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Tested: 2020 Honda CRF450R

Honda CRF450R – 107kg 53.6bhp

It’s the bike that took Tim Gajser to the world championship this year. And although it may not look too dissimilar to the machines he has been riding since he arrived in the class and took the 2017 MXGP crown, under the skin the CRF450R has never stopped evolving.

After the changes to last year’s motor, frame and brakes, this time it’s changes to the suspension, with a new Showa spring hydraulic fork, and revised electronics with the debut of the HSTC Traction Control

The Showa 49mm spring fork is immediately appreciated by anyone who gets on the bike. The fork is a little soft in stock form, but a tweak on compression damping sorts it out.

The rear Showa suspension also need a bit of tweaking, with slowing the high speed compression by half a turn, making the bike a lot better. It’s better for launching into jumps.

But it was still a bit unsure in braking bumps; but with the sag set to 105 mm, the bike sits better and kicks less. Get the adjustment right and it’s a well-balanced, fine handling bike.


Motor oil: 1.2 litres.
Oil and filter replacement: after break-in and then every 15 hours
Air filter cleaning: every 2.5 hours.
Piston Replacement: every 15 hours pro racing use; every 70 amateur use
Valves: Check every 15 hours.
Starter motor: No maintenance required
Front: Dunlop Geomax MX3SF 80 / 100-21
Rear: Dunlop Geomax MX3S 120 / 80-19

What the testers said:

Davide de Bortoli:

The CRF puts you immediately at ease: it’s slim and compact, with excellent ergonomics. It has incredible balance and lots of traction, but on the harp-edge bumps the fork is soft. It has a smooth power delivery, very easy to control and more torquey compared to the Austrian bikes. Change the ignition maps and you can feel the difference. It has more traction but can kick a bit at the rear.

Francesco Muratori:

Apart from the high handlebar and levers, I had a good feeling immediately. At the beginning the CRF was very skittish, but increasing the sag changed this hugely – from unmanageable to incredibly stable with a lot of traction. And it is no longer true that the Honda is underpowered. Map 1 is a bit lacklustre, but OK for hard pack when it’s slippery. But map 3 fires you out of the corners a bit like the Austrian bikes. It also has a really good launch control, along with Kawasaki. When there is lots of grip I would use it for sure.


Year after year, the latest evolution of the CRF450R grows in performance. Its competitiveness in both MXGP and Supercross is no coincidence. Honda has built an engine that is among the best, with an advanced electronic package with traction control and launch control. The suspension is a tad soft, but with a few clicks it’ll satisfy most – even those who want to really push. The result is a much more rounded bike than in the past. This CRF is a podium bike.