For riders that prioritize value and performance, Honda’s CRF450R-S delivers both in spades. Based on the 2022 CRF450R, this model maintains the holeshot-inducing power and razor-sharp cornering that Honda’s flagship motocrosser is known for, but at a value-oriented price point. While it spares the advancements applied for the 2023 and 2024 model years, the CRF450R-S is a testament to Honda’s commitment to producing motorcycles that are incredibly capable and reliable without breaking the bank.
ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN
Like that of the model on which it is based, the CRF450R-S engine boasts exceptional bottom-end and midrange power, making for a linear delivery that is strong but manageable, even as the rider tires, while peak power is also very good.
Cylinder Head: The design of the Unicam® cylinder head, with the decompressor system’s counterweight on the left end of the camshaft, contributes to combustion stability in the extremely low rpm range and for strong-but-manageable power delivery on corner exits, for example, as well as resistance to stalling. The cylinder head cover is magnesium, with a thin-wall design for weight savings. The engine’s exhaust port is centrally located, has an oval shape and is quite straight, optimizing exhaust efficiency and torque characteristics, for a linear delivery that continues into the high rpm range. A five-hole piston oil jet and dual 12mm drum scavenge pump manage lubrication.
Intake: The CRF450R-S features a downdraft intake design that delivers strong, efficient power, and a large air boot (4.1 liters on the clean side of the air filter) achieves in strong torque at low rpm. The airbox is accessed with the removal of a single side-panel bolt. The 60º fuel-injector angle enables the spray to reach all the way to the back of the butterfly, thus cooling the upstream side of the intake path for maximum intake efficiency and torque feel.
Exhaust: The entire exhaust system weighs just 8.5 pounds, and with the engine’s centralized exhaust-port location, the exhaust header and muffler are positioned close to the vehicle’s centerline for a slim profile, 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.
Clutch: The clutch is hydraulically actuated and has eight plates and a large volume for good durability with minimal slippage and light lever pull.
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 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 CRF450R-S’s 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
The motorcycle’s heavier components are positioned centrally and as low as possible for precise cornering without sacrificing high-speed tracking, in addition to minimal squat under acceleration and negligible pitching during hard braking.
Frame / Swingarm / Subframe: The frame uses narrow main spars and features optimized reinforcement ribbing on the backside of the pivot plate, contributing to the low frame weight of just 18.5 pounds. Lateral rigidity is optimized for a supple feel that contributes to good cornering—while vertical rigidity is relatively stiff. The subframe features a simple design that weighs just 2.0 pounds. The swingarm is narrow, providing good clearance in ruts, with rigidity tuned to maximize rear traction and cornering.
Suspension: Front suspension comprises a 49mm inverted Showa® coil-spring fork and a gas-liquid separation structure. The upper and lower triple clamps are designed to offer a good rigidity balance for optimum handling and feel through corners. The Pro-Link® rear-suspension system uses a Showa shock absorber with adjusters on the right side and an ultra-light steel shock spring. The link ratio is designed to minimize acceleration-triggered rear-end squat.
Wheels: 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 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.
The CRF450R-S has slim bodywork, with a smooth junction of the radiator shroud and side panel, facilitating rider movement and cornering. Each radiator shroud is produced in a single piece instead of two separate parts, and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were used to design air-outlet vents in the shrouds. The radiator grills optimize the number of fins and their angle, maximizing cooling performance.
The seat base has rearward-facing tongues and front-located mounting tabs, easing installation, and using acceleration forces to keep the seat securely in place. The 1.7 gallon fuel tank is made of lightweight titanium.
Only eight fasteners are used to secure all of the main bodywork components—both radiator shrouds, both side panels and the seat, and all of the bolts for the main bodywork parts have 8mm heads, simplifying maintenance.
A single switch cluster 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. 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 26mm.