This bike test was of interest to the MXA wrecking crew for reasons not obvious to the casual observer. What’s so special about the Ice Works Honda CRF250? In an effort to boost foreign relations, the MXA gang embarked on a journey that crossed cultural and language barriers. You’re probably thinking that we traveled to some faraway land. In reality, the only distance we logged was a short commute from the palatial MXA office to our local motocross track.
So where does the adventurous part of this bike test begin? In Denmark, where snow and inclement weather blast the 5-1/2 million Danish citizens during the winter months, one fortunate individual escaped to the sun-drenched American southwest for a reprieve from the harsh elements. Christian Lovenfeldt is his name, and like everyone else on this rock called Earth, Christian enjoys vacationing where he can work on his beach tan. Of course, the real driving force behind his obsession with traveling to the land of Hollywood stars is his deep-rooted love for motocross. Like it or not, Southern California is the unofficial capital of all things motocross.
Christian Lovenfeldt’s passion is searching for the perfect motocross bike. He has visited every American aftermarket company and has dumped the Danish GDP into his goal of finding the goose that will roost the golden egg. With every visit to the Land of Fruits and Nuts, Christian hits the ground running with a wad of cold hard cash and a shopping list of performance products. Christian has been known to spend $15,000 in the amount of time it takes him to say, “Solgt!” (“Sold” in Danish). And Christian Lovenfeldt expects to get what he pays for. He is a hard person to please, so when he offered the MXA wrecking crew the opportunity to test his $20,000 Honda CRF250, we jumped at the chance, because we knew that the bike of this European perfectionist would be interesting.
Entrepreneur Christian Lovenfeldt sells over 300 tons of ice cubes a year in his home country of Denmark. For enjoyment he builds race bikes and fields a motocross team. The Ice?Works Honda CRF250 is just one of the many projects that he has been working on.
But first, the back story on Christian Lovenfeldt. When we first met the likable Dane a year ago, we were instantly drawn to his panache for telling funny stories. The first thing that Christian told us was that he owned Ice Works?the leading producer of ice cubes in Denmark. We laughed, because we thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. Apparently, even in Denmark, where the temperature hovers just above freezing for almost half the year, there is a strong demand for ice cubes. Ever the entrepreneur, Lovenfeldt capitalized on an overlooked industry 11 years ago and now sells over 300 tons of ice a year in his native country.
A huge fan of motocross, Christian satisfies his itch in two ways.
(1) He travels around the world, sometimes on a moment’s notice, to buy classic Mugen Hondas.
(2) He fields a Danish National race team. Ever the patriot, Lovenfeldt enjoys helping young Danish riders succeed in racing. He does so by funding their way to the Danish National Championship, Junior FIM series and German ADAC Supercross series.
The birth of the Ice Works Honda CRF250 came because Lovenfeldt wanted a race bike that would suit the needs of his team rider, Mathias Keller. So Christian and Mathias ventured across the pond to build the best CRF250 money could buy.
Ice Works let the MXA test crew race the bike, and then they gutted the engine out of the chassis, shipped it home to Denmark, and left the Honda carcass in America.
The MXA wrecking crew liked Christian, and we were inspired by his story. We asked if we could test the Ice Works 2010 Honda CRF250. Christian agreed and explained that all he planned to take back to Denmark was the engine anyway. And true to his word, he let the MXA test crew race the bike, and then he gutted the engine out of the chassis, shipped it home to Denmark, and left the Honda carcass in America. Why? All of the parts, aside from the engine modifications, could be purchased in Denmark, and a new CRF250 would be built around the powerplant.
A longer link arm isn’t only practical on the 2010 CRF250, every MXA tester believes that it’s a necessity.
SHOP TALK: DISSECTING THE BEAST
As mentioned before, Christian Lovenfeldt invested $20,000 into the Ice Works Honda CRF250 (and in the end, abandoned most of it when he left for home). The first expense was buying the bike right after his plane landed in LAX. The bike set him back $7200 (out the door). Then Christian spent $6000 on the XPR Racing engine. The rest of the money was squandered on various aftermarket parts. Below is a breakdown of the various areas on the Ice Works Honda CRF250:
|The XPR-modified CRF250 engine was remarkable in its ability to cover the entire spread of the powerband.|
Engine: Chad Braun is the owner of XPR Racing. Although not widely known, XPR Racing is hoping to make a breakthrough soon. Braun raced the Canadian Nationals, and throughout his racing career worked on his own bikes (and made extra money working on his buddies’ engines). He spent a good bit of time modifying Ducati engines, which alone should earn him a gold star. Two years ago, Chad decided to start his own company?Xtreme Performance Racing (XPR). Braun is a masseur of motorcycle engines. He diagnoses the trouble areas, uses a soft touch when porting, works out the kinks and gets impressive results. On the Ice Works CRF250, he developed his own porting and crank specs, balanced and lightened the crank, tumbled and coated the transmission, installed a high-compression piston (as well as different cams and titanium valves), modified the throttle body, used copper valve seats and degreed the cams. Although Braun kept the horsepower numbers of the CRF250 engine close to his chest, after all was said and done he admitted that no one should complain about the performance of the XPR engine.
Suspension: RG3 handled the suspension duties and vastly improved the Showa units by giving them the Diamond Kit treatment. What did that entail? RG3 electro-formed the DLC coating to the lower fork legs and shock shaft. They also installed a Smart Valve, which, according to RG3, “Works like a smart part and flows the proper amounts of fork fluid for the speed at which your fork is traveling.” RG3 also customized the valving and threw in hard-anodized aluminum preload rings for good measure. Other RG3 items were a complete linkage and blue-anodized 20mm triple clamps.
Performance modifications: A collection of aftermarket companies were enlisted in the Ice Works CRF250 build. In the performance department, a saucer-sized 270mm QTM front brake rotorYoshimura RS-4 titanium exhaust with a carbon fiber end cap. A host of Renthal products were littered throughout the Ice Works bike, from the sprockets to the gold chain to the 999 bend TwinWall handlebars to the grips and Intellilevers. To prevent a cracked throttle, a Pro Taper billet aluminum throttle tube was installed. Also on the list of goodies were an Acerbis X-Seat, Pro Taper adjustable footpegs, CV4 hoses, Talon hubs, Excel rims and Dunlop MX51 tires.
Cosmetics: The MXA wrecking crew appreciates true beauty. Thanks to the custom DeCal Works graphics, an Acerbis plastics kit, matching hubs, colored radiator hoses, anodized triple clamps, blue grips and gas cap breather tube, the blue and white ensemble was striking. Of course, Lovenfeldt’s funny side came out upon close inspection of the graphics. He had DeCal Works put nicknames like “The Kid” and “Jo Jo Keller, Jr.” on the side panels and front number plate in reference to his rider, Mathias Keller.
TEST RIDE: STRETCHING THE THROTTLE CABLE
We should preface our impression of the Ice Works Honda CRF250 by stating that Danish racer Mathias Keller is a string bean who can’t afford to miss a meal. He is small and light?very light. His stature, coupled with his admission of preferring soft suspension, meant that most MXA test riders were going to bottom out riding through the pits. Toppling the scales at almost 50 pounds heavier than Keller, it was going to be a rough ride. The chance of the suspension satisfying MXA test riders’ needs was comparable to a first-grader winning in a game of dodge ball against a fleet of Spartan warriors. And while we smashed through the forks’ stroke and pancaked the shock spring with regularity, it was the RG3-tuned suspension’s resistance to bottoming that surprised us. Yes, it gave up the ghost, but not without a fight. Keller opted for 0.42 kg/mm fork springs and a 4.6 kg/mm shock spring. For the sake of comparison, we recommended 0.46 kg/mm fork springs and a 5.3 kg/mm shock spring on the 2010 Honda CRF250.
The real gem was the XPR Racing engine. To say that we were elated by the performance of the Ice Works CRF250 engine would be a disservice to Chad Braun at XPR Racing. The power gains throughout the entire spread of the powerband were overwhelming. A stock 2010 CRF250 centers most of its power in the middle (with a weak bottom and flat top). The XPR-modified engine had decent hit off the bottom, screamed up through the midrange, and refused to nose over when held wide open. Test riders said the Ice Works CRF250 engine felt like it had an extra gear. The engine was light years better than the stock 2010 CRF250 power plant, and it was considerably better than the highly acclaimed 2009 CRF250 engine. With XPR Racing’s handiwork, the proof was in the powerband.
Yoshimura handled the exhaust duty. The combination of a highly-tuned engine and Yosh exhaust was a perfect match.
Several 2010 Honda CRF250 problem areas were resolved by the judicious application of money. The weak front brake was replaced by a 270mm QTM oversized rotor, which improved the stopping power immensely. Test riders pointed out several other areas of the Ice Works bike that they felt were vast improvements over the stocker, including the Acerbis X-Seat, billet aluminum throttle tube, palm friendly soft grips, unbreakable Renthal Intellilevers and practical hour meter.
CONCLUSION: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
Christian Lovenfeldt is a rare individual. He sells ice cubes to people who live on the frigid North Sea and spends the profits supporting the sport of motocross in his native Denmark. He comes to America every year in search of the perfect race bike for his sponsored riders (and to find those elusive Mugens). With the Ice Works Honda CRF250, he came extremely close. Christian Lovenfeldt is doing what most Americans wish they were doing. For that, we tip our orange helmets.