TransWorld Motocross is in Kumamoto, Japan, for the All Japan National MX Championship Series opener, and thanks to some help from our friend, All Japan National Champion Akira Narita, we got to take a sneak peek at his factory Honda CRF450R race bike before the gates even opened for the Saturday morning practice sessions. Unlike the full works bike that Evgeny Bobryshev is contesting in the MX1 World Championship Series, Narita’s factory Honda looks to be a pre-production 2013 unit. It was tough to get any details about the machine from anyone in the HRC camp on Friday when we shot these photos, but we’ll dig deeper this weekend!
All Japan National MX Champion Akira Narita joined the HRC Honda team for 2013 after spending the past few seasons aboard a Narita Race Team Yamaha. Akira has been testing this factory CRF450R for three months, and he reports that it is a vast improvement over the production-based 2012 model that we saw him riding and racing in SoCal this winter.
Narita's CRF450R features an all-new chassis, which is wrapped in completely redesigned bodywork. His works bike is equipped with factory Showa suspension components, but that's no indication as to what fork and shock will come on the production version in 2013.
It looks like Honda's patented dual-exhaust system will make a return in 2013, this time on the CRF450R. The system on Narita's race bike was manufactured by the legendary Mugen Power factory. According to Narita, he believes that the dual muffler system's biggest advantage is being able to lower the sound levels without sacrificing power.
The headed pipe maintains the same lowboy design that's graced the CRF450R since 2009. Note the plastic engine guards and skid plate, which protect the bike's parts without altering the rigidity of the chassis. We heard rumors of electric start on the new Hondas, but as you can see, there is a kickstarter on the number one machine.
Narita's bike still utilizes the Honda steering dampener, which is tucked away behind the front numberplate.
Here's a closer look at the split in the mid-pipe, which allows the use of dual mufflers.
Look closely at the powerplant and you'll notice a hydraulic clutch slave. KTM owners will spout out that this is no big news, but after seeing factory units utilized on the factory race bikes in the AMA series, the possibility of seeing this reach production in 2013 on the CRF450R is quite exciting.
The hydraulic clutch master cylinder sure looks like a production part to us...
One last look at Narita's CRF450R. Be sure to check back for more machinery updates from Kumamoto!