Refining Big Red
Photos by Trevor Hunter/Mark Riker
The Honda CRF450RX is quite the bike. It has many traits that our testers find very attractive, but at times, it leaves those same riders puzzled at why it feels like a totally different bike depending on the terrain at hand. Because of this, nearly all of thee changes we’ve made here are aimed at keeping its positive traits, and refining the negative traits into a less sensitive, all-around bike that can tackle anything thrown its way. The end goal for this bike was the annual 24 Hours of Glen Helen where our Senior 40+ Expert team would take to the line with a variety of sized riders taking this bike to conditions where it has suffered the most as the ultimate test for this setup.
The light setup is a new build with KC HiLites. Using four Flex Era 1 pods, each pod draws ~23W each. We ran two pods off the bike, using all stock components, and two pods off a separate battery carried by the riders. Overall, the lights worked really well and the most notable comment from a lot of the riders was how much detail you could see on the ground with the light. The spread was really good, though at high speeds you could see yourself just outrunning the lights, our team felt it was one of, if not the best light setups out there. On top of that, it shaved nearly 5 lbs off of our old KC HiLites light setup which was a big plus. We were on the verge of having enough power off the bike to power the two lights, so like the Yamaha, we ran a voltage meter on the bike to see if we were maintaining voltage or if it was dropping throughout the night.
TCS Powersports handled the suspension setup, with Todd himself being a rider on the team and helping develop the bike into what it is today.
Though one of the smallest aftermarket pieces bolted onto this bike, the Works Chassis Labs engine mounts were arguably the biggest positive change made to the 450RX. Similar to the changes made when changing the torque specs on these chassis parts, it took it a step further in smoothening out the harshness felt through the chassis while also increasing its cornering abilities.
The next best change we made to this chassis is the Ride Engineering 23.5mm Offset Triple Clamps. It added a lot of initial comfort, taking some of the harshness out of the front end while also adding stability and improving how the bike handles in dry, edgy conditions.
Fasst Co Flexx Handlebars were another big item of interest when searching for more comfort in the front end.
As is the case with most off-road bikes, a steering stabilizer was much needed and the tried-and-true Scott’s Steering Stabilizer bolted right up using Ride Engineering’s Bar Mounts designed to work with over-the-bar steering stabilizer mounting.
A Rekluse RadiusCX auto clutch makes this motora more versatile powerplant when the speeds slow down. As is the case when taking a moto-oriented motor into true off-road conditions, it can be prone to stalling and tough to ride in technical terrain. The clutch took away all of this, while smoothening the power delivery out and allowing riders to ride taller gears — something that helps handling on the Honda.
For gearing, we went up from stock 13/50 to this Sunstar 14/52 ratio. One, this helped space the gears out more for west coast style racing, and secondly it really helped soften the chassis handling when hitting square edges, similar to our Yamaha.
GUTS Racing provided us with a tall seat foam and cover. The stock height isn’t bad for average height riders, but the foam isn’t the most comfortable and stood out in a negative way for a lot of our riders. Our older crowd preferred the tall height for ease of standing up, as well as moving around on the bike. GUTS seats are some of the best quality we’ve tested in terms of both durability and performance, and this seat was no exception.
Fastway EVO Pegs, placed in the lower position, helped open up the cockpit tremendously as most of our riders felt the pegs sat a tad high in stock form.
All of our testers who took part in our Modified 450 Shootout last month really liked how well the Michelin Starcross 6 tires performed. So much so that they went out and bought Michelin tires for this race. The Starcross 6 Medium/Soft was the front tire of choice.
TM Designworks replaced the worn stock Chain Slider and Chain Guide with their Dirt Cross Slide-N-Guide Kit.
Bullet Proof Designs provided the rear disc protection.
IMS’ 2.6 Gal Tank helps slim down the cockpit, and makes pit stops easier with the use of a dry-break system. During the race, our senior team burned a little over 1 gallon per hour at the 24 hour race.
Modified Machine Works’ new dry-break receiver was put to use again, as it has all year on this bike, and is a very nice piece with its built in vent.
Acerbis and DeCal Works made the bike pretty with plastics and graphics, sticking with a stock Honda look that looks oh-so good right now.
In true Honda fashion, this bike was bullet proof throughout the race. Running Blud Racing Scorpion oil, we didn’t have to change the oil, didn’t really burn any oil, and the motor ran strong all 24 hours, despite starting with ~80 hours on the bottom end, and 48 hours on the top end.
Dropping 5lbs off the previous light setup, the new KC HiLites setup handled much better, and in many areas put out a better light spread.
The only maintenance was two air filter changes, one front and rear wheel change, and a little over one gallon of gas per hour. Both front and rear stock brake pads held up no problem, and the bike had zero hiccups at all throughout the race.
Get a first hand look at how this KC HiLites setup compares to the Baja Designs system used on our Yamaha team!
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