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MXA TEAM TESTED: RIDE ENGINEERING CRF450 COMPLETE LINKAGE SYSTEM

February 10, 2014
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WHAT IS IT? The 2013-2014 CRF450 Ride Engineering complete linkage system (includes bell crank and link arms) keeps the rear of the bike up in the stroke andpreventing wallowing.

WHAT’S IT COST? $449.90.

CONTACT? www.ride-engineering.com or (800) 805-1516.

WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Ride Engineering complete linkage system.

(1) Linkage lesson. A shock linkage lifts the shock at ever-increasing speeds. Since the shock moves faster  as it travels farther into its stroke, its damping increases. The faster the shock moves, the slower the oil can be forced through the shims and orifices of the shock piston. As the rate of speed changes, known as rising rate, the shock’s damping gets progressively stiffer for each inch of rear-wheel movement. Thus, changing the leverage ratio of the bell crank can change the rising rate of the shock. There’s nothing unusual about this; the Japanese manufacturers used to change their linkage ratios with every model year in search of the perfect rate.

(2) Linkage arms. Can’t you achieve this with a longer linkage arm? Yes and no. Adding a longer linkage arm stiffens the initial part of the shock’s stroke, but it achieves this by starting deeper into the existing rising-rate curve of the stock bell crank. It doesn’t change the rising rate; it just changes the starting point of the rising rate. Longer link arms are a good fix for many ailments. They make the shock wallow less, and they lower the rear of the bike to allow for more geometry options. The Ride Engineering complete linkage system comes with longer link arms, but they don’t change the ride height because they attach to a totally new bell crank.

(3) Changes. Since the overall ride height of the CRF450 remains the same with the Ride Engineering linkage assembly, we didn’t feel the need for any chassis changes. Normally, with longer link arms, we adjust the race sag, fork height and clickers to compensate. With Ride Engineering’s complete linkage system, we didn’t have to fiddle with the chassis because we didn’t change the geometry numbers.

(4) Performance. We liked it. The Ride Engineering bell-crank system made a significant change in the right direction. It kept the rear of the bike higher in its stroke, and the bike felt stabler on the entrance to turns. The rear shock was smoother through acceleration chop, and it did not blow through the stroke under hard hits. Overall, every MXA test rider felt that the Ride Engineering complete linkage system gave him more confidence on the bike.

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? The price of the linkage assembly is as much as a full shock revalve.

The Ride Engineering linkage system improved the handling and suspension characteristics of the 2013?’14 Honda CRF450.

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