I was expecting a lot from the new CRF450R. With the all-new fourth generation frame and a list of changes to enhance power and delivery, Honda had a lot of impressing to do. Dropping a claimed 3.5 pounds off the 2004 model was a huge start in anyone’s bookFirst, this isn’t an all-new bike, as the motor remains largely unchanged. But don’t kid yourself and pretend that it isn’t faster. With only intake tract changes and a slight timing revision on the highlight list, what makes the new CRF rip so hard? From the first lap it feels like Honda threw a hot cam into the motor. Plus a race team black box. And lightened the flywheel. Which they did none of. Or so they claim!Right off the bottom the throttle response is crisper and lighter if not a bit faster through the first third of the powerband. Then it comes on. A smooth rush of power that will leave just about anything in its dust and it screams into a farther reaching and seemingly more powerful top end pull at a higher rev range than before. It runs into the rev limiter smoother than ever as well. More exciting than before, at some point the CRF and YZF will merge into the perfect thumper motor as each development team is looking at the good traits of each other’s engine and improving by leaps and bounds every year. Now, I can’t wait to ride the YZ450F!The chassis is all it is hyped up to be and shines even more than I expected. Especially considering it was previewed in a way, surrounding the CRF250R last year. The more narrow mid section is a happy zone for the knees and the improved seating position lets you get more forward than before. And then there is the weight. Three pounds on the scale, who cares? It feels like it lost ten pounds on the track, maybe even more when you are airborne.The steering is a bit sharper and setup seemed to be more critical with the new bike liking to be a little lower in the rear than in the past. Yet it retains all of the great handling traits the CRF’s have been praised for over the last few years if not improving on them slightly. Suspension is as good as it ever was and possibly a tad less progressive in the final stroke stages of the rear end. You feel it bottoming more this year but it isn’t a bad feeling, it just lets you know you hit something hard. Forks seemed magic as long as the ride height was in the correct zone.Honda has set the bar pretty high every year for the CRF450R and this is the biggest leap in progression we’ve seen for this model since its introduction. If the other 450′s were shooting at last year’s bike as a target for their bike, we hope they smoked it cause the 2005 Honda is on fire! I was truly impressed.