First Look: 2021 Honda CRF450R, 450RWE, 450RX, 450X, and 450RL 10

We can officially confirm that the bike Tim Gasjer has been riding in Europe is the all-new 2021 Honda CRF450R.

First Look: 2021 Honda CRF450R, 450RWE, 450RX, 450X, and 450RL

Vital MX: The biggest news from Big Red for 2021 is the introduction of a pretty much new from the ground up CRF450R. New frame, new cylinder, new head, all new body work/seat/airbox/subframe, new swing arm, and lots of other minor changes as well make up a Honda 450 that should be slimmer, lighter, and more powerful than before. Sharing all this newness is both the CRF450R Works Edition that has select upgraded parts for an upgraded price, plus the CRF450RX which has all these changes, plus the cross country specific parts that make it an off-road racer. 

Interestingly, in a move we haven't seen before, Honda also announced another production run of the 2020 CRF450R to coincide with the release of all the 2021 CRF models.  And the 2020 450 will be at a permanently discounted price ($1000 less). Basically, you can get the 2021 Honda CRF450R for $9,599, which is a lot of money, but is on par with other 450s and cheaper than the Austrian brands. Or you can get a brand new 2020 Honda CRF450R for $8,599. 

No changes to the CRF150R, CRF250R, CRF250RX and the CRF450X and CRF450RL (name changed from CRF450L) are returning without changes as well.


2021 Honda CRF450R


A glance at the premier-class start line of an AMA Supercross main event—where red is almost invariably the predominant color this year—is all it takes to get a sense of the CRF450R’s popularity among top riders; since its 2002 introduction, it has become the benchmark motocrosser, and together with its limited-edition CRF450RWE sibling, it’s the top-selling 450cc MX model in the U.S. Nonetheless, Honda didn’t rest on its laurels for the 2021 model year, endowing the legendary machine with important updates aimed at improving power, handling and consistency.

As usual, this model draws lessons from Honda Racing Corporation’s global race program. A production version of the factory machine campaigned by two-time World Champion Tim Gajser to half of the 2020 MXGP moto wins thus far, and the basis for the motorcycle that Team Honda HRC riders Ken Roczen and Chase Sexton will field in AMA racing next season, the 2021 CRF450R represents a significant step up from what was already an extremely capable race machine.

2021 Honda CRF450R

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OBJECTIVES

When engineers approached the 2021 CRF450R project, they identified “Razor Sharp Cornering” as the development theme, which led to three main goals: Improve power, improve handling and improve consistency. The first point was addressed by making changes intended to increase the engine’s horsepower and torque, particularly in the bottom end of the range. The second objective was addressed by optimizing chassis rigidity, altering geometry and reducing vehicle weight. The final goal—regular, steady performance by both the machine and the rider—was pursued via updates to the clutch, as well as the vehicle layout for improved rider movement.

As is often the case, benefits overlapped, with improvements in one area leading to benefits in other areas. For example, the power and torque increase result in changes to power delivery that make the machine more manageable in corners. Similarly, the reduced weight not only aids cornering, but promotes a more consistent performance by the rider over the course of a race.

Speaking of weight savings, the reduction here is an example of something that was only achievable during an overall redesign, and only by accumulating small benefits in myriad areas. As the Japanese saying goes, “With enough dust, a mountain can form,” and in this case the mountain was represented by a 3 pound overall weight reduction compared to last year’s model.

ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN

The CRF450R engine has undergone a number of significant updates aimed at improving bottom-end and midrange power, making for a linear delivery that is strong but manageable, even as the rider tires. In addition, peak power is up .8 horsepower, above 5,000 rpm.

Head

2020 Decomp weight
2021 Decomp weight

The design of the Unicam® cylinder head has been updated, with the decompressor system’s counterweight relocated from the right end of the camshaft to the left. This improves combustion stability in the extremely low rpm range and contributes to a strong-but-manageable power delivery in corner exits, for example, as well as resistance to stalling. The magnesium cylinder head cover has also been designed with a thinner material, for weight savings.

2020 Head
2021 Head
2020 Exhaust port
2021 Exhaust port

The engine’s exhaust port has been centralized, ovalized and straightened, achieving improved exhaust efficiency and revised torque characteristics, for a linear delivery that continues into the high rpm range.

As before, a five-hole piston oil jet and dual 12 mm drum scavenge pump manage lubrication.

Intake

The CRF450R features a downdraft intake design that delivers strong, efficient power, but the air boot has been drastically enlarged (from 1.8 liters on the clean side of the air filter to 4.1 liters), resulting in better torque at low rpm. In addition, the rubber ring has been eliminated to simplify filter cleaning, with an external frame added to ensure a good seal is maintained. The air box is now accessed with the removal of a single side-panel bolt.

2020 Air box configuration.
2021 Air box configuration.
2020 fuel injection
2021 fuel injection

The angle of the fuel injector has been increased from 30º to 60º, enabling the spray to reach all the way to the back of the butterfly, thus cooling the upstream side of the intake path, improving intake efficiency and torque feel. 

2020 fuel pump
2021 fuel pump

In addition, the fuel pump is now smaller and 120 grams lighter. It’s affixed via a simplified mounting system using only four fasteners instead of six. Fuel pressure and filter life are both unaffected.

Exhaust

For 2021, the CRF450R makes the switch from two mufflers to one, reducing weight and improving bottom-end torque delivery. The entire exhaust system now weighs 8.5 pounds, a reduction of 2.7 pounds from the previous model.

New exhaust layout.

2020 exhaust system
2021 exhaust system

With the engine’s new centralized exhaust-port location, the exhaust header is now routed 74 mm closer to the engine on the right side, while the single, right-side muffler has been reshaped to move its outer surface 13 mm inboard. The combined result is a slimmer overall vehicle body (including external parts), contributing to freedom of movement for the rider.

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Two resonators (one after the front U-bend and another at the upstream end of the muffler) boost power and reduce noise, and the heat shield has been eliminated to reduce weight.

Clutch

With an eye toward increasing clutch durability, engineers increased clutch volume by 27% while also adding an eighth clutch plate and using stiffer springs. In addition, a friction spring was added to suppress resonance and greatly improve power delivery. These changes reduce clutch slip by 85% at peak power, as measured by a chassis dynamometer.

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Hydraulic clutch

To facilitate clutch actuation and encourage consistent performance, a hydraulic clutch is now utilized as on the HRC factory machines. As a result, the force needed to pull the handlebar lever is reduced. Depending on where in the lever stroke the measurement is taken, the reduction can be as much as 10% compared to the previous model, even with the stiffer springs.

Electronics

A gear-position sensor allows the use of three specific ignition maps for first and second, third and fourth, and fifth gears. There are options for Standard, Smooth and Aggressive ignition maps, selectable via an all-new handlebar-mounted switch, enabling simple tuning depending on rider preference or course conditions. 

In addition, Honda Selectable Torque Control still offers three levels of intervention. HSTC monitors rpm spikes and responds by temporarily reducing torque by retarding ignition timing and controlling PGM-FI to aid rear traction. The three different modes differ in drive-management level, for differing riding conditions or rider preferences:

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  • Mode 1: The system intervenes most lightly and waits the longest to do so—useful for reducing wheel-spin and maintaining control in tight corners.
  • Mode 2: A midpoint between modes 1 and 3 in terms of how quickly and assertively the system intervenes.
  • Mode 3: The system intervenes most quickly and assertively, which helps in conditions that are slippery or muddy.

The CRF450R’s updated handlebar-mounted switch allows selection between three modes, depending on conditions and rider preference. The HSTC system can also be switched off completely. HRC Launch Control provides the best option for a strong start and also has three modes to choose from:

  • Level 1: 9,500 rpm, for high-traction conditions and/or advanced riders
  • Level 2: 8,500 rpm, for high-traction conditions and/or average riders
  • Level 3: 8,250 rpm, for slippery conditions and/or novice riders

The Engine Mode Select Button (EMSB) alters the engine’s characteristics and three maps are available to suit riding conditions or rider preference:

  • Mode 1: Standard
  • Mode 2: Smooth
  • Mode 3: Aggressive

CHASSIS / SUSPENSION

A number of significant chassis revisions were incorporated in order to improve cornering. With these changes, geometry is now different: Wheelbase is now 1 mm shorter (at 58.3 inches), rake is relaxed .5º (at 27.7º), trail is reduced by 2 mm (now 114 mm), the swingarm angle is .9º steeper (at 14.5º), the seat height is 5 mm taller (at 38.0 inches), ground clearance is increased by 8 mm (now 13.2 inches), and the distance from the front axle to the swingarm pivot is 1.8 mm longer (at 36.0 inches). As before, the vehicle’s heavier components are positioned centrally and as low as possible.

2021 geometry

The result is improved cornering without sacrificing high-speed tracking, in addition to reduced squat under acceleration and less pitching during hard braking.

Frame / Swingarm / Subframe

An all-new frame uses narrower main spars, a redesigned downtube and features rearranged reinforcement ribbing on the backside of the pivot plate, changes that contribute to an overall weight reduction of 1.54 pounds, with the new frame weighing just 18.5 pounds. Lateral rigidity is reduced by 20%—resulting in supple feel that improves cornering—while vertical rigidity is maintained.

The new 2021 frame spars are smaller (red) than 2020 frame spars (green).

2020 subframe
2021 subframe

The subframe features a simplified design that enabled the elimination of a separate seat support, achieving an overall weight of just 2.0 pounds—over .7 pounds down from before.

2020 swingarm
2021 swingarm

In addition, the swingarm is now narrower, providing increased clearance in ruts, with rebalanced rigidity tuned to match the frame and improve rear traction and cornering.

Suspension

As before, front suspension comprises a 49 mm inverted Showa® coil-spring fork that follows the basic structure of that on the 2020 CRF450R, and a gas-liquid separation structure, but suspension stroke has been increased by 5 mm to better absorb rough terrain while also reducing pitching. In addition, the axle holders have an updated design for increased rigidity. The upper and lower triple clamps have both been redesigned as well, with rigidity rebalanced via updated reinforcement ribs, delivering increased flex characteristics for improved handling and feel through a corner.

2020 shock
2021 shock with super light weight spring

The Pro-Link® rear-suspension system uses a Showa shock absorber whose shape has been adapted to work with the new frame, with adjusters moved from the left side to the right. Weight was cut here as well, by switching to an ultra-light steel shock spring.

The link ratio and rear travel has also been changed so that acceleration-triggered rear-end squat is reduced.

Wheels

As before, black D.I.D. rims deliver durable performance and good looks. Petal-style brake rotors disperse heat, and a low-expansion front brake hose gives strong feel and consistent stopping power.

The 2021 CRF450R comes with Dunlop’s excellent Geomax MX33 tires, generally considered to be the industry standard for soft to intermediate terrain. Developed with the help of top motocross pros, MX33s feature technologies that deliver superior grip, slide control, bump absorption and durability.

DESIGN

The technical changes to the CRF450R enabled the adaptation of slimmer bodywork, which facilitates rider movement. For example, the lack of a left-side muffler made possible a side panel that is 50 mm more inboard, and even the right side panel is moved 20 mm inboard thanks to the new muffler shape. Together, the changes result in a 70 mm reduction in width at the rear of the bike, substantially benefitting rider movement—and, consequentially, cornering. The junction of the radiator shroud and the side panel is smoother as well, further aiding rider movement.

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The radiator shrouds are new as well, and each is now produced in a single piece instead of two separate parts. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were used to design new air-outlet vents in the shrouds. The radiator grills have also been revised to optimize the number of fins and their angle, resulting in a 5% improvement in cooling performance, without changing vehicle width at the shrouds.

2020 seat
2021 seat

Whereas the seat was previously installed by sliding it forward onto the subframe and then securing it at the rear, the new seat base has rearward-facing tongues and front-located mounting tabs. This eases installation, and acceleration forces keep the seat securely in place. The 1.7 gallon fuel tank is once again made of lightweight titanium but has a new design, and the plastic tank cover has been eliminated.

2020 bodywork (12 bolts)
2021 bodywork (8 bolts)

During the model’s redesign, engineers looked for and capitalized upon every opportunity to cut weight for improved handling. For example, only 8 fasteners are used to secure all of the main bodywork components—both radiator shrouds, both side panels and the seat—instead of 12 as before. In addition, all of the bolts for the main bodywork parts now have 8 mm heads, simplifying maintenance.

New routing of cables.

A further 98 grams were cut by combining what used to be two left-side handlebar switch assemblies into a single cluster that addresses several functions: engine stop, ride-modes and Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC). The starter and HRC launch control are on the right side of the Renthal® Fatbar® handlebar. As before, there are two locations for the handlebar clamp, and the clamp can be turned 180º; as a result, four different mounting positions are possible, through a range of 26 mm. Routing the throttle and clutch control cables behind the handlebar instead of in front allowed for a weight reduction of 100 grams high on the bike.

Together, these changes aim to create a new benchmark in the motocross category.

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SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine Type: 449.7cc liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke
  • Valve Train: Unicam® OHC, four-valve; 38mm intake, titanium; 31mm exhaust, steel
  • Bore x Stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm
  • Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
  • Induction: Programmed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle bore
  • Ignition: Full transistorized 
  • Starter: Push-button electric starter
  • Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed; manual
  • Clutch: Multiplate wet, hydraulically actuated (6 springs, 8 plates)
  • Final Drive: #520 chain; 13T/49T 
  • Fork: 49mm fully adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork w/ 12.2 in. travel
  • Shock: Pro-Link system; fully adjustable Showa single shock w/ 12.4 in. wheel travel 
  • Front brake: 2-piston caliper (30mm, 27mm) hydraulic; single 260mm disc
  • Rear brake: 1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc 
  • Front tire: Dunlop Geomax MX33 80/100-21 w/ tube
  • Rear tire: Dunlop Geomax MX33 120/80-19 w/ tube
  • Rake (Caster Angle): 27°7’ 
  • Trail: 114mm
  • Length: 85.9 in.
  • Width: 32.6 in.
  • Height: 49.9 in.
  • Ground Clearance: 13.2 in.
  • Seat Height: 38.0 in
  • Wheelbase: 58.3 in.
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.7gal
  • Color: Red
  • Curb Weight: 244 lbs.



2021 Honda CRF450RWE

For motocross enthusiasts who demand the absolute best when it comes to performance, the premium CRF450RWE (“Works Edition”) benefits from the same improvements as the 2021 CRF450R, plus a long list of elite-level updates based on the machines in the Team Honda HRC factory race shop. As with the CRF450R, this model is endowed with important updates aimed at improving power, handling and consistency and—befitting its status as the clear benchmark when it comes to lap times—it boasts additional features aimed at refining power, suspension performance and aesthetics. New for 2021, the CRF450RWE now comes standard with a Hinson clutch basket and cover, as well as a Twin Air air filter.

2021 Honda CRF450R Works Edition

OBJECTIVES

As they did with the CRF450R, Honda engineers identified “Razor Sharp Cornering” as their development theme as they approached the 2021 CRF450RWE project. In turn, this led to three main goals: Improve power, improve handling and improve consistency. The first point was addressed by making changes intended to increase the engine’s horsepower and torque, particularly in the bottom end of the rpm range. The second objective was addressed by optimizing chassis rigidity, altering geometry and reducing vehicle weight. The final goal—regular, steady performance (by both the machine and the rider)—was pursued via updates to the clutch, as well as the vehicle layout for improved rider movement.

As is often the case, benefits overlapped, with improvements in one area leading to benefits in other areas. For example, the power and torque increase result in changes to power delivery that make the machine more manageable in corners. Similarly, the reduced weight not only aids cornering, but promotes a more consistent performance by the rider over the course of a race.

Speaking of weight savings, the reduction here is an example of something that was only achievable during an overall redesign, and only by accumulating small benefits in myriad areas. As the Japanese saying goes, “With enough dust, a mountain can form,” and in this case the mountain was represented by a 4 pound overall weight reduction compared to last year’s model.

ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN

The CRF450RWE engine has undergone a number of significant updates aimed at improving bottom-end and midrange power, making for a linear delivery that is strong but manageable, even as the rider tires. In addition, peak power is up .8 horsepower, above 5,000 rpm.

2021 Honda CRF450R WE

Head

As with the CRF450R, the design of the Unicam® cylinder head has been updated, with the decompressor system’s counterweight relocated from the right end of the camshaft to the left. This improves combustion stability in the extremely low rpm range and contributes to a strong-but-manageable power delivery in corner exits, for example, as well as resistance to stalling. The magnesium cylinder head cover has also been designed with a thinner material, for weight savings.

The CRF450RWE also has a unique cylinder head with factory hand-polished ports for refined power characteristics. The exhaust port has been centralized, ovalized and straightened, achieving improved exhaust efficiency and revised torque characteristics, for a linear delivery that continues into the high rpm range.

As before, a five-hole piston oil jet and dual 12 mm drum scavenge pump manage lubrication.

Intake

The CRF450RWE features a downdraft intake design that delivers strong, efficient power, but the air boot has been drastically enlarged (from 1.8 liters on the clean side of the air filter to 4.1 liters), and for 2021, the bike now comes standard with a Twin Air air filter. The air box is now accessed with the removal of a single side-panel bolt.

The angle of the fuel injector has been increased from 30º to 60º, enabling the spray to reach all the way to the back of the butterfly, thus cooling the upstream side of the intake path, improving intake efficiency and torque feel. 

In addition, the fuel pump is now smaller and 120 grams lighter. It’s affixed via a simplified mounting system using only four fasteners instead of six. Fuel pressure and filter life are both unaffected.

Exhaust

The CRF450RWE boasts a lightweight full titanium Yoshimura exhaust system (header and muffler), and like the CRF450R, the system has switched from two mufflers to one, reducing weight and improving bottom-end torque delivery. The entire exhaust system now weighs 7.15 pounds, a reduction of 1.6 pounds from the previous model.

With the engine’s new centralized exhaust-port location, the exhaust header is routed 74 mm closer to the engine on the right side, while the single, right-side muffler has also been reshaped to move its outer surface 13 mm inboard. The combined result is a slimmer overall vehicle body (including external parts), contributing to freedom of movement for the rider.

Two resonators (one after the front U-bend and another at the upstream end of the muffler) boost power and reduce noise, and the heat shield has been eliminated to reduce weight.

2021 Honda CRF450R WE

Clutch

With an eye toward increasing clutch durability, engineers increased clutch volume by 27% while also adding an eighth clutch plate and using stiffer springs. In addition, a friction spring was added to suppress resonance and greatly improve power delivery. These changes also reduce clutch slip by 85% at peak power, as measured by a chassis dynamometer. The clutch basket and cover are from Hinson to mirror the components from the Team Honda HRC race bikes.

To facilitate clutch actuation and encourage consistent performance, a hydraulic clutch is now utilized. As a result, the force needed to pull the handlebar lever is reduced. Depending on where in the lever stroke the measurement is taken, the reduction can be as much as 10% compared to the previous model, even with the stiffer springs.

Electronics

A gear-position sensor allows the use of three specific ignition maps for first and second, third and fourth, and fifth gears. There are also options for Standard, Smooth and Aggressive ignition maps, selectable via a redesigned handlebar-mounted switch, enabling simple tuning depending on rider preference or course conditions. 

In addition, Honda Selectable Torque Control still offers three levels of intervention. HSTC monitors rpm spikes and responds by temporarily reducing torque by retarding ignition timing and controlling PGM-FI to aid rear traction. The three different modes differ in drive-management level, for differing riding conditions or rider preferences:

  • Mode 1: The system intervenes most lightly and waits the longest to do so—useful for reducing wheel-spin and maintaining control in tight corners.
  • Mode 2: A midpoint between modes 1 and 3 in terms of how quickly and assertively the system intervenes.
  • Mode 3: The system intervenes most quickly and assertively, which helps in conditions that are slippery or muddy.

The handlebar-mounted switch allows selection between three modes, depending on conditions and rider preference. The HSTC system can also be switched off completely. HRC Launch Control provides the best option for a strong start and also has three modes to choose from:

  • Level 1: 9,500 rpm, for high-traction conditions and/or advanced riders
  • Level 2: 8,500 rpm, for high-traction conditions and/or average riders
  • Level 3: 8,250 rpm, for slippery conditions and/or novice riders

The Engine Mode Select Button (EMSB) alters the engine’s characteristics and three maps are available to suit riding conditions or rider preference:

  • Mode 1: Standard
  • Mode 2: Smooth
  • Mode 3: Aggressive

CHASSIS / SUSPENSION

A number of significant chassis revisions were incorporated in order to improve cornering. With these changes, geometry is now different: Wheelbase is now 1 mm shorter (at 58.3 inches), rake is .3º steeper (at 27.7º), trail is reduced by 2 mm (now 114 mm), the swingarm angle is .9º steeper (at 14.5º), the seat height is 5 mm taller (at 38.0 inches), ground clearance is increased by 8 mm (now 13.2 inches), and the distance from the front axle to the swingarm pivot is 1.8 mm longer (at 36.0 inches). As before, the vehicle’s heavier components are positioned centrally and as low as possible.

The result is improved cornering without sacrificing high-speed tracking, in addition to reduced squat under acceleration and less pitching during hard braking.

2021 Honda CRF450R WE

Frame / Swingarm / Subframe

As with the 2021 CRF450R, the CRF450RWE’s all-new frame features narrower main spars, a redesigned downtube and features rearranged reinforcement ribbing on the backside of the pivot plate, changes that contribute to an overall weight reduction of 1.54 pounds, with the new frame weighing just 18.5 pounds. Lateral rigidity is reduced by 20%—resulting in supple feel that improves cornering—while vertical rigidity is maintained.

The subframe features a simplified design that enabled the elimination of a separate seat support, achieving an overall weight of just 2.0 pounds—over .7 pounds down from before.

In addition, the swingarm is now narrower, providing increased clearance in ruts, with rebalanced rigidity tuned to match the frame and improve rear traction and cornering.

Suspension

As before, front suspension comprises a 49 mm inverted Showa® coil-spring fork that has a 25 mm piston and follows the basic structure of that on the 2020 CRF450RWE, and a gas-liquid separation structure, but suspension stroke has been increased by 5 mm to better absorb rough terrain while also reducing pitching. Compared to the CRF450R, the CRF450RWE’s lower fork legs are coated in titanium nitride to minimize stiction and promote smooth action. 

The axle holders have an updated design for increased rigidity. The upper and lower triple clamps have both been redesigned as well, with rigidity rebalanced via updated reinforcement ribs, delivering increased flex characteristics for improved handling and feel through a corner.

The Pro-Link® rear-suspension system uses a Showa shock absorber whose shape has been adapted to work with the new frame, with adjusters moved from the left side to the right. Weight was cut here as well, by switching to an ultra-light steel shock spring.

The link ratio and rear travel has also been changed so that acceleration-triggered rear-end squat is reduced.

Wheels

The CRF450RWE has special D.I.D DirtStar LT-X rims that are even stouter than the standard D.I.D rims of the CRF450R. Petal-style brake rotors disperse heat, and a low-expansion front brake hose gives strong feel and consistent stopping power, while a special gold RK chain delivers power to the rear wheel.

The 2021 CRF450R comes with Dunlop’s excellent Geomax MX33 tires, generally considered to be the industry standard for soft to intermediate terrain. Developed with the help of top motocross pros, MX33s feature technologies that deliver superior grip, slide control, bump absorption and durability.

DESIGN

The technical changes to the CRF450RWE enabled the adaptation of slimmer bodywork, which facilitates rider movement. For example, the lack of a left-side muffler made possible a side panel that is 50 mm more inboard, and even the right side panel is moved 20 mm inboard thanks to the new muffler shape. Together, the changes result in a 70 mm reduction in width at the rear of the bike, substantially benefitting rider movement—and, consequentially, cornering. The junction of the radiator shroud and the side panel is smoother as well, further aiding rider movement.

The radiator shrouds are new as well, and each is now produced in a single piece instead of two separate parts. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were used to design new air-outlet vents in the shrouds. The radiator grills have also been revised to optimize the number of fins and their angle, resulting in a 5% improvement in cooling performance, without changing vehicle width at the shrouds.

2021 Honda CRF450R WE

Whereas the seat was previously installed by sliding it forward onto the subframe and then securing it at the rear, the new seat base has rearward-facing tongues and front-located mounting tabs. This eases installation, and acceleration forces keep the seat securely in place. Compared to the CRF450R, the Works Edition version has a special Throttle Jockey gripper seat cover. The 1.7 gallon fuel tank is once again made of lightweight titanium but has a new design, and the plastic tank cover has been eliminated.

During the model’s redesign, engineers looked for and capitalized upon every opportunity to cut weight for improved handling. For example, only 8 fasteners are used to secure all of the main bodywork components—both radiator shrouds, both side panels and the seat—instead of 12 as before. In addition, all of the bolts for the main bodywork parts now have 8 mm heads, simplifying maintenance.

A further 98 grams were cut by combining what used to be two left-side handlebar switch assemblies into a single cluster that addresses several functions: engine stop, ride-modes and Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC). The starter and HRC launch control are on the right side of the Renthal® Fatbar® handlebar, which sports special Renthal dual-compound grips on the CRF450RWE. As before, there are two locations for the handlebar clamp, and the clamp can be turned 180º; as a result, four different mounting positions are possible, through a range of 26 mm. Routing the throttle and clutch control cables behind the handlebar instead of in front allowed for a weight reduction of 100 grams high on the bike.

Rounding out the package are Throttle Jockey graphics, straight off the Team Honda HRC factory machines of Ken Roczen and Chase Sexton.

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Engine Type: 449.7cc liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke
  • Valve Train: Unicam® OHC, four-valve; 38mm intake, titanium; 31mm exhaust, steel
  • Bore x Stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm
  • Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
  • Induction: Programmed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle bore
  • Ignition: Full transistorized 
  • Starter: Push-button electric starter
  • Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed; manual
  • Clutch: Multiplate wet, hydraulically actuated (6 springs)
  • Final Drive: #520 RK gold chain; 13T/49T 
  • Fork: 49mm fully adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork; Kashima coating on fork tubes, titanium-nitride coating on fork legs; 12.2 in. travel
  • Shock: Pro-Link system; fully adjustable Showa single shock; 12.4 in. wheel travel 
  • Front brake: 2-piston caliper (30mm, 27mm) hydraulic; single 260mm disc
  • Rear brake: 1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc 
  • Front tire: Dunlop Geomax MX33 80/100-21 w/ tube
  • Rear tire: Dunlop Geomax MX33120/80-19 w/ tube 
  • Rake (Caster Angle): 27°7’   
  • Trail: 114mm
  • Length: 85.9 in.
  • Width: 32.6 in.
  • Height: 49.9 in.
  • Ground Clearance: 13.2 in.
  • Seat Height: 38 in.
  • Wheelbase: 58.3
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.7 gal.
  • Color: Red
  • Curb Weight: 244 lbs.




2021 Honda CRF450RX


Ridden by Phoenix Racing Honda, SLR Honda and JCR Honda at the national-championship level, the CRF450RX is well-suited for closed-course off-road competition such as GNCC, WORCS and NGPC. For the 2021 model year, it’s better than ever, getting the same important performance upgrades as the motocross-focused CRF450R and retaining off-road-specific features like dedicated ECU and suspension settings, an 18-inch rear wheel and an aluminum side stand. New for 2021, the CRF450RX comes standard with handguards and a revised 2.1 gallon fuel tank that narrows the bike width at the radiator shrouds. The combination yields a race machine that’s ready to chase arrows and ribbon along trails from coast to coast.

2021 Honda CRF450RX

OBJECTIVES

The development theme of the 2021 CRF450R—“Razor Sharp Handling”—was very well-suited for the CRF450RX, given its intended application of technical trails typically found in closed-course off-road competition. This theme was founded on three main goals: Improve power, improve handling and improve consistency. The first point was addressed by making changes intended to increase the engine’s horsepower and torque, particularly in the bottom end of the range. The second objective was addressed by optimizing chassis rigidity, altering geometry and reducing vehicle weight. The final goal—regular, steady performance by both the machine and the rider—was pursued via updates to the clutch, as well as the vehicle layout for improved rider movement.

As is often the case, benefits overlapped, with improvements in one area leading to benefits in other areas. For example, the power and torque increase result in changes to power delivery that make the machine more manageable in corners. Similarly, the reduced weight not only aids cornering, but promotes a more consistent performance by the rider over the course of a race.

Speaking of weight savings, the reduction here is an example of something that was only achievable during an overall redesign, and only by accumulating small benefits in myriad areas. As the Japanese saying goes, “With enough dust, a mountain can form,” and in this case the mountain was represented by a 4 pound overall weight reduction compared to last year’s model.

ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN

The CRF450RX engine has undergone a number of significant updates aimed at improving bottom-end and midrange power, making for a linear delivery that is strong but manageable, even as the rider tires. In addition, peak power is up .8 horsepower, above 5,000 rpm.

Head

The design of the Unicam® cylinder head has been updated, with the decompressor system’s counterweight relocated from the right end of the camshaft to the left. This improves combustion stability in the extremely low rpm range and contributes to a strong-but-manageable power delivery in corner exits, for example, as well as resistance to stalling. The magnesium cylinder head cover has also been designed with a thinner material, for weight savings.

In addition, the exhaust port has been centralized, ovalized and straightened, achieving improved exhaust efficiency and revised torque characteristics, for a linear delivery that continues into the high rpm range.

As before, a five-hole piston oil jet and dual 12mm drum scavenge pump manage lubrication.

2021 Honda CRF450RX
2021 Honda CRF450RX

Intake

The CRF450R features a downdraft intake design that delivers strong, efficient power, but the air boot has been drastically enlarged (from 1.8 liters on the clean side of the air filter to 4.1 liters), resulting in better torque at low rpm. In addition, the rubber ring has been eliminated to simplify filter cleaning, with an external frame added to ensure a good seal is maintained. The air box is now accessed with the removal of a single side-panel bolt.

The angle of the fuel injector has been increased from 30º to 60º, enabling the spray to reach all the way to the back of the butterfly, thus cooling the upstream side of the intake path, improving intake efficiency and torque feel. 

In addition, the fuel pump is now smaller and 120 grams lighter. It’s affixed via a simplified mounting system using only four fasteners instead of six. Fuel pressure and filter life are both unaffected.

Exhaust

For 2021, the CRF450RX makes the switch from two mufflers to one, reducing weight and improving bottom-end torque delivery. The entire exhaust system now weighs 8.5 pounds, a reduction of 2.7 pounds from the previous model.

With the engine’s new centralized exhaust-port location, the exhaust header is now routed 74 mm closer to the engine on the right side, while the single, right-side muffler has also been reshaped to move its outer surface 13 mm inboard. The combined result is a slimmer overall vehicle body (including external parts), contributing to freedom of movement for the rider.

Two resonators (one after the front U-bend and another at the upstream end of the muffler) boost power and reduce noise, and the heat shield has been eliminated to reduce weight.

Clutch

With an eye toward increasing clutch durability, engineers increased clutch volume by 27% while also adding an eighth clutch plate and using stiffer springs. In addition, a friction spring was added to suppress resonance and greatly improve power delivery. These changes reduce clutch slip by 85% at peak power, as measured by a chassis dynamometer.

To facilitate clutch actuation and encourage consistent performance, a hydraulic clutch is now utilized as on the HRC factory machines. As a result, the force needed to pull the handlebar lever is reduced. Depending on where in the lever stroke the measurement is taken, the reduction can be as much as 10% compared to the previous model, even with the stiffer springs.

Electronics

A gear-position sensor allows the use of three specific ignition maps for first and second, third and fourth, and fifth gears. There are also options for Standard, Smooth and Aggressive ignition maps, selectable via a separate handlebar-mounted switch, enabling simple tuning depending on rider preference or course conditions. 

In addition, Honda Selectable Torque Control still offers three levels of intervention. HSTC monitors rpm spikes and responds by temporarily reducing torque by retarding ignition timing and controlling PGM-FI to aid rear traction. The three different modes differ in drive-management level, for differing riding conditions or rider preferences:

  • Mode 1: The system intervenes most lightly, and waits the longest to do so—useful for reducing wheel-spin and maintaining control in tight corners.
  • Mode 2: A midpoint between modes 1 and 3 in terms of how quickly and assertively the system intervenes.
  • Mode 3: The system intervenes most quickly and assertively, which helps in slippery or muddy off-road conditions.

A handlebar-mounted switch allows selection between three modes, depending on conditions and rider preference. The HSTC system can also be switched off completely.

HRC Launch Control provides the best option for a strong start and also has three modes to choose from:

  • Level 1: 9,500 rpm, for high-traction conditions and/or advanced riders
  • Level 2: 8,500 rpm, for high-traction conditions and/or average riders
  • Level 3: 8,250 rpm, for slippery conditions and/or novice riders

The Engine Mode Select Button (EMSB) alters the engine’s characteristics and three maps are available to suit riding conditions or rider preference:

  • Mode 1: Standard
  • Mode 2: Smooth
  • Mode 3: Aggressive

CHASSIS / SUSPENSION

A number of significant chassis revisions were incorporated in order to improve cornering. With these changes, geometry is now different: Wheelbase is now 1 mm shorter (at 58.3.0 inches), rake is relaxed .5º (at 27.7º), trail is reduced by 2 mm (now 114 mm), the swingarm angle is .9º steeper (at 14.5º), the seat height is 5 mm taller (at 38.0 inches), ground clearance is increased by 8 mm (now 13.2 inches), and the distance from the front axle to the swingarm pivot is 1.8 mm longer (at 36.0 inches). As before, the vehicle’s heavier components are positioned centrally and as low as possible.

The result is improved cornering without sacrificing high-speed tracking, in addition to reduced squat under acceleration and less pitching during hard braking.

Width comparison, 2020 in green, 2021 in red.

Frame / Swingarm / Subframe

An all-new frame uses narrower main spars, a redesigned downtube and features rearranged reinforcement ribbing on the backside of the pivot plate, changes that contribute to an overall weight reduction of 1.54 pounds, with the new frame weighing just 18.5 pounds. Lateral rigidity is reduced by 20%—resulting in supple feel that improves cornering—while vertical rigidity is maintained.

The subframe features a simplified design that enabled the elimination of a separate seat support, achieving an overall weight of just 2.0 pounds—over .7 pounds down from before.

In addition, the swingarm is now narrower, providing increased clearance in ruts, with rebalanced rigidity tuned to match the frame and improve rear traction and cornering.

Suspension

As before, front suspension comprises a 49 mm inverted Showa® coil-spring fork that follows the basic structure of that on the 2020 CRF450RX, and a gas-liquid separation structure, but suspension stroke has been increased by 5 mm to better absorb rough terrain while also reducing pitching. In addition, the axle holders have an updated design for increased rigidity. The upper and lower triple clamps have both been redesigned as well, with rigidity rebalanced via updated reinforcement ribs, delivering increased flex characteristics for improved handling and feel through a corner.

The Pro-Link® rear-suspension system uses a Showa shock absorber whose shape has been adapted to work with the new frame, with adjusters moved from the left side to the right. Weight was cut here as well, by switching to a lightweight steel shock spring.

The link ratio and rear travel has also been changed so that acceleration-triggered rear-end squat is reduced.

Wheels

As before, black D.I.D. rims deliver durable performance and good looks. Petal-style brake rotors disperse heat, and a low-expansion front brake hose gives strong feel and consistent stopping power.

The 2021 CRF450RX comes with Dunlop’s excellent Geomax AT81 tires, which offer all-around performance and high levels of ruggedness for off-road racing.

DESIGN

The technical changes to the CRF450RX enabled the adaptation of slimmer bodywork, which facilitates rider movement. For example, the lack of a left-side muffler made possible a side panel that is 50 mm more inboard, and even the right side panel is moved 20 mm inboard thanks to the new muffler shape. Together, the changes result in a 70 mm reduction in width at the rear of the bike, substantially benefitting rider movement—and, consequentially, cornering. The junction of the radiator shroud and the side panel is smoother as well, further aiding rider movement.

Photo

The radiator shrouds are new as well, and each is now produced in a single piece instead of two separate parts. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were used to design new air-outlet vents in the shrouds. The radiator grills have also been revised to optimize the number of fins and their angle, resulting in a 5% improvement in cooling performance, while the vehicle width is actually 17.7 mm narrower at the front of the shrouds, thanks to redesigned 2.1 gallon, polyethylene fuel tank offering just .1 gallons less capacity from before.

2020 in green, 2021 in red

Whereas the seat was previously installed by sliding it forward onto the subframe and then securing it at the rear, the new seat base has rearward-facing tongues and front-located mounting tabs. This eases installation, and acceleration forces keep the seat securely in place. 

During the model’s redesign, engineers looked for and capitalized upon every opportunity to cut weight for improved handling. For example, only 8 fasteners are used to secure all of the main bodywork components—both radiator shrouds, both side panels and the seat—instead of 12 as before. In addition, all of the bolts for the main bodywork parts now have 8 mm heads, simplifying maintenance.

A further 98 grams were cut by combining what used to be two left-side handlebar switch assemblies into a single cluster that addresses several functions: engine stop, ride-modes and Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC). The starter and HRC launch control are on the right side of the Renthal® Fatbar® handlebar. As before, there are two locations for the handlebar clamp, and the clamp can be turned 180º; as a result, four different mounting positions are possible, through a range of 26 mm. Routing the throttle and clutch control cables behind the handlebar instead of in front allowed for a weight reduction of 100 grams high on the bike.

Off-Road Features

As always, the 2021 CRF450RX comes with a number of off-road-appropriate features that are not included on its motocross-focused CRF450R sibling. 

The ECU map is developed to aid traction in technical off-road conditions, and the suspension settings are more supple than the CRF450R, to minimize deflection off rocks and roots. A forged-aluminum side stand comes standard, as does an 18-inch rear wheel and 50-tooth rear sprocket compared to the R's 49.

New for 2021 are plastic handguards, to protect knuckles and levers from impacts when riding through brush. A pair of handguards, which weigh only 222 grams, can be easily removed.

Combine the model’s off-road-focused features with the platform’s performance updates for 2021 and you have a machine that’s more ready than ever to chase arrows and ribbon along trails from coast to coast.

2021 Honda CRF450RX

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Engine Type: 449.7cc liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke
  • Valve Train: Unicam® OHC, four-valve; 38mm intake, steel; 31mm exhaust, steel
  • Bore x Stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm
  • Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
  • Induction: Programmed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle bore
  • Ignition: Full transistorized 
  • Starter: Push-button electric starter
  • Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed return; manual
  • Clutch: Multiplate wet, hydraulically actuated (6 springs)
  • Final Drive: #520 sealed chain; 13T/50T 
  • Fork: 49mm fully adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork w/ 12.2 in. travel
  • Shock: Pro-Link system; fully adjustable Showa single shock w/ 12.32 in. travel 
  • Front brake: 2-piston caliper (30mm, 27mm) hydraulic; single 260mm disc
  • Rear brake: 1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc
  • Front tire: Dunlop Geomax AT81 90/90-21 w/ tube
  • Rear tire: Dunlop Geomax AT81 120/90-18 w/ tube 
  • Rake (Caster Angle): 27°7’ 
  • Trail: 114mm
  • Length: 85.9 in.
  • Width: 33 in.
  • Height: 50.5 in.
  • Ground Clearance: 13.2 in.
  • Seat Height: 38 in.
  • Wheelbase: 58.3 in.
  • Fuel Capacity: 2.1 gal.
  • Color: Red
  • Curb Weight: 251 lbs.


2021 Honda CRF450X

2021 Honda CRF450X is unchanged except for updated graphics, plastics, and the addition of handguards.



When it comes to motorcycle racing in Baja, “dominant” doesn’t quite do justice to Honda’s record. Twenty-two of the last 23 victories in the legendary Baja 1000 have gone to Honda, including SLR Honda’s convincing 2019 win, and 13 of those belong to the CRF450X. Not only does it rule desert racing, but the CRF450X is a great trail bike, thanks in part to its 50-state year-round off-road-legal status. With off-road appropriate features like a side stand, 18-inch rear wheel, headlight, sealed chain and six-speed transmission, it’s ready for desert expanses or tight woods.

Sharing similar styling updates as its CRF Performance Line counterparts, the 2021 CRF450X features all-new graphics and handguards.

Key Features

  • Lightweight, protective handguards defend against shrubbery when riding down tight trails or wood sections
  • Lightweight, 2.0 gallon titanium fuel tank offers good range for long, enjoyable rides
  • Aluminum side stand facilitates trailside stops
  • 18-inch rear wheel enables tall tire sidewall for optimum traction in technical conditions
  • Lightweight, compact digital meter with black characters on a white liquid-crystal background is easily legible while riding
  • Off-road-ready, emissions-compliant muffler with spark arrestor
  • Endless sealed chain withstands the elements
  • Lightweight, compact halogen headlight and LED taillight extend riding time


Engine/Drivetrain

  • 449.7cc Unicam® engine specially tailored for off-road riding
  • Finger rocker arm contributes to compact layout, while its dedicated design attains off-road-appropriate power characteristics. DLC surface treatment reduces friction
  • Dedicated valve timing for smooth power delivery in technical riding
  • High crank inertia (up 12% over CRF450R) for tractable power delivery in technical terrain
  • 12.0:1 compression ratio
  • Piston with three-ring design
  • Wide-ratio six-speed transmission is ready for a wide variety of off-road terrain. Construction from high-strength material ensures durability in demanding conditions
  • Special clutch design enables light lever pull. Primary damper mechanism with friction springs suppresses engine torque fluctuations for smooth running
  • Large-capacity radiators with high heat-exchange efficiency for strong performance in demanding off-road conditions
  • ECU with dedicated settings
  • Specially developed exhaust system with optimized pipe length and diameter for excellent responsiveness at low rpm
Chassis/Suspension

  • Aluminum twin-spar frame designed for nimble yet stable handling on trails
  • 49 mm Showa fork with dedicated settings for challenging terrain
  • CRF450R-inspired front brake but with dedicated master cylinder and hose for off-road-appropriate braking performance
  • Lightweight lithium-ion battery with increased capacity compared to CRF450R, to power lighting
  • Front and rear sprockets feature damper system for smooth, quiet running 
  • Fuel-tank cap with cut-off valve prevents fuel from flowing out of tank if the bike is on its side
  • Easily accessible electronic component box on left side of frame
  • Gray metallic Renthal handlebar with red pad
  • Compact, lightweight handlebar switches
  • In-mold graphics last long and are resistant to peeling caused by washing or abrasion
  • Fork protectors are shaped to prevent damage in off-road riding
  • Dunlop MX52 tires provide excellent traction and feel in wide range of conditions

2021 Honda CRF450RL


2021 Honda CRF450RL (formerly CRF450L) gets handguards and new plastics and graphics.



Through a winning combination of performance, durability and comfort, Honda’s road-legal dirt bike has made a name for itself in the dual-sport world. And for 2021, it gets a distinguished title befitting its level of performance. Now called the CRF450RL, this capable dual-sport machine powers on with a trail-connecting approach that broadens customers’ ride-planning possibilities. Powered by Honda’s proven 449cc Unicam® engine and wide-ratio six-speed transmission, plus premium long-travel suspension and twin-spar aluminum frame, the CRF450RL now comes standard with lightweight handguards for increased comfort and protection no matter where the ride leads.


CRF450RL Key Features

  • Lightweight, protective hand guards defend against the elements and trail-side shrubbery
  • Lightweight, 2.0-gallon titanium fuel tank
  • Riding time maximized by lightweight, compact LED lighting system, featuring a headlight with high-intensity projection for illuminating a broad area
  • Rear-view mirrors
  • Lightweight lithium-ion battery with increased capacity compared to CRF450R, to power electrical components
  • Lightweight, compact digital meter with black characters on a white liquid-crystal background is easily legible while riding


Engine/Drivetrain

  • 449.7cc Unicam® engine specially tailored for trail-to-trail riding 
  • Finger rocker arm contributes to compact layout while using dedicated design to attain on- and off-road-specific power characteristics. DLC surface treatment reduces friction
  • Dedicated valve timing for smooth power delivery in technical riding
  • High crank inertia (up 12% over CRF450R) for tractable power delivery in technical terrain
  • 12.0:1 compression ratio
  • New piston with three-ring design
  • Wide-ratio six-speed transmission is ready for a wide variety of off-road terrain and on-road riding
  • Special clutch design enables light lever pull. Primary damper mechanism with friction springs suppresses engine torque fluctuations, ensuring smooth running
  • Large-capacity radiators with high heat-exchange efficiency for strong performance in demanding off-road conditions
  • Electric fan and thermostat control engine temperature in harsh conditions
  • ECU with dedicated settings
  • Noise emissions minimized via covers on the left and right crank cases
  • Powerful AC generator for street-legal lighting 
  • Air cleaner box
  • Dedicated single-muffler exhaust system provides great sound while meeting emissions requirements

Chassis/Suspension

  • Aluminum twin-spar frame designed for nimble-yet-stable handling on trails
  • Subframe designed to ensure optimum rigidity balance appropriate for carrying tools
  • 49 mm Showa fork with dedicated settings for trail-to-trail riding
  • Shock based on that of the CRF450R but with dedicated settings and link ratio for off-road riding
  • Front brake uses design from CRF450R, but with additional fade resistance thanks to thicker discs and large-capacity reservoir
  • Endless sealed chain withstands the elements
  • Front and rear sprockets, produced in durable steel material, feature damper system for smooth, quiet running
  • Urethane injection in swingarm to reduce road noise
  • Fuel tank cap with a cut-off valve prevents fuel from flowing out of tank if the bike is on its side
  • LED turn signals with flexible mounts for durability
  • Easily accessible electronic component box on left side of the frame
  • Black 7/8” Renthal handlebar with red pad
  • Compact, lightweight handlebar switches
  • In-mold graphics are resistant to peeling caused by washing or abrasion
  • IRC GP-21F/GP-22R tires provide great balance of on- and off-road performance
  • Black rims for strong presence

All the info we got today was focused on the all new 450 models and returning 450 models. Honda has said there are no changes to the 2021 CRF150R, CRF250R, and CRF250RX.

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