Power: Honda revised the CRF450 engine, but the dyno didn’t notice.
2015 CRF450 MXA HONDA CRF450 SETUP
This is how we set up our Honda
CRF450 for racing. We offer it as a guide
to help you find your own sweet spot.
KAYABA PSF- 2 FORK SETTINGS
Honda ran Kayaba’s low-pressure PSF
air forks in 2013 and 2014, but for 2015
they are switching to PSF- 2 air forks. They
are basically a blend of WP 4CS forks (in
that the rebound is in one fork leg and
compression in the other) and the
previous PSF air forks. Unlike Showa SFF
TAC forks, which run about 170 psi, PSF- 2
forks only use 35 psi. The twist is that
Kayaba added both high- and low-speed
compression and rebound damping on the
top of the fork caps.
The PSF- 2 forks are an improvement
over last year’s PSF forks and much easier
to live with than SFF TAC air forks.
For hardcore racing, these are MXA’s
recommended 2015 Honda CRF450
fork settings (stock settings are in
Spring rate: 35 psi
Oil height: 92mm
Hi-compression: 14 clicks out
( 11 clicks out)
Lo-compression: 12 clicks out
Hi-rebound: 10 clicks out
Lo-rebound: 10 clicks out ( 9 clicks out)
Fork-leg height: 5mm up
Notes: The high- and low-speed
clickers are not accessible because the
handlebars block them. This makes
adjusting them very difficult. The solution
is to get a flat disc-style screwdriver from
Noleen ( www.noleenj6.com) or Pro Circuit
KAYABA SHOCK SETTINGS
Honda has had decent suspension for
the last five years, although most MXA
test riders tend to go a little stiffer on the
For hardcore racing, these are MXA’s
recommended 2015 CRF450 shock settings
(stock settings are in parentheses):
Spring rate: 5. 7 kg/mm ( 5. 5 kg/mm)
Race sag: 100mm
Hi-compression: 19 clicks out
Lo-compression: 15 clicks out
Rebound: 4 clicks out
Notes: High-speed compression used
to be measured in the number of turns of
the big dial on the shock’s piggyback, but
now it is done in clicks. Since all of the
damping adjusters are on the piggyback,
you must recognize the colors of the
identical-looking clickers. Red is rebound,
blue is high-speed compression, and silver
is low-speed compression. ❏
turn the idle up (after you have set the ignition map).
Shock linkage. We run a longer aftermarket shock linkage. The
benefits of dropping the rear of the CRF and stiffening up the initial
part of the stroke with a longer link arm are undeniable. Since the
longer link rotates the bell crank into a stiffer position, the longer link
increases low-speed resistance and holds the rear higher in the bumps.
Q: DOES THE 2015 CRF450 HANDLE BETTER
THAN THE 2014 MODEL?
A: Surprisingly, without any geometry changes to support the
assertion, we think the 2015 feels better than the 2014. This is
probably a side effect of reducing the bark off idle, improving the
overall feel of the front forks and the broader midrange.
Turn initiation is the CRF450’s best trait. It feels like a red Suzuki
at the entrance to turns. Yes, it is twitchy in the rough, but as Suzuki
has proved, you have to give to get. We turn the HPSD steering
damper all the way in to help calm the front end at speed.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Bad stuff. No need to delve deeper into what we don’t like.
What we want is simple: more horsepower, a broader powerband, a
workman-like clutch, a single-side pipe (that is tucked in) and maps
that make a positive difference.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Setup. If this bike made 56 horsepower, moved the peak up
500 rpm, didn’t go flat on top, had a single exhaust system and was
equipped with a stronger clutch, it would be the bike of the century.
It is very well made, oozes trickness, has suspension that is ballpark
and has a lightweight, graceful and agile feel that no other bike offers.
It is the most fun to ride.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: The 2015 Honda CRF450 is the 2013 model with more
complex air forks. Yes, Honda did make updates and mods, but
basically Honda is treading water by virtue of its corporate policy that
race bikes should be slow.