2005 Honda CRF450R Review: Ricky Carmichael’s Ride

If the old racing adage “What wins on Sunday sells on Monday” carries any truth, there must have been a lot of foot traffic in Honda dealers this year. Riding the 2005 Honda CRF450R, Honda factory racer Ricky Carmichael did the unthinkable, winning every race of the 2004 AMA National Motocross Championship—a perfect season. Anyone who knows the level of talent and the caliber of machines that line up at the starting gate each weekend at those races understands the statement Honda has made with their race-bred 450cc four-stroke.

2025 Honda CRF450R Review

First things first: The 2005 Honda CRF450R will frighten the meek and toss the disrespectful. At the same time, it will elevate the willing novice, enthrall the astute intermediate, and level the playing field for the expert rider. Make no mistake, Honda built this machine to win races. However, it wouldn’t be a Honda if it hadn’t been designed to be ridden by a wide range of enthusiasts. With engine and chassis upgrades, Honda has created a motocross machine with little to complain about and little room for improvement.

The heart and soul of the CRF450R is its engine. As can be expected of a four-stroke, the motor produces enormous torque at low rpm, and the power comes on even and smooth. The 55 horses hit solidly, and the throttle response is surprisingly crisp. There is a steady and predictable power delivery to the rear wheel, resulting in a motorcycle that is fun to ride despite its racing pedigree. For motocross, that translates into less fatigue for the rider.

Our test rider could circulate the entire test track in second and third gear, using the abundant low-end to pull him out of slow turns and the 9000-rpm rev limit to get down straights and up hills. An engine this powerful and forgiving allows the rider to concentrate more on intended lines than on working to keep the engine in its powerband. This renders lower, consistent lap times.

2005 Honda CRF450R Review: Motocross test

The 2005 Honda CRF450R turns exceptionally well, holds its line, and goes exactly where the rider aims it. Jumps are an equally predictable affair, with the motorcycle’s attitude being set with throttle input on take-off. Mid-air corrections are made easy with the CRF’s light feel. Honda shaved some weight for 2005, bringing the 450 in at a remarkable 218.5 pounds sans liquids and narrowing the machine’s width where it counts—at the tank/seat junction for rider comfort and maneuverability.

Motocross is all about stability and suspension, and the 2005 Honda CRF450R’s fully adjustable 47mm inverted Showa fork and linkage-assisted Showa shock deliver a full 12.5 inches of travel at each end. Our test rider intentionally tried to get the rear of the bike to step out or become unstable in the whoop section without luck. No matter how he attacked the ruts, the bike’s attitude remained controlled, tracking straight with the suspension soaking up the nastiness without incident.

Honda has taken an already potent machine and made it stronger and faster. The transmission, clutch, and controls are first-rate and bulletproof. Plastic is sleek and simple. The skeptics’ questions about the potential performance limitations in the two-stroke versus four-stroke battle have been sufficiently answered. When asked what he would do to the 2005 Honda CRF450R to make it better, our tester hesitated, considered, then shrugged—a tacit approval from a former National and Grand Prix competitor.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.