The experts are pretty much unanimous in hailing the CRF450R as the best MXer in its class. Holding that advantage, however, demands constant improvement, and the 2008 CRF450R is sharper than ever, with all-new works-style brake rotors, retooled frame geometry, and the revolutionary new Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD). The gauntlet has been thrown. Again.
Honda introduced the CFR450R as the most versatile motorcycle in the world and the 2008 model proves the bike is still going strong. With unmatched performance and sharp handling, the 2008 promises to be the first machine at the finish line each and every time. The results will surely put a big smile on the rider’s face and the team will sort the deal with the rest of the championship. This is what Honda CRF450R is all about and this is also the reason it became so desired all around the world.
Honda prepared CRF450R’s debut for 2002 and the bike featured new everything so its engine was newly developed 449cc 4-stroke SOHC Unicam 4-valve and it featured high-strength low-carbon steel crankshaft for maximum durability at sustained high engine speeds. The unique Unicam head configuration actuates 4 valves with 3 cam lobes and a forged roller rocker operating the exhaust valves. Burned gases were evacuated by using the lightweight exhaust valves equipped with springs for optimized high-revving performance and the 40mm Keihin FCR flat side carburetor delivered lighter throttle effort, smoother operation, crisp response and excellent rideability. The performing engine was mounted on a compact and lightweight 3rd-generation twin-spar aluminum frame based directly on the chassis used by the high-flying CR250R and CR125R motocross racers. But the chassis had to be completed with the high-performance 47mm inverted cartridge-type front fork and the progressive, fully adjustable Pro-Link rear suspension system
supporting the double-taper aluminum swingarm tuned for maximum strength and minimal weight.
By reading the previous you would ask yourself what improvements were made to the bike and the answer comes naturally.
In 2003, the engine received many improvements like the cam timing and lift changed for stronger low-end power and torque output, and smoother idling. The crankshaft and connecting rods were also modified for higher durability and the carburetor was fine-tuned for optimal power output. Clutch damper also changed to improve rear wheel traction under hard acceleration
The chassis had also gone through intensive changing that very same year so we can easily understand Honda’s policy after looking at the series of changes made only a year after the bike’s debut. Frame downtube thickness was increased for enhanced rigidity and cornering control, the front suspension featured 10mm longer stroke for smoother control over bumps and jumps, swingarm pivot position was raised for improved ground clearance and reduced impacts in jumps landings. Caster angle also increased. The rear damper spring rate was increased and the valve sealing was improved to better absorb jump landings and reduce pitching over washboard and ruts. Handling and ergonomics had also improved after moving the handlebar 3mm forward and positioning the seat 7mm higher.
The rhythm imposed in 2003 had to be maintained for the next year so the CRF450R had gone through a series of changes until it became a 2004 model. The overall weight was reduced by 1.5kg and that was mostly due to the new piston shape for increased torque over entire rev change, new exhaust system layout which optimizes mass centralization, and the new standard equipment Renthal bars (971 Bend). The magnesium ACG cover also reduces weight and heat built up.
Apart from lousing weight, the bike also received carburetor settings for sharper throttle response and the front fork outer-tubes now featured Works-type honing treatment for lower-friction operation.
2005 brought the complete revision of the Honda CRF450R and, of course, the product featured almost everything new but I would name the ones that had a great impact on the bike and significantly improved the overall feel. New shift components were added for smoother and more precise gear shifting; the twin-spar aluminum frame had now reached the 4th generation and it received new aluminum swingarm with slimmed down dual-axis and double-taper design; new front axle placement for improved fork action and turning; new Pro-Link ratio for more compliant suspension operation; new lighter-weight titanium exhaust pipe heat shield; new airbox and intake tube for more direct airflow and increased airflow; new aluminum clutch cable bracket for lighter weight; new lighter rear brake pedal; new lighter and stronger rear wheel hub and the list can go on and on forever. The idea is that 2005 brought the longest list of changes, only matched by the 2008 model which announces itself as another great success. History continues
to be written so we are facing continuous development at Hondas. Has it ever been different? I sure don’t think so!
Honda CRF450R has opponents to match its performance. One of the most powerful, most flickable 450’s ever is produced by Yamaha and it is called YZ450F, a bike that started the four-stroke revolution and which keeps moving forward with chassis and engine refinements that ensure the five-titanium-valved YZ540F, the heart of the open-class pack.
Suzuki also introduced a brand new model of its RM-Z450 for 2008 and they claim that motocross is about to enter a new era with their fuel-injected machine. The engineers from Suzuki developed the RM-Z450 using experience gained developing fuel-injection systems for Suzuki’s legendary GSX-R road race bikes and the championship-winning LT-R450 QuadRacer ATV. The result is the world’s only mass-produced, fuel-injected motocross bike, designed to compete with Honda’s class-leader, the CRF450R.
Kawasaki couldn’t have left the battle so it designed for 2008 a machine providing refined power delivery for improved holeshot performance. A host of improvements make the 2008 Kawasaki KX450F motocrosser easier to ride and more reliable than ever. A newly-revised powerplant and improved shifting highlight the improvements made to the domain AMA and World Supercross GP Championship winner.
The Honda CRF450R features for 2008 new aggressive look and appearance given by the bike’s crucial elements that make it look like a winner, and a winner it is.
The high front fender makes a real statement on the bike’s off road abilities and the mudguards complete that goal as both elements have the clear purpose of both protecting the rider and lubricated parts of the fork in order to go fast and deal with mud properly.
Frame design has the purpose of allowing the sidecovers to have larger air-intake ducts and they significantly contribute to the level of airflow which is increased in certain key areas. This also makes the bike look cool and complete the overall front appearance.
Rider ergonomics were optimized by adapting the handlebar, seat and footpeg height to place the rider’s legs at the narrowest part of the frame. The triangle formed stands for handling and improved comfort.
The rear fender looks like an arrow and that’s no coincidence as this motocrosser actually goes like and arrow but it also has to do it in style and that final touch is given by the sidecover decals.
What hit me first on the 2008 CRF450R was the ergonomics. Remember that triangle that I was talking about? Well it does its job as no other because the handlebar, seat and footpeg height located me exactly where I would expected to sit and that was the narrowest part of the frame.
Once on the bike and surprisingly (for this kind o bike) well accommodated, I pushed the start button and noticed how smooth the engine operates and thanks to the new counterbalancer, no vibrations could be detected neither in the handlebar or frame so that is another quality of this motorcycle.
But the fun starts as soon as you get on going because at that moment any bike becomes a bag of information ready to be unveiled and processed by the rider. I was happy to be riding the new CRF because all the information was more than positive: the silky power delivery was so sweet that it makes you wonder if the single cylinder makes any bangs. The smooth idle starts increasing softly but in the best way possible and in the mid-rpm range the more urgent pull testifies to the high compression. Midrange is also strong and it disposes of all the power and snap that you could desire.
High rpm level isn’t very easy to reach on the straight line of the track but not impossible if you are not actually riding in fifth gear. In fact, what I most liked about the bike was that it has tons of power and torque available in every gear and that is what provides satisfaction in motocross: never ending power to conquer the bumps and jump longer.
The smooth-shifting close-ratio five-speed gearbox does the job spotless but requires a bit of practice as shifting can be a bit chink for the use of a big-bore four-stroke, but the feel was crisp and light, as satisfying as the light clutch engagement. The friction point never requires excess though. It is neither frustratingly narrow nor annoyingly wide. Nothing in the lower end handicaps the power production in the top-end.
I also had a good time while I was in the air, because the CRF feels quite at home in any kind of circumstances so that was no exception. I especially enjoyed changing the landing angle by using the throttle or the rear brake but that needs a bit more training although the bike is more than suitable for that kind of actions too.
Brakes provide more than the necessary stopping power and this issue made me feel very at home on the new motocross ride because I enjoy a strong-braking motorcycle, especially when I’m getting airborne.
I do have to admit though, that I didn’t used the brakes very much because the Honda CRF450R is a sharp-handling machine which only needs a bit of more leaning over and a powerful foot in the front in order to give you a great rush on the tight corners approached with a bit more speed than usually.
My conclusion is that the product is absolutely fabulous and it takes care of its rider as it should to but you are strongly advised not to jump on a such motorcycle from the very beginning because the 55 horses can easily through you down from the saddle. At least you will feel like a real motocross rider as you clean the mud out your riding costume.
The newest machine out on the track can also be your latest acquisition if you believe that your riding experience allows you but everything comes with a price and CRF450R’s is $7,199. Don’t smile and think that you’ll get the new black version for the money because you won’t. You will have to pay an extra $200 and your wish will be accomplished.
Honda made sure that the CRF450R would leave a sweet taste so no mistakes were made there as no mistakes were made when this bike was created. It is gorgeous looking and once on its saddle all hell brakes lose but, believe me, you wouldn’t want anything else. Sharp handling deals with all that power and torque, while the suspension and saddle make sure that you are accommodated in complete comfort all ride long. It is also affordable and a class leader so these two last points will probably determine you to find yourself on this new reliable product for next year.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 96mm x 62.1mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Valve Train: Unicam, four-valve; 36mm intake, titanium; 30mm exhaust, steel
Induction: Carburetor, Keihin 41mm flat slide
Ignition: CD with three-gear-position electronic advance
Transmission: Close-ratio five-speed
Final Drive: #520 chain; 13T/48T
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension: 47mm Inverted Showa cartridge fork with 16-position rebound and 16-position compression damping adjustability; 12.4 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link Showa single shock with spring preload, 17-position rebound damping adjustability, and compression damping adjustment separated into low-speed (13 positions) and high-speed (3.5 turns); 12.5 inches travel
Front Brakes: Single 240mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 240mm disc
Front Tire: 80/100-21
Rear Tire: 110/90-19
Wheelbase: 58.6 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 26.76
Trail: 111.4mm (4.3 inches)
Seat Height: 37.6 inches
Ground Clearance: 13.4 inches
Fuel Capacity: 1.9 gallons
Colors: Red, Black (2008 special color)
Curb Weight: 238 pounds
New for 2008
-New tapered exhaust head pipe improves low-end and midrange power.
New lighter counterbalacer shaft and drive gears.
New works-type multi-map CDI system uses a transmission gear-position sensor to provide specific ignition maps for First gear, Second gear and Third through Fifth and produce the optimum power curve in each gear.
Rev limit of 11,270 rpm has increased 50 rpm.
Friction-reducing coating on the clutch basket, clutch center and pressure plate improve clutch life and clutch feel.
New Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD). Developed by Team Honda, this lightweight, compact steering damper improves cornering ability and reduces rider fatigue.
New fork triple clamps with 22mm offset for improved cornering.
New Showa fork features a larger cartridge rod and new cartridge oil piston for improved oil flow and less friction, plus shifter springs for improved mid-stroke action.
New rear shock valving matches changes to the fork.
New works-style front and rear brake discs reduce unsprung weight.
New Black color (2008 special color)
-Powerful engine churns out 55 bhp at 9000 rpm and 36.9 lb./ft. of torque at 6500 rpm. Power is produced across a wide rpm band for easy-to-control operation.
Liquid-cooled four-valve Unicam 449cc engine produces more than 120 hp per liter.
Lightweight titanium intake valves permit use of smaller valve springs and reduce overall engine height.
Forged slipper piston is more than 4.5 ounces lighter than a conventional design.
Lightweight Nikasil cylinder lining provides cooler and quieter operation for extended engine life.
Auto decompression and hot restart system make starting easy in all conditions.
41mm FCR carburetor features four rollers on the flat slide, resulting in light throttle effort, smooth operation, crisp throttle response and excellent rideability.
The capacitive discharge ignition system (CDI) features an 8-bit digital CPU for extremely accurate ignition and maximum performance.
Twin-sump lubrication system separates the oil supply for the crankshaft, piston and valve train from the clutch and transmission. This ensures a cool supply of oil to the clutch, eliminates clutch and transmission material contamination of the engine oil and reduces the amount circulating oil and minimizes oil pump size.
Exhaust system features a titanium header and head shield. The repackable silencer is aluminum with a stainless steel connector pipe.
Gear-driven balancer reduces vibration and driven the water pump.
Eight clutch plates provide the surface area necessary to handle the engine’s massive torque, while carefully matched clutch springs provide a light feel at the lever.
-Fourth-generation Twin-Spar Aluminum Frame with forged-aluminum steering head.
HPSD features a compact damper attached to the lower triple clamp and the steering head to allow more aggressive steering characteristics and assists straight-line handling. Damping action smoothly progresses as handlebar deflection increases, which produces very natural steering characteristics and feel.
Front and rear wheels feature HRC works-type lightweight aluminum spoke nipples.
Front wheel features large-diameter front axle and wide wheel-bearing span for excellent rigidity.
Rear axle diameter of 25mm and large-diameter bearings provide significant rigidity to withstand torturous track conditions.
Revised, sophisticated Inverted Twin-Chamber Cartridge Fork.
Pro-Link Rear Suspension with new damper settings.
Large 50mm rear shock damper piston diameter for consistent performance under demanding riding conditions.
HRC works-style rear brake system integrates the rear master-cylinder and fluid reservoir, eliminating the separate reservoir and hose.
Link-type front brake master cylinder and a lightweight brake rotor provide strong braking.
Large works-style 240mm front and rear disc brake rotors.
-Frame design allows sidecovers to have larger air-intake ducts, contributing to significant airflow increase in the mid-and upper-rpm ranges.
Rider ergonomics are optimized by adapting the handlebar, seat and footpeg height to place the rider’s leg at the narrowest part of the frame for improved comfort and handling feel.
Brake pedal and shift lever are designed to complement the riding position.
Brake pedal features optimized ratio to match integrated rear-brake master-cylinder design.
Wide, cleated stainless steel footpegs are self-cleaning and corrosion resistant, provide excellent grip and fold for extra ground clearance.
Rear brake pedal and shift lever are made of lightweight aluminum.
Adjustable front brake lever for maximum control.
Quick-adjust clutch perch for easy cable adjustment.
Aluminum Renthal handlebar (971 bend) is rubber-mounted to help reduce raider fatigue and improve comfort.
Handlebar holder provides two different mounting positions to match rider preference.
Works-type handlebar grips add to rider comfort.
Dunlop 742FA front and 756 rear tires for improved traction and cornering.
Front disc brake cover helps protect rotor and caliper from damage.
Removable rear subframe allows easy maintenance.
Washable, two-stage foam air filter for optimal engine protection and easy maintenance.
Repackable silencer for maximum performance and minimal noise.
Comfortable, durable controls and high-quality fasteners.
Stainless steel clutch cable for longer life.
Honda Racing-inspired colors and graphics.
Purchase of a new, previously unregistered Honda USA-certified unit by an individual retail user in the United States qualifies the owner for a one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Rider’s club of America (HRCA). Design allows sidecovers to have larger air-intake ducts, contributing to significant airflow increase in the mid-and upper-rpm.