every time a rider lowers his race sag from 100mm to 105mm to 110mm to 115mm, he is kicking the head angle out. Thus, the 2009 CRF450’s new head angle can be erased by 10mm of extra sag. It is a must to fix the forks first. Only then will the rest of the chassis come around. Q: WHAT WAS OUR BEST FORK SETTING? A: The 48mm inverted Kayaba Air-Oil-Separate (AOS) forks offer 16 clicks of rebound and 18 clicks of compres- sion damping adjustability. And we used all they had to offer. In a futile effort to lessen the diving, we were reduced to turning the compression in as far as common sense would allow. One of the surprises of the forks is that while they are under-sprung and under-damped (especially in the midstroke region) they never really bottom. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t too soft and too quick, just that the bottoming cones are amazing. The forks have a very fluid feel to them. They want to work, but the setup hampers their efforts. For hardcore racing, these are MXA’s recommended 2009 Honda CRF450 fork settings: Spring rate: 0.48 kg/mm (0.46 stock) Oil height: 350cc Compression: Four clicks out ( 13 stock) Rebound: Eight clicks out Fork leg height: As far down as humanly possible. Notes: On smooth tracks the forks are at their best. In these situations we felt the need to turn the rebound in to about six clicks out. On rough tracks, we turned the rebound out and compression in as far as we dared. Q: WHAT WAS OUR BEST SHOCK SETTING? A: It was obvious to us that the setup for the CRF450 in showroom stock condition would be much dif- ferent than what it should be in race condition. As it rolls off of the showroom floor, the stock shock needs to have the race sag set as low as possible. This is not done to make the shock work better, since eating up valuable travel and slackening the head angle are not worthy goals. It is done to bring the front and rear sus- pension into harmony. To compensate for the soft forks, the rear has to be lowered. If you don’t lower the sag, the rear end will overpower the front end and aggravate the teeter-totter effect even more grievously. Once you get the forks to ride higher in the stroke (with stiffer springs), you can bring the race sag back up closer to 100mm, which will regain the lost travel and return the head angle to its correct number. For hardcore racing, these are MXA’s recommended 2009 CRF450 shock settings (for the stock setup). Spring rate: 5. 4 kg/mm Race sag: 115mm High-compression: Two turns out (1-1/2 stock) Low-compression: 11 clicks out Rebound: 15 clicks out ( 14 stock) Notes: There are no rising rate changes on the 2009 shock linkage. Although it is totally new, it maintains all the previous rates, but it is affected by the 18mm longer swingarm, which puts more leverage on the shock. Q: WHAT DID WE HATE? A: The hate list: (1) Spark plug. We admire Honda’s efforts to down- size the components to save weight, but the 10mm “C” spark plug looks like it came out of a toy. It works fine. This is the third plug size currently in use in motocross. Far far away: Honda lengthened the swingarm by 18mm for 2009. That changed the weight bias to the front. Twins: The black cap is the new dipstick. Almost every MXA test rider had qualms with the new shift lever.