Piggy bank: Kayaba built Honda a special piggyback reservoir
to fit on the new frame. It has more volume, not less.
HPSD: Honda is sticking with their steering damper. Given
the CRF’s tendency to oversteer, it might come in handy.
past always comes back to haunt you. For that reason we applaud Honda’s bravery in switching to Kayaba com- ponents. Why is it brave? Because Honda owns Showa. Unfortunately, the 2009 forks aren’t the saving grace we thought they would be. Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE? A: The like list: (1) Airbox. Finally, Honda did something about that dank, dark and claustrophobic thing they call an airbox. The 2009 airbox not only has room to reach in and grab the air filter, but it has high-tech features like a built-in velocity stack and an incredible air filter (with sealing lips). ( 2) Subframe. If you look closely at the aluminum tubing on the CRF450 subframe, you will find that it is flat on one side. The flat surface faces in the best possible direction to narrow the bike’s profile (which means that the flat is on the inside of the left side and outside of the right side). ( 3) Gas tank tether. To make the CRF450 easier to work on, the gas tank has tethers that allow it to hang from the frame when working on the bike (since remov- ing it completely would mean disconnecting the high- pressure fuel lines). ( 4) Shock body. Thanks to a short and fat piggyback and careful routing of the exhaust system, the shock reservoir is about as far away from exhaust pipe heat as possible. Good engineering. ( 5) Frame tab. Look closely at the sides of the frame, where the subframe and side panels meet the twin-spars, and you will see small tabs cast into the CRF450 frame. During testing, test riders hooked their boots on the front edge of the side panels, so Honda went back the foundry and added the cast-in tabs on both sides of the frame to stop that from happening. Nice. ( 6) Weight. Suddenly, the manufacturers are reporting the bike’s weight as “curb weight” (with a full tank of gas). This makes sense from a practical standpoint, but doesn’t mesh with the last 40 years of weighing bikes (tank empty). Honda’s reported curb weight is 234.8 pounds. We weighed our CRF450 the AMA way and it came in at 226.5 pounds (about two pounds less than in 2008). ( 7) Programmer. Honda offers a calibration tool to alter EFI fuel delivery as well as ignition timing over a wide range of settings. If you feel comfortable with a lap- top, the HRC PGM-FI Setting Tool retails for $349. ( 8) Hand hold. Honda double-walled the rear fender so that your hand has a nice comfy place to grab hold of. Very considerate of them. ( 9) HPSD. Even with the new 20mm offset triple clamps, the CRF450 is still steering damper equipped. We set it on a light setting and forgot it. Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK? A: We think that Honda has built a terrific machine for 2009. It bristles with innovative ideas. But there is an old theorem put forth by sociologist Thorstein Veblen called "the penalty of taking the lead" that addresses the 2009 Honda CRF450 succinctly (even though Veblen died in 1929). Under Veblen’s theory, the person, corporation or nation that is the first to innovate totally new con- cepts puts itself at a disadvantage because the leader must make all the mistakes first. The followers benefit by having a data-base of errors to avoid. The 2009 Honda CRF450 has taken the lead—the penalty is that it has flaws. ;