2009 CRF450: Not a bad bike after some
tender loving care.
BEST 2009 HONDA CRF450
I own a 2009 Honda CRF450 and
am well aware that this is not a
highly regarded race bike; however,
it is all I’ve got. It is hard to find
info on what the best mods are for
this now-five-year-old model. Can you
The 2009 Honda was a popular
bike at the time and stayed in
rotation through the 2012 season
with only minor changes at the
factory. It was, however, a very
flawed machine with power, clutch,
gearing, suspension and handling
Forks. One of the big disappoint-
ments of the 2009 CRF450 setup
was the stock fork. The 0.46 kg/
mm springs were too soft. Not just
too soft in terms of handling jumps
and bumps, but the slight spring rate
allowed the chassis to shift its weight
too far forward. The best fix is to
install stiffer 0.48kg/mm springs.
Linkage. Once you stiffen the fork
springs, install a longer Pro Circuit
shock linkage. It lowers the rear of
the bike by 10mm to help flatten
out the bike’s attitude. This is a very
good mod, not just for the shock but
for the bike’s handling.
Shock spring. The stock 5.4kg/mm
shock spring is well suited to riders
over 170 pounds (and it can handle
riders over 200 pounds). If you
cannot change the fork springs on
your CRF450, try setting the race
sag at 115mm with the high-speed
compression turned two full turns
out. These mods aren’t to improve
the performance of the shock as
much as to try to balance the front
and rear of the CRF450.
Clutch. It is very expensive to
switch from the weak-sister four-spring CRF clutch to a stronger
six-spring aftermarket clutch. The
quick fix is to add stiffer clutch
springs for about $40.
Gearing. Most MXA test riders felt
that the stock 13/48 gearing ratio
( 3.692) had problems jumping the
gap between second and third. The
quick and easy fix was to install a
49-tooth rear sprocket to lower the
gear ratios to 3.769. This worked
well for most Beginner and Novice
riders, but Pro-level riders felt that
this gearing was too low for the
speed they carried. If you are fast,
go to a 14/52 gear combination. It
splits the difference.
Brakes. The CRF450 front brake
is weak and really needs to have
an oversized rotor installed. Plus,
whether you go to a big rotor or not,
remove the front disc guard because
it blocks airflow to the rotor and
causes heat-induced fade.
Geometry. 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 lengthening the swingarm.
You can alter this by 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. This
moves the engine rearward (in
relationship to the two wheels),
lessens leverage on the shock and
shortens the wheelbase.
Exhaust. The 2009 Honda CRF450
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 mediocre 50. 25
horsepower at just over 8000 rpm.
Aftermarket exhaust pipes can
broaden this power beyond peak.