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Baja Bound...But I Need A Bike!

Project Bike

I recently had a Project Bike dropped in my lap and am very near completing the process.

During a conversation with a Canadian OTMX racing buddy (Don Tocher) he relayed that he would like to go to Baja one more time before he died!  This stopped me in my tracks and made me think, wow, I go ride with people down in Baja on a semi regular basis and seem to take it for granted. It made such an impact on me that I encouraged Don to not wait until it was too late. Let’s get on with making it happen and he asked me if I would look around my area for a decent used bike that he could purchase and turn into a dependable Baja bike.

Since everyone and their brother seems to use the Honda CRF 450X as a platform for racing, pre running and trail riding down there I figured it would be the best choice. Considering availability and other people with spares, etc. Also Don seems to have a preference for Hondas.

I searched ads, asked buddies and kept my eyes open for a Honda 450X. Another buddy, Montana John, dropped a contact number on me for a Honda that he said seemed to be in pretty good shape and was within our budget. We were shopping in the $3000 to $3500 range. Great!!!   Then I called the guy and found out he was about an hour and a half away, doh!!!  So I made a date to come look at his bike and made the trek. It was not the ideal time because I had to go in the evening and it was dark by the time I got there. So I bust out the flashlight and do my very best to look for all the problem areas I know of on the Honda 450x model. I really didn’t find any and it seemed to be in much better than average condition for the year model. The engine cases, frame, plastics, chain and sprockets all looked clean and/or original. This was good news. It was not a makeover and appeared to have been parked for quite some time in a garage somewhere.


So I attempted to fire it up, listen to the engine and take it for a test ride, to check gearbox, clutch, motor performance, etc. It was not easy to get started and when I checked the gas in the tank, it really didn’t smell much like gas anymore, so I figured ok the gas is bad and the jets are probably plugged up too.  I finally got it running and of course it didn’t want to stay running or idle, but after a warm up I took it down the road and was pleasantly surprised at how tight the motor, gearbox and clutch were even though it didn’t pull worth a crap on the bottom end due to carb plugged and bad gas. But once I got it rolling and on the pipe it pulled very well and sounded good!

So I made the deal and loaded up and was on my way, fingers crossed that I had not missed anything while looking with a flashlight in the drive way. I know what you are thinking…..No he did not have a garage.

Once back at the ghetto/repair facility (my garage) I began work the next day. Draining gas, checking for issues in the daylight and making a list of things it would need to be Baja worthy. It already had a Yoshimura pipe, Oversize tank, Skid plate and Fat Bars with risers as well as Moose radiator guards.

On closer inspection I found several small areas that needed to be addressed and set to work. It has now been a week with a few half days of wrenching, adjusting, replacing and putting together a parts list. The bike is in pretty good shape now and I finished just in time to take it on my normal Monday Taco ride, which is a loop that covers about 95 miles with tacos and a soda midway. The bike performed without a hiccup but needs a bit of suspension adjusting. Considering my normal ride is a 500 KTM XCW with SBB suspension just about any bike would require adjusting to make me happy!

So the second ride was quite impressive after adjusting the fork oil, rebound and compression. I then moved on to the shock which seemed to be soft and sluggish in bigger bumps. The feeling led me to believe the nitrogen was probably depleted. After recharging the shock to the proper nitrogen pressure it reacted much better. A bit of adjusting compression and rebound resulted in a much better ride. It was now fun to ride, kinda like a Honda! Imagine that.

So now it comes down to my Canadian buddy, Mr. Tocher. Will he make the trip down to ride Baja this spring or will he let another year slip away………………..Stay tuned, as we all wait to see what happens.


‘Don’t be afraid of death, be afraid of an unlived life’

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  • Response
    All are improving with this mx43 blog about baja bound but I need a bike purchase and turn into a dependable baja bike. Informative topics I ever seen here for the seemed to be in pretty good garage somewhere.

Reader Comments (1)

Pic #3 ...The poor Honda all by itself on the Taco ride because your bum ass friends didn't go on the test ride with ya!😀

March 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason Amos

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