DBT Race Report: 2024 BITD Golden State 250

Golden State 250 Race Report

Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Harlen Foley

With a full year of racing, and learning, under our belts with Honda’s CRF450X, we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were at at this point one year ago. The entire package, from the motor to the suspension, is much more solidified, though not 100% complete, is in a very competitive state, and with that we headed to California City, CA for the Golden State 250 and the opening round of the Best In The Desert championship. Different from their usual races, the “rough” (though only 10% as rough as a typical Baja race) 62 mile race course put a lot more emphasis on a bike’s handling than it does its motor, though a fast bike is still needed to be competitive at the front of the field.

Our weapon of choice – 2024 Honda CRF450X.

Starting with Pro qualifying, we qualified 3rd Overall out of the 6 Open Pro bikes with a few teams capable of winning the whole thing come time for the 180 mile, multi-lap race. With this, we would be the third bike off the line, and with a lot of rain in the area over the weeks leading up to the race, there was just enough moisture in the ground to eliminate dust as a factor, making conditions prime for going fast and pushing the limits. Since it’s only 180 miles, we wouldn’t have to worry about any lengthy mechanical pit stops barring an unexpected issue, which always helps our case as we’ve struggled with efficient pit stops over the years.

At high noon on a Friday, the first bike rocketed off into the California desert, with one minute increments between each of the Open Pro bikes. In the first 15-20 miles, I could see a slight haze of daze still sitting in the air, giving me confidence that I was at the very least not losing time to the second bike ahead. However, arm pump started to creep in on the fast, choppy course and in the remaining 20 miles before the first pit, I slowed the pace slightly to avoid any costly mistakes and get the bike to my teammate (Hayden Hintz) in a good position. At RM41, I handed over the bike to Hayden down ~30 seconds on adjusted time to 2nd place and ~75 seconds on adjusted time to the leaders. Even with the little time we lost to the front runners, we were still making time on the rest of the field with nearly 150 miles of racing left.

With a full 60 mile lap under his belt, Hayden handed the bike off to me losing a little more time to the front runners, but we knew we may be stronger on the back half as I felt fresh and had time on the race course already vs the rest of the teams putting riders on for the first time that day. To our advantage, the plan worked as we were able to make up a considerable amount of time on all but one team — the winning team of Carter Klein and Shane Logan — and work our way up to 2nd Open Pro at the checkered flag.

The Honda CRF450X proved to be a very capable bike in the Cal City desert. Similar to what we liked last year, the bike is very stable and planted (a 288lb scale weight will do that) and we now feel we have the engine to match it. Motor wise, we’re currently trying different ECU setups to see what works and what doesn’t. Last year, we ran an HRC ECU tuned for Ricky Brabec/Kendall Norman’s Mint 400 winning CRF450X and that’s the best setup we’ve tried to date. However, since that isn’t exactly available to the public, we altered the stock 450X wiring harness to accept a CRF450RX ECU (JCR Speed Shop can perform this service). With little testing time on the RX ECU before the race, we ran the standard map in it. It produced very good bottom-mid power, but wasn’t quite as strong on top end as the HRC ECU and it was slower to build the revs from what we remember. We’ll play with remapping this RX ECU to see just how good it can be made and to have something available for you.

Honda’s CRF450X is a true weapon in the desert, and really excels at the high speed, long distance racing where a well handling machine and a potent motor with a six-speed transmission is much appreciated.
With the six-speed transmission, we ran 14/50 gearing and comfortably reached 103mph on top end.
The planted chassis feel is well received at high speeds, but the bike still excels in the slower confines of the desert.
While it is good, we still feel we can make improvements in the suspension and chassis department and will continue to develop those areas heading into the next race.

We’ll have a complete Bike Build story at a later date covering exactly what mods we made and why including all of the engine mods. Coming up, we plan on testing some engine mounts and linkages to see if we can get the already well handling CRF450X to handle that much better.

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