JZ'S 2007 CRF450R - Dirt Rider Magazine

It's called magazineeditoritis and it's a rare disease specifically contracted by magazine editors. It typically isn't fatal, at least to your life, yet it's been known to handicap a career. I know about it only because I've had it and luckily recovered. Now I can identify it at the sign of its first symptom and often try to warn young editors about its onset. This is a classic case described herein.Jesse's plan started out simply enough: He was going to try to qualify for Loretta's, the Super Bowl of amateur motocross. And by announcing this to anyone who'd listen, he was setting himself up for a barrage of sponsorship opportunities even he hadn't expected to float his way. See, if Associate Editor Jesse was going to race this bike, there must be a story attached to it, no? And what better way to get press than on a magazine bike a magazine editor was going to race on and write about?It wasn't long before boxes of various stuff began arriving for Mr. Ziegler. Imagine that, it seems every product sent in for Gear Bag fit on a Honda CRF450R as well! If it wasn't carbon fiber, it was made from titanium. Rarely was it just off the shelf; most of it was top-of-the-line custom. And it all went right to the garage and right onto Jesse's CRF450R. Jesse tested most of it and I actually saw some of the pieces taken back off the bike, a surprising development that hinted there may be hope for this infected editor.I'm not 100 percent sure of the target, but I'm fairly positive Jesse was trying to build a Kevin Windham replica. He had the graphics and the suspension, so we'll call it close. But even Windham didn't have the Twin Air carbon-fiber subframe. In the end, how did this bike work? Typically bikes that are subject to magazineeditoritis gain weight, have too much power, usually in the wrong spot, and have suspension that's maddeningly anything but tuned to the package, yet the story about the bikes heaps praise upon the machine solely to support the editor's habit and make mainlining project bikes a monthly affair. Especially when someone else builds them for you. But this wasn't the case. Young Jesse, fresh into the Vet class and wanting a finish he could be proud of, tuned his own ride and worked on it himself, including detailed suspension revalving instructions for Factory Connection. He'd almost started to think he was a factory rider, we'd say.So upon his return from the late-summer trip to Tennessee and his 14th place overall finish in the 30+ B/C class, I borrowed his bike to tell him what I thought of it (really I stole it because I wanted to ride it). And I felt responsible to get the companies that had provided product some ink, since his results weren't prompting anyone to run win ads or anything. I took it to Glen Helen, just after the National, and ripped off some laps.The first thing that stands out about this bike is that the suspension is very much like the "Almost Factory" bikes we ride every year at the Nationals. It has that dead planted, controlled feeling, a sensation that the rebound is set way too slow, keeping the bike stuck on the ground. But the rebound isn't slow, the bike just sticks and hooks up and feels extra stable. That's what a properly tuned kit suspension feels like. For anyone but a few of the top riders in the world, it's capable of doing anything that it needs to do for the rider who can communicate to the suspension tech what he wants. Jesse did a good job. In fact, he did such a good job that I felt the motor needed more steam, something that I very rarely, if ever, say. Especially about a 450. His motor was basically stock, with only the addition of a Merge Racing adjustable leak jet and the Twin Air filter for more power, or improved throttle response, really. He'd even modified his motor setting back to the stock exhaust after trying a variety of systems, feeling he could ride the best so equipped. For me the suspension was so good that I'd be looking for more mid and top, and it showed me how a lot of the pros' bikes we ride are deceptively fast because of the suspension. Sure, the rest of JZ's bike looked trick and had stuff on it that's strong on the eye candy, even if it really does work. I was only riding it. Check out the pictures to see how it looked.In the end, Jesse might've actually gone into remission from the disease. He didn't cry when he had to send the suspension back to have it returned to stock, though it did take the better part of a month for him to do it. He didn't seem bummed when we returned the bike to Honda, but the humped seat is still sitting in his office. A trophy of sorts? And he didn't immediately steal another test bike and start modding it out like a magazine editor, even though that's exactly what he is.Parts List
Renthal: www.renthal.com; 877.736.8425
997 Twinwall handlebar: $119.95
Kevlar grips: $19.95
Racing chain: $81.95
Rear sprocket: $64.95
Works Connection: www.worksconnection.com; 530.642.9488
Elite perch: $179.95
Cycra: www.cycra.com; 800.770.2259
Cycralite front fender: $39.95
Powerflow shrouds: $59.95
Powerflow rear fender: $24.95
Twin Air: www.twinairusa.com; 800.749.2890
Carbon-fiber subframe/airbox: $1795
One Industries: www.oneindustries.com; 619.263.9880
Team Kit (graphics, background, seat cover): $189.95
MotoRods/Bettencourt's: www.bettencourts.com, www.myspace.com/motorods
Supercooler oil cooler: $899
Factory Connection: www.factoryconnection.com; 866.433.5531
Fork revalve (labor): $175
FF5 5W fork oil: $15.95
Works oil lock fork collars: $49.95/set
Showa low-speed fork valve, 47mm: $54.95/set
Fork springs, 1.76kg/mm: $37.95/set
Works MX fork spring seats: $129.95/set
Shock revalve (labor): $175
GSF 2.5W shock oil: $15.95
High-speed compression-adjustable shock spring: $14.95
Works preload shock ring with bearing: $109.95
Works shock remote reservoir: $249.95
Merge Racing: www.mergeracing.com
Adjustable leak jet: $150
Sunline: www.sunlineracing.com; 661.257.2576
SL-1 titanium arched pegs: $249.95
Dunlop: www.dunloptires.com
756RR race replica front tire: $112.69
756RR race replica rear tire: $124.72
SDG Racing: www.sdgusa.com; 714.258.1224
Complete step seat: $129.99

01 MotoRods makes this easy-to-install radiator/oil cooler kit. It\'s trick and functional!
02 Cycra Powerflow shrouds are cool...literally.
03 Twin Air sells this carbon-fiber airbox subframe. Is it better than stock? Yes. Why? Because it\'s way fancier.