Q: FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS THE 2012 CRF450 BETTER THAN THE 2011 CRF450? A: Yes. As the two bikes sit on the showroom floor, the 2012 model has three features that make it a better all-around motocross machine. Q: WHAT ARE THE THREE CHANGES THAT HONDA MADE TO THE 2012 CRF450? A: Before we talk about the three major changes for 2012, let’s rehash all the changes that Honda has made to the new- generation CRF450 since its introduction in 2009. (1) Maps. The 2010 CRF450 got a new program that produced a gentler and less barky powerband. Plus, the programmer module was made more accessible (on the 2009 model, you had to remove the gas tank to reprogram the engine). ( 2) Compression release. Because of high-profile failures with the 2009 automatic compression release, the 2010 model got new pin and weight shapes. ( 3) Fork seals. The 2010 forks got a higher oil height, more low-speed compression damping and longer-lasting seals. ( 4) Shock. In 2010, the valving was softened to make the shock more supple over small bumps. ( 5) Throttle body. For 2011, the jumbo-sized 50mm throttle body from 2009 and 2010 was reduced to 46mm in an attempt to improve low-end power and lessen the tendency to flame out. ( 6) Shock linkage. On the 2011 CRF450, Honda completely replaced the shock linkage and bell crank to stiffen the rising rate. Most test riders thought this was a step in the wrong direction, or, at best, a step in no discernible direction. ( 7) Steering damper. For 2011, the HPSD steering damper’s body diameter was increased from 20mm to 24mm. ( 8) Muffler. The 2011 muffler is 100mm longer and got a smaller 26mm core instead of 2010’s 36mm core. ( 9) EFI map. Ignition and fuel maps were changed in 2011 to work with the restrictive muffler and downsized throttle body. Q: WE REPEAT, WHAT ARE THE THREE CHANGES THAT HONDA MADE TO THE 2012 CRF450? A: Here are the three areas that Honda focused on for the 2012 model year. (1) Forks. The 2012 Kayaba forks have stiffer fork springs (after 10 years of local and National racers changing the springs to aftermarket springs). Given that fork springs run around $100 (with another $100 labor charge to change them), this mod is a $200 value. ( 2) Shock linkage. There is another all-new shock linkage for 2012. This is the third rising-rate change in the four-year history of this version of the CRF450. Additionally, the chain roller has been changed to work with the new swingarm angle. Given that virtually every serious CRF450 racer changes to an aftermarket shock linkage, this mod has a $225 value.