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ADV Bikes7 Things To Know About The All-New Honda CRF450L

7 Things To Know About The All-New Honda CRF450L

 A deeper dive into Honda’s latest performance based street-legal machine.

Published on 06.05.2018
2019 Honda CRF450L

This has been, without a doubt, a huge year for Honda. They launched a new version of the Africa Twin (CRF1000L2 Adventure Sports) and made a ton of changes to the standard AT as well. We were pretty sure that was all that we would hear from Big Red this year on the adventure bike/dual-sport front but then we got more news — the announcement of a street-legal CRF450L.

1. It’s Part of the CRF Performance Line

If you haven’t seen our first look at the new machine, it is a 450cc dual-sport motorcycle that is based on the CRF450R (motocross bike) and comes from the CRF performance line of motorcycles. This performance line of bikes, or as Honda is now calling it, the “CRF Collective,” includes the racing motocross bikes, cross country racing off-road bikes, and the X and L. It has nothing to do with the CRF250L or CRF250L Rally.

Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

2. The CRF450L Is Not Built in Thailand

Since this new machine shares the same “L” as the 250L, many people are wondering if they are related or if they were made in the same factory. The short answer is no. While the budget-minded CRF250L is made in Honda’s Thailand factory, the CRF450L is made in Japan, along with all of the other performance-based machines. While Honda’s quality standards are the same for all of their products, there is a perceived value of a bike being made in Japan since that is where all the higher-end bikes are made and it is where many of the component companies products are made (like suspension).

3. It’s Got Full Motocross Suspension Travel

Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

When we glanced at the spec sheets for the all the new CRF’s that Honda announced together, we were obviously focused on the L, but we were curious to see how it compared to the all new CRF450X as well, since the X is the pure off-road version of the bike. We saw that the X and L had different numbers for the seat height and ground clearance with the L being 0.3 inches lower on both. Reaching out to Honda, they confirmed that all the CRF450s have the same suspension travel: 12.01 inches in front and 12.36 inches in the rear. The reason the L is lower than the X is the increased weight of the L and different internal suspension settings.

4. It Makes a Lot More Than 24 Horsepower

There was a rumor going around that this bike only made 24 hp and we can say that is completely false. It looks like a European Honda site mistakenly posted the CRF250L’s hp number for the 450L’s. We asked Honda for a publishable HP number for the 450L and they said it was in the 40s. For dirt bikes, Honda (all OEM’s actually) don’t give out HP numbers since there are so many variables in dyno’ing the bikes. Also, Honda added that there is only a 4 hp difference between the X and L and that the cams and cam timing are exactly the same.

Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

5. It Still Has Dirt Bike Maintenance Intervals

While being based on the motocross bike is a huge plus for performance, what does it mean for maintenance? We asked Honda and they said that the CRF450L has an oil change interval of 600 miles and a valve check interval of 1,800 miles. While that seems short when viewed as a street bike, when thinking about trail bikes or dirt-bike-based dual-sports, that’s changing the oil after six 100-mile rides, which is well within reason. Plus, OEM recommendations are notoriously conservative. If you plan on cruising down dirt roads at a quarter throttle, you aren’t stressing the engine like blasting single track at race pace.

6. It’s Pretty Much a Dirt Bike With Lights and a Plate

Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

The CRF450X and 450L are very similar machines aimed at very similar riding. But the L’s street-legality comes at a cost — additional equipment that leads to 14 pounds of extra weight. Honda added only what was necessary to make the CRF450X a street legal machine. Obviously, the exhaust system has to be more complicated and restrictive than the X’s system. Also, the rear fender is different on the L to accommodate the license plate hanger and turn signals. The front “number plate” on the L is also different than the X’s and features a tinted DOT approved headlight. We asked Honda why it wasn’t clear and they said it was just for aesthetics. Also, the wording in the spec sheet made it sound like the L had a special subframe that is different and burlier than the X’s, but Honda confirmed it is the same.

7. Using Titanium Helped Reduce the Cost

The fact that the CRF450L has a titanium gas tank has been one of the biggest conversation starters on the internet. First off, titanium gas tanks have been on Honda’s CRF-R (motocross) models for a couple years so they aren’t that rare and out of the blue. Secondly, we asked Honda why they would carry the TI tank over to the dual-sport model since most people would point to it as a major factor in the price of the bike. The answer is surprising.

Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

According to Honda, the titanium tank on the CRF450L is actually cheaper to produce than a plastic tank. You read that correctly. We had to reread it as well because it is pretty common knowledge that titanium is an expensive metal and just based on the cost of materials would have to be more costly than plastic. But, again according to Honda, it comes down to time. A plastic tank is molded all in one piece which takes a considerable amount of time. A titanium tank is stamped into two pieces and welded together, which is a much faster process. Also, since titanium is so strong, the thickness of the tank walls can be much less, therefore requiring a small amount of titanium to produce. Titanium is also used to help pass the EVAP emission standards and increase the longevity of the tank since it is corrosion resistant.

We hope we shed some light on this machine before it hits dealer floors. As soon as they are available, we’ll be first in line to grab a test bike. Check out our first look for more details and full specs on the new CRF450L.

Sean Klinger Author ProfileAbout the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs. 

Author: Sean Klinger

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16 thoughts on “7 Things To Know About The All-New Honda CRF450L

  1. I think it’s great that Honda finally did this. BUT.. holy crap it’s expensive. It’s about the same price as the KTM 690 Enduro. And the maintenance intervals are nuts for a street bike. I don’t mind the oil changes so much; that’s easy. But valve adjustments are a pain in the butt on these shim-under-bucket setups. I’ll stick with my uber-simple DR650.

    • I consider the USA to be very fortunate to be able to still purchase something as simple as the Mighty DR. It’s grandfathered in, for EPA spec purposes. I think it’s very likely that the OEMs could not import a new 650 at these (DR650) emissions levels. We can still buy a brand new one of these from the local dealer. I think that’s not true in the EU, because of Euro4 standards now. Love them while you can, because the OEMs hands are tied for what they can export (or even sell in their own country). I own one of these DRs. For all its faults, it’s a great Dual Sport. At it’s price point

  2. I am also at a loss to figure who is the market for this cycle? There are many “plate-able” Honda CRF450’s on the used market, and many at recent model years. It’s not like a plateable CRF450 is a unicorn. So, to offer one at this price point, at this spec? I don’t get it. They’re pitching a motocross race machine (yes, they all have starter buttons these days no matter weight penalty), at basically race spec maintenance interval, and with addition of lighting, as a dual sport contender. I’ll make a guess: Mostly same parts bins as race spec., so advantage of mass production. But, masses no longer exist (shrinking market, and market share). So, modify as needed but use as many of the same parts bins as possible to reduce costs. (Hinted at in gas tank discussion). My rebuttal: At this price point, there are better choices, already sorted out with large aftermarket support.

    • I’m buying one. 57 years old and have ridden Hondas all my life. I like the Honda reliability, vast dealer/parts network, abundant aftermarket. You can’t plate a 450 in Oregon. For the same $10k, KTM/Husky don’t even include a neutral indicator even though they’re a bit lighter. Most people will pig them up with a tail rack and/or tank bag anyway, so a few pounds isn’t going to make a big difference to most of us. It’s the bike we’ve been waiting for and they’ll sell. Craigslist will be fill up with CFR250s, XR650Ls and maybe even a few KTM/Husky converts.

      • OK, Thanks. I do understand a bit better now. There *is* a market, because there is a “we” that has been waiting for this, plateable dirt bike under 300 lbs (289 lbs wet, according to Honda website) that can pass the EPA 50 state emissions spec. OK, good, I’m pleased for you. Really. This is a very nice, very modern cycle for the single track team, and getting from one track to the next, with a gas station in between the connections. In the sense that it is street worthy from govt. viewpoint (plateable), then yes it is a dual sport. I’m absolutely sure the aftermarket will respond with equipment to make those connections longer. (larger gas tank, luggage, more comfy seat, etc). There’s always a trade off, and this time, it is lightness of weight for maintenance interval. You’ll make the tradeoff, and you’ll be happy. Good!

  3. I don’t think this bike will be a big hit for Honda. Too expensive for what it is and with the race orientated service it will get even less interesting for everyday users. I am sure it is a fun bike to ride but it will have a hard stance against the CRF 250 rally when it comes to adv rides and general day to day usage. About the assembly in Japan vs Thailand. I am sorry to say but that assumption that the quality is better in Japan then in Thailand is crap and outdated. The Thai factories are working after strict ISO 9001 standards. The wages in Thailand are cheaper and therefor the bikes are cheaper. This doesn’t come down in the built quality of the bike though. Look at the Scrambler line from Ducati – they are entirely made in Thailand now and nobody even questions the quality of those bikes. Thailand is a major player in the automotive industry. Toyota, Mercedes, Nisan, Honda and BMW are all assembling their cars for the South East Asian market in Thailand and further more exporting them from Thailand all over the world.Just about 30% are produced for the local market – 70% is for export or well over 1 million units annually (and this is just the passenger car market). The Kawasaki KLR is just made in Thailand (though not available in Thailand). Just wanted to clarify this misconception about the build quality of Thai vehicles. What makes and breaks a vehicle are the components and they are made all over the globe.

    • It depends how many of these they hope to sell. Ktm owns the d/s market. This should be similar in performance to orange bikes so they should do ok. Unless of course the bikes get a bad rep for exploding engines or something.

  4. This bike is NOT A DUAL SPORT! Please stop calling it one Honda. A dual sport has oil changes every 3-6K minimum. A dual sport has valve check / adjustments every 12K. A dual sport has 4-6 gallons of fuel capacity. 10K for a street legal Enduro bike? No Thanks Honda! When you build a TRUE 450 Dual Sport I will look at it.

  5. It is a bit odd to call a high performance dirt bike with dot accessories a Dual Sport, when the purpose of a DS is to drive on varying distance of asphalt to get to the dirt and not have to perform routine maintenance. Regardless of whether the service are more “guidelines than rules” service intervals IMO shouldnt be overlooked or stretched any longer than they should.
    This alone will stifle interest, regardless of how easy it is to service.
    This is NOT a DS, This is not an ADVENTURE bike, this is an enduro bike.
    Maybe Im not looking any further than SI, but it certainly is the elephant on the stage. Perhaps there is a madness in the bike, but I cannot see it

  6. Here in AUS we still see DRZ400’s and even KLR/DR650’s flying out the doors in 2018, for one reason and one reason only = low PRICE ! – Africa Twin shocked us all wit the low price and now i have one in my garage, it went striaght to No1 in ADV AU sales. If Honda do price this LOW they have a good chance to smash the 3 lingering ghosts above out of the park, finally.

  7. Good article. I had also seen that low HP number and was disappointed so thanks for clearing that up. It has 4hp less than the all new x model (not the rx model) and that’s probably in a DOT exhaust and intake. I’ll keep my ’16 africa twin for long rides and the rock this on all other offroad riding. I’d actually like to see the cush drive setup on the rear hub.

  8. Pingback: New 2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport - Page 2 - Honda CBR 300 Forum

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