E 2009 HONDA CRF450
WHY THE RADIATOR SHROUDS NEED WORK We had three problems with the 2009 CRF450’s radiator shrouds: (1) We broke the shrouds on several occasions when the test riders’ knees hit against them. Honda says that they have thickened the plastic to help alleviate this problem, but there was no mention of how many of the thin- ner radiator wings were released. ( 2) The pointy end of the left radiator shroud hooked in the boot of several test riders. The only fix for this is to take a jigsaw and round off the point. ( 3) Riders with knee braces com- plained that the inner hinge on their braces would get caught under the left shroud when they upshifted. Our quick fix was to take a strip from a graphics kit, stick it on the left spar and wrap it over the shroud to give the knee brace hinge a ramp to slide up.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BRAKES GET SPONGY On both the CRF250 and CRF450, test riders reported that the brakes started to get spongy near the end of a 20-minute moto (and on one occasion two test riders shared the bike in back-to-back races, and the brakes faded significantly). The problem is the stock Honda disc guard. It blocks airflow to the rotor and causes heat-induced fade. The solution? Remove the brake disc guard. The problem? The left axle spacer is molded into the disc guard. We had to cut the plastic away from the spacer to eliminate the guard. By the same token, we removed the under-slung disc guard from the rear brake also.
THINK ABOUT CHANGING THE WHEELBASE For 2009, Honda moved the front wheel 17mm closer to the crankshaft (15mm in frame changes plus 2mm in triple clamp offset). At the same time, they moved the rear wheel 18mm farther away from the crank by lengthen- ing the swingarm. That means that engine weight has been moved 35mm farther forward. You have some control over this based on where you set the rear axle. Most MXA test riders preferred to run a shorter chain and move the rear wheel as far forward in the axle slot as possible. If you do this, you will not only be moving the engine slightly rearward (in relation- ship to the two wheels), but will be lessening leverage on the shock (you may have to lighten low- and high-speed compression to compensate).
WHAT ABOUT DIFFERENT OFFSET TRIPLE CLAMPS? Since the 2009 Honda CRF450 has some of the handling traits of the orig- inal 2002 CRF450, it was logical to assume that changing the offset on the ’09 might have the same beneficial outcome as it did six years ago. Over the last six years, Honda’s engineers have changed the triple clamp offset from 24mm (2002-2007) to 22mm (2008) to 20mm (2009). MXA had a set of 22mm triple clamps made (last year’s clamps will not accept the new Kayaba forks) to see if we could get better bite out of the front tire. The answer was no. Although the 22s turned in a little better, they were still very loose on the exit of the turn. They did nothing to eliminate the fast hand movements required to counter-steer the CRF450 in tight corners.
ARE EXHAUST PIPES WORTH THE MONEY? No matter what anybody tells you about the 2009 Honda CRF450 power- band, it has a pure low-to-mid powerband. Although it will rev to 11,300 rpm, it is not a high rpm engine. It makes its best power from 6000 to 8200 rpm. It peaks at a rather average 50. 25 horsepower at just over 8000 rpm. Through 8000 rpm to sign-off, it does not make any additional horse- power. It hangs. What the CRF450 needs more than anything else is some power from 8200 to 9500 rpm. We originally thought we could get this by reprogramming the ignition, but we eventually discovered that an aftermar- ket exhaust pipe was the best way to go. We tried four different exhausts and all of them carried the power up and beyond the stock CRF’s 8200- rpm peak. They were worth the money. ;