Niall gives Honda's '05 model CRF450 and 250 'crossers a muddy run for their money.
Apart from winning the grin of the month award, having two motocross launches in two weeks gave me a great opportunity to compare two of the fastest moto-crossers ever built, the Suzuki RM-Z450 and the Honda CRF450R.
The Honda hasn't changed radically for '05, but the press pack lists around 20 changes I would describe more as refinements to what is an already well-proven package.
Dry weight has been reduced by 1.2kg to just under 100kg, which is what a 250 two-stroke weighed not that many years ago. This is reflected in the ride as it feels the lightest handling of all the 450s I have ridden to date. Compared to the Suzuki RM-Z450, everything seems to be happening a lot quicker, and having less mid-range and five gears makes you feel like you are working harder.
Other changes include stronger rear hub, a new shift drum and forks for slicker gear changes and new front and rear suspension valving for better bump absorption. This 450 will bulldoze through any bog and climb any mountain. It's the daddy of the range and not for wimps.
After riding the '04 CRF250R, I was convinced it was the best four-stroke off-roader ever built. A year on and having ridden all the competition I'd still pick the Honda. Like its 450 sibling, lots of similar improvements are listed for 2005 but with the exception of slightly stronger bottom-end power, thankfully this little gem hasn't changed.
The smooth throttle response and connection to the rear wheel allows you to relax more so you use less energy and last a bit longer. I guarantee you will jump higher and longer than ever before on the CRF. A magical balance of power delivery, chassis balance and suspension has been achieved. Make sure you service it regularly: this depends on how hard you ride, but ignore oil changes and the service manual at your peril.
TYPE - OFF-ROADPRODUCTION DATE - 2005PRICE NEW - £4995ENGINE CAPACITY - 449ccPOWER - N/ATORQUE - N/A WEIGHT - 99.7kgSEAT HEIGHT - N/A FUEL CAPACITY - 7.2L TOP SPEED - N/A 0-60 - n/aTANK RANGE - N/A
TYPE - OFF-ROADPRODUCTION DATE - 2005PRICE NEW - £4695ENGINE CAPACITY - 249.4ccPOWER - N/ATORQUE - N/A WEIGHT - 92.7kgSEAT HEIGHT - N/A FUEL CAPACITY - 7.3L TOP SPEED - N/A 0-60 - n/aTANK RANGE - N/A
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