2021 Motorcycle Previews 2021 Honda CRF450RL and CRF450X First Look: Eco Friendly

2021 Honda CRF450RL and CRF450X First Look: Eco Friendly

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.

2021 Honda CRF450X and CRF450RL First Look
2021 Honda CRF450X

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.

2021 Honda CRF450RL and CRF450X First Look
2021 Honda CRF450RL

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) Specs


  • ​​Motor: Four-stroke single
  • ​​Displacement: 450cc
  • ​​Bore x stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm
  • ​​Compression ratio: 12.0:1
  • ​​Fueling: EFI w/ 46mm throttle body
  • ​​Starting: Electric
  • ​​Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: Wet multiple w/ six springs
  • ​​Final drive: 520 sealed chain


  • ​​Frame: Aluminum twin-spar
  • ​​Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 49mm inverted Showa fork; 12.0 inches
  • ​​Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Showa shock; 11.8 inches
  • ​​​​Front tire: 80/100 x 21; IRC GP21 (450X: Dunlop Geomax MX52)
  • ​​Rear tire: 120/80 x 18; IRC GP22  (450X: 110/100 x 18; Dunlop Geomax MX52)
  • Front brake: 260mm disc w/ 2-piston caliper
  • ​​Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ single-piston caliper


  • ​​Wheelbase: 58.9 inches (450X: 58.7 inches)
  • ​​Rake: 28.5 degrees (450X: 28.6 degrees)
  • ​​Trail: 4.8 inches (450X: 5.6 inches)
  • ​​Seat height: 37.2 inches (450X: 37.9)
  • ​​Ground clearance: 12.6 inches (450X: 13.1 inches)
  • ​​Fuel capacity: 2.0 gallons
  • ​​​​Curb weight: 291 pounds (450X: 275 pounds)
  • Color: Red


  • ​​2021 Honda CRF450RL Price: $9999 MSRP
  • 2021 Honda CRF450X Price: $9799 MSRP

Don Williams
Don Williamshttp://www.ultimatemotorcycling.com
With 50 years of riding experience, Don Williams is a fan of all kinds of motorcycles. He enjoys sport bikes, cruisers, dirt bikes, touring bikes, adventure bikes, dual sport bikes, and rideable customs. Ask Don what his favorite bike is and he will tell you, "Whatever bike I'm on."

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