simple left-hand turn into three or four distinct movements
of the bars.
Q: HOW DID HONDA UNDO THE “CAB
FORWARD” CONCEPT FOR 2017?
A: That’s simple. The 2017 chassis undoes the effects
of the 2009 geometry by going back in time. Here is a quick
look at how the 2017 chassis differs from the 2016 chassis.
(1) The 2017 front wheel is moved forward 13.1mm (farther
in front of the engine). ( 2) The 2017 swingarm was shortened to move the rear axle 23mm closer to the engine. ( 3)
The 2017 wheelbase was decreased by 7mm. ( 4) The 2017
head angle was slackened to 27. 22 degrees. ( 5) The 2017
fork offset was returned to 22mm. ( 6) The 2017 trail was
increased from 4. 3 inches to 4. 6 inches. ( 7) For 2017 the
HPSD steering damper was dropped (although the mounting points remain).
In essence, the 2017 Honda CRF450 frame geometry has
more in common with the 2008 numbers than any bike in
the previous eight years. “Cab forward” is a thing of the
past at Honda. As a side note, the Honda R&D department
flew in 2008 Honda CRF450 test riders Drey Dircks and
Spud Walters to double-check the 2017 frame against their
memories of the 2008 geometry.
Q: IS THE 2017 HONDA CRF450 FASTER THAN
THE 2016 CRF450?
A: Yes, but what isn’t. Although we don’t fault the
2016 Honda’s ability to run well from low-to-mid, the 2017
model blows it out of the water from mid to top. It is obvi-
ous that low-end throttle response on the 2017 CRF450 is
its worst trait. It is herky-jerky at tip-in and turns half-throt-
tle solutions in corners into a series of unsyncopated lurch-
flawed, it would stay flawed. If it were slow, it would
stay slow. Honda has been back on its heels ever since it
dropped the fabulous 2008 CRF450 for the weirdly config-
ured 2009 model and then upped the ante with the “slow
is better” formula. Honda lost its mojo over that eight-year
Q: WHAT WERE THE BASICS OF THE 2009
CRF450’S “CAB FORWARD” FRAME GEOMETRY?
A: Compared to the beloved 2008 Honda CRF450’s
frame geometry, Honda jigsaw-puzzled the 2009 geometry. The 2009 CRF450’s front wheel was 15mm closer to
the engine. The steerer tube was pulled back 10mm. The
swingarm was 18mm longer than in 2008. Fork offset was
reduced from 22mm to 20mm (fork offset in 2007 was
24mm). Trail was decreased from 4. 5 inches to 4. 3 inches.
And, the head angle was steepened from 26. 76 degrees
to 26. 52 degrees. In short, every aspect of the 2009–2016
CRF450 was moved forward (by moving the front and rear
wheels farther back in relationship to the engine position).
This shifted the weight bias forward on to the steep head
angle and, because of the chassis’ setup, the front of the
2009 CRF450 was amazing at turn-in. Even the slightest
movement of the bars would initiate a turn, but it was
too much of a good thing. The front tire over-steered in,
which required a counter-steer correction, which resulted
in understeer out and eventually more oversteer. It made a
You gotta love Honda for getting rid of their atrocious PSF- 2
air forks for Showa coil spring forks. They need some work.
The black plug is where the electric starter would go if the
CRF450 came with one. It is available as an option.
Twice pipes is not twice good. Worse yet, the 2017 CRF450
blew 119. 7 dB. That is way over the AMA limit.
This is the titanium gas tank. Yeah, yeah. We know, it looks
like it is made out of plastic, but that is just the cover.