The Honda CRF450R – the company’s flagship MX machine – receives an Engine Mode Select Button giving choice of three engine maps for different power delivery, plus more power from an HRC-spec cylinder head design and new exhaust. The chassis gets lighter second-generation Kayaba PSF2 units plus 260mm front disc.
Since its introduction in 2002, the Honda CRF450R has combined usable power with total control, defining the word “balance” from a rider’s perspective, and allowing professional/amateur racers and hobby enthusiast alike to extract maximum performance both from themselves and their machine. It has proven itself a big hitting package at all levels, while its reliability, longevity and build quality have set the benchmark.
And it has constantly evolved; every single model year since its inception has delivered updates from Honda’s busy competition program around the world. In 2013 it featured a brand new mass-centralised frame built around KYB air suspension USD front forks, a major step change in development focused on assisting the rider to cut super-fast lap times and turn with less effort, on the ground and in the air.
The 2014 model featured an array of detail changes to both suspension and engine performance, driven by race experience. For the 2015 season Honda’s development engineers have chosen to make small changes that make a big difference, and their new CRF450R – out of the crate – is about as close as it’s possible to get to the feel of a Factory MX1 machine.
Power and torque from the 449cm3 single-cylinder engine have been altered considerably for improved delivery and feel for rear-wheel traction from low-rpm up, plus increased peak output thanks to a redesigned HRC-spec cylinder head, new exhaust pipe/mufflers and PGM-FI Dual Fuel settings. Other upgrades to the transmission, piston, and crankcases further improve long-term durability. New radiators boost engine cooling.
Working seamlessly with the change in engine character is the 3-way Engine Mode Select Button (EMSB), an off-road breakthrough from Honda that gives a choice of 3 riding modes for the rider to select from the right side of the handlebar. Mode 1 delivers the standard combination of ECU maps, Mode 2 serves up silky-smooth throttle control and Mode 3 returns aggressive, all-out response and power.
Having re-written the rules of front-end feel 2 years ago the 48MM KYB Pneumatic Spring Forks (PSF) units have now moved on to the next level (PSF2) and receive redesigned, lighter internals plus approximately 10% friction reduction. High and low-speed rebound damping adjustment joins the other adjusters on the fork tops; the rear shock’s adjusters have also been rationalised together.