- Bike Checks
It's time again for the opening round of the All-Japan Nationals and a peek at what we might get come new bike season.
It's that time of year again, time for the opening round of the All-Japan National Motocross Championship! As much as we wish we could be there to drool over the latest works and 2018 pre-production tech...we're sadly not there. But as usual, our friends at Transworld Motocross have made the yearly trek and Donn Maeda's been posting a few teasers/previews of the bikes at the first round for the 2017 season. Practice is literally happening as we speak...well not really, as it's pouring down rain at the track but there's still stuff to see. With their blessing, we've snagged a few of the shots they've shown off so far and if you want to see more, jump on these Instagram accounts: Transworld Motocross & Donn Maeda. Also remember to keep an eye out for a big feature from Transworld on all the bikes this upcoming week. We really appreciate the work that goes into getting these bad boys out for all to see...and drool over.
First up is a look at Akira Narita's works HRC Honda CRF450RW. This year, the champ's bike features a full carbon fiber subframe/airbox/side panel combo, along with side number plates that are carbon fiber. We also noticed that he switched from Showa spring forks and shock to KYB units. From this view, we can't say for certain if they're PSF1 or AOSS forks. The cap area and the way it's situated on the cartridge top suggest PSF1, but we could be wrong.
Narita's bike, like the GP and US bikes features electric start...but with some added trick-ness or should we say lessened? As his bike features sand-cast cases without the kickstart-boss area to save weight. We've heard the 2018 Honda CRF450R could come with electric start standard but we expect them to keep the kickstarter on the production model, not the removed version we see here. But, only time will tell.
Another view of the carbon fiber subframe/airbox.
Moving on, we have the Suzuki RM-Z450WS, which of course we saw from the opening round of the MXGP series and their personal intro we features. But, here's a further look at what they're running in Japan this season. Right off the bat, we notice the Showa BRFC Shock (Balance Free Rear-Cushion) and latest works spring forks. We hear that the BFRC may finally reach a production version for 2018, as it's been on road race machines in racing and production for a while now, but we're not sure if it'll be with Suzuki or Kawasaki. The forks are the same as what's being used in the US right now, the latest version of their 49mm twin-chamber fork but with the option of air assist. We expect the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 to come with their own version of this fork that debuted on the 2017 Honda CRF450R. We also noticed in this short video that the Japan team is utilizing the rear shock travel sensors that RCH developed here in the US. Also, no electric start, and we aren't expecting it come production.
The series of photos in this slideshow shows one bike equipped with Showa and the other with KYB, along with Magura hydraulic clutches.
Next up is the Yamaha YZ450FM, which has a few tell-tales heading into the production 2018 model. First off, the bike has an all-new chassis and swingarm, and some heavily revised bodywork. While the rear may not appear too much different, it's clear the different position and shape of the fuel tank, along with the redesigned radiator shroud/air scoop. We've heard from some first hand accounts that the new production shape of the shrouds and radiator angle has made it even thinner than the previous model equipped with Cycra shrouds. And while the engine may not appear much different, it has a few new castings and appears to support an electric starter.
A tighter view reveals no kickstarter but still the majority of the area is still on the cases. This points to the electric starter motor being mounted to the backside of this case area, behind the cylinder. Also from this view we get a better look at the shrouds and the KYB works spring forks. We hear there might be an updated KYB AOSS/SSS spring fork in the works and we suspect the first bike to debut it will be the production Yamahas.
As for the Kawasaki KX450F, this looks come from our own forum as someone found a website gallery photo and then another member, Tempura, was on-hand today to snag a few shots of their bikes.
With Kawasaki having heavily updated their KX450F in 2016, we didn't expect to see too much new on their bikes this go-around.
Per the usual in Japan, the team has one rider on Showa components, while the other is using KYB.
We do find it interesting to see the Kawasaki team utilizing more aftermarket components (slowly more Japanese teams are), such as these X-Trig clamps...which their factory teams are using almost world-wide. And in the team photoshoot they show Pro Circuit systems but...
...In typical Kawasaki fashion they have modified stock units. This headpipe does look a bit larger in diameter than what we're used to seeing.
The engine cases/layout and the frame seem to be unchanged, at least from a glance.
Nothing too unusual here.