But is it really all that affordable?
Scott Wright is the co-owner of IMS, a company that is synonymous with Fueling systems and foot pegs (plus a veritable plethora of affiliations with winning off-road championships) and he had an itch in his craw to build the Working Man’s Factory ride. The dream of building an off-road bike that would be affordable, practical, and capable of riding at the highest level of off-road, or just on the trails with a buddy bounced around in his noggin’ like a relentless headache. He felt it was doable and put together a list of companies associated with quality components and would wrap all of their technology around a Honda CRF450X. He then invited Dirt Bike out for a day in the high desert with Multi-time Baja Champion Steve Hengeveld, the quiet and reserved Jerry Bernardo and the trail boss Bill Maxim, a legendary racer and passionate off-roader.
Scott’s plan was to attack the mild mannered Honda CRF450X from several strategic angles: The suspension, the engine, controls and racing necessities. Here’s his (and his testing staff’s) synopsis and tactics for the project machine.
The 2008 CRF450X Suspension: Stock, they feel that the ‘08 450X is a little harsh at high speed. It tends to pack and the rebound circuits aren’t responsive to successive bumps. Scott got with Precision Concepts, a company that pretty much owns the off-road racing Honda world and asked them to improve the bottoming resistance so that it doesn’t go through the stroke as fast, make the bike plusher all around and still let the pilot attack the more aggressive terrain without the G-out that would normally come with speed.
Motor Mods: They felt that the 450X needed more power without losing the linear delivery, plus keeping the machine quiet rated very high. Since not too many people know the Honda CRF line like Bob Bell from Precision Concepts does (he is responsible for prepping his son Robby Bells Baja winning machines both in suspension and the engine!) IMS prayed for additional ‘affordable’ boost. Also they wanted to compliment the exhaust system chosen for their project, a Yoshimura Titanium Pro Series. Bob Bell suggested installing a Stage I Kit from 1X International (Team Honda’s Johnny Campbell). Bob preached that this kit is able to feed the engine the much-desired air that is needed to complement the supplied jetting changes. It also comes with a new Fuel Screw Adjuster that allows for the fine-tuning, all the instructions and a modification to the side panel that feeds more air to the carburetor. Bell states that this basic kit is responsible for unleashing the raw potential of a 450X without expensive motor modifications.
Controls: IMS swapped out the stock triple clamps for BRP units mainly because of their adjustability, larger bar mounts to accept a Pro-taper handlebar and crucial to the package, the ability to attach a Scott’s Steering stabilizer. To finish off the controls up top, Scott fitted ASV clutch and brake levers not only for feel and flexibility in a crash; Scott liked the fact that they matched the other hard anodized parts. A set of Spider Grips were fit and wrapped with Powermadd’s IMS edition hand-guards.
Racing Necessities/and other goodies:
IMS believes that the life-blood of any thumper is keeping the engine oil cool for maximum lubrication and optimum power delivery. With this tactic in mind they bolted on a set of Fluidyne radiators that are designed to not only enhance cooling over stock with increased capacity, they’re also super strong and this durability let’s them accept more abuse than the stock coolers.
Scott wanted the ‘factory look’ to the wheels and Alum-Art in Ontario, California Hard Anodized the stock rims black. Then he bolted on Galfer’s Wave rotor both for and aft feeling that they may only enhance braking power slightly, but their strength, design and weight make them a plus for the off-roader. Finishing off the traction portion of the project, Scott choose Maxxis IT tires simply because they offer good grip, are very durable and outlast other premium tires. BRP furnished one of their big skid plates, a Teflon Chain-guide and their red anodized billet Oil filter, timing, and brake reservoir covers.
Last, IMS mounted up one of their 3.2-gallon translucent fuel tanks to replace the stocker. The new Honda fuel tank is internally coated for EPA reasons and is actually down to only 1.8 gallons. They also fit on their wider Pro-series Foot-pegs for increased grip and their ability to defuse loads to the bottom of your foot. Scott did show us a proto-type of their new “Big-Foot-Pegs.” These new foot-pegs incorporate a patented tooth design for mud-relief and are ‘wide boys’.
DOWN AND DIRTY
We showed up our own Honda CRF450X for comparison’s sake. Our bike has suspension work; jetting, ergos and a quiet aftermarket exhaust system. Here’s the quick and dirty on the IMS Working Man’s Factory bike.
• Power: Much harder hitting than our machine, though we’re not sure whether or not it was worth it in the tight, nasty stuff. Loved the Yosh exhaust, it’s quiet and much lighter than stock but does seem to cater to enhancing the mid-hit, so when it’s mated to the 1X mods (air pump block off/new jetting) the transition from roll-on into the mid-range is just snarlier and a bit harder to manage. We loved it when the terrain opened up, but felt that our machine was easier to ride in tight and tricky conditions.
• Suspension/Handling: One thing about the Precision Concepts mods is that they are the ultimate in plush. The Honda factory off-roaders always demand smooth, progressive action and Bob Bell has it down to science. For bigger riders it felt under sprung, but Heng felt it was darned close to ideal for trailing with a 170-pound rider. We constantly belch about the virtues of the Scott’s Damper but this was our first chance to test it against the stock Honda system. It’s not really a fair fight. The Honda HPD system is designed mainly to help cornering traits, the Scott’s gives you confidence in rocks, at speed and is perhaps the best tool to control bad things that you hit and don’t see on the trail.
• Accoutrements: The IMS tank is quite wonderful. We could barely feel the additional size (over a gallon and a half larger) and really loved it when our bike went on reserve at 37 miles. The pegs offset impacts better than stock and we could actually feel and improvement when we pounded whoops. We really didn’t care for the ergo setup, though that’s a personal problem. The bars felt rotated too far back and seemed to push us back on the saddle. We can tell you that Scott impact tested the Powermadd hand guards and ASV’s ability to withstand a load when he tossed his scoot away in a rock pile. He came away bruised, the bars flowed through unscathed. Good stiff there.
•Overall: When you add up all of the parts that Scott put into his ‘Working man’s Factory bike’ the cost is rather substantial. We’d perform a ‘pick and choose’ depending on the state of our wallet. The suspension, definitely yes. The motor mods and radiator, a definite maybe. If racing was our passion they rate very high, but for trailing its honestly overkill. The Yosh exhaust provided good gains, looks great, is super light and incredibly pricey for a trail guy. If you’ve got the funds, she’s a keeper. BRP’s clamps and Scott’s anti-shaker; no doubt about it. The IMS tank; critical. In the end we learned quite a bit and it showed that the off-roader has many options to alter the performance of their machine, picking the right path is perhaps the toughest choice of all. Thanks to Scott, Jerry, Steve and Mr. Maxim who did a great job leading our group.
Pro Taper Handlebars $89.99
BRP Triple Clamps Upper and Lower $339.95
BRP Skid Plate $89.95
BRP Dress Up Parts:
Oil Filter $49.95
Timing Plug $34.95
Brake Reservoir $24.95
Scott’s Steering Damper $449.95
Motor mods (all found at Precision Concepts)
Stage one Kit by 1X International $109.99
Valve cover Breather performance kit-by 1X International $34.99
This kit replaces the plugged off drain tube and hose that comes from your head cover and vents to the air box. Zit keeps only clean air being used for eth intake, which helps performance. It also eliminates the need to constantly drain the overflow tube as excess oil is vented out.
CRF450X Block off Kit by 1X international $39.95
This kit is designed to eliminate the vacuum pump (smog pump) that is located behind the right side radiator. Unlike most kits, it is specifically created for each bike to completely block the air passage in the exhaust port. (Of course this is for closed course racing folks only)
Precision Concepts Suspension $710.00
Fluidyne Radiator $449.95
IMS Fuel Tank $274.95
IMS Pro Series Foot Peg $96.00
Powermadd Star Series Hand Guard IMS Edition $99.85
w/Hand Wrap attachment
IMS folding steel shift lever $29.95
Spider Grips $15.95
ASV Shift Lever $70.00
ASV Brake Lever $75.00
Alumin-Art Anodized Black Wheels $95.00
Galfer Brakes $240.00
Maxxis Tires $130.00
Yoshimura Titanium Pro Series Exhaust $895.00
Hinson Clutch Cover $200.00
UNI air filter. $34.95 Increases air flow, while maximizing the trapping of debris that would normally damage engine