2019 Honda CRF450R and CRF450RWE First Ride Review
Two-thousand nineteen isn’t a big year for the standard Honda CRF450R, though there were a number of incremental updates.The bigger news was the introduction of the Ken Roczen inspired 2019 Honda CRF450RWE factory upgrade.
We took a first ride on the 2019 Honda CRF450R to find out how the updates work, and if the 2019 Honda CRF450RWE is worth another $2200.1. Honda focused on improved exhaust efficiency for 2019. There are new exhaust headers that are longer (98mm on the right, 187 on the left) and larger-diameter exhaust headers (43mm from 35mm), so more air is flowing out of the short-stroke Unicam powerplant. The result is an impressive midrange that pulls smoothly right through to the top. This is just the part of the powerband that Honda has focused on for holeshot supremacy. Deliberate shifting of the five-speed transmission results in sure engagement of the next cog.2. The three power modes have been updated and are distinctive. We preferred the standard map on the loamy Chaney Ranch private track. The tamer power mode wasn’t needed on that particular track, though faster riders will be able to use the more-aggressive power mode when the traction is there—it provides a notable boost in the low- to midrange. While the method of cycling through the power modes requires a bit more effort than the KTM 450 SX-F, Honda’s integration into the killswitch is nice.3. There are new fork oil and settings, along with the new shock linkage and swingarm. The Showa suspension is nicely balanced and sucks up everything in the way, especially smaller obstacles. Plus, it settles nicely into corners for effective turning. Our two test riders—Associate Editors Ty Cullins and Brandon Krause—are big guys, so it felt a bit soft for them. However, all suspension should be fine-tuned to your weight and style of riding. The units themselves are top-notch.4. The big calling for the 2019 Honda CRF450R is its agility. Both Ty and Brandon felt like they could throw the CRF450R around with authority. Yes, it’s 1.5 pounds lighter than last year, but it’s the basic design that makes that happen. As has long been a Honda trait, the 2019 Honda CRF450R loves to corner.5. With superb cornering comes a bit less stability. We felt some headshake on bumpy corner entries, though it’s impressive at high speeds.6. Supercross-bred, the 2019 Honda CRF450R feels great in the air. The motorcycle offers plenty of confidence on jumps, and landings are cushioned nicely by the Showa suspension. If you need to move the CRF450R in the air, it is accommodating.7. Honda upgraded the front brake caliper and hoses, and it made a difference. The front brake caliper now has 30mm pistons (up from 27mm) and the result is excellent feel and power. Brandon and Ty considered this to be a major upgrade—a big part of going fast is being able to slow down quickly and predictably—the 2019 Honda CRF450R does that.8. The kickstarter is gone, leaving only electric start. We don’t mind if we never have to kickstart another motocross motorcycle. The 2019 Honda CRF450R requires you to fully pull in the clutch to start the bike. Pulling the clutch lever in all the way is not an issue in the pits or on the starting line, but it might slow you down in the hectic moments after a crash.9. Ergonomics on the 2019 Honda CRF450R are outstanding. Again, Ty and Brandon are big riders. The new 15mm-lower positioning of the Renthal Fatbar is welcome, and they can be repositioned using the reversible clamp on the triple clamp. The footpegs have a new shape, and work great.10. We didn’t feel a huge difference between the 2019 Honda CRF450R and 2019 Honda CRF450RWE. The big changes include hand-polished ports in the motor for more low-rpm and midrange power, Yoshimura titanium mufflers with carbon fiber tail caps, Kashima fork-tube coating on the hard-anodized aluminum tubes, and Roczen-inspired launch-control settings. Ty and Brandon are racers, but not pro motocrossers. While those upgrades will have the fastest riders salivating, those in the amateur ranks would be better served setting up the standard CRF450R perfectly, rather than going for high-end mods.We look forward to more extensive testing of the 2019 Honda CRF450R on our regular tracks, and we have plans for a full race-test.Photography by Brandon Krause and Drew RuizRIDING STYLE
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