2017 HONDA CRF450R
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.