■ TEST BY TODD REED PHOTOS BY CHRIS PICKETT
NESTLED among the factory race teams of Aussie MX and SX are increasingly high numbers of privately funded race teams. These small-time efforts are out there making a name for themselves and taking the fight to the big budget 'factory' teams on the scene. Raceline Suzuki, Coastal KTM, and SP Motorsports Suzuki are a few of the teams which spring to mind. Team 7 Axis Motorsports is another privateer race team getting among the action and making waves around the pits.
Towards the closing stages of the 2010 Australian MX Nationals the Team 7 Axis Motorsports outfit offered Cycle Torque the opportunity to test its Honda CRF250R racer, piloted in 2010 by Pro Lites punter Michael Addison. The bike the boys at Axis were offering is their pride and joy, Michael's full blown race machine fresh from being washed from the previous round of the MX nationals.
Sitting underneath the CRF250R is a set of Showa A-Kit forks and shock. Unfortunately for us though, Addison had taken off for some riding and racing and had taken his beloved A-kit suspenders with him. So instead we were offered up a set of Honda genuine Showa suspension which had been A-Kit 'replicated'. It had all the bells and whistles, the only thing missing was the trick external coatings. This is the same stuff that Addison uses every day in his practice bike, and team-mate Dylan Peterson uses in his full blown U19's race bike.
The rear shock gets similar treatment with a complete re-valve and the addition of various parts from the Factory Connection catalogue. Tucked away below the rear shock is another trick little item, the Factory Connection linkage arm. This helps to lower the rear end and keep it more stable over the standard linkage system.
So what's it like? Very good! After a few laps around our test track it soon became apparent the genuine forks and shock have seen some serious modifications. When compared to a production Honda this bike holds up much better in the stroke and has a much better resistance to bottoming. The Factory Connection setup gives you more of a firm feel about the suspension yet still maintains a nice supple feeling over the small bumps and ruts. We felt the rear shock tracked really well and held a great line under hard acceleration coming out of turns.
On the favourite's list for the suspension was certainly the feel of the bike on big jumps and the larger bumps. It almost felt like the CRF had extra stroke as it soaked up and took on the big hits without a hint of bottoming or rebounding like a pogo stick. It is a very confidence inspiring setup and the faster we went the better the suspension performed.
The motor sitting beneath the Team 7 Axis machine has also undergone some extensive testing and development. Generally speaking more money equals more power; the team may not have the biggest budget or largest amount of resources but they have still managed to come up with a killer engine. Team Manager Andrew Hopson acquired a wealth of engine building knowledge in his 15 year stint living and working among American motocross' greatest teams and riders. It shows on Addison's race bike as this bike is certainly one of the fastest 250Fs we've ridden. The Axis team use a generous amount of Pro Circuit parts and a countless amount of hours to turn its machines from what you purchase from your local dealer into race-bred rocketships.
On the track Addison's bike is noticeably faster than the production version. It's not arm stretching hard hitting power, however it pulls nicely off the bottom into a very strong mid to top end. The Pro Circuit exhaust system makes the engine feel very lively and gives the rider the feel that the power is ready whenever you need it. Blasting out of deep ruts and loamy turns was a dream as the Honda launched into the meat of the power and steadily continued until it was time to find the brakes. This is a motor that almost any rider would find great to ride, it is however very lively and raunchy and gives the feeling it wants to be constantly ridden harder and faster.
Addison runs a very streamline setup when it comes to the rest of the parts on his bike. Easton tapered handlebars headline the driver's seat and the Hammerhead gear shift lever and rear brake pedal along with Pro Circuit footpegs do the job of keeping everything under control under your toes. As soon as you throw a leg over Addo's CRF everything feels very comfortable and in the right place. The 'bars and levers are all in a very conventional position and there is nothing out of the ordinary going on. The Axis team runs Dunlop Geomax tyres on its bikes and they are easily one of the best tyres on today's market.
I wonder if the boys at Axis would notice if their race bike went missing, and found its way into the Cycle Torque garage? The CRF250 was a great bike to ride and we imagine it would be an even better bike to race. It is littered with aftermarket accessories to make the most out of what is already a great bike from Honda. ■
Factory Connection bits feature Remote reservoir for shock, strongly on the Axis racer.
Axis spent loads of time inside the Vortex fuel injection box. motor.
Pro Circuit pipe.
Factory Connection linkage arm.
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