spring clutch, Honda had to make a compromise. Either they had to pony up for the ultra-trick titanium clutch springs that Team Honda was using (the price was out of their budget) or lower the spring rates of the four steel springs (and sacrifice clutch-pack pressure in the process)...they were between a rock and a hard-to-pull place.
When you use fewer clutch springs, they have to be stiffer than when you use more, but Honda decided not to go as stiff as required to insure solid hookup (or even enough to equal the clamping force of the previous six- spring clutch). And even though each individual 2009 clutch spring is stiffer than last year's clutch springs, the new 2009 clutch has about 35 pounds less clamping force (plate-to-plate). Thus, with even a small amount of wear or age, the 2009 four-spring clutch is more prone to slipping than the 2008 six-spring clutch. This is a fact (a mechanical fact) that even the most loyal Honda owner will face if he uses the clutch hard. ( 3) Materials. Team Honda has their four-spring works clutches built for them by Hinson Clutch Components. No surprise there. Virtually every AMA Pro runs Hinson clutches. Hinson CNC-machines every clutch basket, pressure plate and inner hub by hand. Hinson not only uses aircraft-quality billet aluminum, but they hard coat the aluminum with a special process that lessens wear over the long haul. For Honda’s production line machinery, the idea of CNC-machined billet clutches wasn’t in the cards. The demands of mass production called for cast aluminum pieces and their inherent disad- vantages over the works parts. Every hardcore motocross racer knows what banging clutch plates can do to the tangs of a stock clutch basket, and while Honda’s production parts are light years stronger than they were a few years ago, they can’t match custom- made billet parts. As a result of the test department’s desire to deliver works technology to the consumers, the 2009 Honda CRF450 clutch is high-maintenance, fickle and exception- ally prone to slippage (in the hands of clutch abusers).
WHO NEEDS TO WORRY ABOUT THE 2009 CRF450 CLUTCH? There is no doubt that the 2009 Honda CRF450 clutch works well enough to be considered race-ready. If you are among the minority of racers who have forgotten all the clutch slipping tricks that you learned on two- strokes, you won’t have any immediate issues. But, you will have clutch issues sooner than you used to have, because, no matter how you cut it, less clamping pressure on the clutch plates is the fast track to eventual clutch slippage. If, however, you use your bike’s clutch as part of your riding style (slipping it to stay a gear higher, pumping it to add snap on acceleration or pulling it in to avoid flame out), you will experience clutch woes much sooner than non-clutch abusers. When people tell you that the best way to save your clutch is to not use it, that is just plain stupidity. It is obvious that if you don't use the clutch it will last forever, and the same goes for tires, gasoline and pistons. But is it a good idea to avoid riding your bike to save gas? If you are a rider who is very light on your clutch usage, then you will not have issues with the 2009 CRF450 clutch. If, however, you are like most rac- ers and use the clutch, then you will eventually be interested in MXA’s 2009 clutch tips. Maybe not today, maybe not to tomorrow, but eventually, you will be pursuing one of MXA’s four solutions.