START SLIDIN’ TODAY: Building a Honda CRF450R Flat Tracker It’s cheap and easy to go flat-tracking. Here’s how.
FIRST RIDE: 2016 Honda CRF450R
Subtle suspension improvements make the new CRF450R from Honda a much better motocrosser.
Flat Track is a hot commodity right now in the motorcycling community. Thanks to events like the X Games and support from MotoGP superstars Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, plus the whole Hooligan experience, the sport is gaining a lot of international exposure. I have been around dirt track since the day I was born. I traveled across the country at just three weeks old to watch my father, Randy Texter, compete in the Camel Pro Flat Track series.
So, this sport is all I know, and sometimes I take for granted the accessibility of what I need to ride and compete at the professional level. But I love to see the sport grow and I thought it would be enlightening to share with readers just how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to set up a bike and start sliding sideways.
Years ago, it took a lot extra knowledge to build a competitive single-cylinder flat-track bike. You had to purchase an aftermarket frame, machine distinctive parts and essentially build a custom motorcycle from scratch. Today, it’s far easier to get into the sport thanks to increased use of DTX bikes, which are simply stock-frame motocrossers set up for racing flat track.
The Honda CRF450R is my bike of choice. With the support of our local dealership, Lancaster Honda, I have been riding one since I started racing in 2003. Fast forward to 2016. Although the CRF450R has significantly changed since it was introduced in 2002, it still remains the 450 of choice for professional racers around the country. What is special about my CRF450 that makes it competitive against some of the fastest professionals in the country? Nothing. You too can set one up to race at a track near you and end up with a nationally competitive package. Here’s the step-by-step process used in building my latest race bike.
Start off with a stock motocross bike. I ride Hondas, but just about any 450 motocrosser will work.
First on the list is getting the suspension set up for turning left at 100-plus mph. There are a lot of companies out there that specialize in flat track suspension, but I use Durelle Racing. Davey Durelle, a former professional racer, will set up the suspension to suit your weight and experience level.
Durelle Racing also makes another essential part: 19” wheels. The bike comes stock with a 19-inch rear wheel, but it’s a little too narrow (2.15 inches) for my liking. I go with a Durelle 2.5-inch front wheel and a Durelle quick-change 2.75-inch rear wheel. The purpose of the quick-change rear wheel is to reduce time spent changing sprockets on race day. I can also interchange the wheels on all my motorcycles, no matter what brand or engine displacement. I just have to slide in a different hub, which takes about 30 seconds. They are really convenient and a must have in the Cory Texter Racing pits.
At the moment, my 2016 CRF450R is set up for the shorter-length tracks, so the engine is essentially stock except for a Web Cam and a Wiseco piston. The stock motor is stout, with around 54.5 horsepower, but the addition of these parts boosted my numbers a little bit and gave the engine some grunt off the corners which is always a plus when lining up against some of the best in the world, or even your local fast guys.
Adding to the grunt is the Billbuilt exhaust pipe. Onwer Bill Barrett specializes in flat track exhausts. The system boosts low-end torque and makes the whole power curve better suited to flat track, and it also sounds great.
There are some other parts that I installed on this bike to give it some additional performance enhancements such as a K&N air filter to help it breathe better, Works Connection clutch perch to ensure I pull great holeshots and a DID O-ring chain for durability, because one snapped chain during a race can have you hating life real quick.
Throw in some CNC parts bling from Hammerhead Designs, a billet clutch cover from Barnett and some shiny 65’s on the number plates and you have what you see here: A race ready 450cc Flat Track bike.
The MSRP of a 2016 Honda CRF450R is $8599, and if you don’t mind buying used, there is savings to be had there.
Below is a cost breakdown of all the parts described. Parts with an asterisk can be considered optional, but I definitely recommend them if you’re looking to be a competitive racer.
Durelle suspension: $595
Durelle 19 x 2.5-inch front wheel w/ spacers: $671
*Durelle 19 x 2.75-inch rear wheel w/ brake disc & interchangeable hub: $1,041
*Web Cam: $405
*Wiseco 13.5:1 Piston: $282
*Billbuilt Exhaust: $575
*K&N Air Filter: $104
*Works Connection Lever: $156
*DID O-Ring Chain: $91
*Barnett Clutch Cover: $185
*Hammerhead Designs Billet Rear Brake & Shift Levers: $255
*Hammerhead Designs Billet Engine Plugs: $39
*Hammerhead Designs Case Saver: $39
*Number Decals: $65
Honda CRF 450: $8,599
Total Essential Parts: $1,266
Total Essential/Optional Parts: $4,505
Complete Bike with Essential Parts: $9,865
Complete Bike with Essential/Optional Parts: $13,104
By spending between $1,326 to $4,565 in additional parts, you can have your own race-ready flat track bike. With the purchase of a steel shoe (I use a $225 Lightshoe), you have all the tools needed to become a flat track racer. I may be biased, but there is no greater feeling in the world than heading for a corner wide open, rolling off the throttle and pitching a motorcycle sideways. See you at the track, and maybe one day, next to me on the starting line at a Grand National race.
It’s easy to find a place to race, with tracks across the country offering every variety of flat track: outdoor, indoor, big tracks, small tracks, TT, north, south, east, west. Check out this calendar maintained super fans of the sport, Mia & Chew, that will show you where and when you can race: http://chewville.jimdo.com/racing-calendar/. It also features links to many flat track racing organizations and tracks in the US.