Our 2009 Honda CRF450R ran under the radar for the last half of last year working its way well above 120 hours. And that is the sign of a really good machine. It is the opposite of how you hear about problems and issues; after all, people like controversy. And for sure right from its introduction this bike started on the hot seat. Funny how it all got quiet after Honda owners settled in with their machines and kept on riding. Just like us.Being such a drastic change from its CRF predecessors, especially in the handling department, the 2009 was a science experiment for many; either taking them to the next generation of MX handling or being modified into something that would make each rider happy. Since it was our job to test a lot of the modifications available at some time or another, we definitely played with our fair share of triple clamps and various suspension configurations. We finally settled with a Ride Engineering 22mm-offset triple clamp and found it relaxed the handling without losing much, or anything for some riders, in turning feel. We bounced around on suspension tuning with a set of revalved stock suspension components (set very similar to 2010 CRF450 settings) and a Fox Shox rear shock and modified matching fork combo. Both had some advantages, neither was universally liked by all riders-once again proving how personal suspension is. Especially the Fox setup that rode notably lower in the rear and had a slower rebound feel than most riders preferred-then again, that was a setup for a particular rider.Our maintenance on the motor was about as minimal as you could imagine for a motocross bike. Remember: The bike started its Long Haul life as Chris Barrett’s supercross practice bike and actually raced in one of the muddy rounds. At 40 hours we threw a piston in (at the same time we did the camshaft pin recall). It didn’t really need the piston swap, and that is why we never thought about the top end for the next 100 hours we rode the bike. But some things to note when doing a top end: Do not let the coil mounting bracket rotate “downward” as it will touch the radiator and cause a leak. Also, the ground wires that are under one of the coil bolts can “wind” up and break if you are not careful. The symptom that this wire is broken is an engine miss.The valves were adjusted once and then never moved. We did check them frequently, and that is not as easy as it used to be on older CRFs as the work space got a little tighter and there are a few extra wires in the way of getting to the business. We were good about keeping fresh Honda HP4 in the engine and also never let any dirt get past the air filter; those are the two golden rules for our success. Modification-wise, we programmed an ignition/fuel map that was a little more reluctant to stalling and pulled better on the very top-end, and once we got that, we never messed with the Honda ECU tuner again. We also tried a throttle body modification from Injectioneering (www.injectioneering.com). They replace the butterfly valve with one that is cut differently and then recalibrate the throttle position sensor. This helped the starting and really minimized stalling as well as gave the bottom-end a torqueier feel to about half throttle. Later in life a Trail Tech heavy flywheel snuck its way into the engine and was surprisingly subtle for such a weight increase.