Race Tech/AGR Suspension Review
By Greg Poisson
As you know, Honda completely redesigned the CRF450R in 2021. For 90% of us mere mortals a 450 machine is more motorcycle than any of us will ever need. So what’s the main focus we should focus on for upgrades? Suspension and handling. Putting that power to the ground and making it manageable.
We took my 2021 CRF450R provided by Barrie Honda Powerhouse to Adam “Disco Stu” Robinson at Race Tech/AGR Suspension. I’ve known Stu on a personal level for almost 20 years but his professional resumé is long and accredited. Having worked with some of the top teams and riders in recent Canadian history, Stu also has experience with all of the major suspension companies. He brings this into his own suspension servicing company, AGR Suspension, based out of North Frontenac, north of Kaladar, Ontario.
Stu has been removed from the professional racing scene in Canada for a season or two, focusing on a career in fire fighting and his passion for fishing. Race Tech spends countless dollars on R&D every year to further improve their services and products. They have really made a push in the last few years involving themselves with various race teams on the highest levels on motocross racing.
Anyway, onto the good stuff!
In stock form the CRF450R comes sprung too soft for anyone over 180 pounds. Typically, your average 450 rider is somewhere over 170 pounds, so one of the first things you’ll want to do is get your forks/shock resprung. Stu wanted to set us up with the “Gold Valve” package that’s proprietary to Race Tech.
From Race Tech’s site:
“Gold Valves® are Race Tech’s Custom Valving Kits. They are designed to break through the limitations of stock piston designs. Research has shown that the stock piston ports induce unnecessary harshness and inconsistency. Gold Valves are designed to reduce piston restriction, so harshness is dramatically reduced. This allows the valving stack to be personally tailored to the individual rider. Tests have proven that bottoming resistance can actually be increased as the harshness is decreased. Traction is also improved.”
So, a bit of info about me: I’m about 195 pounds plus gear so Stu knew we would need to beef this bike up a little bit without making it too harsh of a ride. The Honda is known to be quite stiff in the chassis department, so that adds to the overall package of trying to wrangle a 450 in the first place. Stu did a complete rebuild and revalve of the suspension components with the Race Tech Gold Valves & Springs.
He set the fork tube height at 3mm and the shock sag at 106mm.
I took the bike out to a friend’s personal track. There was moisture in the dirt and the track was smooth, so not the ideal place to test a new suspension setting, but I had limited time on the bike so any time on the bike was valuable.
Right away, I noticed improved traction when initially rolling on the throttle in flat corners. The ability to land from a jump and get into an inside rut was noticeably improved. There’s a tricky double into a righthand corner where an inside rut develops regularly. Before the revalve, I found it difficult to land and have the bike settle enough to grab this inside rut. Now I could perform this with ease.
The track was heavily watered so that Walton-like ruts would develop as all the riders present would be participating in the upcoming TransCan. I found the bike would settle into ruts with ease and could hold a line much easier than before. I was able to put power to the ground and not worry about the bike sliding out on me.
Braking bumps developed later in the day and the new setting handled these with ease. There was never a moment where it kicked side to side giving me the confidence to charge longer and harder into corners.
I rode at a few different tracks after this day with various conditions. I found the suspension to be consistent and able to handle anything I threw at it.
Overall, the Race Tech suspension made the bike much easier to ride, which is what we all look for when choosing a 450 as our bike of choice. There was a consistent improvement in traction and I could predict what the bike was going to do at any moment, increasing my confidence after so many years off the bike. It’s exactly what I needed.
I would recommend AGR Suspension/Race Tech for your next suspension service. I noticed a major improvement over the stock settings with the Gold Valve components installed. There was increased bottoming resistance without a harsh feeling throughout the stroke.
Gold Valve Kit: FMGV 39201
Fork Spring: FRSP 454749
Tube Height: 3mm
Gold Valve Kit: SMG 5003
Spring: SRSP 672458