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2008 Honda CRF450 Ride Impression

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2008 Honda CRF450R Ride Impression
Article and photograph (below specs section) by Anthony Bradford

With aggressive new styling, this Honda looks to assert it's authority on the ever competitive 450 class.

The big news for the CRF450R is it has the HPSD (Honda Progressive Steering Damper). The new found stability the system offers, has allowed the engineers to reduce the steering rake and wheelbase. This allows the Honda to carve the corners with scalpel-like efficiency. They have also sought to make the power easier to control through a multi map CDI. This controls ignition mapping based on gear selection. The different mapping for each gear enables the bike to hook up better, especially in the lower gears, by making the power delivery a little less fierce. Make no mistake though, you are still very aware you are straddling a bike that makes an enormous amount of power.

Dannevirke Honda kindly brought the bike out for me to ride on the Waewaepa charity trail ride. This enabled me to test the bike over a wide variety of conditions. From steep rocky climbs, river crossings on to open paddock blasting, the trail loop pretty much all the different types of terrain covered. The CRF was a blast to ride and I had a huge amount of fun with the bike. After the trail loop, I took it over to the motocross practice track on the Currie's farm. In it's native environment, the bike's power, handling and brakes shone even brighter.

Sitting aside the CRF450, every thing falls to hand and foot naturally. The bike is very slim and the seat is comfortable. You feel seated in a very positive and natural position and feel ready to take on whatever obstacles that may be met.


The bike handles in a very sure footed, yet manoeuvrable manner. No doubt the new HPSD system assisted with this. The steering is very light and positive. The CRF was comfortable to rail the berms, or square the corners off. The bike felt well balanced in the air. Overall the handling was very confidence inspiring.

The motor is a gem, with a very broad and manageable spread of power. Whether pulling the bike out of tight snotty spots, zipping purposefully along the trails in the mid range, or screaming through the wide open paddocks using the top end, this motor has an answer for it all. I never found the power intimidating or overwhelming, but still gave it a lot of respect as well. The exhaust note was pleasing without being too loud.

Gear Box
The gear box is a slick 5 speed unit. I never missed a gear through the test, even under provocation impressive. The gears are well spaced apart, and that combined with the broad spread of power, meant the bike was happy to to operate in a range of gears for the same territory, purely depending on the mood of the rider.

I found the suspension to be perfect for my 85 kg body weight. It was supple over small stutter bumps, but still handled the big hits with aplomb. Ninety five percent of the motocross practice track was groomed and very soft, but there was five percent that had not been groomed and consisted of rock hard stutter bumps. The first time I hit them, I was taken completely by surprise. Fortunately for me, the CRF450R's excellent suspension sucked them up and the steering damper kept the bike on the straight and narrow, whew!

The brakes are superb, having just the right mixture of power and feel. They were very reassuring as I blasted the bike around unknown terrain, coming upon a few surprise obstacles. The brakes hauled the bike down from speed with power and precision every time.


Overall, the bike is very hard to fault, as it does everything so well. Paradoxically I found it to be a more relaxing bike to ride on the trail loop at moderate speeds than the CRF250R that I tested the previous week. I would not hesitate to recommend the bike to a rider who would mostly do trail rides with maybe the odd club race thrown in as well. The bike is also well suited to intermediate and pro racers alike. Yes, the bike is that good.

2008 CRF450R Specs:
Engine Type: 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 96mm x 62.1mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Valve Train: Unicam, four-valve; 36mm intake, titanium; 30mm exhaust, steel
Induction: Carburetor, Keihin 41mm flat slide
Ignition: CD with three-gear-position electronic advance
Transmission: Close-ratio five-speed
Final Drive: #520 chain; 13T/48T
Fork: 47mm inverted Showa cartridge fork with 16-position rebound and 16-position compression damping adjustability; 315 mm travel
Shock: Pro-Link Showa single shock with spring preload, 17-position rebound damping adjustability, and compression damping adjustment separated into low-speed (13 positions) and high-speed (3.5 turns); 320 mm travel
Front Brake: Single 240mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear: Single 240mm disc
Front Tire: 80/100-21
Rear: 110/90-19
Wheelbase: 1.491 mm
Rake (Caster Angle): 27 8'
Trail: 111.4 mm
Seat Height: 971mm
Ground Clearance: 353mm
Fuel Capacity: 7.2 litres
Color: Red / Black
Curb Weight: 109kg (includes all standard equipment, required fluids and a full tank of fuel ready to ride)

Dannevirke Honda Rider, Rowyn Ingpen, kicks up the dirt on the CRF450R. (I used him as a model, as he does'nt have the green riding gear)

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