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Hinson makes steel clutch baskets that replace the aluminum standard baskets on Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki MX machines. If you’re wondering what the benefits are, let me tell you how I stumbled across this basket years ago. I was looking to smooth out the hit of one of the first generation YZ450F’s and there weren’t any flywheel weights available, but Hinson was offering a heavier steel clutch basket. Fast forward to 2021 and I have found it tough to find a slightly heavier flywheel for the YZ450F so guess what? I thought I would revisit this and see how it works in my 2021 YZ450F test machine. First the steel adds durability and strength to a part that wears, often the aluminum of the basket’s fingers develop grooves where the drive plates press on them. Over time this makes the clutch action poor and increases slop in the drive of the bike. The end result is often broken baskets and even worse, broken cases as the clutch basket comes apart.
Secondly, the added weight adds rotational inertia inside the engine helping to keep the rear wheel from spinning and also smooth the pick-up of acceleration as you increase the throttle. Since the spinning ratio is reduced compared to the crank, the weight effect is slightly less pronounced than a flywheel weight, but still can offer benefits from what I have experienced on our 2021 YZ450F.
A flywheel weight on certain bikes can calm the power delivery. In some cases, heavy flywheels can smooth low end power and just replace the point of power that is now smoother, somewhere else in the power range. That is NOT always great! I am fairly picky about the engine delivery of a big 450, so as much as I love a Yamaha YZ450F, I wanted to smooth out the power coming out of area three of corners, in order for the rear wheel to hook up more. I have been having a problem wheeling the YZ450F when under the throttle hard as well as getting wheel spin out of corners when accelerating to clear jumps. I can’t seem to tune this out with the YZ Power Tuner, so here we are…
Enter the Hinson steel clutch basket. Depending on the application it can be up to two pounds heavier than the stock basket. Made from precision machined steel, it is impervious to wear on the ears, like the standard aluminum baskets can be. To install the Hinson steel basket you do have to remove your standard clutch basket, so just be forewarned this process can take a while. You then must drill out the rivets and replace the drive gear on from the back of the stock clutch and install it on the Hinson basket. (Some kits come with a new kickstarter gear and drive cushions as well.) Hinson recommends using their cushions (which come with the basket), especially if your bike has some time on it. This install process takes slightly above normal mechanical know-how and tools, but it isn’t much more than a 90 minute job with the included step-by-step instructions.
Right from the get go I am able to feel the Hinson steel basket’s effect on the engine character of the YZ450F. It doesn’t seem to affect the throttle response much at all, but it does smooth the power out when accelerating out of rut. I don’t know if this mod is something that you east coast/soft dirt riders would necessarily need, but if you ride loamy to hard pack dirt this is something that can help forward rear wheel bite. The YZ450F has a stock engine character that spools up quicker than other 450’s in its class. With that being said, that kind of power can be really good for soft dirt, as it can make the bike feel light and get you out of soft ruts/corners quickly. Now for us west coasters that ride in loamy conditions in the morning and then hard pack in the afternoon, the YZ450F can be tricky to dial in. With the steel Hinson basket installed the YZ450F engine feel gets a calmer delivery to where you can accelerate sooner out of ruts/corners. The rear wheel spin that I got out of corners (under hard acceleration) with the stock basket is much less with the steel Hinson basket. Not only are you getting less rear wheel spin, but the chassis also feels slightly more planted of throttle. Installing this steel Hinson basket gives the rider slightly more front end traction off throttle on your initial lean. Yes, you will get a little more engine braking, but with the TP 5 map shown here, it does lessen the drag off throttle.
For $310.00, it’s worth the price, if you’re looking to smooth out your YZ450F a little in the areas I mentioned. The only negative to this part is that it does make a little more engine braking, but with the map attached here, it does help lessen that somewhat. I am very sensitive to engine braking, but when I asked my other test rider to ride his YZ450F and my test bike back to back, he didn’tt notice much engine braking at all. This is a part that maybe you don’t know you need, until you try it. I am glad I remembered that Hinson offers the Momentum Steel Clutch Basket. You can check the momentum basket out right here: https://hinsonracing.com/p14400-momentum-clutch-basket-2020-yz450f
If you have any questions about this test, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org