started slipping. It slipped for the next four years. Finally, for 2013, Honda put the eight-plate, six-spring clutch from the 2008 Honda CRF450 back into the bike. ( 3) Chassis. The four-year experiment with the less-than-accurate 2009–2012 frame is over, thankfully. In an effort to stop the oversteer/understeer/oversteer dance that passed for cornering on the previous CRF450, Honda reconfigured the 2013 frame to fix the handling woes. The new frame has the main spars moved 40mm lower on the head tube, the rear shock tower has been moved down 14.5mm, the Kayaba shock body is also shortened by 14.5mm, the radiators have been downsized (and lowered) and even the black box has been moved lower in the frame. Part and parcel with the frame changes are the new twin mufflers that are 7 inches shorter than the old single muffler and moved toward the center of the frame. ( 4) Swingarm. A redesigned swingarm offers added vertical rigidity, because it is taller in beam height (in the front and center sections). This allows for less deflection in ruts and improves corner-exit traction. ( 5) Plastic. Husqvarna and KTM were ridiculed a few years ago for their edgy “crease design” influence. Guess what? A close look at the 2013 CRF450 reveals more KTM and Husqvarna flavor than old-school CR-design thought. Q: HOW DOES THE 2013 CRF450 RUN ON THE DYNO? A: Pitifully. Given the changes for 2013, the MXA test crew expected a big increase in low-to-mid power, thanks to the larger exhaust valves and increased compression ratio—and what we got was a small improvement from 5000 rpm to 6500 rpm. After that it was mostly disappointment. Peak horsepower on the 2013 CRF450 is 51. 55 horse- power. For comparison, the 2012 Honda CRF450 made 52. 59 horsepower. Even worse for dyno aficionados, the 2013 Kawasaki KX450F belts out 55.05 horsepower, and the 2013 KTM 450SXF pumps out an incredible 56. 95 horsepower. You don’t need a degree from MIT to see that the KTM makes 5-1/2 horsepower more than the CRF450. In fact, the weakest horsepower number from any of Honda’s competitors (2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 at 54. 10 horsepower) is still 2-1/2 horses more than the CRF450. Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2013 HONDA CRF450 ON THE TRACK? A: Dynos are cold, hard machines that lack soul. How a bike runs on the dyno is not always indicative of how it will run on a racetrack. A dyno doesn’t measure tractability, briskness of rev or power usability. It is just a bunch of numbers that the MXA wrecking crew uses for informational purposes, and those numbers rank way below test-rider input on the priority scale. That said, the 2013 Honda CRF450 could use more horsepower. It could turn over more briskly. The power
2013 Honda CRF450: The CRF450 engine may
be based on the same architecture, but the
rest of the 2013 is new.