KIWI RIDER 11 2018 VOL.2 - Page 56

RIDING The first thing which really struck me about the new bike was that the front end is very precise. There’s excellent feedback available to the rider and this would certainly suit riders who favour steering a bike with accuracy, rather than the blast and hope types. Next, the engine is powerful providing excellent traction while not feeling too tiring to ride - something that’s all too common on 450s in my experience. My last initial impression was that the ergos are very very good... oh, and that the front brake still lacks a little bite – not quite matching best in class performance. A solid couple of hours riding later those initial impressions were confirmed. I had a bit of a play around with the suspension to suit my riding style and svelte silhouette... and ended up firming the forks a couple of clicks on compression and rebound, which actually gave them a plusher feel as they rode higher in the stroke and felt more settled on choppy bumps. At the rear I also added some rebound to the shock but this was after having to add some spring preload to compensate for my winter coat. I reduced high speed compression and added two clicks of low speed compression damping and was satisfied with the firm, controlled and plush-ish suspension action on the many square edged bumps at Moto X Central – which is an excellent place to ride by the way. The clutch felt pretty good and I never had any fade issues, but frankly I was not working it that hard on the tight, hard pack conditions we had for our test. However, I will say that hydraulic clutches these days have better feel and are lighter to pull than their cable counterparts, so please put that on the update list for next year Mr Honda. 56 KIWI RIDER