MXA PERFORMANCE GUIDE
TO THE 2011 HONDA CRF450
Clutch. Wedon’tknowwhat Hondawasthinkingwiththeir four-springclutch,butwedo knowthatwecan’taffordto changeplatesasoftenasthe weaksetuprequires. Honda’s four-springclutchdoesn’thave noughclampingpressurefora 52-horsepowerengine.Foraround $50, youcaninstallstifferclutch springs. Thisisa Band-Aidfix, butitisworkable. Theultimate fixisacompleteHinsonclutch. Weranthe Hinson Single-Spring designin2011.Its Belleville washersystemisverytunable. Beforewarnedthat Honda’sactu- ationcamhasaveryshortthrow, andthismeansthatwiththe stockclutchora Hinsonclutch, theworkingzoneoftheclutch leverisverynarrow. Brakes. Most MXA test riders remove the front and rear plastic brake guards. In our experience, they push the heat index up on the brake pads—and neither the front nor rear Honda brakes can afford to get any hotter. We prefer free flowing air on both rotors.
The MXA test crew spends months racing every test bike in our stable. We don’t just spin a couple laps and jot down a bike test on the back of an envelope. We try to find out every possible detail on every bike we test...and we race them to ensure that they are pushed to the limit. As cruel as it may sound, we go all- out to find the flaws in every bike. And then, we fix them. So, if you own a 2011 Honda CRF450 (or the virtually identical 2009 or 2010 model), take a close look at MXA’s comprehensive performance guide. We break down all the areas where we applied tender loving care. MXA’s performance guide gives you all the information you’ll ever need for living and loving the CRF450—without any of the ifs, ands or buts.
Reprogramming. For 2011, Honda reprogrammed the ECU for the third time in three years. Each new model of the CRF450 gets mellower and mellower. With the new restrictive muffler and ignition map, the 2011 model’s powerband feels broader, although the actual power spread isn’t one iota longer. The reduced throttle response makes the bike rev a little slower, and the slower revs produce a longer feel. If you have Honda’s reprogramming tool and software, you can reprogram the 2011 CRF450 ignition to produce a quicker and faster-feeling power delivery. This is achieved by leaning the fuel at low-to-mid throttle openings and advancing the low-to-mid ignition timing (+ 2 on ignition and -1 on fuel). Our simplest solution, although not so simple, was to use the black box off of a 2009 model.
Fork springs. Honda’s stock 0.46 Kayaba fork springs are too soft...way too soft. The inherent problem with the 2009-2011 Honda CRF450s is that the front end dives under braking, deceleration and hard landings. It can and will bottom if ridden hard. Additionally, the diving forks induce rapid frame geometry shifts that wreak havoc on the CRF450’s already questionable handling. We switched to 0.49 kg/mm springs because they not only help the forks absorb bumps, but also calm down the quirky chassis.