2018 Motorcycle Previews 2018 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review | 10 Fast Facts

2018 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review | 10 Fast Facts

2018 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review |

Motocross Track Tested

We rode the 2018 Honda CRF450R on the main motocross track at Sunrise MX Park in Adelanto, Calif. today. Here are the essential facts we learned after a day on the track.

  1. The 2018 Honda CRF450R is refined this year. After doing a ground-up revision last year, we didn’t expect any big changes—even bold new graphics would have been acceptable after the ’17 redesign. However, Honda made some key updates to improve their top MX bike.

    2018 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review - left side air

  2. The biggest news is that electric start is now stock on the CRF450R, rather than a pricey add-on. While some of the European MX bikes have had electric start for years, this year is the first for stock electric start on Japanese motocrossers (the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F is also e-start). It’s not added for convince or ease of use and in a perfect world you wouldn’t want one on your MX bike. When an electric start is truly needed is when things don’t go perfect and you stall or crash in a moto. In those cases being able to press the button and get the bike fired right off saves you valuable positions on the track.
  3. The price for an e-start CRF450R dropped about $400 this year. The e-start option last year was around $700, so the 2018 Honda CRF450R is a bargain compared to the 2017 with the magic button.

  4. E-start adds five pounds to the 2018 Honda CRF450R, but the bulk of the weight is near the center of gravity. It’s a penalty we’re happy to pay. Honda went with a lightweight lithium-ion battery, and removed the kickstarter and internal gears. This makes the extra weight all but invisible when riding.
  5. Honda re-mapped the ECU to give the bike smoother pull off the bottom end. The 450R comes with three different maps—Map 1 is standard, Map 2 soft, and Map 3 aggressive. After turning laps around Sunrise MX and trying all three maps, we found Map 1 (standard) to be our favorite. Compared to the 2017 model, the smoothness off-idle power delivery of the 2018’s Map 1 gave us the confidence to ride aggressively. The aggressive Map 3 isn’t smooth enough to let us ride a hard as we would like, and the mellow Map 2 just revved a little too slowly for our tastes. Pro motocrossers will surely appreciate Map 3, though.

    2018 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review - Corner traction

  6. Honda felt the 2017 chassis was too rigid, so they made it more forgiving. To do this, Honda added a little more flex to the engine hangers (aka head stays). The 2018 Honda CRF450R is definitely less rigid over bumps and settles into corners better.
  7. The Showa suspension is recalibrated and is nicely balanced. Last year, Honda dumped the air fork in favor of the conventional Showa spring fork. However, the 2017’s overall suspension package was on the soft side. This year, Honda stiffened up the springs on both ends and updated the valving to match. Our initial feeling is that the new set-up is balanced and we had no complaints, even when flat landing from a big jump. We’ll get more of a sense of it when we get the bike on more of a rough hacked-out track, like Glen Helen on a weekday.

    2018 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review - Rollers

  8. The clutch pull on the 2018 Honda CRF450R is stiff and the engagement abrupt. While the CRF450R does put out a lot of power and needs a strong clutch, we know they can get a better feel out of it—a hydraulic clutch would be nice. It’s a bit moot, as not a lot of clutch work is needed on a 450cc four-stroke.
  9. Honda has built a great handling bike that feels nimble by 450 standards. It turns great with very little effort, yet feels stable at speed. Certainly, the improved suspension and power delivery helps the chassis perform better.

    2018 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review - Huge Jump

  10. After a day on the 2018 Honda CRF450R we’re pleased. The addition of electric start is a major upgrade to an already solid package, while the seemingly small changes to the handling and power departments reap large dividends. We can’t wait to bang bars with it.Photography by Don Williams

    RIDING STYLE

    Helmet: Bell Moto-9 Carbon Flex

    Goggles: Fly Racing Zone

    Pants + Jersey: Fly Racing 2017.5 Kinetic Mesh

    Gloves: Fly Racing Media

    Boots: Fly Racing Sector2018 Honda CRF450R Specs

    ENGINE

    Type: Single cylinder

    Displacement: 450cc

    Bore x stroke: 96.0 x 62.1mm

    Compression ratio: 13.5:1

    Valve train: Unicam SOHC, 4 valves

    Fueling: EFI w/ 45mm throttle body

    Cooling: Liquid

    Starting: Electric (kick optional)

    Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed

    Final drive: 520 chain

    CHASSIS

    Frame: Aluminum twin-spar

    Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 49mm Showa fork; 12.0 inches

    Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Showa shock: 12.4 inches

    Front tire: 80/100-21; Dunlop MX3S

    Rear tire: 120/80-19; Dunlop MX3S

    Front brake: 260mm disc

    Rear brake: 240mm disc

    DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

    Wheelbase: 58.3 inches

    Rake: 27.2 degrees

    Trail: 4.6 inches

    Seat height: 37.8 inches

    Ground clearance: 12.9 inches

    Fuel capacity: 1.6 gallons

    Curb weight: 248 pounds

    Color: Red

    2018 Honda CRF450R Price: $9149 MSRP

2018 Honda CRF450R Photo Gallery

2020 Dakar Rally Results: Honda’s Brabec Claims 1st Win for USA

For the past 18 consecutive years, KTM has dominated the Dakar Rally, winning each event in dominating style. Two legendary names are associated with...

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Review (17 Fast Facts)

The new top-spec 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS is the latest addition to the British marque’s storied line, which also includes the standard Thruxton and...

America’s Brabec Leads 2020 Dakar Rally with 1 Stage Remaining

Though he struggled to a 10th-place finish during stage 11 of the 2020 Dakar Rally, Monster Energy Honda Team's Ricky Brabec holds the overall lead with one stage remaining.

2020 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 Buyer’s Guide: Specs & Price

When it comes to ADV, there is no shortage of motorcycles with liter-plus size engines. It's much less crowded in the small displacement division,...

2019 Ducati Motorcycle Sales Tops 53,000 Worldwide: ‘Nudges’ 2018

When Ducati Motor Holding announced its 2018 motorcycle sales, numbers were down 5.1 percent over 2017, with a total of 53,004 units sold. The Borgo...

Get Out & Ride: 2020 AMA National Adventure Riding Series Schedule

Looking for great commodore and some of the best ADV riding - both on- and off-road - across the country? The 2020 AMA National Adventure...