This year's Dirt Rider Torture Test was set it up like a screening for a reality TV show: Bring what you have and prepare for whatever happens. The idea was to show up at the Torture Test with the best all-around, one-bike-does-it-all off-road dirt bike, with no guidelines or requirements from our side. It was wide open, but everyone knew going in that it would be tough to make the cut to get into the final group of bikes you see in the magazine. Of course, they didn't all make it to the pages of Dirt Rider. Some missed out ever so slightly, some by a longer ways. This is a full test of one of the bikes that missed the final cut. The competition was tough but lurking in this field of bikes you can likely find an example of the perfect bike that fits your needs, or learn what other riders or people in the industry think is the best bike in the whole world. For the people and companies that built each of these bikes, it was the best bike they could deliver.-Jimmy Lewis, Editor Dirt Rider MagazineDirt Rider Says
It likely took L.A. Sleeve weeks to build this bike, but it only took Ryan Orr, Steve Hengeveld, Alexander Smith, Jerry Bernardo and me a few minutes on the trail to determine that this CRF450R was a ripper. With all of the mixed opinions floating around regarding the 2009 Honda 450-some feel that the bike is perfect while others attest to handling issues-we really weren't sure what to expect out of this machine. However, just as L.A. Sleeve claimed, the bike was an interesting middle ground between the red R and X models.One twist of the throttle on this machine tells you that the motor is strong-really, really strong. The words "hit" and "explosive" were used frequently. When L.A. Sleeve said that they changed the character of the bike by tuning the FI, they weren't kidding, except in this case it made the bike feel even more pipey and strong. From the hills surrounding the Torture Test to the rough sand found on the moto track, there certainly was no need to search for more ponies in this motor. But were they all usable? If you ask pro-level racers Orr and Hengeveld, the answer is a resounding "yes!" But for those of us who ride closer to mortal speeds, this much meat is more than we need. The bark of this bike has bite, but it would also break loose and lose traction in slick areas, where the abundance of juice was simply tough to control and would wear you out quickly. Still, all of us were massively impressed with this bike's potential for pulling wheelies.We were stoked to find out that when it came to cornering, this machine's turning characteristics were on par with the power output. Although slightly top heavy, one could turn the L.A. Sleeve Honda on a dime, and once you got used to the large (but comfortable) fuel tank the overall handling feeling fairly maneuverable. Be it sharp, rutted corners or big bowl turns, the bike would go wherever you pointed it and without any surprises, thus allowing the rider to also change lines with absolute ease. Unfortunately, the Achilles heel of this machine was the high-speed stability. On anything fast (generally, third gear and above) the CRF would get a twitchy shake in the front end that would unnerve you to the point of backing off.Overall, the L.A. Sleeve bike was a super solid package. The AP Racing/ QTM brake setup, for example, was nothing short of amazing. With little effort, you could ease this rocket to a halt in one controllable, smooth movement. A great assortment of miscellaneous accessories-from the Cycra handguards to the Zip-Tie components-also graced the bike, and our test group unanimously thought that it was one of the best looking machines in the bunch. The only complaint that any of us had with the accessories is that the rear brake was hard to find given the bulk of the engine guard on the right-hand side of the skid plate. However, if it weren't for some slight stability issues and the overly explosive power delivery, there is little doubt that the L.A. Sleeve Honda CRF450R would have been a contender for the Torture Test title. -Chris DenisonOverall, the handling and turnability of this bike were the best in our test group of five bikes. This bike seemed to turn really well in tight stuff; you could really just point it somewhere and go. It had lots of power-actually, so much power that after a long day I think it would wear you out pretty quickly! -Steve Hengeveld/ 5'7"/ 155 lb. / ProAlthough a bit pipey, this motor has a lot of juice. It turns really well, though, and the brakes are simply unbelievable. In fact, I'd probably detune the front some if this were my bike. That oversized front rotor really got you stopping! -Jerry Bernardo/ 5'8"/ 195 lbs./ ExpertThis bike was my top pick as far as the motor goes: it would just explode when you got on it! I like that. It definitely had great brakes, too. In my opinion, this was not the best handling machine of the bunch, since there were some little nuances in the front that kept me from feeling totally comfortable. -Alexander Smith/ 6'1"/ 155/ ExpertAs I tested the L.A. Sleeve CRF450R on the lower motocross track I realized there's a big difference between the stock CRF450R and this one. The biggest difference was in weight. With the big off-road tank, this bike felt more top heavy than a stock X. That's what happens when you put a big tank on these perimeter framed Hondas. But this seemed more accentuated since the stock CRF-R is so light and nimble. The L.A. Sleeve bike kept the turning character alive with precision, though and that was a welcome relief. I wasn't a fan of the motor on the MX track, it was too aggressive even in the sandy whooped-out straights and I felt like I was catching up to this bike all the time. Twice in the test I did catch up--when the bike stalled. I did the same thing on the stock CRF-R with the stock EFI mapping in our first test so I know you can tune out the stalling tendencies with a little EFI work. As far as an aggressive power producer with quick turning, this bike was good. But if it were going to be my one-and-only bike I'd need a few more personality tweaks.
-Jesse Ziegler/ 5'10"/175 lbs/ Vet Intermediate