The big red machine has made many changes to the
CRF450R over the last few years that have resulted in
positive gains on the track. For 2015, they made very
specific updates going after certain characteristics in
hopes of improving the overall performance. Honda also
added, Engine Select Mode, giving riders the capability
to adjust between three separate maps, two of which are
completely customizable with the push of a button. If
results on the professional level with factory racers are any
indication of success for Honda’s new models, the future
looks bright for big red.
Kayaba’s new piggyback rear shock is a bit on the soft
side, but does have a plush, predictable feel, and having
all the clicker adjusters in the same place located on top
of the shock is an added convenience.
Honda added their all-new Engine Mode Select button
located on the handlebars. This allows riders to switch
between three separate ECU maps on the fly with the
push of a button. One option is preprogrammed and can
never be changed, but the other two can be fully customized via an HRC accessory tuning tool.
The addition of an oversized rotor in the front made huge
gains in breaking power on the 2015 model. The CRF is
the lightest 450cc motocross machine, giving it a very light
and flickable feeling in the air and making it easier to muscle into desired spots once planted firmly on the ground.
The clutch pull and action is probably the one item all
test riders would agree is the Honda CRF450R’s weakest
link. We wouldn’t say the clutch pull is necessarily hard;
it’s just heavier than all the other 450cc machines, but
what really got to the test riders is the lack of feel. Not
being able to feel when the clutch is going to engage and
disengage makes a rider tense up, ride tight and eventually pump up. This is definitely more noticeable on tighter,
jumpy-type tracks. Compared to all the other 450cc
machines in the shootout, Honda’s CRF450R feels the
slowest power-wise on the track.
We wish Honda would step up and put oversized bars
stock on their bikes. This is mostly for the end-use consumer who has to not only spend a hundred clams on the
bar bend they prefer, but then they have to drop at least
another Benjamin on mounts to use those bars.
The new Kayaba forks seem to handle small consecutive bumps better than last year’s model and give the front
end a more connected-to-the-ground feel, but there still
seems to have a busy feel at times, especially under hard
breaking. Most riders commented that during flat cornering they experienced a lack of front-end traction, causing
the front end to move around. The more aggressive test
riders felt the fork in stock trim was on the soft side.
The 2015 Honda CRF450R is slightly faster due to the
changes made in the cylinder head of the Unicam engine.
It has new features, giving the rider more adjustability
ECU-mapping-wise on the fly, a new version of Kayaba
suspension components front and rear, and the new oversized front-brake rotor adds noticeable braking power. On
paper, there are improvements across the board we would
love to see Honda give the CRF, like a little more pep in
its step and address the clutch issues.
450 MOTOCROSS SHOOTOUT