The Torture Test - L.A. Sleeve 2009 Honda CRF450R - Dirt Rider Magazine

Up, up and away! That's Jesse Ziegler on the L.A. Sleeve CRF450R, doing what he does best: riding motocross and singing Carrie Underwood songs in a high-pitched voice. Break it down, JZ!

About the bike:
The new updates Honda has made to the 2009 Honda CRF450R has many minds including us at L.A.SLEEVE who consider this new EFI heart pumping rocket ship made for motocross tracks only. Now more than ever we feel the CRF450R and its trail version sibling, the CRF450X, are more different than ever. Therefore, we think there needs to be a middle ground between the two. Since 1945 L.A.SLEEVE has been doing performance motor work for the automotive, watercraft, motorcycle, and ATV markets. We are no stranger to the current shift in the off-road motorcycle market towards Electronic Fuel Injection given our vast experience when the street bike and automotive industries switched to EFI years back. Our goal here at L.A. SLEEVE is to build a CRF450 that can coincide in both off-road trail world as well as motocross tracks. Initially, we noticed the 2009 Honda CRF450R had an on and off power characteristic. We felt it had too much bottom for the average off-road/ trail rider, so we decided to manipulate the electronic fuel injection by pushing some of the hard hitting low end hit and pushing it in the mid and top end of the power curve, thus creating an easier to ride off-road/ trail bike. We then flow ported the head and performed a radius valve job using our Newen valve machine to increase air and fuel flow in and exhaust gases out. Additionally, we installed Nikal Research valve seat guides to help expel excess heat and improve the longevity of the valves. In addition, we added an all-titanium Dubach Racing pipe to enhance the entire power band, give it more over rev, and allow the bike to remain light for motocross applications. This helped with our most important concern to spread out the hard-hitting, low end power to the semi-lacking mid and top end of the power curve. Keeping our L.A.SLEEVE CRF450R consistently cool we installed a set of Medical Grade CV4 hoses which features a split "V" in the mold to eliminate the stock plastic pipe "V".The 2009 CRF450 has changed the clutch basket to a 4 bolt pattern which has been proven to us unreliable. As a result, we've turned to the guys at Hinson racing who have many years of experience in the clutch market and provide a 6 bolt clutch kit for more proven reliability.In order to get our L.A. SLEEVE 2009 CRF450R ready for off-road, we have chosen a remoteless RTT stabilizer/ 22mm off-set triple clamp combo. We discovered the 2009 Honda frame featured a substantial head shake at high speeds. In the end, we consider the Honda stock stabilizer good for motocross tracks but inadequate for off-road applications. We feel we have solved the headshake problem by using the RTT stabilizer/22mm off-set triple clamp, thus giving it more stability at high speeds which can be adjusted at any moment in time.Our L.A. SLEEVE 2009 CRF450R seemed stink-bug-like in having too soft of springs in the front so we took our L.A. SLEEVE 2009 CRF450R to the masters of suspension rebuilding, Precision Concepts. Precision Concepts fixed our bike's issues by inserting stiffer springs and revalving the front forks and rear shock. Precision claims this is a Grand Prix setting which enables the bike to be used in the off-road and motocross racing environment, hence being plush on the off-road and track but harsh enough to soak up jumps.After the bike was level, we used references from fellow factory racing teams and equipped our L.A. SLEEVE 2009 CRF450R with a QTM/AP Brakes system combo. This involves a 277mm oversized QTM Brembo front rotor and a set AP Racing's ORR front racing brake pads. In addition, we were also recommended to use AP's super high temperature brake fluid which has a boiling point of 608 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, whether racing at extreme levels or riding for extended periods of time, the brakes on our CRF450 are proven to be superior.In order to protect our CRF450, we chose Lightspeed carbon fiber products. The most important components chosen were engine case guards and an inner body high heat shield. We also installed a set of Lightspeed's wide, titanium foot pegs. Other notables were a glide plate, chain guide, rear caliper guards, lower fork guards, and a fort blade axel nut guard, all of which are made of high quality carbon fiber to protect vital areas of our CRF450 from rocks and other catastrophic debris. Speaking of catastrophic debris, to protect the rider's hands, we applied a sweet elite clutch perch with hot start by Works Connection and installed a set of Cycra classic enduro hand shields. Works Connection also supplied the radiator braces which protect the radiators from folding or being crushed.Riding our L.A.SLEEVE CRF450R off-road will require a larger gas tank since the stock tank geared more towards track riding at 1.5 gallons. Thus, we had IMS install a 2.7 gallon gas tank to increase our mpg. Moreover, the tank is transparent for more accurate gas level readings. IMS did a great job of keeping the tank slim and sustaining the ergonomics Honda worked so hard to design.Lastly, we fitted our L.A.SLEEVE CRF450R with a D742FA front and a D952 rear Dunlop Tire to give our L.A.SLEEVE CRF450R ultimate traction and control for both off-road and motocross environments.Here at L.A.SLEEVE CO we have supplied sufficient instruction and product information to make your 2009 CRF450R a motocross/off-road sharp sword so you can cut the tightest trails and conquer the biggest battles either at a WORCS off-road race or a local throw-down motocross race with your buddies. This bike will defeat, outlast, and make your friends start shopping for a better bike to keep pace with yours. Ladies and gentlemen and Dirt Rider readers, we at L.A. SLEEVE claim victory in Dirt Rider Magazine's Torture Test search for the best all around dirt bike.

Ace DR test rider Ryan Orr is hungry for horsepower, but even he was a little hesitant to really whack open the throttle on the L.A. Sleeve CRF450R. "This motor is so gnarly, I can hardly keep the back end straight!" commented Ryan after a test session.

Parts and modifications:
L.A.SLEEVE CO: www.lasleeve.com; 562-945-7578
Wossner Piston: $184.95
Flow Port/ Radius Valve Job (4 valve): $500.00
Seat Installation (4 valve): $325.00
L.A.SLEEVE Off-road EFI Re-map: $75.00AP Racing: www.apbrakesusa.com; 562-945-1098
377ORR Rear Brake Pads: $35.99
294ORR Front Brake Pads: $35.99
PRF Hi-temp. Brake Fluid: $34.00Dubach Racing: www.dubachracing.com; 951-808-1114
Titanium Exhaust: $779.95
Hour Meter w/Bracket: $49.95Hinson Racing: www.hinsonracing.com; 909-946-2942
Billet proof Clutch Cover: $159.99
Billet proof Basket w/Cushions: $274.99
Billet proof 6 Spring Inner Hub/Pressure Plate Kit w/High Temp Springs: $569.99Works Connection: www.worksconnection.com; 530-642-9488
Radiator Braces: $41.10
CRF Aluminum Throttle Tube: $32.50
Elite Clutch Perch w/Hot Start: $116.95RTT Motorsports: www.rttmotorsports.com; 928-505-8088
CRF450R - 22m Offset Upper and Lower Stabilizer Kit: $789Precision Concepts: www.precisionconceptsracing.com; 951-656-5949
Suspension Revalve Front and Back: $434.00
(If springs are needed price may increase.)Lightspeed Products: www.lightspeedperf.com; 714-990-5767
Carbon Fiber Glide Plate: $124.95
Engine Case Guards: $ 69.95
Chain Guide: $ 69.95
Rear Caliper Guard: $41.95
Lower Fork Guards: $ 109.95
Factory Titanium Pegs: $229.95
Fork Leg Axle Lug Guard: $69.95
Inner Body Pipe Heat Shield: $109.95QTM: www.qtmi.com; 714-575-5000
Brembo 270mm Oversized Front Rotor w/Bracket: $299.00IMS Products: www.imsproducts.com; 951-653-7720
2.7 Gallon Clear Tank: $275.00CV4 Products: www.cv4.net; 888-835-3322
Honda White Medical Grade Hi-temp Radiator Hoses: $412.73Cycra: www.cycra.com; 740-929-0188
Primal Hand Guard Racer Pack: $34.95Zip-Ty: www.ziptyracing.com; 760-244-7028
Front Wheels Spacers: $34.95
Rear Wheel Spacers: $34.95
Front Axle Pull Handle: $21.95Dunlop: www.dunloptire.com; 800-845-8378****Dirt Rider Post Torture Evaluation:****The best all-around bike because:
An amazing hit of power followed by plenty of juice left all of our test riders satisfied about the amount of power in this 450R's motor. The handling was nimble and encouraged perfect cornering, while a multitude of quality accessories graced the package. As far as we're concerned, this bike had the best brakes in our test bike rotation.Not the best all-around bike because:
With explosive power can come too much hit, and this bike suffered from exactly that. The abundance of ponies would cause the rear end to step out while accelerating, and it was easy to lose traction and wear yourself out by whacking open the throttle. Handling-wise, our biggest complaint was a twitchy-feeling front end at high speeds. And we know that this is an "R" model, but nevertheless we all missed the electric start.

Pro test rider Chris Barrett has felt the rigors of Endurocross-style racing first-hand, and was no stranger to how the CRF needed to be ridden over our extreme test. With a smooth right hand and proper feel for the correct gear, even this fire-breathing machine can be pusched through extremely rough sections. The low-speed section of our test was one area where the twitchy front end could not be felt.

Editor's Note
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