We take the project Honda CRF450R to the next level.
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD
After the introductory story on the long-term Honda CRF450R last issue, you could say things got a little out of control! This build has turned into a seriously epic beast and we aren’t done yet.
From my initial days on the Honda CRF450R, I was completely impressed with the Honda in stock form, the suspension needed to be settled for grass track racing and I needed to personalise the bike in a few areas. Otherwise, it would have been possible to compete on this bike for a full season with little more than some race numbers and suspension valving. That’s all great, but this is a project bike – so let’s build an exciting bike that turns heads, is amazing to ride and hopefully delivers some results!
MCD GOES FACTORY
The suspension on the Honda CRF450R was pretty darn good in it’s standard form. The plan was to get it to settle down and squat a little better on grass track racing, but retain the standard springs. Basically to give the bike a more plush feeling on the race track. The next three words changed the whole build and plan for the Honda CRF450R. “What about Kashima?…” As soon as Matty from MCD Racing spoke those three words, the shit was shot. This bike was going to go to the next level. Kashima coating reduces friction, resulting in a cooler operating temperature, longer service life and a more consistent performance. Aside form the obvious performance benefits, Kashima coating looks absolutely factory. It’s about as trick as it gets when it comes to building a bike. The suspension was coated in Japan and returned just in time for round one. The MCD suspension revalve aimed at a softer feeling bike, without huge jumps at Amcross, the aim is to get the bike to use most of the stroke on the acceleration bumps and braking bumps, while holding up under heavy braking. It’s a little bit of a balancing act to get the bike to be plush, but firm enough to handle the big hits. While on the suspension, we also investigated a Zeta adjustable lowering link to help get the rear to sit lower, the Honda CRF is known to sit a little high in the rear, so the Zeta product allows the bike to balance nicer and work really well at Amcross.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
The team at MCD are a performance workshop turning out some incredibly trick race bikes and custom builds for riders and racers in Australia. Since the suspension work was going to be so trick on the Honda, we came to the conclusion that this bike should be a wicked custom build that MCD would handle within their Sydney workshop. The team at Preload Performance came on board to ceramic coat a bunch of parts on the Honda, including the inner clutch, some suspension components and brakes to give it that factory finish. MCD stripped the parts, had them sent to Preload who are based near Windsor, NSW and in no time at all they were coated and returned ready for fitment. While I was searching for the Zeta adjustable lowering link, I started to droll over the Zeta products that are available for the Honda. Luckily for me, the team at Steve Cramer Products, the Australian importer for Zeta were happy to jump on board the help out with the build. First thing opted for was the holeshot button, the Honda pumps out some ponies, so I needed to keep the front wheel glued to the ground. Some DRC radiator hoses, billet engine plugs, a billet bling kit, oil filter cover, clutch cable guide and a rear brake clevis were all fitted to the Honda. I also opted for a Zeta Revlover Shift Lever, I don’t have overly big feet, size 11, but I did find it a little difficult to grab gears on the Honda around a grass track. The benefit of the revolver shift is that it’s totally adjustable. The tip on the lever is on an adjustable cam allowing for a range of movement to suit any riders needs and give that true custom feel.
In the cockpit, a set of EZE triple clamps were fitted. I have never owned a bike with aftermarket triple clamps and it’s going to be hard to go back. The manufacturing quality from EZE is absolutely incredible, its no wonder that these clamps are finding there way on to factory race bikes around the country. They are Australian made, incredibly lightweight and strong and look insane. To complete the factory feel of the cockpit, I opted for a set of Renthal Twinwalls in the 996 bend. The factory Honda bend is really good, but I like the idea of the extra strength offered by the Twinwalls and taking the stock Fatbars as a spare set is perfect if I do tuck a front. The 996 bend is very close to the ’19 CRF bend which isn’t available in Twinwall, only FatBars. A pair of Renthal Medium waffle grips were fitted also.
POWER TO THE GROUND
The Honda has bucket-loads of power, but we went that extra mile to save weight and increase the bottom-end and torque of the bike by fitting a Yoshimura RS-9 exhaust to the bike. At the time of the build, there wasn’t too many exhaust options on the market, but being that Honda and Yoshimura have such a strong relationship, Serco, the Australian importer of Yoshi were able to supply one quickly for the CRF. The build quality is top notch, with the carbon fibre end caps finishing off such a trick looking product. The power to me seems to have beefed up off the bottom and freed up the revs on the bike, plus it sounds really cool without being offensive. EZE also supplied some of their epic wheels for this build, a trick dark bronze colour which has a red tinge to it was the choice for the hubs, while Excel A60 rims were laced to the hubs with Bulldog spokes. This combination creates the strongest wheels possible and also look the part. For Amcross, I opted for the Pirelli Mid-Soft tyres to be fitted to the EZE wheels, Pirelli Mid-Softs work really well on the often loamy surfaces at Amcross without tearing up late in the events. Renthal supplied Ultralight sprockets and a racing chain for the bike, I opted to go to a 51 tooth rear sprocket to try and help me to get into third gear a little earlier, plus add some extra punch off the start.
With the build almost complete, Polisport supplied one of their trick Nardo plastics kits for the bike. Owning my own graphics business, Moto Kit, I created a design that’s factory-styled, yet suits the look of the grey plastics. I didn’t want the trick colour of the plastics to be compromised by graphics. I kept the red front fender and fork guards to break up the all-grey look. EZE created a custom billet clutch cover which even features the Dirt Action logo. A black and white ribbed Moto Kit seat cover was installed, I found that my butt was slipping back on the standard seat causing me to wheelstand out of ruts and lose momentum, no such dramas with the new seat cover. With the bike finished at MCD, who handled absolutely every part of this project we headed to the first round of Amcross. Yes, the bike wasn’t even ridden before the first round. A few hold-ups out of our hands meant that I would roll into practice without even testing the bike. I had Mat McEntee helping me at the event and set the sag for me and I rolled onto the track. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. The bike felt incredible. The only adjustment made over the weekend was two clicks of compression to help the forks hold up under brakes and it was left for the weekend. I ripped some banging starts, managed to win the first race and finished 2nd overall for the weekend. I was so pumped. Big thanks to everyone involved in the project so far, keep an eye out for more updates as it’s going to be a hell of a year!
LUBED AND PROTECTED
When you have a bike as trick as this, it’s important to select oils and lubricants that are of the highest quality. Motul is the choice for our Honda CRF450R, using their 7100 10W40 oil, Shine and Go, Off-Road Chain Lube, Chain Clean and Brake Clean we are confident the Honda will be in tip-top shape all year. HiFloFiltro air filers are also used in conjunction with the Motul Air Filter oil to keep the Honda breathing easy all season long.
MCD RACING SUSPENSION WORK AND PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP
POLISPORT MX KIT GREY
HIFLOFILTRO – Foam Air Filter
MOTUL AIR FILTER OIL
MOTUL 7100 (10W 40)
MOTUL CHAIN LUBE OFF-ROAD
MOTUL CHAIN CLEAN
MOTUL BRAKE CLEAN CONTACT CLEANER
MOTUL E10 SHINE & GO SILICONE CLEAN
PIRELLI MID-SOFT TYRES
Preload Performance CERAMIC COATINGS
EZE BILLET TRIPLE CLAMPS
EZE BILLET CLUTCH COVER
ZETA REVOLVER SHIFT
ZETA ADJUSTABLE LOWERING LINK KIT
ZETA LAUNCH CONTROL
ZETA BILLET KIT
ZETA OIL FILTER COVER
ZETA REAR BRAKE CLEVIS
DRC RADIATOR HOSES
RENTHAL TWIN WALL 996 HANDLEBARS
RENTHAL ULTRALIGHT SPROCKET
RENTHAL FORNT SPROCKET
RENTHAL MEDIUM HALF WAFFLE GRIPS
YOSHIMURA RS-9 EXHAUST