port into the 2017 cases). It will cost an estimated $700,
plus the cost of a battery and a couple hours of labor to
install. The most optimistic estimate for how much weight
it would add is 5 pounds, which would make the CRF450
16 pounds heavier than the KTM 450SXF.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Exhaust pipe. Two mufflers is one too many for a
bike that is already heavier than the KTM, Husqvarna and
( 2) Gearing. Given the Honda’s need to be in the midrange and above its cranky low-end, we geared it down
one tooth (from 49 teeth to 50 teeth).
( 3) Clutch. We aren’t sure why Honda keeps experimenting with different numbers of clutch plates. The new
seven-plate clutch uses 2mm-thick drive plates and very
stiff clutch springs (fewer plates require stiffer springs).
This clutch is much better than the previous units, but it is
harder to pull and releases way out on the lever.
( 4) First year jitters. When we tested the CRF450 for
our 450 Shootout last month, the engine was good at peak,
but weak below it. After the shootout was done, Honda
rebuilt the engine. Surprise! When we dyno’ed it again the
bottom to mid improved dramatically (on the track and on
the dyno). We never found out what the technical glitch
was, but that is life with first-year models.
( 5) Sound. On the 2-meter-max sound test, the 2017
CRF450 blew a 119.7-decibel reading. That is 5 decibels
over the FIM’s and AMA’s 114-decibel sound limit.
( 6) Titanium gas tank. We don’t get it. Honda went
to the trouble and expense to make a titanium gas tank,
but it isn’t significantly lighter than the plastic one it
replaced. And, to make matters worse, Honda covered it
up with plastic cladding so that no one can see it. Plus, the
hard, low-profile gas cap sticks.
( 7) Airbox holes. Why would Honda steal the triangular airbox vents from the Kawasaki KX450F? They should
steal from someone with a good idea. Having giant holes
on both sides of the airbox is an inelegant way to get air
into an engine. Although, it is the best way to get dirt,
water and small birds into the airbox. Block these vents
when you wash your CRF450.
( 8) Radiator louvers. The gaps between the louvers
that protect the radiator fins are so widely spaced that
within 30 hours of run-time our radiators looked like someone had been hitting them with a tap hammer. Most of the
fins were dented.
( 9) Seat. We had the front of the seat come unhooked
on several occasions. When you land hard on the seat, the
middle section flexes and the front hooks pop out.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Midrange. Even though the midrange is bracketed
by an erratic low-end and late peak, the way the CRF450
puts the power to the ground is its best trait. It feels
supremely hooked up—in a way that gobbles up ground.
On the pipe, in the midrange, with the throttle pegged,
this is a great engine. Conversely, it is not a great engine