BUILDING A 2012 HONDA CRF450
MX-Tech’s most recent innovation is low-friction piston rings for shocks, touted by Jeremy as an incredible improvement for a very low-cost part. Unfortunately, they weren’t in production at the time of this build, so MX-Tech didn’t have any ready for me to try. Even without the rings, however, they did plenty of high-tech trickery to my shock. It received Kashima coating and levigated alumina surface preparation to reduce friction. MX-Tech provided a Merge Racing linkage bell crank. Jeremy explained that the bell crank slows down the shock shaft’s initial movement, which puts less weight on the front end in braking bumps and the entrance to corners, lessening the wiggle and oversteer. At about the sag point, it starts to speed the shock up but still keeps the overall action slower than stock. Jeremy prefers this, because it lets him put some more high-speed compression valving into the shock. He feels that it creates a better balance among bottoming resistance, bump compliance and stability under braking. As for the forks, MX Tech kept the program reasonable and affordable, leaving out the super- expensive coatings and most of the tricky internals that they offer. They did install their $250 SSBCV (Speed Sensitive Bottoming Control Valve), but you can call it the single-sided Huck valve. The Huck valve sits in the left axle lug and uses a separate shim and piston to control the last part of travel. The separate valving relieves some of the main valving’s responsibility, allowing MX-Tech to valve the fork for smaller bumps and let the Huck valve handle the big stuff. Since Honda’s engineers spec’d our recommended spring rates for 2012, most riders will be happy with the stock 2012 springs. I, however, am larger than the average rider, so I went one notch stiffer on both the fork and shock springs.
STEP SEVEN: AS AN MXA TEST RIDER, I
CONSTANTLY SWITCH FROM BIKE TO
BIKE, SO IT MAKES ME CHUCKLE WHEN
I SEE RIDERS WHO CAN,T RIDE UNLESS
THEIR BARS ARE ADJUSTED JUST SO.
Step seven: As an MXA test rider, I constantly switch from bike to bike, so it makes me chuckle when I see riders who can’t ride unless their bars are adjusted just so. My job has many luxuries, but becoming accustomed to one setup is not one of them. I readily admit that it’s much easier to go fast when you’re comfortable and confident. So with this project bike, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to get my controls dialed in specifically for me—not the test rider who got off the bike five minutes ago. At 6-foot- 2, it’s a treat to get to run taller handle- bars. I like oversize bars because they offer the most flex, so I sprang for the oversize bar mounts and ordered Renthal RC High FatBars. I’m also a big fan of firm grips, and Renthal is one of the few In addition to the Kite/Excel wheels, we had Dubya include
an oversize Brembo rotor for light-touch stopping.
MX-Tech’s Kashima coating and levigated alumina
surface preparation reduced friction in the shock.