MotoOnline.com.au tests Todd Waters’ factory Honda MX Nationals contender in Victoria.
Melbourne-based Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing is one of the premier teams in Australian motocross. Run by Full Throttle Sports as Honda Australia’s official factory effort, there’s no stone left unturned when it comes to ensuring the best possible equipment hits the track on any given race day.
Following the 2011 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals, MotoOnline.com.au was invited to test the actual race bike of rising star Todd Waters, which he raced to the podium at both Moree and Coolum despite missing the first half of the season with a wrist injury.
Waters formed one third of a three rider Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing team alongside experienced Victorian Cheyne Boyd, while Kiwi Michael Phillips was asked to stay on for the entire season after initially filling in as a replacement for Waters.
Despite their factory status, Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing uses a variety of locally distributed parts that are readily available to the public, assisting in development of their sponsors’ product throughout the season in both the MX Nationals and Super X.
It’s a very strong team commercially with the outside industry funding of Carlton Dry, and they do their very best to ensure each and every sponsor involved in the effort gets their dollars worth when it comes to exposure on and off track.
MotoOnline.com.au got Victorian pro Adam Monea to help us out with the testing, so here’s what he thought of the bike, as well as what Waters looks for in his ride directly below. To finish, we also got crew member Mike Landman to explain how they go about the technical development of the bike during the year.
To check out MotoOnline.com.au’s film from the Race Test, visit the following link by clicking here.
Adam Monea – Guest MotoOnline.com.au Test Rider
The overall handling was really good and I liked it a lot. It’s stiff for me because Todd may be a little bit heavier and is also going faster, but the way the bike worked overall was really good. It’s nice and plush, just easy to ride. As far as steering goes, I could put it anywhere I wanted and didn’t have a problem with it.
There were a few really steep, sharp braking and acceleration bumps on the track we tested on. I really pushed it through them, braking later than I normally would just to see how the bike handled. It didn’t want to deflect or spit me sidewards – it just wanted to tract and they’ve done a really good job with it. Once I rode into the bike, upped my speed a bit, it got better and better.
These guys have a lot of pace, so the way they ride them is obviously different to your average guy. Once I got used to the bike and the way it worked, it definitely allowed me to start going faster. The faster I went, the better it worked.
I was most impressed with the engine. It was really torquey and had a lot of power off the bottom. I could ride it third gear through turns without the clutch, roll on the throttle and it would really get up and go. I was stoked with the power it has. Compared to stock bikes I’ve ridden, it was quite a powerful engine. Those things have nothing on what we can feel on the race bike.
With the ergonomics, the Zeta levers are what I’ve run in the past and the new rounded ones are really quite comfy. They’re really good levers and I haven’t broken any yet in my experience with them – I tend to break a lot of things! I’m one to trash seat covers as well, but the Ringmaster one held up really good.
Todd definitely runs his front brakes very stiff without much feel at all. Once you pull the lever, it’s right there and ready to stop. With the braided lines and that it has a lot of bite, but I’d have a different feel to it if it were my bike. There weren’t many things I didn’t like, just the minor things like the handlebar and lever positions that I’d need to customize for myself.
Todd Waters – Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing Rider
This year was a little bit difficult for me coming off an injury and then we switched to Ohlins suspension. The bike was totally different to what I was used to, because in previous years we had just used production suspension and had a good base there. I pretty much had to develop the bike while I was racing the last few rounds of the nationals.
The Ohlins suspension puts off a different feel – the back shock’s a lot busier and that took me a long time to get used to that. I like a stable handling bike. At the start of the year I spent January and February in Melbourne, using what I’d used in previous years.
But when I was injured, Boydy ended up going to the Ohlins and once I got back that’s what I used too. In between Coonabarabran and Albury was when I did a lot of my testing, but we got there in the end.
Mikey P and I get work a lot together while Boydy sort of does his own deal, but we all get along together really well and talk a lot. It’s a good atmosphere to be around, but we have different directions that we set our bikes up in. We have our own mechanics and it is pretty independent, although we do train together and do motos together when I’m down there near the team.
With the motor, I do like it aggressive, but this year I didn’t run that because of my injury. The power’s fairly smooth and I run a 49 tooth sprocket on the back, which also makes the power a bit smoother just because I wasn’t as fit as last year. Normally I do like a fairly powerful bike though.
I’m happy with where the bike’s at and the team has been great as well. Yarrive [Konsky] knows what I want and I know what it takes to keep him happy as well, so I was pretty happy considering my strength is at about 50 percent compared to last year. I’m nowhere near the physical strength that I had, only just hanging in there during those final few motos. I was pumped to get on the podium.
I work closely with Mike, but it’s a fairly open team, so whatever one rider has, the other usually tries. I was just working with the suspension guys, because the main issue was for me to get my bike set up after I came back mid-season from injury.
Mike Landman – Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing Crew
Todd likes the power bottom to mid, whereas Boydy tends to like the power from mid-top. What Todd really looks for is a bike that’s easy to ride, very stable in the handling and steering, plus he likes a good strong front brake.
We have struggled a bit with Todd because he’s missed so much racing this year. Where he was when he came back to where he is now, obviously he’s gotten quicker as time’s gone by. We’ve had to change his suspension from week to week, but I think at Coolum we were somewhere near what we need. I do think we needed to go a bit firmer, but the basic setting is there. He’s just going quicker and quicker each week.
We did a lot of testing at the start of the year, with Todd and Cheyne both testing together. We started to get some good settings, but unfortunately too crashed and broke his wrist at Broadford – it was just such a small crash that impacted his whole season.
Once he was fit and healthy, we flew him down and he spent a few days testing down here after the injury. But once again, since he’s been improving so much as he regains fitness, we’re just constantly changing the suspension to keep up with him. Now we have a good base to start with him for next year.
We spoke to Steve Cramer, who imports Ohlins, and thought it would be a good way to go because it’s a quality product with a world-renowned name. We decided to go down that road and it’s been good. We did have to start from scratch with both Cheyne and Todd, but we’re getting to a place now where we can continue building next year.
From track to track we don’t change the bike huge amounts, but certainly we might change the ignition with the Vortex, either mixtures or the ignition setting if a rider wants to have a different feel. We don’t change major components, it’s just fine-tuning. With the suspension we’ll change a few clickers, maybe go to a different spring, but primarily the componentry all stays the same. We also obviously change the tyres to suit conditions.
The team works with Bruce Linsdale, who works for Steve as a supension technician. He knows the product very well, so we’ve been working with him in that area. The engine is done in-house with the help of Wossner Pistons and Tokyo Mods, so once again we’ve got a good setting to start from for motocross next year.
We’ve had a relationship with Thor, Michelin, Tag, Braking and all of those companies for quite a while and really enjoy those relationships. We’ve also had a few new ones like Ohlins, Zeta, DRC, Uni Filter and Force, so we like to work closely with our sponsors and give them feedback to develop the products.
Carlton Dry Honda CRF450R Specifications
Engine: Konsky Motorsport/Honda Racing/Tokyo Mods 450cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC
Spark Plug: NGK
Carburation: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Exhaust Pipe: Akrapovic
Air Filter: Uni Filter
Drive Chain: RK #520
Suspension Front Fork: 48mm Ohlins TTX22
Suspension Rear Shock: Ohlins TTX44
Triple Clamps: HRC
Front Brake: 270mm Braking disc with Goodridge brake lines
Rear Brake: 240mm Braking disc with Goodridge brake lines
Controls – Front Brake: Zeta
Controls – Clutch: Zeta
Controls – Rear Brake: Hammerhead
Controls – Gear Lever: Hammerhead
Clutch Cover: Force Accessories
Graphics: Ringmaster Images
Seat: Ringmaster gripper cover