2019 Honda CRF450X Review: EFI is Here!

Returning for 2019 to the revised CRF family after a year off, the all-new 2019 Honda CRF450X assumes the role of the 50-state legal trail bike, occupying the middle seat between the CRF450RX off-road racer and the long-awaited CRF450L dual-sport bike. Honda debuted the CRF450X in 2005, and has sold more than 27,000 CRF450Xs in the United States—an astounding number given the fact that the big-bore trail bike was last substantially updated in 2009 and the carbureted edition’s final year was 2017.2019 Honda CRF450X Review- power slide

To ensure we explored every bit of the new X’s capability, Honda paired us up with Baja racing legend Johnny Campbell. Campbell not only knows how to twist the grip across gnarly desert terrain, he also had a direct and integral role in developing the features and performance of the new CRF450X. After more than 70 miles of rocky trails, deep sand washes, and much sought-after desert single-track, here are the 19 Fast Facts that you need to know about the all-new 2019 Honda CRF450X.

1. The 2019 Honda CRF450X is an ultra-capable off-road machine that is 50-state legal for year ’round riding. For riders and racers looking for a do-anything off-road motorcycle—especially in California which has popular riding areas that require a Green Sticker for riding 12 months of the year. Currently, the Yamaha WR450F (also all-new for 2019) is the only other option in the 450cc category. The Suzuki RMX450Z is no longer Green Sticker compliant and the Euros have focused on dual-sport motorcycles.

2. While the 2019 Honda CRF450X and CRF450L are based on the same platform, they are different in a number of ways. Fourteen pounds differentiates the two siblings’ weight-wise, most of it resulting in the lack of the street-legal components on the CRF450X. However, the X shares the same suspension components, motor, transmission, and chassis as the CRF450L, albeit with distinct ECU and suspension settings. Most notably, the exhaust on the X is a traditional muffler with a spark arrestor, bolted up to a wider diameter and longer header pipe. Additionally, the subframe on the X is shorter and more compact, similar to that of the CRF450R and CRF450RX.

3. The wide-ratio six-speed transmission is a game changer. Let’s face it, you don’t just go down to your local motorcycle shop and buy a 6th gear to add to your five-speed transmission. European manufacturers adopted six-speed transmissions for their off-road models years ago, but not the Japanese. Even the carbureted CRF450X had a five-speed transmission, and the Yamaha WR450F still does. The 2019 Honda CRF450X is in a class by itself, as the only Green Sticker-compliant, 450cc with a sixth gear.2019 Honda CRF450X Review- Hill climb

4. For desert riding, a sixth gear is a must-have. It allows first and second gears to be low enough to handle technical rocky sections, and 5th and 6th gears tall enough to blaze across the valley floor to the next technical challenge. Speeds of 80 mph are easy to obtain on the 2019 Honda CRF450X, and there’s more to be found on top of that.

5. The 450cc powerplant is quiet and deceptively fast, with copious amounts of low-end torque. The new CRF450X has an additional four or five horsepower over the street-legal L model, and the bigger exhaust header is tuned for torque. I found that I liked to short-shift and ride a gear high, utilizing the torque of the motor to churn my way through the nasty stuff and very quietly get up to blistering speeds.

6. The new motor’s power delivery is linear, if not a little flat on top, without a lot of overrev. It’s better to grab the next gear and use the meaty low-end to your advantage. All of this happens very efficiently without a lot of chassis drama and unwarranted wheelspin, which means that you can ride smoother and faster, for longer periods of time, with less fatigue.2019 Honda CRF450X Review- left engine

7. Clutch pull is light and progressive. The clutch worked well to the point that I didn’t even notice it, until I hopped on the old version of the CRF450X and compared the two. The old clutch has a stiff and on/off feeling. Although the new X is still a cable-pull clutch, the pull is light with good engagement.

8. You have to pull in the clutch lever to start the CRF450X. The clutch lever needs to be pulled almost all the way to the grip before engaging the safety switch to allow the bike to start. I like to use one finger on the clutch and pull the lever up to my other three fingers. I couldn’t do that for starting, as I needed to use my whole hand to pull in the lever. This may be adjustable and, of course, the whole circuit can be bypassed at the owner’s discretion.

9. Gassed up and ready to ride, the 2019 CRF450X weighs 275 pounds. That is seven pounds heavier than the carbureted CRF450X. However, on the trail you would swear that the new X is 15 pounds lighter than its predecessor.

10. Handling is lightweight and precise, with only a small trade-off in high-speed stability. The chassis has a light and lively feel, making it easy to switch up lines or pivot off of obstacles, although the front did push a bit in the deep sand. High-speed stability is still more than adequate, and I never had an issue with swapping the rear end over whoops. While the ’19 CRF450X doesn’t have the same planted feeling as the older X, it is a welcome tradeoff for a single-track addict.2019 Honda CRF450X Review- desert

11. The CRF450X utilizes the same high-spec Showa suspension as the rest of CRF450 lineup, with off-road specific spring rates and valving. Unlike the CRF450RX, which is stiff on the trail and can pull double duty on the vet motocross track, the softer suspension on the X is tuned for the trail and everything Mother Nature can dish out.

12. For my 175-pound frame, the suspension was near perfect for rocky and whooped out desert terrain. The 49mm dual-chamber Showa forks soaked up the loose rocky terrain without deflecting, and the rear shock followed suit, never stepping out. I definitely used up the entire fork stroke through high-speed g-outs across the valley floor, so I would probably add a little fork oil to increase damping in the final third of the travel while retaining the stock spring rates and valving. The suspension is a testament to the development effort from Johnny Campbell and team, and evident in the RX, and L models as well.

13. The CRF450X can really eat up the miles without wearing you out. With its smooth power delivery, sound deadening motor covers, and dampened countershaft sprocket, the CRF450X is less fatiguing than your traditional desert racer. It allows me to ride more aggressively for longer periods of time. For all-day desert rides or traversing the Baja Peninsula, that’s the name of the game.2019 Honda CRF450X Review- Turns

14. The digital display measures total fuel consumed, allowing for precise range management. The CRF450X has the same stylish 2.01-gallon titanium fuel tank and digital trip computer that we loved on the CRF450L. The digital display shows real-time miles per gallon and total fuel consumed, so it’s easy to know exactly how much is left in the tank, and how much farther you can go. Additionally, since fuel consumption is measured at the throttle body, this system will work just as well with a larger capacity aftermarket fuel tank. For comparison, the previous 450X had only a mechanical odometer with manual reset by tenths.

15. The stock rubber on the CRF450X is Dunlop MX52 hard terrain tires, with a 110 in the rear. For desert use, I prefer the Dunlop MX3S (or now the MX33) in the front, even if it is touted as a soft/intermediate terrain tire. I find that the MX33 grips better in the desert terrain than the Dunlop MX52, especially at any amount of lean angle. Plus, the MX33 doesn’t push as much in the sand. The Dunlop MX52 worked well in the rear, although it got pretty chewed up by the desert terrain, so I’d experiment with running a larger 120 size.

16. I was so impressed by the modern LED headlight and mask on the CRF450L, I was hoping it would make its way to the new CRF450X—it didn’t. The X has the same halogen headlight and mask as the old carbureted model.2019 Honda CRF450X Review- dashboard

17. With an MSRP of $9799, the new CRF450X comes in at an $1100 premium over the old carbureted version. On the upside, the 2019 Honda CRF450X is only $200 more than the 2019 Yamaha WR450F, putting its price point right in the ballpark, especially given the sixth gear in the transmission.

18. The 2019 Honda CRF450X is a potential Baja racer. With its six-speed transmission and race-inspired pedigree, the CRF450X makes the perfect platform to build a desert racer, and an easier starting point than modifying the five-speed CRF450RX that is better suited for GNCC-style racing. SLR Honda is planning on running a modified CRF450X in the 2019 SCORE Baja 1000.

19. Despite being capable of high-speed, long-distance racer, the 2019 Honda CRF450X is impressively versatile. If you’re looking for a go-anywhere, do-anything trail-blazer that you can ride year-round, the CRF450X is your bike right out of the box. Regardless of which path you choose to take, the all-new Honda CRF450X gives you the flexibility to pursue it.

Photography by Drew Ruiz

RIDING STYLE
Helmet: Touratech Aventuro Carbon 2
Goggles: EKS Brand Gox
Jacket: Alpinestars Venture R
Jersey: Alpinestars Techstar Factory
Body armor: Alpinestars Sequence Protection Long Sleeve Jacket
Gloves: Alpinestars Techstar
Pants: Alpinestars Venture R
Boots: Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro

2019 Honda CRF450X Specs
ENGINE
Motor: Four-stroke single
Displacement: 450cc
Bore x stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel system: EFI w/ 46mm throttle body
Starting: Electric
Transmission: Constant-mesh wide-ratio 6-speed
Final drive: 520 sealed chain
CHASSIS
Frame: Aluminum twin-spar
Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 49mm inverted Showa coil-spring forks; 12.0 inches
Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable linkage-assisted Showa shock; 12.4 inches
Tires: Dunlop Geomax MX52
Front tire: 80/100 x 21
Rear tire: 110/100 x 18
Front brake: 260mm disc w/ two-piston caliper
Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ two-piston caliper
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
Wheelbase: 58.8 inches
Rake: 28.1 degrees
Trail: 4.6 inches
Seat height: 37.4 inches
Ground clearance: 12.7 inches
Fuel capacity: 2.0 gallons
Curb weight: 275 pounds
Color: Red
2019 Honda CRF450X Price: $9799 MSRP

2019 Honda CRF450X Photo Gallery