HONDA’S CRF450 CLUTCH
Have you ever wished that you could get your hands on an unobtainable works part from the factory? Be careful what you wish for. Every
CRF450 built since 2009 comes with a Honda works
part—the four-spring clutch. The works clutch is a
trimmed-down, lightened-up, minimalist design that
lessens rotating mass and inertial forces on the working
parts of the clutch. The key difference between Honda’s
works clutch and all previous clutches is that Honda’s
engineers saved weight by lessening the number of
springs in the unit.
Back in 2009, Honda’s engineers considered the
four-spring clutch a marketing coup because it was a
direct transfer of technology from the factory race bikes
to the production bikes.
Sadly, without a factory mechanic to change the plates
(between motos)—the trick titanium clutch springs and
the billet-machined parts of Team Honda’s inner hubs and
baskets—the four-spring clutch proved less than ideal in
the hands of local racers. Why? To duplicate the clamping
pressure that the clutch pack needed with four springs
instead of six, they had to increase the pull. Honda had
to compromise by sacrificing clamping pressure (the
2009–2011 Honda clutch has about 35 pounds less
clamping pressure, plate to plate, than the 2008 clutch).
The result was a clutch that couldn’t hold up to any
abuse—or it would slip. What is the fix? MXA has four
Honda CRF450 clutch strategies—from cheap to
expensive. Pick your poison.
SOLUTION #1: DON’T USE IT
The easiest fix for the CRF450 clutch is to just not use
it. It will last forever if you never slip it.
SOLUTION #2: THROW PARTS AWAY
When the 2009 CRF450 clutch proved troublesome,
Honda redesigned the clutch-plate arrangement by
removing one full-size friction plate and replacing it with
a skinny plate and two Belleville-style washers (called
jutter springs). The idea was to put back pressure on
the clutch pack. This didn’t solve the problem, and
might have aggravated it. MXA removes the small
clutch plate and two jutter springs and puts one full-
size clutch plate back into the pack. This returns the
2010, 2011 and 2012 CRF450 clutches back to 2009
specs. It is an improvement, but not a solution. This
mod costs $8 (for one additional clutch plate).
SOLUTION #3: THE OLD-SCHOOL METHOD
The next fix is old-school. We simply replaced the
stock clutch springs with specially wound Hinson,
Barnett or Pro Circuit clutch springs. They are stiffer,
and the coils are wound to provide the most
progressive modulation possible. Exchanging the four
stock springs for four stiffer springs increase the
clamping pressure to where it should be to replicate the
2008 clamping pressure. But, stiffer clutch springs mean
a significant increase in clutch pull. Plus, the actuation
point of the CRF450 clutch, which is too quick to begin
with, becomes quicker with stiffer springs. This is a fix
that increases hook-up and plate life significantly, but
isn’t an overall solution. This mod costs $49.95.
SOLUTION #4: PONY UP FOR SIX
The ultimate CRF450 solution is to install an
aftermarket six-spring clutch. It requires a new pressure
plate, inner hub and six springs (you can use the stock
CRF450 basket). This turns the four-spring clutch into
an exact replica of the 2008 Honda CRF450 six-spring
clutch. This mod costs around $600.00.
There you have it. The choice is yours, and you
control your fate with your left hand. Use it with
was in 2008.