end rebound more toward the end of the moto as the air pressure inside the forks climbed as much as 5 psi. The air replaces the coil spring, but it does not take the place of damping adjustments. Once you find your perfect air pressure, do not rely on the air pressure to make changes to the way the forks feel under compression or rebound. The compression and rebound clickers are still the best tools for this job. Q: DOES THE 2013 CRF450 HANDLE BETTER THAN THE 2012 MODEL? A: Yes, yes, yes. Finally, the Honda CRF450 will turn in at the entrance of a turn with crisp authority. Turn initiation on the 2013 CRF450 is its best trait. The old 2009 to 2012 CRF450s were vague at turn-in, indecisive from the center out and loose on the exit. It wasn’t unusual for a Honda CRF450 rider to have to make mid-turn adjustments to the steering. Not now! The 2013 Honda turns great. The more the MXA wrecking crew raced the 2013 CRF450, the more we were able to push the CRF envelope—an envelope that for the last few years was a few stamps short of delivery. If you are looking for a straight-across comparison, the 2013 is more Suzuki-ish than Kawasaki-ish. We liked it—and we haven’t said that for four long years. Q: WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK OUT FOR? A: For some unexplained reason, the countershaft sprocket on the 2013 engine is 3mm outboard from 2012. To compensate, Honda made the hub flange 3mm thicker so that the rear sprocket would line up with the counter- shaft. No big deal—unless you own spare Kite, Talon, RAD, TCR or stock Honda wheels. If you do, don’t run them. That measly little 3mm translates into 1/8-inch, and that is more than enough to cause your bike to throw the chain. Word on the street is that Renthal subframe or shock body after a race will reveal a disturbing heat-sink effect from all that hot tubing snaking around the shock and airbox. How do we really feel? When Honda first tried this idea on the 2006 CRF250, they just bolted an extra muffler on an existing design and made up reasons for why it was better. It took a few years of consumer resis- tance, but Honda finally gave up on it. For 2013, the twin-pipe idea is better thought out. The subframe and muffler canisters have been redesigned so that they can be sucked up under the bodywork and moved forward. This gives them centralization-of-mass credibility. Maybe it is just us, but a motocross bike doesn’t need more parts to fail, get damaged in a crash or fall off. Thumbs down—the same thumbs that we used back in 2006. Q: WHAT DOES THE 2013 CRF450 WEIGH? A: With forks that are 2 pounds lighter, you would expect the Honda to be lighter. Wrong! It weighs 3 pounds more than it did last year. The weight gain—from 231 to 234 pounds—is a byproduct of the twin pipes. Q: HOW GOOD ARE THE KAYABA PSF AIR FORKS? A: They are a lot better than what Honda came with before. Additionally, they are a big plus for plus-size riders who in the past had to spend hard-earned cash to install stiffer forks springs. With air forks, you simply add a pound of air, which is easier to do than losing 10 pounds of body fat. We were able to find the proper air pressure for every test rider in due time. It should be noted that the air pressure will change with the ambient outside temperature, so you have to check the air pressure before every race. It will also rise as the forks heat up during a moto, but do not reset the hot forks back to your base setting (although you can add or subtract air if you feel the forks need it). In the course of long motos, the MXA test riders could feel the front
Double up: It’s not for us to wonder why, but we are still
scratching our heads about why Honda insists on dual pipes.
Speed secret: Gear it down. Gear it down now. If you don’t,
you’ll be wondering where the horsepower went.