First Look – Honda 2010 CRF450R

Honda recently introduced their latest big-bore beast, the 2010 CRF450R at Racetown 395.  Last year’s model was hailed as a radically different and new motorcycle, with excellent styling accompanying the all new electronic-fuel-injection (EFI) and Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD).  While the bike received plenty of praise, no machine is without flaws, so for 2010 Honda chose to address some of the raised concerns from 2009.

We will have our full race test in the upcoming issue TransWorld Motocross Magazine, but for now we just wanted to give you a quick rundown of the changes to the new CRF450R, plus our brief first impression of the machine.

258x9445Whats New

-New ECU programming improves off/on throttle control and allows improved starting.

-New engine auto decompression system has revised decomp pin shape and new weight/spring enables improved starting.

-New front fork oil seal, oil settings and valving contribute to improved control, fork action, and balance.

-Rear shock features a redesigned piston, high-speed compression adjuster and all new valving for improved suspension action and enhanced machine balance.

-PGM-FI tuning connector is relocated behind radiator shroud for easier access.

First Impressions

-Ergos on the bike are really second to none.  Boots and knee braces never snag unexpectedly, squeezing with your legs feels completely natural (no odd protruding plastics or edges), and the controls feel right at home.

-The new ECU programming evened out the distribution of power compared to last year’s bike.  The 2010 has plenty of grunt down low, but the true juice is in the mid- to upper ranges where the bike has plenty of power in store.

-Handling is vastly improved over the 2009 model that had a very twitchy front end due to the steep steering angle.  Although the rake was unchanged this year, Honda’s suspension changes allow the rear end to squat a bit more, which in turn stabilizes the front end.  No more twitchy feeling during braking or turning. Now the CRF450R is far more predictable, and therefore reliable, in the rough stuff.

-Starting is super easy thanks to the decompression changes.  Just one or two quick kicks and you are on your way with both cold and hot starting.258x9575

-Overall suspension action is very good.  While the rear end had the tendency to kick a little in braking bumps during initial testing, that is something that could easily be remedied with the standard suspension tuning that most folks inevitably do to their machines.

What We Really Think

As many enthusiasts are aware, some manufacturers did not release their new models until much later in the year than normal, the two most extreme being Honda and Suzuki.  Reason being, the companies simply wanted to hold out as long as possible to sell as many 2009 models as they could before releasing the 2010s. Suzuki has so far opted to not even import any 2010 machines to the United States, as they still have new 2008 and 2009 models sitting on showroom floors (rumors have them perhaps simply waiting until mid year to release them as early 2011 models). Considering this, we should be pumped that Honda did not opt to do the same.

The Red Riders didn’t do a complete redesign this year, but they really didn’t need to.  The handling complaints they received from the 2009 model were attended to with the suspension settings instead if messing with the chassis.  The rear end now flows more easily through the stroke while the front end is basically just stiffer initially.  This all adds up to a much more assured ride that keeps you comfortable and allows you to ride more aggressively. Overall this is a solid machine that will be a contender in the 2010 450 Shootout. Honda is now saying the bike should be hitting dealer room floors by February 2010.

Again, look for our full test in the January issue of TransWorld Motocross Magazine.

2010 Honda CRF450

List Price                         $8,099
Displacement                 449cc
Engine Type                    liquid cooled. Single cylinder four-stroke
Curb Weight                   234.8 LBS
Bore x Stroke                  96mm x 62.1mm
Compression Ratio        12.0:1
Carburetion                    Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 50mm throttle body
Ignition                           Full transistor with three gear-position electronic advance
Transmission                Close-ratio five-speed
Fuel Capacity                 1.5 GAL
Frame                             Aluminum Twin Spar Perimeter
Wheelbase                      58.7 IN.
Rake/Trail                     26.5 Degrees/114.2mm
Seat Height                    37.6 IN.
Tires                                (F) 80/100-21, (R) 120/80-19
Suspension Travel        (F) 12.2 IN., (R) 12.6 IN.
Front Brake                   240mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear Brake                     240mm disc
Final Drive                    #520 Chain, 13T/48T
Handlebar                     7/8 IN. Renthal Aluminum