One of the most anticipated bikes of 2009 has gone through some teething pains during the year, but it was a sales success in a tough year proving that riders want the latest and greatest bikes no matter the economy. We liked the performance of the bike from the get-go, but that didn’t stop us from tuning on the CRF to see if we could make it better and to test out all of the products available for it.As for durability, our bike has been great. We even tore the top end off at 40 hours just to make sure and it looked just fine; 80 hours would be our suggestion for most mortals. Our valves have not moved much either. The clutch has been a sore spot for a few riders, and we’ve tested about all of them; the Barnett kit with metals, fibers and springs was a favorite stock replacement. But once we got the Rekluse EXP installed we never looked back and plate life actually went up. Plus, it makes the stall-prone bike much harder to stall. We did the cam decompression pin upgrade, as per Honda’s Service Bulletin, at 40 hours.As for the modifications, the Ride Engineering 22mm-offset triple clamp has not left the bike since we installed it. Every time we ride a stock bike, we tend to prefer the relaxed steering and added stability the Ride clamp provides. For the last few months we’ve been running a Fox RC3 Podium shock and a revalved fork also done by Fox. It definitely took a little while (and required the revalve to work properly) but now the bike is working as a tuned machine, mostly for me, but any other vet who rides it feels pretty happy on a bike that is a long ways from stock in the suspension and handling.
On to the motor and we have used just about every pipe made for the bike. Our pipe comparison (see our March ’09 issue) spells it all out, but interestingly we have come to like a trio of pipes for three different reasons. The Pro Circuit (aside from stock) seems to be the one that everybody gets along with and never puts off any riders, plus it actually boosts the performance from stock. If you want aggression and snap, the Yoshimura system is easy to recommend. But interestingly enough, I have come to like the FMF Q, which actually softens the power for riding around on the MX track, because I’m sure I can ride the bike faster, longer and more easily. And to top it all off we’ve been having great luck with Honda’s FI tuning tool. This is like having 200 pipes and it only takes 30 seconds to change a map. As you learn how it works, you can really tune the bike’s power. Finally, putting the power to the ground has been a charm with Dunlop’s new MX51s which work perfectly on this bike. Our One Industries One ID custom numberplates have been holding up and kept the bike looking fresh.About our only complaint that we haven’t found a cure for has been the hard starting, which seems to be getting slightly more stubborn as the bike gets more time on it. All of the wear items-like the chain and sprockets, brakes and even the rims-have been lasting to a normal level and we’re trying some aftermarket stuff currently. Renthal’s Twin Ring rear sprocket and chain now transfer power, and some of the company’s new brake pads are stopping it.