They say you can’t please everybody, but that sure didn’t stop Honda from trying to build a 450 motocross bike that could take over the world. From the casual weekend rider to the serious racer, there’s not a segment the boys in red didn’t consider when designing the CRF450R. While it’s unlikely this is the bike for everyone-that target is simply too small to hit-we will concede this very well may be the most impressive Open-class MXer that Honda has ever produced.Honda’s most significant revisions for 2011 begin with updated engine tuning and a downsized 46mm throttle body (from 50mm) designed to boost low-to-mid power and offer more throttle response. A revised muffler quiets the bike down to a claimed 94 decibels. Honda’s Progressive Steering Damper is still present, though the piston diameter has been increased from 20mm to 24mm. The suspension has been tweaked on both ends, with a lighter cartridge cylinder and new valving in the fork and revised settings in the shock. Additionally, Honda has changed the linkage on the 2011 CRF450R by slightly flattening the early and middle part of the curve, then the stroke gets more progressive at the end. While the 2011′s linkage as a whole (pull rod and delta link) has some characteristics similar to aftermarket pull rods in that it settles the rear of the bike, it would be wrong to label this as a “lowering link” in the traditional sense. Rather, by changing both the pull rod and the delta link, Honda achieved a revised linkage ratio curve that allows the rear of the bike to ride lower in the stroke and use the whole shock stroke more effectively. The 2011 linkage will fit 2009/2010 models, but you would need both the pull rod and the delta link to make it work, and then likely a shock revalve.In the dirt, these revisions translate into a smoother overall feel in terms of handling and control on the 2011 CRF450R. The linkage changes can be felt in a shock stroke that is both settled and progressive, making for a less harsh and somewhat lower rear-end feel than the previous year’s model, as well as preventing this harsh feeling from being transferred to the fork. This, in combination with the revised valving, has given a better hold to the fork, which in turn calms down the steering and betters the high-speed damping action of the bike. Previously, the fork had a harsh feel to it, but that has largely been remedied for 2011. The Honda is still sensitive to setup and requires proper ride height, but the overall balance is better than ever and the quick, nimble handling of the bike betrays its displacement.Both faster and heavier test riders tended to adjust the compression on both ends of the 450R a few clicks stiffer, as the stock setting is too plush for really slamming the bike into corners and steep jump faces. Still, bottoming resistance is very good and the rear just doesn’t kick like it used to. In turns, we noticed the Honda retains its ability to track well and corner consistently, but it does take some work to make the bike go where you want it, and the front end just doesn’t have the bite that some other bikes in this class do. For instance, you simply can’t charge into the inside of a sharp corner and expect the 450R to just drop into the rut. Rather, we found that the bike likes to be swept outward in more of an exaggerated arc when entering turns in order to make a smooth transition through the corner. Once leaned, the Honda will stay planted and hooked-up as far as your throttle hand will allow. The steering damper has a lot of effect here, and tuning it makes a difference.