The 2013 Honda CRF450R

We’ve had a couple of single test days with the new CRF450R, but Honda has always snatched the bike back at the end of the day. Yet this last day with Big Red was different—we drove away from Milestone MX track with the 2013 Honda 450 in the back of the truck! With the Dirt Rider shootout quickly approaching we will be accumulating as many hours a humanly possible on the all-new Honda over the next couple of weeks. We’ve already tweaked the mapping to boost up the bottom end punch and we are constantly going up and down with the pressure in the air fork depending on what the track conditions are. Here are some photos of Keefer shredding up Milestone MX along with his thoughts so far on the 2013 Honda CRF450R:

“Out on the track the bike feels very different from the 2012, and in a positive way. The motor is still soft down low compared to other 450s (KX-F,YZ-F) but once in the mid-top it is very good and the key words are useable power. The 2013 CRF450R is easy to ride because it doesn't hit super hard off the bottom and try and tear your arms out of socket exiting corners. Yes, I would like to see a little more pulling power down low through 2nd gear but again, the bike stays easy to handle once fatigue starts to creep in. I’ve tried a couple different ignition maps that made some gains down low, but we haven't finalized any settings as of yet. The next step is a 49 or 50-tooth rear sprocket to close the 2nd to 3rd gear gap. I like the clutch lever reach adjusted out more than stock to get the clutch to disengage easier when entering corners. It wants to surge thru the middle of the corner and adjusting the lever out gave it a better engagement feeling on the track. ”

“I love the chassis on the new Honda. It is a smaller feeling bike (which I like) so I can flick it around over jumps and really get deep into my corners thanks to the light feeling. It also loves to steer with the front end, which I like from a bike. Honda says it gained a couple pounds over the 2012 but it still feels like the lightest out of all the 450s. It corners well and feels more stable than the 2012 CRF450R. ”

“I'm still not won over by the air fork just yet. We tried some different settings and it still feels a little harsh thru mid stroke. Coming into choppy corners it doesn't want to settle in the front as well as last years traditional fork. It is not a completely horrible feeling but the air fork takes a little getting used. With more testing on the fork I’m confident we can get it set up better. The shock feels great and works well on big landings, G-outs and chop coming out of corners. Overall the suspension feels balanced and with some further tweaking it will get even better.”

“Honda still has a comfortable-feeling machine that is easy to get used to. The motor is not the most exciting out there but it does make the rider feel at home and more confident on the track. I mean, how many of us actually want more HP out of a current 450? Not many!”

Stay tuned to www.dirtrider.com for more info on the 2013 MXers. In the meantime, check out these video links:

-2013 Honda CRF450R first test video:

-2013 Honda CRF450R vs. 2012 Honda CRF450R: