MXA’S HONDA CRF450
This is how we set up our 2016 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–’ 14, but for 2015–’ 16 they switched to PSF- 2 air
forks. PSF- 2 is a blend of WP 4CS forks (in that the
rebound damping is in one fork leg and compression
damping 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
PSF- 2 forks have both high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping on the top of the fork caps.
For hard-core racing, these are MXA’s recommended
2016 Honda CRF450 fork settings (stock settings are in
Spring rate: 35 psi
Oil height: 87mm
Hi-compression: 24 clicks out ( 20 clicks)
Lo-comprerssion: 24 clicks out ( 20 clicks)
Hi-rebound: 25 clicks out
Lo-rebound: 27 clicks out
Fork-leg height: Flush
Notes: The clickers are more sensitive than last
year, because there are 8 clicks per rotation instead
of 4. This is a plus, because it makes tuning changes
much more accurate—albeit a little more difficult to
zero in on. Once you find the correct air-pressure
setting for your weight, speed and track, focus on
making all the adjustments with the compression and
rebound clickers. Leave the air alone.
KAYABA SHOCK SETTINGS
For riders who owned a 2015 CRF450, the shock
settings will seem strange because the numbers are
so different. For example, last year we ran 4 clicks out
on the rebound. This year we are 21 clicks out. Don’t
think that our 21 clicks out is five times lighter than
our 4 clicks from a year ago; it’s just a mathematical
byproduct to the new rising-rate linkage and the new
clicker design. For hard-core racing, these are MXA’s
recommended 2016 CRF450 shock settings (stock
settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 56 N/m ( 54 N/m)
Race sag: 105mm
Hi-compression: 21 clicks out ( 20 clicks)
Lo-compression: 22 clicks out ( 19 clicks)
Rebound: 21 clicks out
Notes: MXA’s biggest change was to swap out the
stock 54 N/m shock spring for a stiffer 56 N/m spring.
This was a great mod for fast guys and riders over 175
pounds. Lightweight riders can stick with the stock
spring. With the stiff spring we turned the high-speed
compression out 2 clicks to allow the shock to ride
a little lower. We didn’t need to turn the high-speed
compression out with the stock spring rate and light
( 5) Twice pipes. If Honda ever wants to get back to
the top spot on the lightest bike chart, we know where
they can lose a couple pounds. The twice pipes are one
of the oddest features in motocross. They add weight,
complexity and cost without adding power.
( 6) Power. It’s not fast. The power is quick and short.
We don’t fully understand why one of the world’s most
respected motorcycle manufacturers would want to build
the bike with the least horsepower.
( 7) Radiator wing. Honda added a black plastic
extension to the bottom edge of the radiator wing.
Several test riders got caught up on it. We trimmed
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) PSF- 2 forks. The revised Kayaba air forks are
simpler to work with than the Showa SFF TAC air forks,
but Honda doesn’t make it easy to access the high- and
low-speed damping adjusters, which are hidden by the
handlebars. You can get to them with a long, skinny,
flat-blade screwdriver, but it isn’t right.
( 2) Shock linkage. Last year the MXA wrecking crew
ran a longer shock linkage. Why? To drop the rear of the
CRF, hold the shock higher in the stroke and slacken the
head angle. This year Honda did it for us.
( 3) Brakes. Honda’s oversized 270mm brake is a big
improvement over what they used to have. Maybe the
complete Nissin system isn’t as well-mated as KTM’s
Brembo design, but at least the bike has competitive
( 4) Weight. Once the lightest 450cc bike on the track,
the Honda has been overshadowed by the 227-pound
KTM 450SXF. However, at 233 pounds, the 6 extra
pounds aren’t a deal-breaker, since the CRF450 feels light
as a feather in motion.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: On the surface we want to see Honda play
the horsepower game that they were so good at just a
decade ago, but deep inside we believe there is a market
for an easy-to-ride, low-horsepower race bike.
has a 270mm