T500 kit turns any Honda CRF450 into a 500cc, two-stroke widowmaker
According to the UN, there are about 258 million widows in the world. Tomasin Racing feels these are rookie numbers, so it's making a kit that turns a standard Honda CRF 450 into a certified widow production facility with a 500cc 2-stroke engine.
It's not that the standard CRF 450 can't pump out the odd widow in standard form itself; it's plenty fast enough to get the job done. But 4-strokes only tend to give you what you ask for at the throttle. If you're serious about moving black veils in bulk quantities, you need the crazed, "all at once, and right in your face" power delivery of a large-capacity two-stroke.
The big factories aren't making them any more – indeed, it's pretty amazing that Honda persisted with the CR500 as late as 2002, and Kawasaki kept the KX500 on the market until 2004. They're a relic from a time, decades ago, when there were bikes on the market that everyone knew and accepted were going to try to kill you at their earliest convenience.
Those days are gone. You can put as many horsepower as you want in an S1000RR or Panigale, they're incredibly fast but they're also smooth and controllable and tamed by clever rider assistance systems. They feel like pussycats in comparison to the old two-smokers, which would bog and stall at low revs, then simultaneously fling your front wheel skyward and your rear wheel sideways as you hit the savage ramp of the powerband, and then act like they didn't know what you were swearing about if you managed to hold on long enough to get to the other side of the tacho.
There is a breed of rider that likes this kind of behavior. Indeed, many of these lunatics feel cheated by anything less, may the gods have mercy upon their souls. And there's a breed of tuner that'll give it to them, too, in the form of relatively plug 'n' play conversion kits that turn friendly, controllable 450cc 4-strokes into frenzied half-liter two-strokes, and fools into worm food.
BRC Racing in Calgary has been doing this for some time with late-model KTM dirtbikes. Indeed, these bloodthirsty fiends are working on a 140-plus-horsepower twin-cylinder two-stroke engine that'll drop into a Yamaha R6 supersport bike and turn it into something nearly as nasty as the 500cc GP machines that regularly flung the world's best riders over the highside back when men were men, sheep were sheep and traction control was a full-body athletic workout, not a computer system.
And now into the fray comes Italy's Tomasin Racing, with a 500cc conversion kit for Honda CRF450 owners. Keeping the standard starter motor, ignition, clutch, stator and clutch cases, fuel injection system and optionally the gearbox as well, the T500 Engine Kit replaces the cylinder head, cylinder, valves, intake manifold, crankshaft, rods, piston, engine casings, exhaust, ECU, water pump and other bits and pieces. The frame stays the same, and should you survive the experience of riding it, it's an entirely reversible modification to the bike.
There are practicalities; there's a decompression button and thumb start, which will limit the bike's ability to shin you with a warning shot from the kickstarter. You can also switch between five different fuel maps. Tomasin does not specify a peak horsepower figure; we'd guess somewhere over 60 – which doesn't sound like a lot, does it? You can handle 60 measly horsepower, surely, how hard can that be?
Perhaps not that hard. The Tomasin ECU is also clever enough to provide both traction and launch control despite the lack of a front wheel speed sensor. Thus, it's probably a ghetto-style TC system like what MV Agusta runs – they've calculated how fast the thing could accelerate under ideal conditions, and the ECU will just try not to let the engine spin up any faster than that.
Still, it does feel rather antithetic to the whole endeavor here, like buying a pitbull and trying to carry it around in a handbag. The fear and violence of a 500cc two-stroke are not unpleasant side-effects to be tamed with electronics, they are the entire point of the exercise. We assume this dishonorable granny mode can be switched off, and that the kind of people who buy these kits will do so immediately.
Either way, it ain't cheap: Tomasin wants €15,570 (US$16,500) for a fully converted bike, or €8,500 (US$8,990) just for a kit you'll fit yourself, using your own gearbox.
But look, it's just money. You can't take it with you – not where you're going, you wild, majestic bastard. And I don't believe there's any box to tick on a life insurance policy for these things as yet, so your loved ones should be well compensated in the "unlikely" event that this thing does exactly what 500cc two-strokes are supposed to.
Check out a video below.
Source: Tomasin Racing