After winning every Baja race it’s entered, the CRF450X has established its racing credibility and much more. Hand’s down, it’s the best big-bore trail bike ever built. And this year, it gets even better, with fine-tuning that includes a new Honda Progressive Steering Damper, chassis upgrades, and a slimmer fuel tank. Call it perfection, improved.
Honda developed the CRF450X in order to put in application its plan to win the world-renowned Baja 500 and Baja 1000 races. Soon after its introduction, Honda CRF450X became immensely popular and earned its crown as the new King of Baja, and now in 2008 it grows more versatile than even before.
The powerful, new CRF450X off-roader debuts in 2005 featuring high-energy 4-stroke 4-valve Unicam engine brought to life by a push-button electric start system. The high-revving monster was carefully positioned on a 4th generation twin-spar semi-double-cradle aluminum frame complemented by a lightweight, 47mm inverted twin-chamber cartridge-type fork and progressive Pro-Link rear suspension system.
Being built like a veritable enduro bike, the CRF450X had to have strong and lightweight aluminum swingarm featuring dual-axis, double-taper design which it did. The suspension was also tuned for enduro riding needs which, of course, were satisfied completely.
The CRF was equipped right from the beginning with 240mm front and rear brake rotors, the front rotor being utilized in communion with the lightweight and compact dual-piston caliper so apart from going fast, it could also stop fast which can only be a good think.
We’ve sorted out the technical but how about the appearance of the new bike? Did it look good, and did that attract customers?
The plastic body components were designed for slimmer, more aggressive styling and light weight while the comfortable seat-over-tank design with non-slip seat cover enhanced rider control.
Powerful 35-Watt halogen headlight featured new lens type for wide illumination and the rear fender presented the eye-catching LED taillight. If these features don’t tell you anything, then just take a look at the initial product and you’ll quickly understand.
Being a great and successful product right from the beginning, the CRF450X didn’t need any improvements, only a bit of fine tuning and it was ready to go. What was new for 2006 made the bike sell even better and that were the Race Team-inspired graphics.
2007 brought the one-piece cover that protects throttle cable by keeping out dirt and water but more important is what that cable reached and that was the new accelerator pump and linkage for improved throttle response. A lighter rear chain guide was also mounted for the 2007 model year but the model year that I am reviewing has much more to offer as it has a longer list of new features that significantly improve the motorcycle’s behavior and performance.
Yamaha claims that everything else will trail behind its 2008 WR450F. It’s got the muscle to shoot you up the steepest hills with the greatest of ease and can go over, around or through just about anything the trail cares to through your way. All it needs is gas and as much off-road skill you can master but doesn’t Honda require the same thing? That is what I call competition.
Let’s not get over our heads here as it is hard to beat the thrill of accelerating hard out of a tight turn on a forest trail as well as the Suzuki DR-Z400SE can. With a championship-winning heritage, Suzuki off-road bikes offer an incredible combination and torque engine performance and lightweight handling suitable for the fight against Honda and Yamaha.
Also competing for the crown, the new 2008 Kawasaki KLX450R meets modern off-road design and off-road toughness given by its motocross performance. The bike will soon be making a name for itself among the growing legion of off-road racing fans as the purpose-built version of the brand’s World Supercross Championship winning four-stroke KX450F motocrosser delivers the same high performance features as the KX model, yet modifies it for the improved durability, comfort, and range needed by off-road racers.
Will one of these manufacturers beat the Honda? We can only wait and see.
Honda CRF450X was a sharp looking machine from the very beginning but time had its effect and we can only be glad it was benefic.
The already great looking CRF450X features for 2008 a new narrow-design fuel tank and seat for improved rider ergonomics. This makes the bike look even better with its Honda Racing-inspired colors and graphics.
I was anxious to ride the new product and I was also strongly rewarded after hitting the kill switch. Honda has thoroughly developed the machine and made sure that every terrain will be conquered so they have not just whacked on some lights and a quieter exhaust as some would say. The machine was essentially changed from the ground up to suit its role as an enduro and that involves great performance capable to take on anything while also being more user friendly and vibration free.
Don’t get me wrong because riding the CRF450X is pretty demanding but where would all the fun been if the trails would feel easy as touring?
First thing on my list was the powerful engine which was the strong provider of fun along the way. Departure on the new bike feels like a lift off and only a twist back of the throttle will take that away from you. I preferred to push it very hard right from the beginning as I had a previously formed opinion on the product given the fact I rode the CRF450R and differences didn’t bother appearing. I noticed that the engine doesn’t express its attitude so much by screaming but with speed and agility taken right from its reliable cousin. The great result is achieved with the help of a new exhaust system tuned for power but without too much noise as this motorcycle has to carry its rider sometimes all day long and the noise is a very important issue.
That same engine revs quickly through the first two gears which make the ride with the Honda very unique and satisfying but third gear can be also vanished if you have the terrain and skills. What I noticed was that superior gears are very long and top end is very hard to reach on the 2008 model and that was one of the priorities when designing this motorcycle. It has enough cylinder capacity to keep a rider happy and wondering where can he reach the top end of its motorcycle in 5th gear. The answer my friend will come with time and that means that the CRF unveils itself pretty hard as it benefits of the trail’s help.
While pushing the engine to the max, I also noticed great throttle response coming from the 40mm Keihin FCR-type carburetor. This results in light throttle effort and improved riding conditions for the anxious test rider.
Opening the throttle doesn’t involve vibration as the gear-driven balancer does the job of reducing vibration, a fact that also contributes to smooth riding and increased comfort.
The revised, sophisticated Inverted Twin-Chamber Cartridge Fork and Pro-Link rear suspension which received new damper settings do their job properly and the machine sweeps any kind of terrain that ends up under its tires. In collaboration with the new Honda Progressive Steering Damper, the ride becomes a true pleasure as the system gives a new meaning to trail riding and overall controllability on bumpy roads. The ergonomics were also especially adapted in order to obtain improved comfort and riding feel and that could only be done by moving the handlebar, seat and footpegs. Great and efficient idea that really stands out while riding the CFR450X
Turning and handling are also great given to the reliable braking system which features compact twin-piston front brake caliper with aluminum brake pistons. Both discs are 240mm so things couldn’t have gone better for this machine.
Overall, the package is amazing, providing more than the necessary power and I mean more! That very same power is wisely utilized with efficient handling and improved riding position resulting in great feel and comfort.
It will surely follow its initial great success and win some more Baja races but if you want to become a member in the Honda Rider’s Club of America by purchasing a brand new Honda CRF450X, paying the retail price of $7,399 will have to be a simple formality. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Enduro pages are being rewritten since Honda launched the CRF450X and the 2008 model year will surely stand out as one of the most successful year of the bike’s initial period. The levels of improving and adapting are highly reached and this results into a great performing bike offering the best sensations ever encountered on this kind of machines. It’s no wonder because it was the first from the very beginning but development never seems to end at Hondas.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 96mm x 62mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Valve Train: Unicam; four-valve Intake Valve size 35mm; Exhaust Valve size 30mm
Induction: Keihin 40mm flat-slide carburetor with throttle position sensor (TPS)
Ignition: CD with electronic advance and lighting coil
Starting: Electric and kick
Transmission: Wide-ratio five-speed
Final Drive: #520 T-ring-sealed chain; 13T/51T
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension: 47mm inverted Showa cartridge fork with 16-position rebound and 16-position compression damping; 12.4 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link Showa single shock with adjustable spring preload, 17-position rebound damping adjustability and compression damping adjustment separated into low-speed (13 positions) and high speed (3.5 turns); 12.4 inches travel
Front Brakes: Single 240mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 240mm disc
Front Tire: 80/100-21
Rear Tire: 110/100-18
Wheelbase: 58.2 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 27.05”
Trail: 115mm (4.5 inches)
Seat Height: 37.9 inches
Ground Clearance: 13.6 inches
Fuel Capacity: 1.9 gallons
Curb Weight: 269 pounds
New for 2008
-New Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD). Developed by Team Honda, this lightweight, compact steering damper improves cornering ability and helps reduce rider fatigue.
New fork triple clamps with 22mm offset and revised front axle placement improve fork action and turning traits.
New works-type front and rear brake discs reduce unsprung weight.
New Dunlop 742FA front tire for improved turning feel and traction.
New narrow-design fuel tank and seat for improved rider ergonomics.
New engine de-compression system is lighter and more compact.
Carburetor features revised settings and new accelerator pump and linkage for improved throttle response.
-Electric-start system for easy starting in all conditions.
Fuel-tank capacity is 1.9 gallons.
Resettable, easy –to-read three-digit odometer.
USDA-qualified muffler/spark arrester.
Powerful 35w halogen headlight offers a wide range of illumination.
Integrated LED taillight in rear fender.
Convenient sidestand integrated into left footpeg bracket can be easily removed for competition events.
Wide-ratio five-speed transmission.
Suspension and chassis tuned for competitive off-road riding needs.
18-inch rear wheel for greater flat-tire protection.
T-ring sealed chain is approximately 1.6mm narrower, and stronger compared to conventional chains.
Skid-plate and engine guards feature a unique three-piece design.
-Powerful four-stroke 449cc liquid-cooled four-valve Unicam engine is designed to produce power across a wide rpm band for off-road riding.
Electric started drives the clutch side on the crankshaft to provide superior lubrication of starter gears, and produce a narrow engine with a short, strong crankshaft.
Compact, lightweight engine assembly weighs only 71 pounds.
Lightweight titanium intake valves permit use of smaller valve springs, reducing overall engine height.
Clutch cover and cylinder-head cover are made of magnesium to reduce engine weight.
Forged 12.0:1 compression slipper piston is lighter than a conventional design, revving quickly while maintaining excellent cylinder sealing and high-rpm power.
Nikasil cylinder lining is lightweight and provides cooler and quieter operation for extended engine life.
40mm Keihin FCR-type carburetor features four rollers on the flat slide, resulting in light throttle effort, smooth operation, crips throttle response and excellent rideability.
Carburetor features a throttle position sensor (TPS) to help maintain linear throttle response through the rpm range.
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, reduces the amount of circulating oil and permits the use of a smaller oil pump.
Exhaust system uses a lightweight, stainless steel exhaust header and muffler equipped with spark arrester.
Dual radiators feature a refined core area for improved heat dissipation compared to conventional dual-radiator design. Coolant recovery tank is located in front of the engine between the frame down-tubes for improved center of gravity. Coolant tank is protected by plastic skid-plate.
Gear-driven balancer reduces vibration and drives 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.
Durable and versatile five-speed wide-ratio transmission.
-Fourth-generation Twin-Spar Aluminum Frame with forged-aluminum steering head.
HPSD features a compact damper attached to the upper triple clamp and the steering head to augment more aggressive steering characteristics and assist straight-line handling. Tuned specially for higher speed, non-motocross, off-road riding application, the CRF450X damper incorporates different valving/settings compared to the units on the motocross models. HPSD provides straight-line confidence at high speeds, a planted feel in corners, less rider fatigue and outstanding control over a wider variety of terrain and riding condition.
18-inch rear wheel features same lightweight rear hub and HRC works-type lightweight aluminum spoke nipples as used on CRF450R.
Front wheel features large-diameter front axle and wide wheel-bearing span for excellent rigidity.
25mm Rear-axle diameter and large-diameter bearings provide optimum rigidity to withstand torturous off-road 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.
Compact twin-piston front brake caliper, anodized aluminum brake pistons and lightweight front brake disc minimize unsprung weight for improved turning and handling.
HRC works-type rear brake system integrates the rear master cylinder and fluid reservoir, eliminating the need for a separate reservoir and hose assembly.
-Rider ergonomics are optimized by adapting the handlebar, seat and footpeg height to place the rider’s legs at the narrowest cross-section of the frame for improved comfort and handling feel.
Rear-brake pedal and shift lever are made of lightweight aluminum and 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, resist corrosion, provide excellent grip and fold for extra ground clearance.
Aluminum Renthal handlebar (971 bend) is rubber-mounted to help reduce rider fatigue and improve comfort.
Handlebar holders provide two different mounting positions to match rider preference.
Works-type handlebar grips add to rider comfort.
Adjustable front brake lever.
Hot-start lever conveniently located on clutch perch.
Quick adjust clutch perch.
Front disc brake cover helps protect rotor and caliper from damage.
Removable rear subframe allows for easy maintenance.
Comfortable, durable controls and high-quality fasteners.
Stainless steel clutch cable for long 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).