2020 Factory Supercross Bikes—Justin Brayton’s Honda CRF450R

Veteran rider’s factory racebike features a slew of works Honda parts.

After racing for the Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda team for the past three Monster Energy AMA Supercross seasons, Justin Brayton returns to Team Honda HRC for 2020.
After racing for the Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda team for the past three Monster Energy AMA Supercross seasons, Justin Brayton returns to Team Honda HRC for 2020.Spencer Owens

Justin Brayton has raced a Honda CRF450R for the past three Monster Energy AMA Supercross seasons with the Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda team. For 2020, the veteran racer has moved to Team Honda HRC, which marks his second stint with the factory effort he last raced for in 2012.

The 2020 race season marks Brayton’s second stint with the factory Honda effort he last raced for in 2012. Brent Duffe spins the wrenches for the veteran racer, and he kindly provided us with some insight on Brayton’s factory CRF450R.
The 2020 race season marks Brayton’s second stint with the factory Honda effort he last raced for in 2012. Brent Duffe spins the wrenches for the veteran racer, and he kindly provided us with some insight on Brayton’s factory CRF450R.Spencer Owens

In his return to the factory Honda organization, the 35-year-old has notched top 10 finishes in the first four rounds of the season, his best result so far a sixth place at round 4 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. One week prior at Anaheim 2, we spoke with his mechanic Brent Duffe to learn about the Iowa native’s factory Honda CRF450R.

Brayton’s engine is built completely from HRC parts. The ECU is a works item as well, and the mapping on it is done by Honda Japan.
Brayton’s engine is built completely from HRC parts. The ECU is a works item as well, and the mapping on it is done by Honda Japan.Spencer Owens

Duffe began by telling us that while some riders prefer relatively smooth power, Brayton wants everything they can give him. The CRF450R powerplant is made up almost entirely of unobtainable HRC components, along with a few aftermarket parts—only some of which are available to the public.

The Yoshimura exhaust system is yet another works item on Brayton’s bike that is not available to the public. Note the extra layer of titanium on the header pipe to protect it from roost.
The Yoshimura exhaust system is yet another works item on Brayton’s bike that is not available to the public. Note the extra layer of titanium on the header pipe to protect it from roost.Spencer Owens

“You can kind of say the whole engine is aftermarket, but it’s all Honda components,” Duffe explained. “What’s different about these [Team Honda HRC] engines are they don’t come as a complete engine that is modified. They are all built from parts from HRC; well, 100 percent from HRC. [We use] a works ECU, [and] all the mapping is done by Honda Japan. We also have a Yoshimura exhaust; it’s a factory, works system that is not available to the public.”

Brayton and teammate Ken Roczen both opt to run a hydraulic clutch, which is one of the many unobtainable parts on their CRF450Rs.
Brayton and teammate Ken Roczen both opt to run a hydraulic clutch, which is one of the many unobtainable parts on their CRF450Rs.Spencer Owens

The hydraulic clutch system on Brayton’s bike is yet another unobtainable part. Inside the engine is an eight-plate clutch, which he recently switched to for both feel and durability purposes.

“As far as true aftermarket, the clutch is available to the public and it’s from Hinson [Racing],” Duffe said. “We’ve been running a seven-plate for the first few rounds [at Anaheim 1 and St. Louis] and we’ve just switched to an eight-plate [for Anaheim 2]. The extra plate just gives it a little more grab. He’s typically been really easy on the clutch, but [during] racing, he’s a little harder on it, so we’ve gone to the eight-plate for durability as well.”

We noticed the Geico Honda team affixes foam to the inner side of the number plates of its CRF250R racebikes to help them pass sound. Team Honda HRC’s factory CRF450Rs apparently don’t need it, which may have something to do with the smaller inserts used in the mufflers of the premier class machines.
We noticed the Geico Honda team affixes foam to the inner side of the number plates of its CRF250R racebikes to help them pass sound. Team Honda HRC’s factory CRF450Rs apparently don’t need it, which may have something to do with the smaller inserts used in the mufflers of the premier class machines.Spencer Owens

The Showa fork and Showa shock are both works components that are unobtainable by all but factory 450 teams like Team Honda HRC.

“[The suspension components are] Showa works stuff, and he and Kenny [Roczen] are on a nearly identical setup. Justin has been on a bit different setup for the last few years, and this weekend [at Anaheim 2] is going to be the first time we’ve tried a little different shock setup than he’s used to.”

The fork and shock on Brayton’s bike are both works Showa components. Duffe told us Brayton and Roczen are on a nearly identical suspension setup.
The fork and shock on Brayton’s bike are both works Showa components. Duffe told us Brayton and Roczen are on a nearly identical suspension setup.Spencer Owens

Brayton prefers a lower rear end feel. To help provide him with that, Duffe installs a subframe that is lowered by 10mm. The linkage on the bike is factory but uses the stock measurements.

“Justin always runs a low, squatted rear; it kind of gives [the bike] more of a planted look and feel through the whoops. He likes to set his bike up for the whoops; that’s normally his strongest point on the track, so he normally likes it ‘low and slow’ in the rear, but this weekend [at Anaheim 2], we are going to a little bit stiffer setup.”

A close-up look at the slave cylinder—a very trick component of the hydraulic clutch system.
A close-up look at the slave cylinder—a very trick component of the hydraulic clutch system.Spencer Owens

All of the engine mounts on Brayton’s machine are stock. Holding the front end down on starts is a Works Connection Pro Launch holeshot device. Duffe mentioned Brayton runs a Renthal 997 Twinwall handlebar that is rolled forward a bit more than most riders to open up the cockpit area. ARC provides the front brake and clutch lever, both of which are different lengths than stock and left in place at all times to suit his preferences.

A second electric starter button is attached to the frame under the right radiator shroud for Brayton to use in case the primary one on the handlebar gets damaged for any reason.
A second electric starter button is attached to the frame under the right radiator shroud for Brayton to use in case the primary one on the handlebar gets damaged for any reason.Spencer Owens

“Justin runs a short and stubby [front] brake lever really close to his finger and a longer ARC lever on the clutch just to give it more feel,” Duffe noted. “He’s very, very particular about the placement [of both levers]. In fact, I don’t remove the perches on build days just because he likes them to be exactly the same every week.”

Brayton runs a Renthal 997 Twinwall handlebar that is rolled slightly forward to open up the cockpit area.
Brayton runs a Renthal 997 Twinwall handlebar that is rolled slightly forward to open up the cockpit area.Spencer Owens

When asked what separates Brayton’s bike from Roczen’s, Duffe told us, “They are primarily the same. They run different handlebars, but really the only difference is setting them up for comfort and feel between the riders. One thing you’ll notice if you sit on and grab the motorcycles is Justin runs a shaved-down throttle tube, and it’s strictly just so it can be a skinnier feel in his hand to help reduce arm-pump.”