It’s that time of year again; the time when all of the different motorcycle manufacturers begin inviting the press out to local So Cal MX tracks in order to introduce their latest and greatest creations to the media world. We know that it’s said every year, but it really does seem like new bikes are coming out earlier and earlier with each season. This year, Honda was the first manufacturer to step up to the plate and introduce one of their ’07s, and the model they chose to show off also happens to be one of the most anticipated and popular of them all—the 2007 Honda CRF450R.
TWMX made the trip up to the scalding-hot high desert town of Adelanto, California, for the press launch of the updated CRF450R. And just like last year, we came away quite impressed with how Honda hasn’t ruined a good thing…
Overall, the CRF450R really doesn’t feature any drastic changes this year, but instead quite a few minor ones that have resulted in an improved overall ride. In the engine department, Honda added smaller exhaust valves, a larger 41mm carburetor, and an improved clutch basket. All of these changes were aimed at giving the red bike a little more juice throughout the entire powerband, and Honda claims that the updates will allow riders to carry more speed through corners, possibly even carrying a taller gear into them.
As for the ’07 chassis, it received a few small refinements, much like the motor. The exhaust pipe has been pushed 22mm forward in order to move the center of gravity even further towards the center of the bike, thereby improving handling. The suspension—front and rear—was valved to different specs for better control and feel, and an all-new, Honda-exclusive Dunlop C742FA was also added up front to keep the bike biting better in turns. One last thing; the big thumper has an all-new front brake lever, which Honda claims increases stopping power by 15 percent without increasing the size of the brake rotor or master cylinder.
THE FUN PART
Out on the track, all of the changes were actually quite noticeable; you just had to really try to notice them. And while the motor does have plenty of power, it feels almost identical to the ’06 bike. Now don’t take that the wrong way; this is not necessarily a bad thing! Last year, the bike was one of the fastest in its class, and to us, the ’07 feels nearly the same, which will once again put it right up at the front of the pack, power-wise. The motor is strong throughout with no dead spots, and the CRF pulls long and hard down fast straights with a smooth, rider-friendly powerband.
In the chassis and suspension department, the Honda also shines on the track. Our test riders immediately commented on how much better the big red machine turned this year, thanks in large part to the 22mm repositioning of the exhaust system. The great cornering didn’t come at the sacrifice of straight-line handling—due to the improved valving, the CRF tracts perfectly straight, never faltering or swapping in high-speed situations.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…
Overall, we came away quite impressed with the improved CRF450R, and the list of simple changes have obviously added up. While we know this is a short impression of the bike—after all, we have only ridden it once—we do feel strongly that the ’07 Honda is going to make the 2007 TransWorld Motocross 450cc Shootout another close one. Will the CRF take back its title as the king of the 450s come shootout time? It’s a little premature to answer that question, but for a more in-depth impression from our seasoned testing staff, pick up the October issue of TWMX, which should be on newsstands in about a month.
If you simply can’t wait to learn more about the ’07 Honda CRF450R, check back tomorrow for a video of some of the action from the intro, as well as our resident test rider Michael Sleeter’s opinion on the bike.