A deeper dive into Honda’s latest performance based street-legal machine. This has been, without a doubt, a huge year for Honda. They launched a new version of the Africa Twin (CRF1000L2 Adventure Sports) and made a ton of changes to the standard AT as well.
We were pretty sure that was all that we would hear from Big Red this year on the adventure bike/dual-sport front but then we got more news — the announcement of a street-legal dirt bike CRF450L.
1. It’s Part of the CRF Performance Line
If you haven’t seen our first look at the new machine, it is a 450cc dual-sport motorcycle that is based on the CRF450R (motocross bike) and comes from the CRF performance line of motorcycles. This performance line of bikes, or as Honda is now calling it, the “CRF Collective,” includes the racing motocross bikes, cross country racing off-road bikes, and the X and L. It has nothing to do with the CRF250L or CRF250L Rally.
2. It Makes a Lot More Than 24 Horsepower
There was a rumor going around that this bike only made 24 hp and we can say that is completely false. It looks like a European Honda site mistakenly posted the CRF250L’s hp number for the 450L’s. We asked Honda for a publishable HP number for the 450L and they said it was in the 40s. For dirt bikes, Honda (all OEM’s actually) don’t give out HP numbers since there are so many variables in dyno’ing the bikes. Also, Honda added that there is only a 4 hp difference between the X and L and that the cams and cam timing are exactly the same.
3. It’s Got Full Motocross Suspension Travel
When we glanced at the spec sheets for the all the new CRF’s that Honda announced together, we were obviously focused on the L, but we were curious to see how it compared to the all new CRF450X as well, since the X is the pure off-road version of the bike. We saw that the X and L had different numbers for the seat height and ground clearance with the L being 0.3 inches lower on both. Reaching out to Honda, they confirmed that all the CRF450s have the same suspension travel: 12.01 inches in front and 12.36 inches in the rear. The reason the L is lower than the X is the increased weight of the L and different internal suspension settings.
4. It Still Has Dirt Bike Maintenance Intervals
While being based on the motocross bike is a huge plus for performance, what does it mean for maintenance? We asked Honda and they said that the CRF450L has an oil change interval of 600 miles and a valve check interval of 1,800 miles. While that seems short when viewed as a street bike, when thinking about trail bikes or dirt-bike-based dual-sports, that’s changing the oil after six 100-mile rides, which is well within reason. Plus, OEM recommendations are notoriously conservative. If you plan on cruising down dirt roads at a quarter throttle, you aren’t stressing the engine like blasting single track at race pace.
5. It’s Pretty Much a Dirt Bike With Lights and a Plate
The CRF450X and 450L are very similar machines aimed at very similar riding. But the L’s street-legality comes at a cost — additional equipment that leads to 14 pounds of extra weight. Honda added only what was necessary to make the CRF450X a street legal machine. Obviously, the exhaust system has to be more complicated and restrictive than the X’s system. Also, the rear fender is different on the L to accommodate the license plate hanger and turn signals. The front “number plate” on the L is also different than the X’s and features a tinted DOT approved headlight. We asked Honda why it wasn’t clear and they said it was just for aesthetics. Also, the wording in the spec sheet made it sound like the L had a special subframe that is different and burlier than the X’s, but Honda confirmed it is the same.
6. The CRF450L Is Not Built in Thailand
Since this new machine shares the same “L” as the 250L, many people are wondering if they are related or if they were made in the same factory. The short answer is no. While the budget-minded CRF250L is made in Honda’s Thailand factory, the CRF450L is made in Japan, along with all of the other performance-based machines. While Honda’s quality standards are the same for all of their products, there is a perceived value of a bike being made in Japan since that is where all the higher-end bikes are made and it is where many of the component companies products are made (like suspension).
7. Using Titanium Helped Reduce the Cost
The fact that the CRF450L has a titanium gas tank has been one of the biggest conversation starters on the internet. First off, titanium gas tanks have been on Honda’s CRF-R (motocross) models for a couple years so they aren’t that rare and out of the blue. Secondly, we asked Honda why they would carry the TI tank over to the dual-sport model since most people would point to it as a major factor in the price of the bike. The answer is surprising.