es with each blip of the throttle. MXA test riders found
that the best way to avoid the sporadic low-end power
delivery of the 2017 engine was to run the engine harder
and higher in the rpm range—a great solution for fast test
riders but a no-go for Novices and Vets.
Once the 2017 engine gets into the midrange, it cleans
up, smooths out and takes off. The midrange power delivery is a thing of beauty. It pulls hard and has an amazing,
hooked-up feel that is unlike any bike we’ve ever ridden.
The 2017 Honda CRF450 has the top-end power that has
been missing since 2008. When compared to the 2016
Honda CRF450, the top-end gives the 2017 CRF450 a
whole new dimension of power that Honda riders haven’t
felt in eight years.
It may be a stronger Honda than what came before, but
it doesn’t have the breadth, pulse, length or power of the
2017 KTM or Husky.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST EFI MAP?
A: There are three maps—stock (solid blue), mellow
(two blue flashes) and aggressive (three blue flashes).
Every MXA test rider chose to run the stock map. There
is no launch control button, but, what we really wanted
was a totally new map that would iron out the jerky low-to-mid transition and produce a broader spread of power
from bottom to top.
Q: DOES THE 2017 CRF450 HANDLE BETTER
THAN THE 2016 MODEL?
A: Yes. It is especially good at turn-in, which was the
only place that the 2016 CRF450 felt really good. It is still a
little loose from the center-out of a corner (and doesn’t feel
as planted later in the turn as it does in the beginning).
It is not as twitchy as the 2016 model in a straight line.
We did suffer considerable head-shake at speed, but we
chocked this up to the soft front forks letting the frame
geometry get too steep. Overall, the 2017 Honda CRF450 is
a good all-around handler—that will only get better when
the suspension is calmed down and stabilized. Is it the
best-handling bike on the track? No. Could it be? No, but
it could be a lot better than it is in stock trim.
Q: HOW GOOD IS THE SUSPENSION?
A: The polite way to describe the 2017 Honda’s
suspension is that the shock can confuse the forks, which
tend to be very stagey in the second part of their stroke.
When the shock is going through its rather large uncontrolled swings, the front end sucks down to the stiff part
of the curve and the rear end kicks. Until you settle the
argument between the forks and shock, you will struggle
with the see-saw motion of the CRF450 over rough ground.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES IT WEIGH?
A: It weighs 233 pounds, which is exactly what it
weighed last year. If you do the math, you can see that
if Honda had stuck with last year’s Kayaba PSF- 2 air
forks, the bike would have hit the scales at 230 pounds—
although it would have had terrible forks. It should be
noted that a 2017 KTM 450SXF weighs 222 pounds.
Q: WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE ELECTRIC
A: It didn’t make the production cut, nor did the
rumored hydraulic clutch. You can order an electric-start
kit from your friendly local dealer (Honda put the mounting
The 2017 Honda CRF450 was built to erase the memory of
the 2009 through 2016 CRF450. It harks back to the days
of the fabled 2008 CRF450—in not just memory, but also