in 2013, Honda started backpedaling, try-
ing to get back to where it was in 2008.
Honda isn’t there yet, but it is on its way.
The 2015 Honda CRF450’s best attribute
is its light weight. Not only is it light, but
it feels light on the track. It feels more like
a CRF250 than a CRF450—and in large
measure that is because it makes the least
horsepower of any bike in this shootout
(and less peak power than the two 350cc
bikes that we didn’t include). Why is it so
slow? Are Honda’s engineers incapable of
making competitive power? Is the Unicam
design off the mark? No, no and no. It is
slow for bureaucratic reasons. Say what?
Honda has a corporate belief that modern motocross bikes are too powerful and
that the consumer—you—would be much
better off with an easier-to-ride, less
powerful and more manageable power
output. So, they built an engine that
produces 2-1/2 horsepower less than
the class leader at 8000 rpm, 7-1/2
horsepower less at 10,000 rpm and 10
horsepower less at 11,000 rpm.
Why should it lose? It’s slow, has a
weak clutch and twitchy high-speed
What skill level is the CRF450 best
suited for? Novice.
The last word? We’d love this
bike…with a KTM, Yamaha, Suzuki or
Kawasaki engine in it.