MB1 Suspension Modifications

This past summer Mike Battista left Showa to start his own suspension company and make the lessons he learned while tuning factory suspension available to the public. During his tenure at Showa, Battista worked with riders like Ricky Carmichael, Ernesto Fonseca, Kevin Windham and Mike LaRocco. Even though MB1 has only been in business for a few months, they are quickly becoming one of the most popular suspension shops around, thanks to Mike’s years of experience.

With several hours on our 2005 Honda CRF450R suspension, we felt it was time to see what they were capable of in the hands of an experienced tuner, so we stripped the fork and shock off and delivered them to MB1. In stock condition, the suspension was a bit soft and the forks tended to blow through the stroke easily, which resulted in frequent bottoming. To combat this, they started off by rebuilding and revalving the forks to suit our personal needs. The next step was to remove the stock .47 kg/mm fork springs and replace them with .49 kg/mm springs, which helped keep the bike balanced and the forks riding higher in the stroke. Following the spring change, the compression stack was modified and made more linear for smoother action, and the mid-speed valve was modified for less mid-stroke harshness. Finally, the oil level height in the forks was reduced from 382cc to 375cc for smoother action and a plusher ride.

After the forks were finished, Mike and his crew went to work on the rear shock, where they rebuilt and revalved it to match the changes to the forks. They started off by throwing out the stock 5.5 kg/mm shock spring and replacing it with a heavier 5.7 kg/mm spring. The heavier spring adds more G-out control and keeps the shock riding higher in the linkage ratio. The compression stack was modified for increased control at high speeds, smoother travel, and improved bottoming resistance. Next, the rebound stack was modified for smoother action and more low-speed control. The stock Showa bladder cap was also replaced with a trick-looking red anodized MB1 bladder cap, which will help keep race sag on the CRF450R more consistent. Once the suspension was back on the bike, the sag was set at 100 mm, which is the amount of sag MB1 recommends for outdoor motocross tracks.

Along with the modifications, MB1 provides set-up instructions that will help you fine-tune your suspension for varying track types and conditions. The instructions explain in detail how changes to race sag and compression and rebound settings will affect the handling of your bike and when these changes should be made. Straightforward and easy to understand, MB1’s set-up instructions will be extremely helpful to anyone who has been intimidated by the thought of making changes to their suspension in the past.

In stock trim the CRF450R is a great-handling bike, but like most stock bikes, it is a bit too soft for intermediate to advanced riders and heavier riders. Our CRF450R was confidence-inspiring from the moment we got on the track with the MB1-modified suspension. The spongy feeling of the stock forks in corners was replaced with a firm responsiveness that allowed the bike to be easily guided with pinpoint accuracy through even the slickest of corners. The increased bottoming resistance was definitely noticeable on the larger jumps where the stock suspension would blow through the stroke and leave us cringing every lap, while landings with the MB1 suspension were hardly felt. At the same time, the MB1 suspension was plush enough to handle braking bumps, making the front end feel like it was glued to the ground and allowing us to charge deeper into corners.

The MB1 suspension was completely predictable on all types of terrain and soaked up everything from big hits to the square edge chop, as the CRF450R went straight as an arrow down the whooped-out straights and steep downhills of Glen Helen. Quite simply, the modifications by MB1 to our suspension took a great bike and maade it even better.

Call 951/ 371-5045 or visit www.mb1suspension.com