2017 HONDA CRF450R

Dirt Rider - - Long Haul - Story By Kris Keefer • Photo By Jeff Allen

The 2017 Honda CRF450R was run­ner-up in our 450 MX Shootout (Feb./march) and was one of the most fun bikes of the bunch to ride. When I got the chance to keep the Honda, I de­cided to go to Yoshimura and put its RS-9 full ti­ta­nium sys­tem on to lighten it up a cou­ple of pounds and try to broaden the mid- to top-end pull. The Yoshimura sys­tem smoothed the bot­tom-end rol­lon power then in­creased the mid- to top-end like I’d hoped. I also wanted to get a lit­tle ex­tra stop­ping power from the front brake, so Galfer pro­vided me with its 270mm over­size wave ro­tor. The semi-mushy feel­ing of the stock Honda front brake quickly be­came very pow­er­ful and now doesn’t take much pull from my fin­ger to get the CRF450R stopped in a hurry. I swapped out the stock 7/8 bar mounts and Ren­thal han­dle­bar for a set of 1-1/8 bar mounts and a Protaper Fuzion han­dle­bar. I like the Fuzion bar be­cause it re­tains the stock cross­bar flex feel­ing the Honda comes with but doesn’t give you the rigid­ity through your hands that some over­size bars have. You can un­lock or lock the cross­bar on the Fuzion for your de­sired flex pref­er­ence, but I usu­ally left it in the “un­lock” po­si­tion for most tracks I went to.

Since we have been get­ting tons of rain in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia (and most tracks were flooded) I was forced to head for the deep sand tracks of the high desert for a few weeks to ride. On one oc­ca­sion I could feel the clutch lever get very hard to pull in and the Honda be­gan to pour out ra­di­a­tor coolant from the over­flow hose. I im­me­di­ately stopped and parked it for the day.

Once home and upon fur­ther in­spec­tion, I no­ticed that one of the clutch fibers broke in half caus­ing the clutch and en­gine to get hot. There was no other dam­age done to the en­gine, and a new stock clutch kit (fibers, steels, springs) was put in. A tip to all you Honda own­ers is to make sure to check the ra­di­a­tor level ev­ery ride. Some­times if left at idle too long, the Honda will spew out some coolant and leave you with a low fluid level, caus­ing the en­gine to run hot­ter than it should.

Since then I have put more than 12 en­gine hours on the Honda and have had zero trou­ble. The next step for this Long Haul is to get a set of Showa A-kit sus­pen­sion to go rac­ing with [this re­cent photo shows ini­tial test­ing of that fork] and com­bat the soft stock feel­ing the CRF450R has for my weight and rid­ing abil­ity. Once the sus­pen­sion is bro­ken in, the Honda is a lit­tle on the soft side for ag­gres­sive rid­ing. I would like just a lit­tle more hold-up, es­pe­cially on the fork, as it can dive on de­cel. I am look­ing for­ward to log­ging many more hours on this first-year­gen­er­a­tion red ma­chine, so stay tuned to see what else comes along for this 2017 CRF450R as the hours rack up.

WANT MORE Check out the 2017 Honda CRF450R project build at dir­trider.com/2017honda-crf450r-project-build.

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