2021 Honda CRF450RX

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Bike Test: 2021 Honda CRF450RX Review

Looking at the Honda line-up of 2021 bikes, the focus was on the new-from-the-ground up Honda CRF450R, and rightfully so. It saw some of the biggest changes to any 450 motocrosser to date. But take a small step out of the "motocross only" world into the wider arena of cross country and off-road riding, and that community of riders got an all new bike as well: The 2021 Honda CRF450RX. The RX model was introduced in 2016 as a 2017 model year machine. It was the first "cross country" specific dirt bike that Honda offered, which was aimed directly act competing with KTM's XC and Husqvarna's FX bikes. As with all XC dirt bikes, it's base model was the motorcross machine, with just a few tweaks and additions to make it better for the trail, yet still capable of riding the motocross track.

Now that the history lesson is over, lets look at the 2021 RX. Compared to last years model, nearly everything is different and we aren't going to get into all of that here, since it is thoroughly covered in the First Look. But here is a rundown of what makes the 2021 RX different than the 2021 R.

2021 Honda CRF450RX Specific Parts

  • Larger 2.1 gallon gas tank
  • Hand guards
  • 18-inch rear wheel
  • Dunlop AT81 tires
  • O-Ring chain
  • One more tooth on rear sprocket (50, compared to the 49 on the moto version)
  • Dedicated off-road ECU settings
  • Dedicated off-road suspension settings
The CRF450RX comes stock with handguards.
The new mode switch cluster with kill switch and traction control.

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The new tank and shroud layout is in red.
A new kick stand is more tucked away.
The new bike is narrower than last year's CRF450RX.

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18-inch rear wheel.
The same frame and center port engine from the CRF450R.
Tank/shroud transitions keep the rider cockpit comfortable.

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Since it isn't a whole lot different than the MXer, the RX is pretty comfortable on the moto track.

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The suspension, while softer than the moto bike, is still very playful and has an active/performance focus, rather than being too plush/comfort oriented or dead-feeling like some off-road bikes.

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While the bike has nimble handling for technical riding, the moto transmission and tendency to flame-out hindered crawling through rocks or really low-speed riding.

Overall

As you'll hear in the video, we don't have many cons to say about the 2021 Honda CRF450RX. Typically, 450 trail bikes can be a handful and lend themselves to only wide-open off-road riding. Yet the engine character of the RX was actually extremely usable and wasn't explosive right off the bottom. It had a little "ramp" into the power that let you really control that initial throttle opening, yet right after that, if you wanted to blast out of a turn or pop the front wheel up, no clutch required, just a quick twist and tons of torque is on tap. The downside in the engine department is having the same transmission as the moto bike (even with an extra tooth on the rear sprocket) seemed too high on tighter trails. Also, the RX had a tendency to flame-out if you didn't have the clutch fully pulled in when coming to a slow corner or tricky rock section.

The CRF450RX feels much lighter and less clunky than last year's bike. The tank is big and is wider than the moto version, but its more of a trick of the eye, because once you are riding, it doesn't interfere with handling or being able to move around on the bike. They did a great job with all the edges of the tank being rounded and seamlessly matching the shape of the shrouds. Stock handguards are also a plus. 

If you are going to spend most of your riding in slick, rooty, snotty, tight, technical trails, you probably wouldn't even be looking into cross country bikes, and the CRF450RX wouldn't be the best choice for any of that. But for typical trails to high-speed desert or GP racing, to WORCS and Hare and Hound type riding, the 2021 Honda CRF450RX would be right at home. 

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Specifications

Product Honda CRF450RX
Model Year 2021
Engine Size 450cc
Engine Type Four-Stroke
Engine Displacement 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke 96mm x 62.1mm
Compression Ratio 13.5:1
Fuel System Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 46mm downdraft throttle body
Ignition DC-CDI
Transmission Close-ratio five-speed
Final Drive #520 Chain; 13T/50T
Suspension Front 49mm leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork with rebound and compression damping adjustability; 12.2 inches of travel
Suspension Rear Pro-Link Showa single shock with adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; 12.3 inches of travel
Brakes Front Single 260mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Brakes Rear Single 240mm disc
Tires Front Dunlop Geomax AT81 90/90-21
Tires Rear Dunlop Geomax AT81 120/90-18
Overall Length
Overall Width
Overall Height
Seat Height 38 inches
Wheelbase 58.3 inches
Ground Clearance 13.2 inches
Rake/Trail 27° 7'/4.5 inches
Fuel Capacity 2.1 gallons
Curb Weight 251 pounds
Features
Miscellaneous
Price $9,899
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