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2012 Honda CRF450R First Ride

Friday, August 12, 2011


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2012 Honda CRF450R First Ride Video
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Honda continues to refine its CRF450R motocross bike for ’12 and we test ride it in the 2012 Honda CRF450R First Ride Video.
It's been four years since Honda's flagship 450-class dirt bike underwent its last major overhaul in '09. And Big Red continues to refine its 2012 Honda CRF450R platform in effort to make it friendlier to ride and race both on the track and trail. While the sheer numbers of improvements are minimal, the updates revolve around handling and rider comfort.

Engineers began at the front of the motorcycle by modifying the 48mm Kayaba AOS (air-oil-separate) fork. Not only do the outer tubes feature a more rigid design, they house stiffer fork springs (0.49 kg/mm vs. 0.47 kg/mm) along with new valving that modifies the damping characteristics and allows for increase pitch control under braking and when landing off jumps. The front axle collars were also modified for increased strength.

The rear suspension received an important tweak in the form of an improved shock linkage design that lets the back of the bike to ride a 5mm lower when in motion. The valving inside the Kayaba shock was also changed to work in unison with the suspension updates and the addition of the Dunlop MX51 Geomax Intermediate Front Tire and Dunlop MX51 Geomax Intermediate Rear Tire. The drive chain roller has been updated in an effort to reduce chain torque and allow the rear suspension to move more freely. In terms of rider comfort the CRF finally gets a set of oversized footpegs designed to provide added control and better disperse energy when landing from obstacles.

The Hondas cockpit is well proportioned and fit our 58 test rider without issue.
The 2012 CRF450R features an updated rear suspension linkage that makes the rear end of the bike sit a few millimeters lower when in motion.
Larger footpegs provide a more comfortable platform when at the controls of the 12 Honda CRF450R.
(Above) The CRF450R’s liquid-cooled and fuel-injected 449cc Single remains unchanged for ’12. (Center) The 2012 CRF450R features an updated rear suspension linkage that makes the rear end of the bike sit a few millimeters lower when in motion. (Below) Larger footpegs provide a more comfortable platform when at the controls of the ’12 Honda CRF450R.
To find out how the '12 version performs, American Honda invited us to Southern California's Racetown 395.

Lift the bike off of the stand and it’s immediately apparent just how light the CRF is. With a full load of fuel it weighs 240 pounds which is considerably less than anything else in its class. The shape of the radiator shrouds, seat and position of the hand and foot controls are well proportioned for riders of average height (our test rider is 5’8”).

The engine starting procedure is far simpler than years past and the Honda’s engine comes to life with one or two well-timed kicks, even when the engine is cold. We did raise the idle slightly as the engine would occasionally stall if lugged at too low of an rpm through slow speed corners. Dial in some throttle and most will be surprised by how mellow the powerband feels at low to mid-rpm, which ultimately helps the rear tire hook up and makes the bike easier to ride.

“Honda has perfected its fuel injection settings with this one,” says intermediate-level test rider Frankie Garcia. “It almost feels like an electric engine in how linear it produces power. It pulls coming out of corners but it never feels like it’s going to rip your arm out. I can’t emphasize how smooth the powerband is.”

Another thing we noticed is how little noise the CRF emits even under high engine load, which is a benefit for both the rider and the environment in our increasingly noise-sensitive world.

Dip the Honda into a turn and we’re continued to be impressed with how agile it is. While the 2009 model was nervous and skittish-feeling, the current machine steers more neutrally than ever before as Honda continues to make chassis improvements.

“I thought it steered really well and tracked much better than before,” Garcia says. “It’s not a huge change compared to last year but it’s definitely an improvement. I also liked how the rear end felt like it squatted down a bit better as you dialed in the gas out of the corner.”

2012 CRF450R Suspension Settings:
(From full stiff)
Fork
Compression: 11
Rebound: 9
Shock
Sag: 105mm
Low-Speed Compression: 12
High-Speed Compression: 1.75 turn
Rebound: 9
The chassis also felt more stable both under braking and acceleration, resisting the urge for the front end to excessively dive or head shake. Another plus is the wider base afforded by the oversized footpegs which allow for better command of the bike. Honda has always had skinny pegs so this is an overdue improvement. While the braking bumps that developed at Racetown were relatively small, our tester commented that the back end of the bike had a reduced propensity for kicking or rebounding too fast—an issue that we’ve occasionally experienced.

Oversized footpegs disperse load more evenly when you land off a jump.
The 12 Honda CRF450R offers better front-to-rear chassis balance than ever before since being fully redesigned for 2009.
Hondas CRF450R is one of the more agile 450-class motocross bikes on the market.
(Above) Oversized footpegs disperse load more evenly when you land off a jump. (Center) The ’12 Honda CRF450R offers better front-to-rear chassis balance than ever before since being fully redesigned for 2009. (Below) Honda’s CRF450R is one of the more agile 450-class motocross bikes on the market.
Although the current generation CRF450R was a little rough around the edges when it was released in ‘09, this latest iteration is starting to really impress us. It still has the sharp steering precision we’ve come to love but with added stability and a ridiculously smooth engine that makes it easier to ride for longer. Another plus for racers is the over 3.5 million that’s up for grabs this year in contingency (more details are available here). The ’12 Honda retails at $8440, a $321 increase from last year.
2012 Honda CRF450R Specs
2012 Honda CRF450R
Engine: 449cc liquid-cooled Single, SOHC, 4-valves Bore x Stroke: 96.0 x 62.1mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate, cable actuation
Transmission: Five-speed
Front Suspension: Kayaba AOS 48mm fork, 16-position compression and 18-position rebound damping adjustment; 12.2 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link equipped Kayaba, 20-position low-speed and step-less high-speed compression damping, 18-position rebound damping and adjustable spring preload; 12.6 in. travel
Front Brake: 240mm disc, double-piston caliper
Rear Brake: 240mm disc, single-piston caliper
Handlebar: Renthal
Tires: Dunlop Geomax MX51 80/100-21, 120/90-19
Curb Weight: 240 lbs. (ready to ride)
Wheelbase: 58.7 in.
Length: 86.0 in.
Width: 32.7 in.
Ground Clearance: 13.1 in.
Seat Height: 37.6 in.
Fuel Capacity: 1.5 gal.
MSRP: $8440 Red, Avaliable August, 2011 
2012 Honda CRF450R Photos
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Southern California MX: Racetown 395  
MotoUSA tested the 2010 Honda CRF450R at Southern Californias Racetown 395.
When it comes to dirt bike riding in Southern California you’ve got plenty options. One of our favorites is Racetown 395. Located off the 15 Freeway, near Hesperia, California, Racetown offers motocross riders a unique yet challenging layout making it one of our preferred spots to burn laps. Deep ruts in tight corners, fast sweepers, tabletops, doubles and triple jumps—Racetown’s got it all.

Even better is how they’re open five days a week, offering riders four separate tracks for riders to choose from: Vet, Pee Wee, Main, and Stadium-X track with the later being open as late as 10:00 p.m. Check out Racetown 395’s website for the exact schedule and hours of operation.

To ride all you need to do is pay the $20 gate fee and there is absolutely no membership fee. You’re also welcome to camp overnight at no cost. This winter the track will be running a six round Winter Stadium-X race series run under the lights. If you’re looking for a fun and affordable moto track, then Racetown is for you.
Factory Effex Preprinted Backgrounds
Factory Effexs Two Two Motorsports replica backgrounds   69.95  available at Motorcycle-Superstore.com  add a touch of style.
After beginning the ’11 Supercross racing season as a full-blown privateer, Chad Reed has proved that hard work and dedication pays off as he’s now campaigning a full-on factory bike under his own Two Two Motorsports canopy. Add a touch off style to your CRF450R with Factory Effex’s Two Two Motorsports replica backgrounds ($69.95, available at Motorcycle-Superstore.com).
Honda Dirt Bike Dealer Locator

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