Scraper: The footpeg is unchanged, but the mounting bracket
is designed to keep mud from clogging the pivot.
Waiting game: There are no engine changes for 2016. If you
liked it in 2015, you will like it now. And, vice versa.
we love KYB SSS coil-spring forks. Low-pressure forks
have separate air chambers, which only require 35 psi—
and although there were horror stories when the forks
were first released about the forks going flat when the
fork seals blew, that hasn’t been the case. Compared to
the TAC triple-chamber forks, which requires not just
very high-pressure settings but a mathematical balance
between the main pressure and the balance pressure,
Kayaba PSF- 2 air forks are fairly easy to live with.
( 2) Burping the baby. The first time you adjust the
air pressure in your forks you need to burp the forks.
What does that mean? Because of cavitation, there is
air trapped in the fork oil, encapsulated in tiny bubbles.
Thus, the first time you set the air pressure, the air
bubbles will conjoin with the rest of the air pressure and
lower the overall settings. For example, you might put
35 psi in the fork, but it will go down to 34 when the air
bubbles integrate. No worries. Just reset the air pressure
to 35 and you are good to go. There will be no more air
bubbles in the oil until you let all of the air out of the
forks during servicing, then you have to burp them again.
( 3) Checking the pressure. You cannot—we repeat,
cannot—check the air pressure in your air forks with the
gauge on your pump. Not only is that gauge about as
accurate as a good guess, but when you attach the pump
to the fork’s Schrader valve, the air in the fork bleeds into
the pump barrel. This leak lowers the air pressure at the
gauge. The conundrum? You think you have 35 psi, but
the pump says 25 psi. However, you most likely had 35
psi until you attached the pump. As a rule, use the pump
to set the pressure that you desire—and forget about
checking the pressure.
( 4) Bottoming control. The high-speed compression
damper on the PSF- 2 forks work very much like a bottoming control. The more you turn it in, the firmer the forks
become at the end of the stroke. Did we say “firmer”? We
meant to say “harsher.” The best setup trick is to adjust
the high-speed compression to suit the biggest bumps
and jumps on the track and then use the low-speed compression adjuster to fill in the damping leading up to it.
( 5) The big pluses. Compared to TAC forks, the PSF- 2
forks recirculate the oil throughout. This lessens heat
buildup, which on an air fork translates into air-pressure
buildup. PSF- 2 forks are easier to live with on a day-to-day basis than TAC forks, which have extra air chambers
that are interrelated to each other.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Exhaust pipe. It sticks out like Frisco bars on a
( 2) Gearing. Perfect gearing is crucial on a short-shift
engine. We were never enamored with any changes we
made, but most test riders geared it down to make the
one thing it does best—low-to-mid—feel more aggressive.
( 3) Clutch. It’s spongy, weak and releases at the end
of the lever’s play. It needs stiffer clutch springs, but if
you go too stiff, you turn the clutch actuation point into
a hair trigger that offers no feel. We start with six stiffer
clutch springs, and if that is too quick, we go to three
stiff springs and three stock springs.
( 4) Flame-out. The CRF450 is prone to flaming out
any time you twist the throttle from on to off to on. Last
year the Honda engineers added more inertia to the
flywheel to help alleviate the problem, but it didn’t do
the job. If flame-out is an issue, turn the idle up to keep
the engine percolating when the throttle is off. Some
of the flame-out issues can be traced to the hair-trigger
clutch actuation, which doesn’t allow the rider to feed
rpm in smoothly on the exit of turns.
Borrowed: The 2016 CRF450 linkage is the 2015 CRF250 link.
Stiffer initially, it is softer at the end of the stroke.