2017 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review |
Testing at Monster Mountain MX

2017 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review - jumpThe 2017 Honda CRF450R is the fifth generation of the company’s premiere class four-stroke motocross bike, and it’s all-new from the ground up. The new red machine was modeled and built on the concept of Absolute Holeshot.

With Absolute Holeshot in mind, Honda’s engineers aimed to make the bike faster out of the gate by achieving increased power output in the first 100 feet of the race.

They didn’t stop at just a stronger engine—the 2017 Honda CRF450R receives several notable changes to the chassis and suspension.

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I put the 2017 Honda CRF450R through its paces at Monster Mountain MX in Tallassee, Alabama and experienced the changes for myself. Here are the 11 Fast Facts that are essential for you to know:

1. The 2017 Honda CRF450R has more overall power. Honda focused on pumping more horsepower out the new engine not just for better starts, but better overall power. The new engine improves on the previous generation CRF’s already impressive bottom end power, while the mid-range and top end are improved significantly.

2. More power means less shifting. I found that less shifting is required on straightaways, uphills, and in corners. The bike can be kept in the higher rev range in 2nd gear or lugged in 3rd gear in most areas of the track. The CRF450R no longer has to be short-shifted in order to stay in the meat of the powerband. It can be revved to the moon and it keeps on pulling.

3. Air management has improved power. One of the changes they made in order to achieve this was designing a new downdraft intake layout. This allows the air traveling through the airbox, airboot, and throttle body to have a much straighter shot into the combustion chamber.2017 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review - start

4. The Absolute Holeshot concept the bike is designed around lives up to its name. I ripped some starts on the completely stock bike and was very impressed with the strong, linear power delivery. From a dead stop to 15 feet out of the gate, I clocked in at only 0.93-second per a LitPro data collection device. The bike delivered an impressive amount of power to the ground, but didn’t try to wheelie or loop out at any time.

5. The major change to the chassis is the new, lighter sixth-generation aluminum twin-spar frame. The revised geometry allows for improved cornering performance through reduction of torsional stiffness. It should be noted that the lateral stiffness is unchanged. This has a positive effect on the handling, as the bike improves on the previous generation CRF450R’s razor-sharp cornering.

6. Honda has replaced air forks with traditional spring forks. The diameter of the new Showa forks is 49mm—one mm larger than last year, and they are similar to that of factory A-kit suspension. They perform amazingly well. The spring forks are much plusher and more progressive, which instills a feeling of confidence whether landing from a big jump or pushing hard in a corner. I went two clicks softer on the compression, which helped the front end settle in corners and in the braking bumps as well.

7. The 2017 Honda CRF450R’s new fuel tank is titanium. Plastic tanks have been the standard for years, and this trick item has been used on their factory race teams for many years, and to see it come on a production bike is very cool! The only downside is that it is somewhat hidden underneath a plastic cover surrounding the gas cap.

8. We were pleased to see the new engine starts just as easily as the previous model. One kick at top dead center was all it took to fire the new powerplant to life throughout the day, whether it was hot or cold. My test bike wasn’t equipped with the optional electric start kit, unfortunately.2017 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review - Dunlop tires

9. The new Dunlop MX3S tires worked great on incredible red dirt at Monster Mountain MX track. The course featured a few hard pack areas, several deep, loamy sections, and deep, imported sand sections. The tires hooked up great everywhere. These are the most sought after competition tires offered by Dunlop and it’s nice to see them come on a production bike.

10. The look of the CRF450R is drastically changed. Part of the change of appearance is the new plastic bodywork, which features a smoother layout and film-insert graphics for improved appearance and durability. The bike has an almost futuristic look to it and cannot be mistaken for the previous generation CRF450Rs.

11. The 2017 Honda CRF450R is an absolute blast to ride. The light, nimble feeling of the chassis combined with the dramatically improved coil springs forks and much more powerful engine allowed me to push myself to not only quick lap times, but longer motos as well. Honda has done an exceptional job of maintaining the positive characteristics of the previous model, while simultaneously focusing on the areas where many riders sought to be improved. At the end of the day, I would feel completely comfortable taking a bone-stock 2017 Honda CRF450R off the showroom floor, racing it, and having a great time doing so!

[2017 Honda CRF450R Technical Details]

Riding Style

Andrew Oldar is sponsored by Moose Racing

2017 Honda CRF450R Specs


  • Motor: 4-valve SOHC single
  • Displacement: 450cc
  • Bore x stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm
  • Compression ratio: 13.5:1
  • Cooling: Liquid
  • Valves: 10.0mm intake, steel; 8.8mm exhaust, steel
  • Fuel system: Programmed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle body
  • Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
  • Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed
  • Final drive: 520 chain; 13T/49T


  • Frame: Aluminum twin-spar
  • Front suspension: Fully adjustable 49mm inverted Showa coil-spring forks; 12.0 inches of travel
  • Rear: Fully adjustable linkage-assisted Showa shock; 12.4 inches of travel
  • Front brake: 260mm hydraulic disc
  • Rear brake: 240mm hydraulic disc
  • Front tire: 80/100-21; Dunlop Geomax MX3S
  • Rear tire: 120/90-18; Dunlop Geomax MX3S


  • Wheelbase: 58.3 inches
  • Rake: 27° 22’
  • Trail: 4.6 inches
  • Seat height: 37.8 inches
  • Ground clearance: 12.9 inches
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.6 gallons
  • Color: Red
  • Curb weight: 243 pounds

2017 Honda CRF450R Price:

  • $8849 MSRP

2017 Honda CRF450R First Ride Photo Gallery