MXA PRODUCT TEST: APPLIED SST CRF450 TRIPLE CLAMPS: Is A Different Offset The Cure For The 2009-2010 Honda CRF450’s Handling Woes?

December 22, 2009
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MXA PRODUCT TEST:
APPLIED SST CRF450 TRIPLE CLAMPS

WHAT IS IT? A 24mm offset triple clamp for the 2009-2010 CRF450.     

WHAT’S IT COST? $395.95 (top and bottom clamps); $49.95 (aluminum steering stem); $39.95 (lower stem bearing).

CONTACT? www.appliedrace.com or (800) 853-0555.

WHAT STANDS OUT?
Here’s a list of things that stand out with Applied SST (Super Short Trail) triple clamps.

(1) Geometry. Honda’s goal was to make the 2009-2010 CRF450 as agile as possible. In comparison to the 2008 model, they moved the weight bias of the bike forward, increased the steepness of the head angle and further reduced the offset (they already reduced it from 2007 to 2008). In our opinion, Honda went overboard and created a bike that is nervous, oversteers and tends to wag.

(2) Function. Applied’s solution to Honda’s handling woes was to increase the offset from the stock 20mm to 24mm (which was the pre-2008 stock offset). An offset change does many things, but mainly it decreases trail, moves the engine backwards (in relationship to the front contact patch) and lengthens the wheelbase.

(3) Construction. Applied clamps are CNC-machined from 6061 and 7075 aluminum. They claim a larger clamping surface and lighter weight than the stock units, while maintaining the standard steering damper and brake line guide mounts.

(4) Performance. We aren’t sold on this offset, but it does some things that we liked. First and foremost, 24mm triple clamps are not a slam-dunk fix for CRF450 handling. They do change the handling enough that MXA test riders could feel the difference. The biggest improvement was at turn-in. The 24mm clamps made the bike accurate and improved stability when entering a corner. The Pro test riders really liked this aspect, but slower test riders, who turn in less aggressively, couldn’t feel the difference. Things happen a little slower and more controlled with the SST clamps at turn-in. The SSTs make it easier to avoid knifing in softer soil or pushing on hardpack. That said, the 24mm clamps did nothing to stop the front end from seesawing from the center-out portion of the corner. Overall, the Applied SST clamp gains are modest. The CRF450 will still wander.

(5) Options. You can order SST clamps in silver, black or red. Bar mounts can be ordered in different heights, and you get to choose between solid- or rubber-mounted. The bar mounts are reversible, allowing either the stock position or a slightly forward position. Also, you can choose to run the supplied single-piece top on the bar mounts to help prevent twisting. Lastly, a 22mm offset version called FST (Factory Short Trail) is also available.

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have two gripes. (1) Triple clamp offset is just one factor in the 2009-10 CRF450’s handling equation. Applied clamps are an improvement (in that they do change one aspect of the cornering equation), but far from a complete fix. (2) It costs $90 extra for the stem and lower bearing, but they will press it on for you. You can have the stem pressed out of your stock clamps, but that complicates returning the bike to stock trim.


This is a Band-Aid fix for an arterial bleeder. Some bikes love offset changes (Kawasaki KX250F’s and KX450F’s in particular), while others that seem like candidates for offset change resist the effort. The CRF450 falls into that category.


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