HONDA has launched its 2013 off-road range including the radically revamped CRF450R that we first predicted two months ago. And even if you're not into crossers, you've got to be impressed by the engineering.
The new 450 gets a redesigned frame and the latest KYB air forks. Honda was just pipped by Kawasaki in the race to be first to launch a production crosser with the new design front suspension, which ditches traditional steel springs in favour of pressurised air. As well as saving nearly a kilo of weight, the design cuts friction and provides a wider range of adjustment – just pumping in a bit more air (staying between the minimum 32psi and maximum 36psi) is the equivalent of changing the spring rates.
The engine is tweaked for more bottom end and mid range power with a different piston, flywheel, valves and compression ratio, while the new twin exhaust set-up is claimed to improve mass centralisation. A new swingarm, rear shock and redesigned bodywork means that overall there's virtually nothing left unchanged on the 2013 CRF450R.
In contrast, the CRF250R is virtually unaltered for 2013, with just recalibrated fuel injection, a revised rear shock and tweaked forks.
Finally, Honda has also announced the new CRF110F, aimed at kids and with a totally new engine. Replacing the old CRF70F, the 110 has – you guessed it – a 110cc motor, along with electric start and the sort of automatic-clutch transmission that will be familiar to anyone who's delivered pizzas on a C90. Except the new bike has four gears instead of three and uses two clutches, one for starting off, another for shifting gear, which should help make changes smoother.