The twinner exhaust targets improved handling with lower,
balanced weight and more power with less noise.
With the engine, all the updates were focused
on increasing the power off idle into the
midrange. Honda added a new camshaft,
larger valves and a new piston with increased
compression that works in conjunction with
new porting for enhanced flow and revised
fuel-injection settings that both upgrade the
performance and help make the CRF450R start
easier. The entire transmission has been beefed
up; the four-spring clutch was tossed in favor of a more
normal six-spring unit, and the flywheel is slightly heavier
to increase rotational inertia for better low-speed feel and
• A new airbox and straighter airboot inlet shape
improve airflow, with the added benefit of making it easier
to service the air filter.
• All-new plastic and styling are more ergonomically
sound, allowing for improved rider mobility and grip
points that have been strengthened for better feel.
• The rear fender now has a lift point with integrated
support to make it easier to manhandle the bike onto a
•A new tank shape boosts fuel capacity from 1.50 to
• The footpegs are now 10-percent lighter, and the
design allows for better clearing in muddy conditions.
• There are new front- and rear-disc rotor covers and a
unique Dunlop MX51FA 80/100-21 front tire.
TRACKSIDE HITS AND…
There is no doubt that the 2013 CRF450R has gained a
smidgeon of weight (1.2 pounds), but it remains the
lightest-feeling 450 by far! At 232.3 pounds, only the
YZ450 comes in under the 240-pound mark (at 238
pounds). And this year the focus on centralized mass has
really paid dividends. The bike feels light, easy to move
around and very flickable. Combine this with a very smooth
and nearly vibration-free powerband and you get catlike
manners—smooth acceleration that flows into a strong mid
and a pretty gnarly top-end hook. This machine feels faster
than past efforts, but still lacks the hard hit of the KX450 or
the grunt of the RM-Z. One big positive is the exhaust
note—the Honda is nice and quiet. It’s going to take some
doing to get us to swap exhausts since it’s so pleasant,
especially when compared to its green counterpart. The
power is solid. The shifting is pedestrian and gets notchy if
you over-rev; it has a super-short shifter. Oh, and this is
best-starting CRF450 we’ve seen in years.
As for the handling, Honda has yet to go mainstream.
Honda seems to prefer a compact, flick-and-scrub motif to
the tall, roomy and modular appeal of the Kawasaki. Tall
guys are going to have issues with the CRF. It’s tight
through the cockpit area; the bars and clamps are not
modular; and the new saddle is weak, soft and very low. In
the suspension department, a big fat yee-haw goes out to
the rear end. It’s really good. It searches for traction, holds
its head on jump faces and does little that is odd or wacky.
We want to give similar kudos to the fork, though we still
haven’t quite come to grips with it. We accept the new air
fork, love the ability to alter the spring rate with a pump or
two, and appreciate the weight savings. What isn’t quite as
chewable is the fact that it pumps up quickly and dramatically affects the performance. There is a caveat here:
check the air pressure every time you ride and you’ll be
golden. We had ours fluctuate up to 6 pounds in a hard-pounding test session lasting just under two hours.
For our 165- to 180-pound fast guy, we set it at 34
pounds. Big guys over 190 pounds should set it at 34. 5–35
pounds with 36 pounds being the absolute maximum. At
the highest pump zone, the fork hit 40 pounds, and
because we hadn’t checked it, every test rider came in
sniveling about the fact that the bike wouldn’t turn and felt
harsh. When you stay in the zone, the fork is quite nice and Power is smooth, but longer and harder through the middle. The new air fork requires constant chcking.
The CRF gains a bit of weight,
but actually feels lighter! HONDACRF450R