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I initially tested the Factory Connection linkage one year ago with a couple of the employees from the New Hampshire office at Glen Helen Raceway. We went through several different configurations and came up with one that improved the Honda’s finicky handling. On the stock 2021-2022 Honda CRF450R the rear of the bike can feel somewhat stinkbug when coming into corners (off throttle). When you try to combat that with a lower sag reading or a stiffer fork setting it creates an edgier/harsher feeling chassis. Although Factory Connection will not indulge in what the specific changes (rising rate, rod length, etc.) are to their linkage (and frankly, I don’t care) I do know it changes the way the Honda feels coming in and out of corners.
After my initial run through of all the linkages, I waited around for quite sometime until Factory Connection could get me a production version. When that time came for the linkage to be installed I had to ship them my shock in order for their linkage to be fully mated. Factory Connection MUST modify the shock to accommodate this linkage set. This modification allows for the linkage and shock length to work together thus making sure that the rear wheel is in the same location. The end result of the chassis layout is that there is zero changes to the height of the rear of the bike. Since I had my shock at Factory Connection, I might as well give them my forks as well and give you some feedback on that too. This is kind of where they suck you into the whole package right? Maybe not the best if you don’t have the money to get the full suspension treatment. This isn’t a type of linkage where you can just bolt on and feel the difference on stock suspension so just know that you will be spending a little more than just the cost of the linkage. Do you have to re-valve your forks for the Factory Connection shock/linkage? No, but if you want your suspension to work its best, it’s recommended to match your fork with the shock/linkage.
So, let’s get to just the linkage/shock feel with the stock fork. I tested the shock/linkage combo with a newer set of stock 2022 Honda CRF450R forks and the difference is noticeable. The Honda CRF450R now has less of a harsh feeling on acceleration chop and the rear wheel stays on the ground with less feedback transfers to your back. On braking bumps the Honda is flatter and has less pitching feel when chopping the throttle to set up for corners. We ran the sag between 105-106mm and that is where the Honda CRF450R likes to live with the Factory Connection shock/linkage mod at the three different tracks we tested at. To me, this doesn’t solve ALL the harshness problems of the Honda CRF450R but it does help with a lot of the edgy-ness when your own the edge of your tires.
With the Factory Connection fork re-valve the Honda felt more balanced on two specific parts of the track. One is when I am braking hard into deep/taller/softer bumps. The CRF450R now has better hold up and better control feel when pushing past your braking points a little when hitting de-cel bumps harder. The second point that stood out to me was how the fork felt like it rode higher in the stroke (front end taller feeling) yet had more plushness on small bump absorption. I could feel my front tire much better with the re-valved set up than the stock setting.
At the end of the day the Factory Connection shock/linkage combo improved Honda’s stiff natured chassis feel. Does it have Kawasaki comfort now? No, of course not, but at least I can manage to go to some late afternoon practice sessions in at Glen Helen without feeling like I need to ice up when I get home. If you’re a Honda owner the shock/linkage modification is a step in the “comfort” direction!
– This is a Full Linkage Set; Delta (Rocker an Pull Rods)
– Comes complete with OEM Bearings, Dust Seals and Thrust Washers installed. The customer will utilize their existing stock linkage bolts, nuts / washers and collars.
– This linkage allows for changes and performance improvements that cannot be tuned via shim setting
– Riders need to reset the Rider Sag once installed; but same spring rate can be utilized that would normally be recommended for the rider.
2021-2023 CRF450R / CRF450RWE / CRF450RX
2022-2023 CRF250R / CRF250RX
Retail Price $455.00* Plus Modification of Shock
*Cost to modify Shock: This varies depending on the situation…
*Stock shock to be Revalved by Factory Connection for intended use with Linkage Set
* $227 Labor / $20 Fluids plus parts (depending on wear parts $325-375)
*Shock already Revalved by Factory Connection
* $125 Labor / $20 Fluids plus parts (depending on wear parts $250-275)
* Typical turnaround time 2-5 days depending on time of year. (Call for current turnaround times)