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Product Review: Fastway CRF-Link

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Been getting my bike ready for the 24 hour GP in Goldendale at the end of the month. Lights, suspension, tires and top on my list, was fine tuning the handling.

If you dont want to read any further, then let me tell you that for where I ride, how I ride etc, the link works.

It improves the handling of my X to what I now call my "Thread the Needle" thumper -----bottom line it works, does what it says and makes the X a precision take any line in the nasty stuff you want off-road bike.

Period.

Now if you are bored or want something to read, be my guest. Those of you that know how I usually review products (in probably what some folks think too much detail :cry: ) I try to answer all the questions that I ask of myself BEFORE I lay down my hard earned $$$$. Guess its my engineer head (as my wife calls it). :cry:

Got my suspension really close on my CRF-X, really close.  Started out with the proper springs (I am more than just a bit off the “target” 160 pound rider the bike comes suspended for---went from the stock 4.6 in the rear to a 5.7, for example).  Shop.thumpertalk.com had the Eibach springs front and rear that I needed, and I had enough hours on the bike to toss the stock fork fluid for some Silkolene 5 Wt.  Now we are talking, suspension could be dialed in (amazing what the right springs can do!)

I have always been pretty impressed with the handling of the little thumper.  It pretty much goes where I want/need it to with minimal rider effort, but it wasnt as sharp as I thought it could be, especially once I got the proper springs for my weight and could really push the bike and the suspension.  No question though that the X is a super fun bike to flick around on the trails.

 

Once I got the proper springs in the bike though I noticed a tendency for the bike to be vague in the corners and at times a bit more willing to crawl out of tight inside grooves I pick on the tight tight snotty single track, or not routinely wanting to take a tighter line than the one I had picked.  Almost at times like it just wasn’t planted.  I am pretty aggressive in weight shifts when I ride and can load the front end pretty good and make it bite (no fat jokes thank you).  Thing is sometimes direction changes happen rapidly and with my rider skill (well-----lack there of!) getting weight aggressively transferred or power dialed on etc just isn’t always possible where and how I ride.  I have just under 4” of sag set and have messed with the damping enough to know that the front end vagueness was something I would just have to work or in the long run “deal” with.

So was the turning issue I was feeling due to my size on the bike (6’3” 230 pounds) the way I ride (or pretend to) or…..?  Don’t know, just know it was there, and became more pronounced once I got the suspension sorted out.

Enter dialing in my wife’s CRF230.

I had just gone through swapping springs and changing the bottom link on my Wife’s bike in the process of setting up for her and make it as fun as it can be.  I talked with the folks at BBR before I got the stuff asking what they have found the pluses to changing things out etc.  Two big things I was after with the new BBR rear-link with my better ½’s bike was raising the seat height and cleaning up the extremely lazy handling of the 230 (stock).  The BBR link (and springs)  did all that and more.  Wife really enjoys the transformation her bike went through and repeatedly remarked on how much more precise the turning was for her (just like the BBR folks said it would)

So…….I started thinking about my X and if I could get those type of results in turning with an aftermarket link (springs are already set). 

Wife got the springs and a link, so why not me????

Whats wrong with this picture???

(wife is showing a very strong appetite for aftermarket parts on her 230…..who’d a thunk?)

So….I got the Fastway CRF link hoping it would have the effect on my X that the BBR link I got for the wife did on her bike (handling not seat height).

 

The link is anodized black and weighs next to nothing.  4 sets of oval inserts are included and are marked with dots peened on them (one for stock up to 4 dots for the max adjustment) which allows you to change your setting to five different angles.  Very high quality production with this component.

I went for the “3” dot adjustment which according to the instructions gives a 1.5mm change.  Whats neat is that the adjustment points are at the back of the link so you could change inserts to suit the track/trail/event in a matter of minutes.  Get the bike on a stand, pull the one 19mm nut and pull the bolt and swap inserts, remount and go.  Pretty slick set up.  I don’t know of ANY aftermarket part (with the exception of a programmable/switched ignition) that has this level of impact on a bikes performance that can be changed, modified or altered as quick as the CRF-Link.

Went for a rides in some very wet, root infested tight single track just to see if the vagueness went away as claimed it would.  I did a couple of quick whoop infested blasts by the truck to see if the rear end needed any adjustment.  The instructions said that the shock would be working faster with the link and they were correct.  The shock was rebounding way faster with the link than it was before.  Went back to the truck and tightened up rebound 2 clicks and hit the whoops again…….still too fast, clicked in two more on the rebound and that slowed things down enough with the link. 

Total adjustment, 4 clicks stiffer rebound. 

Now for the trails.

Bottom line up front:  Vagueness is totally gone.  My little X is for lack of a better term is a “Thread the Needle” thumper.  Holds and grabs any line, inside or out or changes form tight to tighter without so much as a thought to make happen.

Just like my wife with her BBR link on her CRF-230, I am very very happy with the improvements!!!

I will say my X never handled bad, it never stood up or flat refused to turn, it just didn’t stick the inside tight line or stay in tighter lines that I wanted to change to and then went for with the front tire (or at least I thought I picked!) with consistency. 

With the link that is no longer an issue.  I now pick, choose, change and hold lines in the middle of any corner, tight, root infested, slow, rutted etc etc corner where before the consistency to do that just wasn’t there.  Its pretty kewl now to go into a blind corner on an inside line, and just as you can peek around the corner and see what trail garbage was awaiting you, realize that the line you picked wasn’t as good as you hoped, and in mid corner go way tighter or wider, just choose a completely different line and miss the root cluster or hole/rock or what have you. 

Add this to the suspension on the X and goodness.........this bike is pretty awesome for me.

Sweeet!

On the trail I could snag any line, change it tighter or just about anything I wanted without much of any thought or effort on the bars or weight shift at all.  I noticed towards the end of the ride that I was riding more confidently and being more aggressive, especially at line picking and attacking, cause I know if I goof in my selection (not that that ever happens.....) the bikes ability to quickly change and respond to my direction changes is remarkably improved.

The link adjustment just made the overall handling of the X extremely precise (IMO what it should have been) and even more effortless.

Big grins!

The steering is as quick as I could hope for and didn’t gain any twitchiness or the dreaded headshake in the process.  I run my bars up, tall and cut narrow (Pastrana pro-tapers, rotated pretty far forward and cut with brush guards to 30” overall) so rider input and the effort to keep my bike in a turn or change directions, I feel, I have less leverage than a bunch of riders (people always comment on how narrow my bars are after they ride my bike). 

If a bike is twitchy, with the way I cut and position my bars, I feel it…….oh boy do I feel it. 

Yes I did run my X out on some fire roads and through all the gears up into “this is too fast for this little bike” speeds.  No headshaking, no twitching and trust me I tried.  Up to 5th gear, hard on the brakes, or weird weight positioning ----- I tried it all and it wouldn’t shake.  Yes you feel it is quicker and more sensitive to rider input, but no scary stuff at speed or coming down hard from speed (was worried I would loose the straight tracking confidence of the bike).  Not running a damper and see no need to put one on my X. 

So, very nice gains in handling + easy changes to the settings from super quick to back to stock (dont know why I would want that) and didnt have to trade anything handling or performance wise for what I gained.  I like simple math!

My oldest son took my Honda out for a while and came back and said that he loved the way the bike now let him go anywhere with little to no rider input, most noticeably for him at least was how he said the thing “totally craved” the inside and said it was “sick” (here is that “sick” word again) going tighter and tighter or change lines mid-turn. 

Totally craved??  Sick??? ….teenagers….whatever.

I didn’t change the inserts beyond the “3-dot” one I tried.  I am going to mess with the other adjustments during future rides, but its kind of hard to want to mess with something that works as well as the one I have bolted in now.  This setting works, and with the 24 hour GP at Goldendale coming, I don’t want to mess with success!

Now I wonder if the wife would like a big bore kit on her 230.…….hmmmm

HR

:cry:

:cry:

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I didnt know that anyone else carried their stuff, so I got mine direct, plus they are close just down the road in Portland.

Ive got two rides now on my X with the Link and I am very very happy with it. Stable and carves....

Big Grins just got bigger!

:cry:

HR

:cry:

:cry:

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HR, would you quit adding stuff to your bike, my wallet can't afford it :cry: I do know what your talking about when you say it climbs out of corners. But I haven't touched my suspension and weigh 210, I am really impressed on how it handles everything I have thrown at it :cry:

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E-wa:

My better half is really really really getting into riding.

so.....I square her ride away......and.....

:cry:

I may be old, and I may be ugly, and I am loosing my hair.....but I do enjoy keeping my main riding partner happy on her bike.

At the 24 hour you will have to ride mine, its set up for us....non-anorexia types and see what you think of the link. The link really takes the little final rough edges off the handling on the X!

You got your light set up working now?

I ran mine this past weekend, with the Baja Designs headlight with the 60 watt H-4 bulb in it and the dual HIDS for a full two hours and the Stator rewind did all that and more. Battery was full up ready to rock at the end of that two hours at the end of the full load run.

E-WA.....I was thinking though about asking the better half if I could get the 270 kit for Christmas though...better start saving $$$$

:cry:

HR

:cry:

:cry:

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Rick at Trail Tech says he will ship out my stuff monday. He has a great big thank you coming from me. You might need to sit by the phone come Wed. to help me with the upgrades. You have to remember, my bike is a farm bike that will occasionally double as a race bike :cry: :cry:

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Rick and the entire crew at Trail-Tech are top notch folks.

Get my business anytime they carry what I need.

Your on my team...glad to help....no wait...you aint on my team.

lets see what did you say about being lite one rider?....

I think it was something like.....

:cry:

Suck it up.....ride in the dark!

:cry:

Sure thing, will be ready to help!

HR

:cry:

:cry:

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HR - Great writeup. Your evaluation has made me really interested in the Fastway link. I have a question: I know you stated that your race sag was 4" before installing the link: what was your race sag after installing the link?

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Im just under 4 inches, almost within margin of close enough.

like.....3.9-----3.8

so honestly 4

:cry:

Fastway_link.gif

Nice thing I have had the 270 up to speed (70ish) and chopped the throttle

hard, zero headshake......none.......stable stable.....and when my bud was behind me, he said it was pretty neat to watch as we were going through a tight sweeper......I was already committed to a mid point through the curve, saw a huge rock in the center of the trail at the exit and he said it was very kewl to watch me just quickly turn tighter to a different line 1/2 through the turn......something that I couldnt do without the link......

so.....

Im happy.

:cry:

Lets me do stuff that before I couldnt (totally due to rider skill I am certain!)

My dealer has an X and he put one on his bike and feels the same way......really tightens things up and completely turns it into a point and shoot bike...

HR

:cry:

:cry:

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it may.......how much for the new Tripple Clamp?

RG3 Tripple Clamp upper and lower set up is $500.

another thing is you have the ability in about 10 minutes or less with the Fastway Link to change your rake and trail with the extra bushings you get.

Drop one bolt on the link, insert the matched bushings you want for what you want the bike to do.....rebolt.

done.

Lots of options, just have to choose the one you like the best, tripple clamps or the link.

HR

:cry:

:cry:

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doesnt a 22mm tripple clamp have the same effect? I know the link is probably cheaper...

Ever since HR posted this topic, I've been wondering about the link (bored, I guess). Offset triple clamps change the trail, but not the rake. The link (as far as I can tell) also changes the trail but it does so by changing the rake. I don't know what the implication is for handling, but it seems they may have different results. I think........

According to Fastway, the link changes the head angle by as much as 1.5 degrees. If you change the head angle (rake) by 1.5 degrees, that means the distance between the fender and the rear axle changes by about 1.5". Seat height change depends where you measure along the seat. I don't know how such a change affects race sag, but the Dirt Bike article indicates you should set it to 3.9" for all link settings. I think I'll buy one just to experiment :cry: .

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I dont think anything will happen.But you dont need both.Remember too much of a good thing.I think the link is better than triple clamps because of the adjustability.

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I see most of you have installed the link on the 250X has anyone installed it on a R?

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I had it on my 04 CRF250R and it made a big difference. I will be installing on my 05 once the snow melts. The front end of the the CRF did not stick like my 03 WR Yami. This link solved the problem for me.

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