliminates the chain tightening and loosening as the swingarm goes up and down. This means more instant power to the back wheel off the throttle, improved traction and reduced wear. At a standstill the chain is run almost completely tight, and it goes against everything you’ve learned about bikes – it feels weird to see a chain so tight!

The BMW comes with 41bhp to get it through all EU-III legislations (this bike is fully road-legal out of the shop) but all you have to do to release another 11bhp is put a clip over the end of a circuit breaker, completing the ECU and releasing full power. Very neat.

On the rough, tough, stony trails around Malaga, the 450X is very, very good. BMW claim 111kg dry and I have no reason to doubt this figure, the bike is light and easy to ride up tight climbs. In 41bhp mode the engine is perfect for single-track trails, with loads of easy power off the throttle and the long swingarm puts the power down to the ground, finding traction where a conventional enduro bike may well be sliding already.

Release the extra 11bhp and the 450X is transformed. Suddenly she’s a free-revving, wheelie-pulling machine, never too intimidating but certainly much more exciting to ride. Sometimes she’ll stall just off the throttle, but that’s just a question of giving it a bit more off the line. The cantilever Ohlins rear shock is deliciously compliant over the rough stuff, and the Marzocchi forks allow you to drag the front brake down loose, slippery declines with plenty of grip.

As a clubman’s enduro tool or motocross bike the 450X would be quite capable of winning. Five-times MX World Champion Joel Smets has been heavily involved in the development of the bike over the last 16 months, and watching the speed he rode the 450X round the track at our disposal leaves little doubt that in the right hands, the BMW 450X is a proper weapon and no mistake. Looks like KTM’s monopoly is about to be rudely interrupted…

Cantlie's impressed by the new G450X

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