Apart from the renewed motocross lineup, Honda also presents 2009’s trail motorcycles, the so called “X” models from which the CRF450X is the biggest and most notorious model. I don’t wonder why as it won every Baja 500 and Baja 1000 competition it entered and there are no indications of Honda wanting to stop here. No reason, also, so here you have it!
The secret behind trail bikes is that they feature motocross velleities which are valued in natural environments, making the ride more exciting and having the bike tested to its limits. In order to provide more than the expected, the Honda CRF450X gets the same 449cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke single; Unicam, four-valve engine from the CRF450R, but which is now tuned for off-road riding. Also, it gets electric start, meaning that you won’t have to go through the kick starting routine every time you kill the engine and with a 269 pounds overall curb weight, the thing isn’t heavy at all, I could say.
Still, there’s no need for a sixth gear as the engine has a wide powerband which together with the also wide gear ratios of the five-speed gearbox makes for adequate valuing of the versatile engine.
The CRF450R does not only provide the “X” model with engine and tranny, but with the twin-spar aluminum frame featuring forged-aluminum steering head too. By now, the Honda Progressive Steering Damper is one of the best and best known characteristics of CRF models and it definitely couldn’t miss on the 2009 Honda CRF450X. Neither the Showa inverted fork and pro-link single shock, just to point out some other reasons which make it the Kind of Baja.
In order to understand how important that title is, we’ve consulted the bikes against which the CRF450X races with awesome results.
2009 Yamaha WR450F
The 2009 Yamaha WR450F is a great enduro model which also inspires on its motocross sibling in order to stay competitive. The result is a 449cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke with five titanium valves that also makes for great trail riding experiences as it provides linear power across the wide rpm range. This bike is also fitted with electric start, like the rest in its category, but the YZ-derived advanced aluminum frame is sure to make a good impression. The base suggested retail price for the 2009 Yamaha is $7,499 which makes decisions even tougher.
2009 Kawasaki KLX450R
Unlike Suzuki Kawasaki does offer an off-road alternative to the Honda and Yamaha and it is known as the 2009 KLX450R. Also priced at $7,499, the KLX is a versatile piece of machinery featuring the KX450 engine and frame that were adapted for the kind of riding that the trails imply. The engine was tuned for more low to mid-range power and the aluminum frame features a perimeter design for great resistance and versatility. With a curb weight of 277.7 lbs, the Kawi is definitely a strong competitor both to the Yamaha (271 lbs wet weight) and Honda.
Inspired from Honda’s championship-winning motocrosser, the CRF450X features all it takes in order for you to confuse it with a veritable dirt bike. Ask for a high mounted front fender, side and number plates as well as a narrow seat and an arrow-like rear fender and everything is there for you to enjoy.
The only noticeable difference is the 35-watt halogen headlight replacing the front number plate and even adding an aggressive touch as the housing is still white, just like the side number plates and mudguards. Also, like on 2009 dirt bikes, the rear fender is white painted creating a unified look and making it even harder to be set apart from motocross machines.
The fuel tank is mounted down into the frame, contributing at the low center of gravity. Underneath the gas tank, there’s the always efficient and compact four-stroke motor drawing a straight-out exhaust which is more of an old-school piece compared to what we’d find on a 2009 motocrosser.
Enhancing the aggressive note are the sharp side plates on which the graphics are mounted. Take a close look at the “450X” writing underneath those last and you’ll finally understand what you’re dealing with. Red is the color of most Honda off-road motorcycles, including the CRF450X.
It seems that the Japanese 450cc off-road category is one of the toughest not only because of each bike’s performance, but mostly due to the $7,499 MSRP. This is how you end up in the position of choosing between three bikes having the same price and offering pretty much the same things. But, as we all know, small things make the difference in like and that brings that dilemma again.
Although not heavily revised for 2009 or, better said, not revised at all, the Honda CRF450X remains the same consecrated trail blast, a king hard to dethrone and, personally, my favorite.
On a Honda off-road bike it is pretty hard to meet disappointment as there are packed with key features such as the Unicam valve train system for greater engine performance and the Honda Progressive Steering Damper ensuring ease of handling and responsiveness.