could be more usable across a wider range. Every test rider made note of three things on their test reports: (1) Output. Simple logic tells you that if you give up five horses at peak, you won’t be able to run with the competition when the bikes are at peak. But, since Honda focused their efforts on low-to-mid power, they really should be ranked on how they run from 6000 rpm to 8000 rpm. True to Honda’s claim, the CRF450 does have better roll-on power off the bottom (and the dyno confirmed it) than the Kawasaki or the KTM, but by the time the Honda reaches 7000 rpm, it loses its power lead and never regains it. ( 2) Delivery. Apart from the nice pickup off idle, the Honda revs slow and takes its good old time going from gear to gear. Most MXA test riders geared the CRF450 down one tooth and resorted to a little touch of clutch to juice it and goose it. ( 3) Flat top end. After 9000 rpm, the 2013 CRF450 goes flat. After nine grand, the Honda makes noise, not power. No thrust means that you need to shift. Q: SO IS THE 2013 CRF450 A DOG? A: No, it is actually an effective and raceable power- band. For a rider coming off a 2009–2012 CRF450, he will not be disappointed, because the power feels torquier on the bottom and pulls across the same rpm spread as the older CRFs. Perhaps a Kawasaki KX450F or KTM 450SXF transplant would feel that the CRF450 was too slow—and they wouldn’t be wrong. All that said, with lower gearing and good knowledge of how to make the most of the CRF450 powerband, you can go fast on the CRF450 by taking advantage of the easy-to-use power delivery. It can go fast because the rider can use all the power it has without fear of white knuckles or wide eyeballs. Q: HOW GOOD IS THE NEW SIX-SPRING CLUTCH? A: We don’t know why Honda waited four years to make this change, but we are glad they finally did. The new clutch is much better, but maybe our memories are fuzzy, because it doesn’t seem as good as the 2008 clutch it is based on. Although it doesn’t slip and holds up to abuse well, it has a spongy feel at the lever that we don’t remember noticing in 2008. The 2013 Honda clutch has a jutter spring and one downsized plate in the clutch pack. We removed the jutter spring and small plate and replaced them with one full-size plate. Q: WHAT IS MXA’S OPINION OF THE CRF450’S TWIN PIPES? A: We think they are stupid, redundant, restrictive, heavy, expensive and vanity engineering for someone in the Honda R&D department. And they aren’t all that quiet. Our 2013 Honda CRF450 failed the 115 dB two-meter-max test at 116.1. Plus, one touch of the
Dollars: It will take serious dough to get the CRF450 up to
KX450F or KTM power numbers–until then, just ride it harder.
Squeak: The modern Japanese motocross bike is hampered
by the modern Japanese front brake. Brembo anyone?