One thing was certain when it came to the 2017 450s, Honda's latest CRF450R has made the largest gains of them all. Although it didn't win our Vital MX 450 Shootout, it received high marks from all of our test riders and similar praise from other media outlets. One of the biggest points of improvement was the engine, and while it was a huge step in the right direction, there were some still looking for a bit more. With a bike being this radically new, performance parts are harder to come by...but Yoshimura being the supplier of HRC in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. had a bit of headstart. That meant they Read More »
One thing was certain when it came to the 2017 450s, Honda's latest CRF450R has made the largest gains of them all. Although it didn't win our Vital MX 450 Shootout, it received high marks from all of our test riders and similar praise from other media outlets. One of the biggest points of improvement was the engine, and while it was a huge step in the right direction, there were some still looking for a bit more. With a bike being this radically new, performance parts are harder to come by...but Yoshimura being the supplier of HRC in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. had a bit of headstart. That meant they had complete systems ready by the time the bike launched. This system is the same one that Cole Seely and Ken Roczen started 2017 with, so how good is it?
Yoshimura RS-9T Titanium/Carbon System Features:
- Tapered RS-9 exhaust can designed exclusively for the '17 CRF.
- Available in slip-on, or stainless and titanium system versions.
- Full system is comprised of six parts: Head pipe, split mid pipe, two mid-to-can pipes, two exhaust cans.
- Full titanium/carbon system is 1.38lbs lighter than the stock system (by our scales).
- MSRP of the system tested: $1,499.00.
Over the last few years, I've had the pleasure of using Yoshimura exhaust systems on practically every brand of bike. Amongst all these bikes, two stand out more than the others for quality of fit and design, Suzuki and Honda. Simply, the two brands that Yoshimura have factory efforts with, which relates to the most product development time. With this, my expectations were quite high for their RS-9T Ti/Carbon exhaust system on the all-new 2017 Honda CRF450R.
Out of the box, this dual can system has quite a few parts...six main components, plus pipe springs. With the newest version of Honda's dual system, the split pipe now happens before the shock rather than after. This has made the system a bit different to remove, as you now have to drag it from around the shock and over the top of the engine. With Yoshimura having so many pieces involved in their system, assembly is a breeze. One thing that usually worries me when you have so many parts though, is how well they fit together over time. Even after multiple removals and installations, especially the cans and their associated mid-pipes, the system goes back together nice and snug. The Yoshimura team definitely spent some time with the Honda team on this, as I saw a few different versions of where the pipes came apart on some test bikes. This final version is a breeze to install and is the same version the team is using now.
Probably the most standout feature on this system is the actual exhaust cans themselves. These RS-9Ts hold the "T" designation for a reason, they're tapered along the can sleeve to fit the new CRF's tight confines like a stock system would. This allows Yoshimura to have a large volume area at the end of the cans, larger than stock actually, but taper them down small enough that they squeeze down the sideplates and to their connecting mid-pipes.
On the Track
For me, the stock CRF450R was still lacking in one place, right off the bottom. Yes, yes, yes...it's a 450, how could it not have enough bottom? It's not really the absolute power, but the way it's made. The new CRF engine is so much stronger and quicker responding than the previous model through the middle of the RPM range, but off the bottom it's still a bit sluggish and slow to respond like the old bike. If really lugged, it just takes a while to get going again, such as carrying the bike a gear high through a corner. This is where I first noticed a difference with the Yoshimura system, as the CRF now revved a bit quicker and snapped more off bottom. Not in an uncontrollable manner, but it just fills in the gap I felt like the engine had before taking off in the mid-range. It honestly makes the bike easier to ride as it smooths out that mid-hit, because it comes on earlier and builds more consistently through the RPM range.
Through the actual mid-range, it was basically a replica of the stock power but up top it made another gain. While the new CRF is by far better up top than the older model, it still needed a bit more to match the likes of the Husky and KTM. With the RS-9T, there was a just a bit more pull up top. While with the stock system didn't fall on its face, it would go flat in the last bit, after such a good run through the mid-range and into the top of the RPMs. It left me just wanting a bit more...which the Yoshimura system provided. Lastly, the overall sound was a nice improvement. The stock system on this bike has a bit of a weird droning to it, almost sounding like it's low on packing, even when brand new. Especially when the bike gives a nice little bark if you grab a handful with the RPMs in the middle of the range, you just hear a bit of a rattle. The Yoshimura version however just sounds crisp everywhere, like a good aftermarket system should.
As with the Yoshimura products I've tested before this, I've yet to see any problems with the system...even after passing it onto a friend who has placed two further months of riding time on it. Personally I'm a sucker for the best, so a titanium system is always on my list of "must-haves" but carbon fiber can sleeves can cause a bit of worry in the long run. I'm kind of glad that this system only has carbon for the cap area and the sleeves of the cans are titanium, just to ease the mind a bit more as time goes on. The only thing that worries me is the head pipe, which sticks out quite a bit (as any system will because of the new CRF450R's design). I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see a few little dings as time goes on and a bit of roost gets to it. So far though, I'm not seeing much on this one.
The Last Word
Plain and simple...Yoshimura made more power where it's needed, the fit is fantastic, it holds up, and it's been out for months while the competition is struggling to get a product available for this bike. The HRC team uses this same system and you can't really go wrong with it. My one and only dig is the price, which is to be expected at this level of product, but it's still a large investment. If the weight loss isn't necessary for your bike, go for the stainless/aluminum system and save yourself a few dollars while gaining the same performance.
Vital MX Rating: 4.5 Stars - Outstanding
For more information and to find out availability, check out Yoshimura-RD.com.
About the Test Rider
Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.
Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay