ONE PHOTO & ONE STORY: 66-HORSEPOWER HONDA CRF450

By John Basher

How would you modify your bike if money were no object? Are you the modest type who would blow a few grand on an exhaust pipe, suspension mods and maybe a set of triple clamps? Or are you the kind of person who would have no problem dropping 50 large on enough modifications to make any B-level Pro team jealous? Personally, if I had a stash of lucre that rivaled Scrooge McDuck’s, I’d probably squander it on enough titanium, carbon fiber, factory-caliber parts and high-tech modifications to rival any factory team. The only difference is that I wouldn’t actually start my own race team, because I’m a smarter businessman than that.

MXA built a 66-horsepower 2015 Honda CRF450 some time ago. Yes, you read that right. An astonishing 66 ponies were squeezed out of the Unicam engine – 13 more horsepower than stock.  It was all thanks to a copious amount of moolah. How much? The total bill, not including the cost of the motorcycle, was $14,600. For a price breakdown, we dropped $6500 in engine modifications and black anodizing. The frame, subframe and swingarm were done up in black (a la Chad Reed’s old Kawasaki race bikes). We blew $8100 on aftermarket parts, including X-Trig ROCS clamps, MB1 suspension mods, Dubya wheels, FMF exhaust system, and much more.

OUR HONDA CRF450 BLEW PAST THE 66-HORSEPOWER BARRIER. TO QUOTE WHAT WE WROTE IN THE MAGAZINE ARTICLE, “THAT’S LIKE STUMBLING ACROSS A UNICORN AND NESSIE THE LOCH NESS MONSTER PLAYING EUCHRE AGAINST A LEPRECHAUN AND BABE THE BLUE OX.”

Supertech Performance is a manufacturer of valves and valve-train components. They supplied one-piece titanium valves for the CRF450 (which feature a chrome-nitride coating for maximum reliability and performance). Luc “Frenchie” Caouette, owner of C4MX, worked his magic on the powerplant. His Level-3 engine package included a high-compression piston, head gasket, camshaft valve springs, head porting, valve seat job (using the stock head), Vortex ignition and Moto Tassinari Air4orce velocity stack. As a result, our Honda CRF450 blew past the 66-horsepower barrier. To quote what we wrote in the magazine article (April 2015 issue), “That’s like stumbling across a unicorn and Nessie the Loch Ness monster playing euchre against a leprechaun and Babe the Blue Ox.”

Before you think about ponying up and getting your frame anodized, heed this caution. For starters, it will take a whole day to get your bike’s frame prepped for anodizing. Anything steel, such as the steering-stem races, frame plugs and swingarm bearings, must be removed. Otherwise the steel will melt in the acid solution. It took three treatments for our CRF450 frame, swingarm and subframe to be completed. The good thing is that an anodized frame should look good for quite a while. You could probably get a full race season before the treatment starts showing serious wear. Chad Reed would go through four anodized race frames per year. Additionally, the weight increase from anodizing is very minimal–under a pound with the frame and swingarm–and far less than having the frame powder-coated (which adds five pounds). It cost $600 to get the CRF450 frame, swingarm and subframe anodized. If you’re dead set on getting your frame anodized, then consider this: Chad Reed’s team initially ruined several frames during the anodizing process through trial and error. Oops.

What’s it like to ride a 66-horsepower Honda CRF450? I was scared half to death, mostly because we had the wrong gearing. A 13/51 combo was a bad call, so we geared it up by going to a 13/49. What that did was take some bite out of the tiger. I’m one of those riders who believes there’s no such thing as having a bike make too much power; however, the CRF450 put that machoism in check. Pro testers were as happy as pigs covered in slop when wielding the power of a 66-pony Honda. That’s fine with me. I’ll stick to my dream of wanting the best things that money can buy…just as long as that doesn’t include a high-strung 450cc four-stroke engine. 

C4MXhonda crf450JOHN BASHERone photo and one storyopossupertech