Inside the 2021 Honda CRF450R
Presented by OGIO Powersports
The 2021 Honda CRF450R is undoubtedly the most anticipated new 450 of the year as it is the only bike in the class that is virtually all new. Boasting a new chassis and bodywork, plus a new hydraulic clutch with an added plate for greater grip and durability, plus changes to the engine and mapping that make it even more powerful, and you have a dream come true for Honda diehards! We took delivery of our CRF450R test bike today at Glen Helen Raceway, but before we threw a leg over it we cornered new Press Manager Ryan Dudek to get the lowdown on what’s new and why.
In a year where every other manufacturer went for targeted refinements, Honda debuts a radically new CRF450R. Visually stunning, the red rocket shares only a few things with its predecessor. “Lighter. Faster. And razor sharp.” is Honda’s mission statement for the new 450 and they set out to accomplish these goals with a completely new chassis that is slimmer than the one it replaces, a more-rigid swingarm, all-new bodywork, revised suspension components including a longer front fork, a new hydraulic clutch, and a major engine overhaul.
Consumers have been asking for a hydraulic clutch for years now, and Honda delivered in 2021. Furthermore, eighth fiber and metal clutch plates were added for more durability and more-positive engagement with less slip. The addition of the hydraulic system also yields a pleasantly soft pull at the lever, something that Honda has not had in many years.
The 2021 also has a new cylinder head with an oval-shaped centralized exhaust port that is designed to improve top-end power. The exhaust system is now single-sided, and this definitely contributes to the bike’s seven-pound weight loss. Other contributing factors are the all-new chassis that is narrower and 20 percent less rigid, laterally.
After ogling at the bike’s cool new bodywork, our eyes were drawn to the new cable and hydraulic clutch line routing. By routing the control cables and hose this way, shorter components were adopted and they collectively save half a pound. The plastic bodywork is not only redesigned to match the chassis’ slimmer profile but the fenders, shrouds and sidepanels are also thinner and lighter.
The handlebar controls have been cleaned up by a single control cluster on the left side of the bars that combines the map switch, traction control button, and kill button. The bike still boasts three different map settings, three stages of traction control, and three different holeshot assistance settings. And yes, you must. still pull in the clutch to activate the electric starter.
Needless to say, everything about the 2021 Honda CRF450R is new and exciting! How did it feel on the track? Tune in at 9:00 a.m. Pacific on September 17 to find out!