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Old 11-18-2009, 05:09 PM   #1
Pwnzilla OP
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Making a CRF450R trail friendly; possible?

I've been in the market for a ~450cc off road/enduro bike. I had a Husky deal that fell through and then a KTM deal that fell through. So now I'm looking at the Japanese bikes again. It's a long story.

Right now I'm looking at the Yamaha WR450F and the Honda CRF450X. While talking with one of the dealers, they told me they have a left over 2008 *new* Honda CRF450R for $5600.

Now I know the CRF450R is a race bike and it's not meant to be trail ridden. But for that price I figured it was worth doing some research to see if it's possible to calm them down for the woods.

Have any of you done this, or know of a way to do it? Also how is the maintenance/reliablity of the R when not racing, ie. valve rebuilds, rings, etc?

If not I think I'm going with the WR450F, but at this point who knows. I've had terrible luck with dealers lately.

Note: In 2009 the CRF450R was redesigned, so this would be the "old" style.

Thanks for any info.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:24 PM   #2
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on the R , you could always re do the suspension and set it up better for trails , but you wouldnt be able to do anything about the tight gear ratio. For that price you should be able to find an X somewhere.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:26 PM   #3
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Not only possible, but converting a MX bike is more or less the only option for a competitive off road machine (excluding some performance oriented euro bikes). You'll find very few CRF-X's or Yamaha WR's in the pro class at a top level enduro or gncc.

The only hard-to-change things are kick start only and close ratio gearbox. The latter actually isn't all that hard nor tremendously expensive to swap over. Whether the wide ratio gearbox is a good thing or not depends on your style of riding. Of course it would be next to impossible to make an X weigh what an R does. You can make an X run like an R with money if you want though.

To make a competitive woods bike of a MX'er the typical approach is to have the suspension done up and bolt on the necessary guards (hands, skidplate etc) and perhaps a spark arrestor silencer. That's really all that needs to be done for most venues.

For less aggressive riders or more slippery/technical venues, detuning the motor may help - a flywheel weight will make it rev more slowly and is usually enough for most folks. At an extreme you can play with sleeving it down to a 400, using more mild cams etc.

You'll not be green-sticker legal which could be a big problem in CA.

I'd look for an '09 KX450F in this class as its fuel injected and easier to start after a drop.

Maintenance isn't significantly different from the off-road variants of the same machine when ridden well below the rev limit. A casual rider could go many years with only basic maintenence.

Where do you ride and what are you upgrading from? A 450 is a pretty aggressive machine. Most folks not racing in the desert or toting an ama pro card would be faster and less tired on a 250F I think.

For my purposes I generally prefer a converted MX'er - simpler, cheaper, lighter, faster etc.

have fun!
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:27 PM   #4
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I know more than a few people trail riding the CRF450R - you'll need to gear it down, redo the suspension for your liking (softer springs & valving probably), and add appropriate farkle. Personally, I'd really miss the magic button. Advantage is that it is lighter.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:34 PM   #5
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Actually you'll probably need to gear it up. You'll run out of speed on top pretty easily and the motor is too violent for first to be of any use with stock gearing (intention is that on the MX track you use only 2-5, 1st is for the pits). For off-road I find it is often benifical to gear up so that 1st becomes useable and that way you get a wider gear spread. Note, for racing off road I do try to gear such that I only use 2-5.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:41 PM   #6
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Thanks for the quick responses.

I run 50:50 tight technical and open fast trails. I don't need it to be ready to go off the the ISDE though.

I'm 6'5", 225lbs, and from PA. I'm thinking the 450R will be too much bike for what we do, I consider myself an aggressive rider who prefers technical over speed.

I figured softer suspension, and up the final drive from the stock 13:48 to 14:45 which should keep the front end on the ground a bit more. The fly wheel weight is a good tip, that makes sense. Skid plate, bark guards, misc others should cover it for protection.

I might be able to get away with just softening the suspension all the way out from stock, if not I can put a different spring on it.

I don't want to start putting different cams and valves in it because if I go that far I'm not gaining anything by getting the bike that's on sale, because I'll have the difference tied up in modding it to be what I want.

It's just an option, the only two MX bikes I've ever ridden are a CR125 and a CR85. I have always had trail bikes or dual sport bikes. I just thought it was a good deal and it was worth looking into.

The WR450F is more money but it looks to be a solid fun machine. I've looked at several of the 250cc bikes and would jump on one but I feel too big for them.

I'm real tired of fighting the 330lb DR650 while trail riding, I can cook right along but she likes to abuse you.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:02 PM   #7
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Dont Do It

I fell into the same trap you are. Unless you want to RACE enduro's or hare scrambles do not try to convert. I did and it has been a never ending stream of being almost happy. The bottom line is the electrical system cannot handle any real lighting. I even put on a trail tech Stator, Heavy weight fly wheel, and battery back up but ended up with a rats nest of home made wiring under my seat, a trickle charger and it almost works. The real problem is the close ratio trans. I have geared my 2003 CRF 450R to 14/46 and the bike will do 85 on the pipe but will not cruise past 45 without sounding like its in pain. That speed doesn't sound that slow but when you need to do 10 miles it is an eternity. Also they have a problem at low speeds overheating. Its not a matter of if, but when it will blow. Seriously I have bought every mod and made the coolest 450R dual sport, but in the end I would trade it in a second for a KTM exc. 6 speed, real electrical system, radiator fan ( as slow as you want or even let it idle while you piss by the trail ), great big tank options, and super dealer network ( been their with the Husky ).

However it has been super reliable, always starts even red hot. Dont worry about no electric start its really easy and reliable once you get the hang of it. Wont take long. Only do air filter, engine oil/filter, and trans oil changes and for 3 years its been perfect. Re jet twice a year one for summer and one for winter (Wisconsin). Was super cheap to buy ($ 1,500) but put the same back into it in farkels and suspension. This thing is a blast for an hour and then really works you hard for the next 4hrs. Like a race bike would.

Don't let the racer in you get in the way of real world riding. Good Luck. Just my 2 cents

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Old 11-19-2009, 10:24 AM   #8
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I have a guy looking for a CRF450X for me. I think that it's the best way to go.

I'm also looking at the WR450F, either bike would be good from what I'm reading. The Honda is a little more "racey", where the Yamaha is more tame.

My family are Honda fanatics, they have 13 Honda vehicles under one roof and swear by them. I also have two other Honda's and there is no question that they're built to last.

I wish I could still buy a new XR400, I have an admittedly pretty beat up XR250 that I got for $400, that is just a blast to ride. (I realize the CRF450X has loads more power than an XR400)
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Old 11-19-2009, 11:28 AM   #9
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The major downfall of the R is lack of e-start.


400 exc/xc-w is the way to go for east coast woods riding.
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Old 11-19-2009, 01:03 PM   #10
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Yeah I wanted a 450 XCW Six Days, I had one lined up and ready to go. Then the KTM dealer tried raping me and I said forget it. The next nearest KTM dealer is 5 hours away.

I'm just going to stay with Honda, I've had several Honda bikes throughout my life and all of them have been great bikes. If I were going off to seriously race I would look into KTM more, but for my area the Honda is almost a perfect fit, minus the street legal part.
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Old 11-19-2009, 01:31 PM   #11
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It's a pretty well known fact that the KTM and WR are the only two "race bred" bikes that can be run for any length of time. Buy used and order parts from any number of well respecteds sources online. Don't just tell your dealer he's an asshole. Show it with your dollars.

just my .02
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Old 11-19-2009, 02:06 PM   #12
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Not sure where you live but southern honda power sports here in Chatt has the best prices for new....

08 CRF 450 R for $4,933

http://www.southernhonda.com/pages/n...a-crf450r.aspx

I have always been a honda guy, tried the blue and really like the wr450. I do think my next would be the orange kool aid tho...

P.S. Everyone and their brother claims a 125 mx bike is terrible for woods riding, but I absolutely love mine. As long as you hold it wide open then you can pass almost everyone around here. Mine has mini bars cut to 29" and I can scream through the tight trees. Just get one and have fun, cause you'll never have the perfect bike
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Old 11-19-2009, 02:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikePilot
Not only possible, but converting a MX bike is more or less the only option for a competitive off road machine (excluding some performance oriented euro bikes). You'll find very few CRF-X's or Yamaha WR's in the pro class at a top level enduro or gncc.


http://www.gnccracing.com/pages/gncc...es/barry-hawk-
Quote:

Barry Hawk worked his WR450 out at the Charity Ride

Full Name: Barry Hawk
Nickname: J.R.
Hometown (birthplace): Smithfield, Pa
Current Residence: Smithfield,Pa
Date of Birth: 12/17/72
2009 Team: Am-Pro Yamaha
2009 Machine: WR450
2009 Mechanic: Doug Whitmer
2009 Sponsors (as of January 2009): Yamaha, FMF, MSR, Factory Connection, Kenda, Scott, Shoei, IMS, Fastway, Cycra, Zip-ty, TM, Eleven-10 M
WRs and 450-X are serious bikes, we're not talking about TTRs or XRs here!

I ride a Moto-X bike off-road but mostly because I couldn't find a good Enduro when I was looking for a dirt only bike a few years ago. I spent a lot of $$$$ setting the bike up for off-road and it's great now off-road and it can still do the track as well.

The MAJOR suck is the close ratio gear box. It is fine is you stick to the woods even 2 track. But the bike winds out waaaay to fast in the open stuff. Even going through fields and open spaces at Harescambles I tach out 5th gear in short order. A wide ratio gear box solves this problem. My KX-250 would be absolutely perfect if it had a wide ratio gear box or a 6th gear.

If you're looking at leftover bikes you can score a WR cheap from what I've been reading. Personally I like buying used but if you get crazy on the mods it can cost almost as much as buying new.

Oh yeah do you have an adversion to Mixing your gas and oil??
There's some sweet deals on KTM XCs that are only a season or 2 old! 250 or 300XC-W would be my choice back East. KTM makes the 300XC-E now that's electric start rool
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Old 11-19-2009, 02:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pwnzilla
I run 50:50 tight technical and open fast trails. I don't need it to be ready to go off the the ISDE though.
I'm 6'5", 225lbs, and from PA. I'm thinking the 450R will be too much bike for what we do, I consider myself an aggressive rider who prefers technical over speed.
I figured softer suspension, and up the final drive from the stock 13:48 to 14:45 which should keep the front end on the ground a bit more. The fly wheel weight is a good tip, that makes sense. Skid plate, bark guards, misc others should cover it for protection.
I might be able to get away with just softening the suspension all the way out from stock, if not I can put a different spring on it.
I trail ride a 2003 CRF450R and love it, but I'm an ex-racer and like to go fast. I also am also exactly your size, but an inch taller, and simply back off the clickers and it handles woods very well with stock suspension. The only reason you would gear this bike up is if you ride desert or on the street (bad idea), it will do nearly 80mph stock. I actually went to a 12T sprocket for woods until I got a Rekluse auto clutch, then back to stock 13/50.

The Rekluse is the single best trail mod for the CRF. It allows high speed gearing to be used even in tight trails, eliminates stalling, reduces tire wear (spin), adds flywheel weight, and improves grip. I also have a big tank, skid plate, handguards, rad guards, and a damper. The 2003 has the most low end power of all CRF450Rs. But if you ride an XR250, you had better try a CRF450R first, it makes the 450X feel like a slug and the 450X makes the XR250 feel like a 50!
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Old 11-19-2009, 02:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dukeryder

I ride a Moto-X bike off-road but mostly because I couldn't find a good Enduro when I was looking for a dirt only bike a few years ago. I spent a lot of $$$$ setting the bike up for off-road and it's great now off-road and it can still do the track as well.

The MAJOR suck is the close ratio gear box. It is fine is you stick to the woods even 2 track. But the bike winds out waaaay to fast in the open stuff. Even going through fields and open spaces at Harescambles I tach out 5th gear in short order. A wide ratio gear box solves this problem. My KX-250 would be absolutely perfect if it had a wide ratio gear box or a 6th gear.
Thats my thoughts exactly! My 125 was 1000 bucks. You can't beat that with a stick. As soon as there is a straight you are topped out and that sucks, but I mostly ride single track. I like the big 4 bikes, but as has been suggested before, O.P. may want to consider a katoom
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