Johnny Campbell and the JCR Honda crew have raced all around the world with great success with riders like Steve Hengeveld, Robby Bell, Ricky Brabec and Johnny Campbell himself. In 2023 they are concentrating on West Coast off-road competition in the National Grand Prix Championship series with rider Ryan Surratt. We sat down with Campbell to get all the secrets about the Honda CRF450RX that Surratt will be racing this season.
Ryan Surratt came on board the JCR Honda team late in 2022 as a fill-in rider for the injured Preston Campbell. With minimal amounts of testing time on the bike, he showed promise, and the teamed ramped up testing in November and December of 2022 to get Surratt comfortable on the bike. Luke and Bones Bacon from Pro Circuit helped JCR out huge with setting up the chassis and suspension. Lots of small changes were made to the bike, but nothing major, and the team spent most of their time trying different ideas with the suspension and chassis set up to get Surratt confident on the bike at higher speeds.

Ryan Surratt came out swinging in 2023. Photo by Mark Kariya.

On the chassis there are two major changes that stand out, and they are on opposite ends of the machine. Up front the OEM 22mm triple clamps are replaced with XTrig 22mm clamps with a split-style design and XTrig’s progressive handlebar dampening system (PHDS) handlebar mounts. Although retaining the 22mm offset doesn’t really produce a more stable feel on its own, the team discovered that the XTrig clamps provided improvements in overall rider comfort and fatigue. The system also features a BRP top bar mount that allows the use of a Scotts Performance steering stabilizer. Scotts has been a part of the Honda off-road program since the early 1990s and BRP almost as long.

The JCR team uses Scott’s steering dampers.

The change in the rear is a little harder to spot. Another longtime supporter of JCR Honda is Pro Circuit. Luke and Bones in the suspension department worked with the team developing suspension settings for the Showa A-kit components. Surratt is on the lighter side for the typical 450cc off-road racer, using .51-kilogram springs in the fork and 5.3-kilogram springs on the shock. The rear link arms and triangle are also from Pro Circuit and feature a slightly different ratio than the OEM Honda unit. This setup provides Surratt a more progressive feel, increased stability and, at the same time, gave him more control over the bike at higher speeds. Works Chassis Lab engine mounts are used by the team to offer more flex than the stock Honda version, again improving rider comfort.

If you know Johnny Campbell and his long-time mentor, the legendary Bruce Ogilvie, the internal engine specifications won’t surprise you. Ogilvie was a part of just about every aspect of Honda product development in his very successful career. Racing, durability testing, new-product development and modifications—he did it all. Campbell was lucky enough to soak up all this knowledge and understands just how much development goes into modern-day four-stroke race engines that roll off Honda’s assembly line in Japan. The only hard parts internally that aren’t OEM Honda include a Hinson Racing clutch basket, inner hub, pressure plate and billet-aluminum clutch cover.

External aftermarket performance items aren’t in abundance, either. ECU mapping is done in-house by JCR team technician Gage Day, along with a Twin Air high-flow air filter with dust cover in dry conditions, and a complete Pro Circuit titanium exhaust system with spark-arrestor capabilities are the extent of the upgrades.
Other JCR Honda team sponsors include IMS Products, Renthal, Motion Pro, D.I.D, Throttle Jockey graphics, Acerbis, SKF seals, Galfer Brakes, Works Connection, VP Racing Fuels, ARC, A’ME grips, Antigravity Batteries, J.L. Ray and, new for the 2023 season, Pirelli tires.
In a few short months with JCR Honda, we have seen Ryan Surratt go from showing glimpses of race-winning speed to actually winning races, so the team is definitely headed in the right direction. It will be interesting to see Surratt in the mix for the championship at the end of 2023.

Comments are closed.