onda has refined
the CRF450 since
the dark days of
2009–2012. In 2013, they
fixed the handling,
redesigned the plastics,
bolted on an extra muffler
and embraced air forks. For
2014, they stood pat with
what they introduced last
year—with the exception of
an innovative fuel-injection
concept. But, the question
remains: did any of these changes redefine the bike?
The 2014 Honda CRF450 is really just the 2013 model
dressed up with shiny plastic. Yes, Honda did bring its
unique Dual-Timing fuel injection to the party, but that’s
not enough to make the CRF450 the life of the party.
No matter how many good things Honda does to the
CRF450, it will all be for naught if they can’t make the
Weight. The 2014 Honda CRF450 is the lightest 450
made, and it feels even lighter once in motion.
Handling. Given its recent history, Honda’s engineers
deserve credit for making the CRF450 feel sharp,
accurate and predictable.
Low-end throttle response. The Honda’s best
powerband trait is how responsive it is at low rpm.
Power. What power? At 51. 97 horsepower on the
dyno, the CRF450 gives up as much as 6 horsepower
to its competition. It makes less horsepower than the
Brakes. Honda once had the best brakes in
motocross. Now they are an also-ran.
Twice pipes. Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t get it.
Twice of any part is one too many.
Clutch. It isn’t as bad as the previous four-spring
clutch, but it isn’t as good as it needs to be.
BEST SUSPENSION SETTINGS?
Forks. These are MXA’s recommended 2014 Honda
CRF450 fork settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 35 psi
Oil height: 242cc
Compression: 11 clicks out ( 13 clicks out)
Rebound: 10 clicks out
Fork leg height: 5mm up
Notes: Honda went up from 33 psi to 35 psi for 2014.
Theoretically, going up 2 psi is the equivalent of going
up one spring rate (from 0.47 to 0.48). That means that
the 2014 forks are one spring rate stiffer than in 2013.
The higher the pressure, the greater the ramp-up effect
at the end of the stroke, which is why Honda lowered
the fork oil height from 245cc to 242cc.
Shock. These are MXA’s recommended 2014
Honda CRF450 shock settings (stock settings are in
Spring rate: 5. 7 kg/mm ( 5. 5 kg/mm)
Race sag: 100mm
Hi-compression: 2 turns out (1-5/8 turns out)
Lo-compression: 12 clicks out ( 14 clicks out)
Rebound: 8 clicks out
Notes: Selecting the proper spring rate is important
to reduce kicking. We went one spring rate stiffer for
heavier or faster test riders. As a rule of thumb, use free
sag to determine whether the spring is stiff enough (try
to get 30mm to 40mm of unladened sag).
WHAT DID WE CHANGE?
Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking
crew changed on the 2014 Honda CRF450.
(1) We added stiffer clutch springs. They improved
the grip but made the actuation window tougher to
( 2) We geared it down from 48 teeth to 49 teeth.
( 3) We invested in an oversized front brake rotor and
tossed the front brake rotor guard.
( 4) We blew more Kayaba PSF fork seals last year
between our KX450F and CRF450 than all the other
bikes in our test quiver combined. In the end, we
switched to SKF seals and neoprene fork skins to slow
down the madness.
( 5) We ran a singled-side FMF exhaust pipe to save
weight and improve the power.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
This is a very good bike. This is a very slow bike.
MXA RODE TEST