2016 Honda CRF450R Comparison

MotorcycleUSA Staff | November 24, 2015

The Honda CRF450R is a fun and incredibly easy-to-ride bike for both novices and pros, thanks to its light, nimble and flickable feel. For 2016 the CRF received suspension changes to improve rear wheel traction and overall stability. The fork lower legs are 5mm longer but retain the same amount of travel, with both the fork and shock sporting revised internal settings. The damping adjusters also now using eight clicks per rotation instead of four, giving the rider more ability to fine-tune suspension settings.

2016 Honda CRF450R The CRF450 power is very rider friendly. Even though the Honda isn’t a monster in the horsepower game (51.4 hp @ 8,400 rpm), the CRF engine delivers competitive torque numbers that providing great forward bite in all conditions. Three ignition maps are easily selected via handlebar button, with most riders preferring the aggressive map, which adds more hit off the bottom and through the mid. The stock map is ideal a hard slippery track or riders who love non-intimidating power delivery. The torquey Honda engine is deceivingly fast and can hang with, or even out-drive, bikes with more horsepower.

Honda’s strong suit is a love of corners. Its lightweight feel (the CRF’s 244 pound curb weight puts it mid-pack) allows it to carve any type of turn with confidence, especially ruts. Sometimes the flip side of good cornering is twitchiness at high speed, which the CRF450 still exhibits at times, even with the 2016 changes. A few test riders struggled with front wheel traction and a vague feel from the front end. A lot of that can be blamed on the KYB air forks.

2016 Honda CRF450ROur test riders found the air forks don’t provide the comfort and front wheel traction of a traditional spring fork. In general, we noted that fast riders, especially larger ones, experienced more comfort on air forks compared to the average rider. On the Honda, test riders over 185 pounds ranked the KYB fork more favorably than lighter riders who struggled with plushness and front wheel traction.

The Honda’s KYB PSF 2 fork is way less complex to work with than the Showa TAC air fork (sourced by the Suzuki and Kawasaki) but it still requires the air be checked at the start of each ride day. The Honda equipped PSF 2’s high- and low-speed damping adjusters now offer more clicks per rotation, adding to the complexity of finding the perfect setting. Air forks are the future of motocross so keeping a suspension pump handy and being diligent with air pressure is the best practice to get ideal performance out of the fork. Most riders just want to unload and go roost, but motocross is more high tech and complicated than ever before, so fully understanding your bike is critical. Find a setting you like and write it down on the fork tube, on the fender, tattoo it to your arm, just make sure you work with your suspension, not against it.

2016 Honda CRF450R

A sixth position finish in a shootout where all the bikes were so closely ranked shouldn’t detour rider from considering the CRF450R. The Honda finished strong in front of the Suzuki RM-Z450 and was right in the mix for the fourth and fifth position. In fact, the Honda could very well be the best choice depending on riding style and needs. This was the case amongst our own testing crew, as a few riders selected the CRF as their top choice dependent on what track we were testing, proving that usable power is more important than just having the most raw power.

2016 450 Shootout CRF450 Dyno

• One of the lightest 450s
• Very smooth usable power
• Improved stability and balance

• Engine not as exciting as other 450s
• Small feel for tall riders

Honda CRF450R Suspension Settings
Air Pressure: 35 psi
Low Speed Compression: 20 (Turns out)
High Speed Compression: 22
Low Speed Rebound: 25
High Speed Rebound: 27
Sag: 105mm
Low Speed Compression: 20
High Speed Compression: 19
Rebound: 22

Previous | Next
2016 450 Motocross Shootout Intro
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 Comparison
2016 Honda CRF450R Comparison
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2016 KTM 450 SX-F Comparison
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MotoUSA 2016 450 Motocross Shootout