The CRF450R is an absolute blast to ride. In fact, with the slight refinements made to the bike, it makes me wonder who would ever want to buy a two-stroke! The motor is smooth and seems to pull very low in the powerband, enabling you to ride virtually everywhere with confidence. Cornering is so much easier for me on the CRF than on a 250cc two-stroke, let alone a Yamaha YZ426F. The ergos are great for a rider my size, which allows me to charge into the corners without headshake. I also like the four-stroke engine-braking and the entire package. I know other people still criticize the aluminum frame, but I like it! I think being a little more rigid than the rest of the manufacturers’ helps with the added weight, which helps your entrance speed in turns. I also think you go faster exiting corners because the steering is very predictable. I like the fact it’s a Honda because durability is rarely an issue for Big Red. The bottom line is for motocross, I don’t think you can go wrong with this bike!
–David Barrett/5’9″/148 lb/Pro
I’m in love with four-strokes, and it hasn’t always been that way. About 10 years ago, Karel Kramer started forcing things like the Husqvarna 610 on me at every opportunity, and I just wasn’t into that whole scene. Yamaha’s YZ400F was the first bike to convert me to the world of intake and exhaust valves, and now I’m hooked. Last year’s CRF was my favorite motocross bike, period, and I rode it twice as often as I rode the RM250 parked next to it in the garage.My favorite aspect is the ergos. It just feels like a motocross bike should. I can turn it better than a Yamaha or KTM, it feels comfortable and balanced in the air and nothing seems out of place. I also like the starting, but I’ve never really had a problem with the Yamahas, even when they had the original Keihin FCR carburetor. I just learned the procedure quickly, but it is cool you don’t have to worry about playing with a compression release on the CRF. But I’m not ready to declare this the best four-stroke of 2003 just yet. KTM has some cool new stuff and, of course, Yamaha’s YZ450F is attracting a lot of attention. Put it this way, if this is what second place is like in the world of four-strokes, I can’t wait to ride number one!
–Ken Faught/5’10″/203 lb/Vet Intermediate
Last year’s CRF had an abundance of power, good handling and comfortable ergos. Honda took that same great bike and made it better. This year the power is much more responsive off bottom and pulls harder through the entire powerband. The engine has so much torque that it makes jumping short-approach doubles much easier than before. The new machine retained the same predictable feel as last year’s CRF, but the added bottom power makes the 450 track better in all conditions. Suspension is very plush, and I never felt any harsh points in the stroke. The new triple clamp is definitely an improvement, giving the ’03 better handling in the corners.
–Jason Webb/5’10″/175 lb/IntermediateDR