Kaleidoscope: All three shock adjusters are on the piggyback
reservoir. No more crawling in the dirt to adjust the rebound.
Duo: If the advantages outweighed the disadvantages, we’d
be all for twice pipes. They don’t, and we aren’t.
Be forewarned that the rpm must be set very low. We
turned the idle up to lessen flame-out, and this blocked
the ability to switch maps. To change from the stock
map to the mellow map to the aggressive map, you press
and hold the button on the right side of the handlebars.
When you release the button, it will flash once in
succession for the stock map, twice in succession for
the mellow map and three times in succession for the
What map did we choose? Every test rider chose to
race with the stock map. Why? A mellow map on a 2015
Honda CRF450 is pointless, because Honda’s stock map
would be the mellow map on the yellow, green, blue,
orange or white bikes. The aggressive map wasn’t any
faster, but it was hyperkinetic at throttle tip-in. It was
jerky and jumpy. It did rev out farther, but on a
CRF450, this is meaningless, because the farther it
revs, the less horsepower it makes. Thus, we stuck
with the stock map.
To cross-check the MXA test riders’ opinions, we dyno
tested all three maps. Surprise! The stock CRF450 map
(one flash) made 1 to 2 more horsepower than the other
two maps at every rpm on the complete power curve.
The mellow map (two flashes) traced the aggressive map
(three maps) from idle to 7800 and then fell off quickly.
If you like to see flashing lights, go ahead and play
with the button, but after you are done being
mesmerized, put it back on the stock setting.
Q: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
THE 2015 CRF450?
A: Here are a few pertinent Honda CRF450 factoids.
Weight. The Honda is not just the lightest 450, it is
also the lightest-feeling. Compared to its overweight
competitors, the CRF450 feels like a CRF250 in motion.
PSF- 2 forks. The revised Kayaba air forks are simpler to
work with than the Showa SFF TAC air forks, but Honda
doesn’t make it too easy to access the high- and low-speed
damping adjusters, which are hidden by the handlebars. If
you don’t have a disc-style screwdriver, you are out of luck.
Power. The powerband is short. It does its best work
below 8500 rpm, and after that it is a dead fish. You need
to short-shift at peak. Be forewarned: don’t short-shift
before peak because the CRF450 doesn’t make enough
power to pull a tall gear at low rpm. And, don’t shift after
peak, because every rpm after 8500 is a losing proposition.
Exhaust pipe. It sticks out like an Oahu-to-Maui
Gearing. We geared it down from 48 teeth to 49 teeth
to try to maximize what’s there, but if “pleasant” is
your game, leave the gearing alone.
Clutch. It has a very spongy feel, and every MXA
test rider believed that if they used it, they would lose
it. We ran stiffer clutch springs immediately.
Front brake. Honda up-sized the front rotor to 260mm,
but if you thought that was going to get this bike on par
with the KTM, you are wrong. The CRF450 brake has
more oomph than before, but not as much as KTM’s.
Twice pipes. In our experience, single-sided exhaust
systems are lighter, run better, cost less and are easier to
repack. Honda obviously believes in the twice-pipe idea—
even if no one else does.
Flame-out. Any bike can flame-out under hard braking
into a turn, but the Honda is the absolute best at it. For
2015, the engineers added more inertia to the flywheel
to help alleviate the problem. If you are still afraid,