Chase Sexton’s Factory Honda HRC CRF450R
Brought to you By Dunlop Tires
Chase Sexton is the new kid on the block and he has an all new 2021 Honda CR450R to ride. Jade Dungey is the man behind the wrenches on Chase’s bike for the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross season. We took a few hours and went over the extreme details on Sexton’s race bike.
Up front Chase is using Renthal 827 Renthal bend in a neutral position.
Sexton prefers to run the softest available grip from Renthal. He also runs the grip donut for more added comfort. A lot of the riders try to avoid their hands getting chewed up. Now more than ever with rounds in the middle of the week and on the weekends.
The levers are a works item made by Bob at ARC. In years past these were colored black but the team requested a polished finish for 2021 so they could be easily cleaned and look fresh on race day. Interesting little cut out on the clutch lever we found also while inspecting Chase’s CRF450.
The throttle tube is made by Works Connection . This is identical to the stock reel but the aluminum material adds durability to the bike in the event of a crash. The cam is also billet for durability as well.
We took notice on Chase’s front brake lever and clutch lever position. While the clutch was more outward, the front brake lever was a smidge closer to the handlebar. Jade Dungey told us that the new bike has a new ratio on the clutch and they are still playing with positions for Chase but right now they sit at the standard spot.
Sexton is running billet HRC spec works triple clamps provided to the team. Most teams will not reveal the offset or much more detailed info on the clamps in comparison to stock. We can assume there is an offset tailored to Chase and the clamps could also help with flex in the front end. You can also see the custom made transponder holder in this photo. Honda made these to avoid using zip tyes on the bike. It also helps keep the fork tubes from getting scuffed up during racing. The team does do quite a bit of fork changes on race day also and this custom holder allows the mechanic to get the job done quicker.
Factory SHOWA A-Kit forks are used on the Honda CRF450R. These forks are done all in house at SHOWA. SHOWA has a dedicate technician to each rider on Factory Honda. That technician talks with Honda’s in house chassis guy to tailor the bike as best as they possibly can for Chase’s riding ability and style. SHOWA has been extremely helpful getting the bike tuned to requests from Chase. They have tried to make the transition from Geico Honda to the 450 seamless.
A standard brake line is used up front. It is paired with a factory billet Nissin caliper that is polished. Pistons are typically over sized in the front or rear or both. Jade told us that these were just a different material but stock sizes were used.
The factory Nissin caliper is paired up with a 260mm Yutaka front rotor.
The majority of the front brake assembly is protected by this full coverage carbon guard. This can also act like a skid plate in deep ruts. The cover provides protection and also allows the rider to glide through a deep rut instead of getting hung up. Notice the fork lugs are completely covered and the outer edges of the forks. The forks lugs are standard and not oversized like we have seen on other factory bikes in the pits.
The front wheel is using a factory HRC hub with DID rim and spokes. The spokes are over sized for the pressure the wheels take in Supercross. They aren’t too far off the oem standard though. We tired to get information on the front axle but Honda was not up to talking about material used in this department. Our guess is that Chase is using a titanium front axle similar to the other factory teams. This is a component that can give the front wheel a different contact feeling than stock. You can also see the rivets used to beef up the fork guards. This is so the fork guards aren’t sheered off in a wreck or collision with other riders on track.
A Works Connection holeshot device is used on Chase’s factory Honda. Jade told us that the Works Connection device is extremely simple to use. It wraps around the fork and is a one button system. Some teams are using a 2 button system depending on track conditions. The depth at which they put the forks is based on rider preference. Chase is pretty tall so he runs a more in the middle set up compared to Kenny. Kenny goes much further down in the stroke off the start than Chase.
Jade Dungey actually sets up Chase’s cockpit which includes the handlebars, levers, steering stem play, and buttons based on his years of riding/racing motorcycles. Jade and Lars Lindstrom (Crew Chief) joke about this a lot. Lars was Kevin Windham’s mechanic a long time ago and did the same for Kevin’s set up. Both riders get on and are pretty happy with the layout. That is years of experience and racing dirt bikes going into it. Jade and Lars have raced at a high level before working in the industry full time.
This start button may look a little familiar. This is originally from the 2 Stroke era of racing. It has a billet housing and same function as the oem button but with added durability.
A standard map switch is mounted to the handlebars on Chase’s bike. This contains the kill switch and mapping modes that he will need. We have seen some other map switches with external housing to protect this area in the past.
The front number plate was made by Cycra and production had to be sped up with the new bike and racing kicking off so quickly for 2021. The team wanted the triple clamps to be protected and Cycra went with a brake line holder that was incorporated into the design.
Engine and Chassis
This is where the auxiliary start button is located. If the bike is in a crash or stalls this 2nd button gives the team and rider some wiggle room to resume racing. You can also see in this photo where the team is mounting the regulator. On the OEM 2021 Honda CRF450R the regulator is found closer to the rear of the motorcycle by the air box. To avoid heating issues this is moved. Muc Off Honda is also moving their regulators on Justin Brayton’s Honda CRF450R in a different location with same goal in mind.
The team is running a stock/standard fuel tank on Chase’s bike. Once outdoors begins the team will switch to a works fuel tank which is larger capacity.
The radiators are OEM but the hoses themselves are beefed up a bit more than production. Oetiker clamps are used to keep the hoses clamped down and allow for some weight reduction.
On the 2021 Honda CRF450R the radiator cap is a 1.1. The team uses a 1.8 cap instead to have a higher range to play with for temperatures during racing.
The spigots are welded by the team and this piece is made in house for the factory riders to use. This is a part on the motorcycle used to ensure durability in race environments. You can see the spigot goes into a magnesium water pump cover. Another opportunity for the team to shed some weight off the bike.
Jade told us that its really hard to find a quality carbon manufacturer to make a skid plate that protects the motorcycle and doesn’t affect the flex characteristics of the frame. Jade walked into the shop a few months ago and this was sitting on the bench. At first he thought the skid plate came from Japan. Low and behold this is a company out of Victorville called CMT. The owner is a motorcycle fan and made these for the team. It is a full coverage carbon skid plate. Trey Canard tested it for the team before the season started and gave positive feedback. This skid plate is actually available to the public also. CMT Carbon .
Yoshimura has spent months working on the RS-12 system for the factory Honda Team. Here you can see the O2 bung that is connected data acquisition sensor. A great way for the team to get read outs on how the engine is performing on track. Yoshimura develops these exhaust system specifically for the rider and their needs. The header length and the way it is curved can can change the power characteristics. Kenny and Chase likely have different header exhausts on their Honda CRF450s.
You can see just above the exhaust there are these electronic connectors laid out below the shroud. These are waterproof and easy access for the team to get at. These connectors lead into the data system on the motorcycle. Lars Lindstrom (crew chief) works with Japan on designing something easy to use and reliable for the race team.
The meat and potatoes. Chase Sexton’s Factory engine. These engines are built in house at Honda in Southern California. Normally rider’s engines will be on a rotation to keep them fresh on race day. If this engine is in Chase’s bike this weekend, it will be sent back to California and broken down for a freshen up while a new one that has been sitting on the truck gets placed inside the chassis. The bottom end is full of works parts including the transmission. Kenny and Chase are very similar in the engine department. They like to roll on the throttle and want a lot of bottom end. Jade noted that Chase loves a lot of torque on his bikes and the team was able to meet the needs of his request on this new generation 450.
Hinson provides the clutches for Chase and Kenny. With the hydraulic system Chase doesn’t have to fan the clutch as often and is pretty easy on it. Jade will changed the clutches every 2 hours or so to keep them fresh. The team has the available parts and wants to make sure they are always new. If you look at the white/tan color around the clutch cover that is a coating the factory puts on the magnesium because the metal is a very porous material. To avoid it from leaking and increase durability this coating is applied to the cases here.
At this point in time the team is running production engine hangars. The riders are happy with the feel/flex characteristics of the bike. The team has an array of choices to pick from but right now they don’t find the need to change what is working.
Rear of the Bike
Out back you will find a works Honda Master Cylinder for the rear brake. The window is removed as you can see in Photo 1 above. The master cylinder is pulled off the assembly line before the window is cut in and given to the factory teams. Windows can be risky for racers like Chase Sexton. There are more rocks and debris on a supercross track than you might think. The team doesn’t want to take any chances on race day of brake failure. The rear brake spring is oem with a rubber boot over it for protection. You can see the small brake stop threaded into the clevace so the guts don’t get ripped out of the rear brake assembly. The clevace itself is made by Hinson. A little lower profile part that the team uses and can make adjustments easily on.
The brake pedal itself is a production component. It is polished up to coincide with the factory look of the motorcycle. There is however a titanium tip added to it for weight purposes. This tip is actually sharper than stock as well. The rider can have a better contact point from the boot to the rear brake actuation. You can also see the brake snake in this photo which keeps the brake pedal in line if it gets hung up on another bike or tough block. Sometimes things can get jammed between the cases and rear brake pedal causing the brake to fail. On other factory bikes you will see that gap stuffed with foam for added insurance.
Jade told us if there is anything that makes a factory Honda a factory Honda its the footpegs. These are CNC machined from one big block of titanium. Jade said there are plenty of knock offs around now a days but nothing beats the quality and precision of a works Honda foot peg. The foot peg position has been slightly moved back because Chase likes to hang over the front of the bike and load up the front end. The team has been trying to move him back off the front a bit to keep him in a more neutral position on the bike when entering corners or other obstacles.
The works Showa shock comes straight from Japan and placed on Sexton’s race bike. You can see the candy apple red spring with coated shaft. Assuming it is a titanium spring as most teams in the pits are. An interesting note about suspension that Jade mentioned was that Chase and James Stewart have been working together in Florida on bike set up a little. James has offered his help in getting Sexton’s bike a little more tuned to his liking. Jade told us that Chase prefers to have the bike a little bit on the firmer side in the front and the rear to squat.
For the most part, the rear brake system is OEM. You can see the team cuts off the tabs for the guard on the bottom of the swing arm. All the steel is removed and replaced with titanium hardware. You can also see the banjo bolts that are added to it. The pistons are production as well. The caliper is paird with a Yutaka rear rotor. It is all hooked up to a DID rim, over sized spokes, and nipples. You can see the factory HRC hub with Chase Sexton’s signature added to it in the middle. You can get a good look at the axle blocks in this photo. These are a Works part but are made for the team by Hinson. They are a billet piece provided to the team and we are assuming lighter weight than stock. The cool part about this axle block is you can spin them backwards and not have to make a chain adjustment when changing the sprocket. It is about a 3mm-4mm difference when flipping them backwards. This keeps the tensors in the same position at all times. The tensors going into the swing arm are titanium.
Dunlop provides the tires for HRC Honda. This is a tire that will end up at the consumer level at some point usually. Teams will get the SPEC tires early and do testing so consumers like you get the latest and greatest in traction. A great way to test is go racing and that is what Dunlop does. The team goes back and forth between a 120 or a 110 rear tire. Because Chase is so good on throttle control and he is on the bigger side, so far Jade has kept the 120 rear on.
In the rear the team is running a Renthal sprocket. You can see down at the lower chain guide that it is a works item with titanium hardware. The OEM CRF450R chain guide has an extra window on it. The team originally started using this chain guide in outdoors for mud purposes. They have transitioned to using it full time in both Supercross and Motocross. It makes sense to have this area closed up and avoiding any mud,rocks, or debris getting hung up in the guide while racing.
The DID gold chain might look like a regular old chain but there is one thing the factory teams do that you aren’t at home. Instead of a traditional master link on a chain, this is riveted on. There is no master link. The team doesn’t want to take changes of the master link breaking off and the chain spinning off the bike. These bikes take extreme force in the transmissions and chains. The whoops alone can put a lot of pressure on these parts of the motorcycle. Any added insurance is worth doing.
The shifter is a factory HRC component.The material is billet aluminum and has an aluminum folding tip on it. You can see the numbers etched into the shifter in this photo. This is usually for inventory purposes. They know the specs on the component and who’s bike it has been used on. Chase is running it in the neutral position right now but the team does have optional splines to change the position if the rider makes the request.
Inside the motorcycle you will find a Twin Air supercross filter. It is just thinner in design and a little less robust than what the team will run during outdoor season. Eliy is the batter supplier for the team. This batter is lighter in weight and has better cranking power than OEM. Throttle Jockey makes the grip tape also that you can see on Chase’s bike in the photo.
Throttle Jockey supplies the graphics to the HRC Factory team. You can see that there isn’t any added material on the bike. Just enough to get the logos and design on. Graphics can add 2-3 pounds on the bike if the entire motorcycle has been stickered up. Jade explained that the team spends a lot of money on titanium to keep the bike light weight and Throttle Jockey has been extremely helpful to keep the weight down in the graphics department. You can also see that chase is running a gripper seat cover without pleats. At one point he had pleats but his butt wasn’t too happy about it so they were removed. Jade can let the seat go pretty long before it breaks down. The only thing he has to keep an eye on is when the seat breaks down and the rider height changes. Chase likes to keep his rider height at the same measurement.