the 2014 CRF450 out of the water.
The most noticeable thing about the 2015 CRF450
powerband is that it trades last year’s snappy low-to-mid
transition for a slower-revving and mellower pickup at
throttle tip-in. Once in the midrange, the 2015 CRF450
power is broader and torquier; however, at no point does
it feel faster than the 2014 CRF450. The end product of
the 2015’s R&D was that Honda traded low-end throttle
response for better power around 7500 rpm.
MXA test riders were torn about the 2015 engine
mods. The best aspect of last year’s bike was its quick
and aggressive pick-up off idle. That’s gone. In its
place is a modestly improved midrange. Sadly, the 2015
CRF450 still peaks at 8500 rpm, and it’s all downhill
after that. The power is flat on top and only loses
power the higher you rev it.
If you are from the school of thought that 450cc
motocross bikes are too powerful for mortal man, this
is your bike. It is definitely not too powerful for mortal
man—or woman. It feels slow, and because of that, MXA
test riders could ride it harder. It didn’t scare them with
brutal acceleration, blow them off the back of the seat or
rev to the moon. It was, as Honda’s engineers must have
been aiming for, easy to ride.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2015 CRF450 RUN
ON THE DYNO?
A: This bike should stay as far away from a dyno as
possible. Dynos don’t like it. The 2014 Honda
CRF450 makes the least horsepower of any bike on the
showroom floor. Peak horsepower on the 2015 Honda
CRF450 is 53.03. That is almost 4 horsepower less at peak
than the 2015 Yamaha YZ450F. Even worse, at 10,000
rpm the Honda gives up 7-1/2 horsepower to the YZ450F.
Need more bad news? In a comparison of how long
each 2015 bike stays above the 50-horsepower mark, the
Yamaha, Husky, Suzuki and KTM all stayed in the sweet
zone for a range of more than 3400 rpm. The Honda
CRF450 only produces 50 horsepower for a range of 2000
rpm. Without meaning to pile on the CRF450, its horse-
power peaks at 8500 rpm. That is 500 rpm lower than the
KX450F, RM-Z450 or KTM. It is 800 rpm lower than the
Husqvarna FC450 and 1500 rpm below the YZ450F.
Stats are not the be all, end all of motocross engines,
but it’s hard to ignore numbers as pitiful as these.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE THREE MAPS?
A: Five of the six 2015 450 motocross bikes have
extra maps built in. Some are accessed with plug-in
couplers (Kawasaki and Suzuki), some with dials under
the seat (KTM) and some with handlebar-mounted buttons
(Husqvarna and Honda). Given the casual approach that
the 2015 Honda CRF450 has to covering ground at speed,
the MXA test riders immediately began utilizing Honda’s
push-button map switch.
To change maps, you must have the engine running.
White paper: Honda’s corporate policy on motocross bikes
is to make them easy-to-ride—which is code for slow. It’s
not white-knuckle fast, more like pink-knuckle fast.