The 2021 Honda CRF450RL and CRF450X are back, with the welcome addition of handguards to both motorcycles, plus an updated ECU and new EFI settings for the CRF450RL. What? You say you have never heard of a CRF450RL? Well, that’s the motorcycle formerly known as the CRF450L dual-sporter. Honda went from L to RL to remind buyers that it is close to the CRF450R motocrosser. It also helps differentiate the 450 from the CRF250L dual sport bike, which has no resemblance to the CRF250R.All of those updates that you read about for 2021 for the competition trio of the CRF450R, CRF450RWE, and CRF450RX do not apply to the trail-oriented CRF450RL and CRF450X. Traditionally, the non-competitive models skip a generation or two between updates, so don’t expect much to change on the RL and X until 2025. However, we are always happy for Honda to surprise us.
Compared to the three race-ready CRF450s, the calling card of the CRF450RL and CRF450X is their adherence to EPA emissions standards. The CRF450RL meets EPA and DOT standards for the street, while the CRF450X is off-road legal in all 50 states.With the same basic chassis and motor architectures as the pure-competition models, the CRF450RL and CRF450X are great handing motorcycles out of the box. The motors are necessarily restricted to delight tailpipe-sniffing bureaucrats with sensitive ears. We aren’t supposed to tell you to modify the engines to your liking, especially on the CRF450RL. Should you feel the need, you can figure that out for yourself.The bonus capability of the CRF450X is its wide-ratio transmission, which allows it to be converted to a high-speed desert racer—a much harder job to accomplish on the closed-course versions of the CRF450 platform.We have reviewed the CRF450RL (in its L incarnation) and tested the latest CRF450X edition.2021 Honda CRF450RL (and CRF450X) SpecsENGINE
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!