2017 HONDA CRF450 vs.
MXA has rarely received as many questions about a
new bike as with the 2017 Honda CRF450. People were
intrigued by the hype and titillated by the delay. They
weren’t interested in the Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki or
Husqvarna. They wanted to know if the 2017 Honda
CRF450 was better than the 2017 KTM 450SXF. Here are
our answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Q: WHICH BIKE IS FASTER, THE HONDA
CRF450 OR THE KTM 450SXF?
A: The KTM is appreciably faster on the racetrack—
not only because it makes several more horsepower than
the CRF450 from the bottom to the top, but because KTM’s
metered power delivery never seems to stop pulling. From
gear to gear you can stay in the meat of the KTM powerband longer than on the Honda. With the CRF450, you
are forced to shift before the KTM is even thinking about
slamming in a new cog.
Q: WHAT ARE THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE
CRF450 AND 450SXF POWERBANDS?
A: In truth, the KTM is an almost-perfect moto-
cross-style powerband. It isn’t especially aggressive off
idle, even though it makes the most horsepower of any
bike in the shootout down low. It rolls on smoothly and
then begins to build a crescendo of power as the rpm
climbs. Slower riders can stay in the midrange, while fast
riders can push it to the stratosphere. Most MXA test
riders want more punch out of the 2017’s low-end power
and blame the 2017 mapping for making the KTM engine
too smooth. We just put the more rugged 2016 map back
into the black box.
The 2017 Honda CRF450 has some issues. The low-end
is herky-jerky. Remember how hard it was to ride the
original fuel-injected CRF450s through the pits without
the engine burping and jerking along in a spastic motion?
Well, welcome to 2017. From off idle up into the midrange,
the CRF450 runs ragged. If you try to glide through a
deep rut at one-third throttle, the power will buck and
bolt, lifting the front end up. Once in the midrange the
2017 Honda engine is a thing of beauty. It comes on hard,
pulls strong and has a unique hooked-up feel that is hard
to compare to any other 450. It’s stuck to the ground and
moving forward. Best of all, for a Honda CRF450, the 2017
model has ample over-rev. Yes, it’s a little flat on top, but
at least it has top-end—something the last eight years of
Q: WHICH ONE HAS THE MOST TORQUE, THE
CRF450 OR THE KTM 450SXF?
A: The easy answer is the 2017 KTM 450SXF. It
makes the most torque of all the 2017 450s. Conversely,
the 2017 Honda CRF450 makes the least torque. The KTM
pumps out 36. 52 foot-pounds, while the CRF450 maxes out
at a weak 34. 16 foot-pounds. But, amazingly, these clear-