When you buy a new motocross machine sometimes us Dirt Rider’s can’t leave well enough alone, even though in some cases we should? It’s almost like all motocross riders have some sort of ADD and we must tinker with our stock machines. So once we got our hands on our 2017 Honda CRF450R and completed the shootout in stock form it was time to start testing aftermarket parts on her. We didn’t get crazy in building an engine, but wanted to do a real world hop up that most riders would do to their Honda when they bought her. So here are a few companies used to see if we can make small improvements in already good stock machine.
The first thing we bolted on was the Yoshimura RS-9T Full Ti/Carbon Muffler System. We know Yoshimura works closely with the Factory Honda team here in the states and have seen the RS-9T muffler on Cole Seely and Ken Roczen’s new bikes. The Yoshimura RS-9T system only comes in a dual can set up (no single mufflers are available from Yoshimura) and is a three-piece slip on fit design. Installation of the system was painless and took 15 minutes to install. Once installed and on the track the Honda’s exhaust note turned from high pitch 250F’esq to a deep throaty more traditional 450 factory race bike sound. The crack of the throttle (or RPM response) is slightly smoother and less crisp, but bottom end pulling power is increased over the stock muffler. Rolling out of corners in second gear feels like the rear wheel had even more traction than stock and was more controllable while accelerating out of hard pack corners. The slightly smoother RPM response doesn’t take away the Honda’s excitement anywhere in the power it just helps you gain a little more control (or rear wheel traction) coming out of corners. The mid range pull is healthier than the stock pull and while the stock system had a tough time pulling third gear in tighter corners, the Yoshimura system will give you an easier time doing so. With just the flick of the clutch lever (in third gear) the Honda will be in the meat of the power once again and have you down the straight in a hurry. We noticed top end and over-rev was as good as stock (which is very healthy). It pulls adequately down the straights in second and third gear and there wasn’t a time I thought to myself “I need more top end”. You could tell Yoshimura was focused on bottom to mid range pulling power when they designed this muffler system and they succeeded in doing so. It is also impressive that they didn’t lose any top end and over rev in the process.
After weighing both the stock and Yoshimura RS-9T systems you will be saving 1.9 pounds. This is a significant weight loss but for $1,499.00 it is a very pricey bolt on modification. If you are looking to save a little money Yoshimura offers the stainless steel/carbon version for $977.00, but you will not be saving much weight (only half a pound). I really like the craftsmanship that went into the Yoshimura system. The welds are flawless and the mufflers tuck up inside the side number plates for a stealthy, compact look. www.yoshimura-rd.com
The next modification that we wanted to incorporate that was more for the looks of the Honda than performance was black wheels. Black wheels on a red machine just looks right and is something we feel should come stock on all Hondas. We called up John Anderson from Dubya USA to get these remedied and what showed up was a set of D.I.D. DirtStar rims and red carbon Talon hubs. We weighed the stock wheels with the Dubya carbon set and the difference was a little over one pound. We weren’t going for a weight savings when we ordered wheels, but when we took delivery of the carbon Talon set we figured why not weigh them to see. On the track the wheels do make a somewhat stiffer ride than the stock hubs. You can feel most of the stiffness when landing off of jumps and also when hitting hard pack square edge. This doesn’t really affect the suspension action, but it does give you just a tad more of a rigid feeling than the stock hubs. You don’t need to go to a carbon wheel as this is the cream of the crop of wheelsets. Dubya offers a Talon and Kite billet hub wheelset with D.I.D. DirtStar rims for $1290.00 that is a less expensive option than the $1860.00 Talon carbon hubs. www.dubyausa.com
Enzo came in to re-valve the suspension setting for me. On the 2017 Honda CRF450R the suspension is somewhat soft for my 170-pound frame. The fork dives a little on de-cel and when trying to stiffen the compression (on the fork) it seems to get a harsh feeling through the middle of its stroke. The shock is equally as soft on faces of jumps and when over jumping or landing out in the flat. Once we got some time on the Enzo re-valved suspension we could see a few benefits. The CRF450R no longer had that pitching feeling on de-cel and I could actually corner better/faster. I didn’t realize until I rode with the stock suspension and Enzo suspension back to back that I had some under steer feeling on entrance of corners (with the stock fork), but with the Enzo re-valved fork the front end stayed high enough in the stroke where it didn’t want to knife on the entrances of ruts. I could ride more on the front of the bike without the Honda getting too unstable on high-speed sections. I really noticed that I could be more aggressive as the performance of the fork increased. The comfort was as good as stock, but now I had increased bottoming resistance and hold up. The rear of the bike wasn’t as complex as the fork as I told Enzo I just needed more bottoming resistance. Running the sag between 104-106mm gave a good balance to the CRF450R, but I did need to soften the low speed compression just a little (with the Enzo setting) to get some of that comfort back I had with the stock valving out of corners. Once I turned the low speed compression out two clicks the Honda tracked straight out of choppy turns and still gave me plenty of bottoming resistance that I was looking for. A rough track friendly Honda is what I received when I got the suspension back from Enzo. This was the first setting I have tried and Enzo got it to work better than the stock suspension. I will be evolving this setting as time goes on to see if I can get even more comfort without sacrificing performance. www.enzoracing.com
Lastly we wanted a little smoother clutch pull out of the Honda CRF450R even though the pull is better than the 2016 model. An Elite Clutch Perch from Works Connection was put on for a better clutch feel at the handlebar. I am very picky about engagement on a clutch and Works Connection made sure the engagement was the same as stock. Nothing is more distracting than when you go into a corner to use the rear brake and the engagement is off (and you stall your bike). Or worse yet, you think you pull your clutch in far enough to tap the rear brake (in the air) only to find out you stall your engine. NOT GOOD! The Works Connection Elite Clutch perch’s pull is buttery smooth and creates a slightly easier pull than the stock perch/lever. The Works Connection lever shape is more square feeling to your fingertip than the rounded feel of the stock lever so this may take a few laps to get used to. www.worksconnection.com
Honda has had decent front brake power since going to the 260mm front disc. However, it can get mushy feeling at times and I really like to have a very strong front brake power so I went with a 270mm oversize Galfer Wave rotor. The 270mm Galfer rotor really does wake up the braking power at the lever. It is not too touchy, but pulling in the lever really does get the Honda stopped much quicker than the 260mm stocker. Control is not an issue as the front brake is not grabby with the Galfer rotor. I am still able to drag the front brake through shallow ruts and not have the front brake feel too touchy. I have noticed with other aftermarket oversize rotors that sometimes the wheel doesn’t spin as freely due to the brake hanger (that comes with oversize kits) pushing the brake pads to close to the disc and causing drag. The Galfer hanger is spot on and no drag was felt from the front wheel as it spins just as free as stock. www.galferusa.com
With the few modifications that you see above the 2017 CRF450R Honda is a more comfortable friendlier machine. The Honda produces enough horsepower in 2017 so there is no need to make it even faster (like you needed to do with the 2016 CRF450R) and cause your arms to look like Popeye’s after two laps. With a good stock motorcycle underneath you it becomes clear that the quality of modifications you do outweigh the quantity.