something is inherently wrong in the bike’s geometry. Plus, I don’t like the dragging feel, so I turn the adjuster all the way out and leave it for the desert guys. When a manufacturer comes out with a totally new bike, there are always bugs, but the 2009 Honda had enough to justify calling an exterminator. For 2010, Honda fixed a durability issue with the decompression lever on the camshaft, but other issues still needed to be addressed. (1) Clutch. Honda’s OEM four-spring design is terrible. A full Wiseco or Hinson six-spring unit (or the new Hinson single-spring unit) is the best solution, but it isn’t the cheapest. On our 2010, I’ve been upgrading the plates and springs only, settling for a modest improve- ment in feel and durability. I’ve tested a DP kit, a Barnett kit and OEM stuff with stiffer Hinson springs. Stiffer clutch springs are worth the $50 cost. ( 2) Basket. Based on other Honda riders’ experiences, I’ve been keeping an eye on the stock basket for chips or grooving. If I see any signs of wear, I’ll call Barnett. Their stainless insert basket is bulletproof. If it does wear, they’ll replace the inserts for free. ( 3) Oil. On one of our 2009s, we had gasoline contami- nate the engine oil regularly. It hasn’t happened with our 2010, but I sniff the dipstick before every ride anyway. ( 4) Plastic. Honda saved weight by going minimal on every part, but in my opinion they went too far with the plastic. I destroyed the radiator shrouds when they hooked on my boots in corners. They bent and then they snapped. MXA test riders who wear knee braces have cracked the shroud plastic just by banging their carbon- clad knees against the bike. Additionally, the front number plate can also succumb to cannon-sized roost. The most logical fix was to switch to UFO plastic. It holds up to punishment better, and DeCal Works will mount their graphics on new UFO plastics for you (which is good, because I was running out of ways to trick John Basher into mounting my graphics for me). ( 5) Wheels. The stock Honda wheels are excellent quality and very light. Too light, in my opinion, to be thrashed during week-in and week-out test riding. I had RAD Manufacturing build up a super durable set of wheels using their hubs and DID Dirtstar ST-X rims. I like having these two sets of wheels to quickly test different tires and as a backup option. ( 6) Timing covers. We have broken the ignition covers on both the 2009 and 2010 CRF450s. Hairline cracks spread out across the face of the cover and leak oil. New covers are expensive. I keep a tube of JB Weld in the toolbox just in case. We have tried everything from race gas to high- compression pistons, to flywheel weights and everything else on the latest-generation CRF450. Three things stand out, functionally and cost-wise. Here they are in order of importance. (1) Pipe. The stock powerband is flat on top. It makes a modicum of horsepower (nowhere near what Kawasaki and KTM produce), but quits pulling at 8200 rpm. MXA has tested a bunch of aftermarket pipes. The Yoshimura exhaust was my favorite. It improved the top half of the rpm range without sacrificing much (if any) of the bottom.
Honda’s 32-spoke rear wheels are
susceptible to damage over the long
haul. These 36-spoke Rad wheels are
as strong as an ox.