The Honda CRF450X is the most successful off-road racer in the west. It has won the SCORE Baja 1000 16 times, the Baja 500 12 times and the 24 Hours of Glen Helen 11 times. And yet, it isn’t an especially fast motorcycle. In fact, in stock form, Honda doesn’t even call it a race bike.

There are two reasons the Honda X has been so successful for so long. Half is because the bike itself has the right fundamentals; it’s ultra reliable and handles well at speed. The other half is because some very smart people have learned how to make it from an EPA-legal, Green-sticker-eligible trail bike into a racer. Colton Udall is one of those people. Two weeks ago, Colton teamed up with Nic Garvin and Ciaran Naran to ride the 10-Hours of Glen Helen on our 2023 Honda CRF450X test bike. The bike was bone-stock, so he had a lot of work to do in a short time. It all starts with a list of CRF450R parts, including the intake valve springs, the intake rocker arm, the right side radiator and the camshaft. The cam is not a drop-in replacement for the stocker, however. It requires a little machine work.

Colton Udall on the Dirt Bike Project X

The aftermarket list of parts starts with a Vortex ECU. Colton has developed his own mapping with the help of Kristian Kibby, who worked for the late, great Geico Honda team. The process of making an EPA bike into a closed-course race bike continues with a coolant outlet kit that Udall makes himself. The Pro Circuit T4 exhaust system is another big weight saver. The bike’s suspension is the responsibility of Brandon Peterson at AHM Racing. The fork is not that different from that of an R. It’s revalved and uses stiffer springs. Brandon uses a DLC coating on the lower tubes and installs billet axle lugs. The rear suspension requires a little more work. AHM has a shock shaft replacement kit that ups the shaft diameter from 16mm to 18mm. The valving is reworked and AHM also uses its own linkage. “The linkage holds up the rear better,” says Colton. “It makes the bike feel like it has more travel.”
The stock fuel tank is swapped for an IMS 2.4-gallon tank for the 2020 CRF450R and dry-break. This means you have to use the R shrouds. Other bolt-on parts include a Scott steering damper with a BRP top clamp, IMS footpegs and Works Connection levers.

Colton, Nic Garvin and Ciaran Naran

There was no doubt that the bike would perform. Nic Garvin was clocked at 109mph at Baja last year with the same basic build. For Glen Helen, the same gearing was used as Baja; 14/52–that’s 1 tooth up in both the front and rear. As usual, the bike was completed late the night before the race, then it was rushed to the [Dirt Bike] studio for static photos. The 2023 10-Hours of Glen Helen was preposterously over-stacked, talent-wise. Usually, the heat of early summer in Southern California scares everyone away from long, tough races. In this case, the Red Bull KTM team was using the race for endurance testing, so the likes of Taylor Robert, Dante Oliveira, Mateo Oliveira and Ryan Morias were all sacked up on one team. No one was going to beat them. Colton, Nic and Ciaran ran third in the early laps, then had to spend time in the pits to sort out a faulty exhaust mount. They dropped to the back, and then slowly worked their way up to fourth overall. Not bad for what was a stock test bike a few days earlier.

There’s nothing experimental or exotic about this project. Anyone can build it and anyone can race it. Colton Udall is happy to share all that knowledge and tell riders where to get the various parts. You can contact him at Championadventures.com.


Mike Young on the 1991 CZ 125 MX

I can’t claim to be a CZ expert. Apparently, I’m the only one in my age group who has never owned one. But I still have huge respect for the name. I even tested one once–as a new bike! And I just found the photos to prove it. It was back in 1991, when I was fairly new at Dirt Bike. In the wake of the Soviet break up, CZ was suddenly back in the export business with motocross bikes. In June of that year, a local Jawa speedway shop had imported what appeared to be the first modern CZ in years. It was a liquid-cooled, single-shock 125 two-stroke with a case-reed, power-valve motor. The bike seemed to be state-of-the-art 1991 motocross hardware.

Unfortunately, that bike wasn’t ready for the western world. It ran so poorly that test rider Mike Young had difficulty even getting it airborne. Most of the gaskets and O-rings in the fuel system started to disintegrate upon contact with American gasoline, and the whole project had to be aborted. The bike was returned and the test never appeared in print. Two years later, the CZ brand was purchased by Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni of Cagiva. That company had been on a spending spree, buying legacy motorcycle companies that included Ducati, Husqvarna, Moto Morini and MV Agusta. Whatever plans they had for CZ, however, never came to fruition. CZ officially went out of business in 1997. As far as we know, that 1991 test bike was the only one ever imported to the U.S. and the photo shoot with Mike Young is the only evidence that it even happened. The photos, I believe, were taken by Chris Hultner.


Speaking of Mike Young, I found this photo of a KTM shoot while I was digging through the archives. No, that’s not Mike. That’s me, after Mike said he absolutely would not ride over this razor back in Ritchie Canyon. It was way more frightening than the photo shows. Ritchie was a great place for local riders to scare the Bejesus out of new-comers and I was definitely a local. After the demonstration, Mike rode across and declared it to be easy. Hultner shot both of us, and just to rub it in, I ran the shot of me instead of Mike in the test. I still rub it in every chance I get.


There’s all kinds of racing this weekend! First of all, it’s the Fourth of July Weekend, which means it’s RedBud time. Chase Sexton is back! Justin Cooper is back! I hope you have your Peacock app, ’cause that’s the only way to watch it live. Here’s the info:

Play by Play: Jason Weigandt
Analyst: James Stewart
Reporter: Jason Thomas
Saturday, July 1
Pro Motocross Championship: Race Day Live
Peacock @ 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ET
Pro Motocross Championship: RedBud National [LIVE]
Peacock @ 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 3
Pro Motocross Championship: RedBud National Replay
CNBC, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App
11 p.m. PT [Sunday] / 2 a.m. ET

On top of that, it’s time for the first round of the 2023 World supercross series. U.S. based-fans can watch the series live and on-demand via WSX.TV. Subscribers will have access to the WSX Pre Show as free content

There are three passes available to viewers:

Freemium ($0) – Allows access to limited WSX Championship content and race recaps.
Pay-Per-View (US$8.99) – Allows direct streaming access to the races you want to watch.
Champ Pass (US$49.99) – Allows access to every 2023 WSX Championship race.

Outside our sport, there’s also the start of the Tour de France (also on Peacock).

See you next week!

–Ron Lawson

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