Story By Kris Keefer
OWNER: STEVE NICKERSON
Photo By Adam Booth And Nick Cade
Steve had a big task in letting me try his bike. Not only was I riding it the day after the Unadilla national (unprepped), but it was also just after riding Justin Brayton’s factory Honda. To my surprise Steve’s 2011 CRF450R was actually pretty darn good. The motor had lots of bottom-end grunt that pulled great out of corners, but again it still had that Honda-smooth feeling that was easy to ride. Mid/top-end pulled fairly well, and the bike had a great free-revving feeling that you usually don’t get with other, older CRFs. What I liked was that the bike had enough motor to do all of the obstacles but was forgiving enough that if you got tired, it wasn’t going to kill you. Smart for a Vet racer.
On the suspension side of things the fork rode a little too high for me. It soaked up small bumps well, but down in the stroke it got a little too harsh. I like to be a smooth rider and my forks tend to be on the softer side in the mid-stroke. I was a fan of his Öhlins rear shock. It had such a great “dead” feeling to it over acceleration bumps and had good control over the huge braking bumps at Unadilla. The rear end never seemed to get harsh or feel like it rode down too far in the stroke. For those of you wondering what “dead” feeling is, it’s that feeling when the suspension never seems to kick or react much over any obstacle. Controlled. Kudos Steve!
Smaller things like handlebar setup were a little weird as the bar was tall and really far forward, yet Steve is not that much taller than me. I explained that he might want to bring the bar in a little to get more feeling out of the front end through corners. Steve’s bike has a strong motor for great starts, but I think he needs to work on the front end setup more and he will see improvement in his moto overall scores.
Steve’s Take: I’m both surprised and not surprised to hear that Keefer thinks the front end is sitting a little high. The bike has always been a little tough to turn, but I always chalked it up to the fact that I had room for improvement and wasn’t that great in corners. From talking to Keefer, it sounds like I might get more bite out of the front end if I raise my fork up a little more in the triple clamps — he said 5–7mm. I’m really pleased he can tell that this bike has got so much motor work; the guy who did the work is going to be happy! It’s good that Kris liked the shock, because I love the Öhlins. I think I’m gonna get another one for the new bike. Getting this advice on setup from a guy like Keefer really helps.
VITALS: 43 YEARS OLD, 6’0”, 185 LB
ABILITY: VET A
YEARS RIDING: 30+
RIDING STYLE: MOTOCROSS BABY!
MECHANICAL ABILITY: NOT BAD
BIKE: 2011 HONDA CRF450R
BOUGHT: BECAUSE I LOVE HONDAS
MAIN MODS: MOTOR WORK BY OUTLAW PERFORMANCE FOR HOLESHOTS! PRESTO EXTREME IGNITION MAPPING, HOT CAM STAGE 3, COSWORTH HIGH-COMPRESSION PISTON, MIKE TONA–LIGHTENED CRANK, ÖHLINS SUSPENSION FRONT AND REAR, FASTWAY FOOTPEGS, FMF EXHAUST
FAVORITE MOD: ÖHLINS SHOCK
NEXT MOD PLANNED: I’M PROBABLY JUST GOING TO GET A NEW
BIKE AND KEEP THIS ONE!
TESTED AT: UNADILLA, NEW BERLIN, NY
TEST BY: KRIS KEEFER, 5’11”, 165 LB, PRO