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ADV BikesHonda CRF450L Unveiled: The Dual Sport Everyone’s Been Wanting?

Honda CRF450L Unveiled: The Dual Sport Everyone’s Been Wanting?

Honda unveils a street-legal 450 Enduro with serious off-road capability.

Published on 05.23.2018

2019 Honda CRF450L dual sport
Honda has just made a ton of people very happy. The bike that we’ve all asked for, we’ve all wondered why it didn’t exist, we’ve all been trying to create ourselves is now a reality. Based on the updated 2019 CRF450R motocross bike, the all-new CRF450L is essentially a 50-state legal, 6-speed dirt bike with a plate. This is the first road-legal 450 motocross-based machine offered by a Japanese OEM and could well become the small adventure bike of choice for aggressive, mostly dirt riders.

With the introduction of the all new CRF450L, the long-lived off-road only trail machine CRF450X is all new as well and is a whole different bike than the 2018 and older models. Both the X and L are very similar to each other, yet the specs show that they have slightly different ground clearance (12.7 inches on the X and 12.4 inches on the L) and different seat heights (37.4 inches on the X and 37.1 inches for the L) indicating that the suspension travel may be slightly less on the L. Honda didn’t provide suspension travel numbers at the time of the announcement.

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle


2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

The New CRF450L Platform

While all the CRF450s share a very similar architecture, the CRF450X and the CRF450L are sort of in their own category since these bikes are not primarily designed for racing (yet we have little doubt that they could) and they have a new six-speed transmission. This extra gear makes the bottom end of the engine wider and requires a wider lower part of the frame. That being said, most everything else on the bikes are derived directly from the latest version of the CRF450R.


2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle engine

The layout and overall appearance of the CRF450L’s engine is nearly identical to the X’s with some notable exceptions to make the L street legal more appropriate for street riding. The X and L have the same bore and stroke and a milder 12.0:1 compression ratio compared to the R’s 13.5:1. The L also has its own cam profile and cam timing for more controllable power off-road. There is 12 percent more crank inertia than the R to give more traction and better control in tight off-road terrain. As mentioned above, a major difference is the six-speed transmission. This is sure to make street riding and longer stints on asphalt a less buzzy, more enjoyable experience. The ECU has a dedicated setting on the L and there is a single-sided exhaust system rather than the dual silencers on the competition models.

Noise Reductions

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle noise reductions

A major factor in getting a bike to be street-legal is passing noise regulations. One part of that test is a drive by sound measurement where the overall sound of the bike, not just the exhaust, is recorded. Rather than just focusing on the noise coming out of the muffler, Honda found other ways to keep the overall decibel level down on the CRF450L. Engine case covers are on the right and left sides of the engine. Not only are these for protection, they dampen overall engine noise. Also, there is a full cover over the front sprocket. Again, more protection but sound damping as well. Even the swing arm plays a noise reducing role. It is injected with urethane to lower the overall bike volume. Lastly the exhaust system is a dedicated street legal unit to keep noise levels down.


2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle chassis

There are no compromises when it comes to the suspension. The CRF450L has the same 49mm, fully adjustable coil-spring Showa fork and the same fully adjustable, Pro-Link system Showa shock as the X, yet the settings (damping and spring rates) are dedicated to each machine. The twin-spar aluminum frame is wider to accommodate the wider L transmission, and the subframe is specific to the L, designed to better handle carrying luggage and tools. The tank is 2.0 gallons and made of lightweight titanium.


2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle digital dash

The dash is a simple enduro-style unit, all this sort of bike needs. There are the necessary street-legal bits such as turn signals, mirrors, a horn, and a pretty cool looking LED headlight assembly. The battery is a beefed up lithium ion unit to handle more electrical demands. The high capacity radiators also have a thermostat controlled cooling fan for slow-going situations. The front brake is the same high performance caliper that the CRF450X has but the disk is thicker and the fluid reservoir is larger for more durability. The sealed o-ring chain is wrapped around steel sprockets for greater durability as well. Lastly the CRF450L comes stock with 50/50 IRC GP-21/22 tires.

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

The Whole CRF450L Package

We are definitely excited about this bike. The overall package seems to check all the boxes when it comes to a full-on enduro capable dirt bike that can be ridden on the street as well. The primary target rider for this bike, according to Honda, is the off-roader who wants to connect gnarly trails with stints on the road. But we also see its potential as a light ADV Machine — and it could be with a few additions such as luggage, an even bigger tank, and possibly some wind protection.

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Author: Sean Klinger

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62 thoughts on “Honda CRF450L Unveiled: The Dual Sport Everyone’s Been Wanting?

      • Haha, same or worse than 450X is reasonable!? See wr250r, drz400, te630 and 701 for reasonable service intervals, this is anything but that! They should have just updated the XR650R with modern 6-speed, FI, brakes, e-start…

    • Oil Change 600 miles
      Air Filter cleaning 600 miles
      Valve inspection 1800 miles…. and there I was thinking Honda was actually listening to what the people wanted

      • Before you leave Houston on your Utah odyssey, change the oil and filter, service air filter and run the valves. At Phoenix, Az you are on oil change #3. #1 was in Van Horn, Texas 100 miles late because Ft Stockton was “too early”. In Utah it’s time to run the valves again, change the oil, service the air filter and enjoy… 🙂 glad we’re all mechanics. Life is cool. I’m all in.

    • Oil change intervalls of 1000km? Just doing the TET through Scandinavia, how many changes would that be? So folks try to travel and ride light, but then you need to carry 5 liters of oil for a two week trip? No, this is still an enduro/trail bike that is street legal, something you take home at the end of the day – or the weekend. It does not fit in the adventure travel category. I`ll soon go for a CFR250l with suspension upgrade and larger tank.

    • I completely agree and because mine’s gonna be a supermoto and will never be ridden in the dirt, I’m not going to worry about recommended service intervals. It’s a Honda and I know I can do fine changing oil and filter every 3,000 miles and checking the valve lash once very 6,000 miles

  1. Very interesting. It does not tick all the boxes but is a big step in the right direction of sensible lightweight dual sport. Let me know when they bring out the 450X. 🙂

    • If this isn’t checking all the boxes for a unicorn bike then frankly I don’t know what could possibly be that bike. And the 450X is… already a thing that is coming out alongside this with full specs?????

      • compared to the 501 and 500exc, this falls short – too heavy, not as powerful, same or worse service intervals as/than 450X, cable clutch, titanium tank so priced more for something that needs to be changed to plastic anyway…

        • Is it tho…….135hr crank inspection, a composite subframe that’s not recommended to have much weight on the back, an ECU that will melt the rear plastic in stock form, oil capacity of 1qt., suspension that’s sprung for 170lb rider, and so superior it’s trailered everywhere! Superior in ever way that I never saw one KTM or Husky on the TAT. In fact, after several trips across the country 90% of the bikes off the beaten path i saw were the Yamaha WR250R and CRF250L‘s.

          Yup, the difference between the people that talk HP verse the people that travel……that’s what we’re talking about here. The people that travel don’t give two nickels about how much power your bike has, they just want a bike without fuss that always works.

          • XR650R and DRZ400e also had limited subframe weight capacity but that has not stopped people from adventure riding/camping with them, as they do with the ktm and husky 500/501. 135hours crank inspection is for racing conditions, people have recorded 300+ hours with the 500exc and no rebuilds and all within spec after crossing numerous continents – the crf450, on the other hand, has a history of eating its valves. Having more hp due to a bigger engine is not just about outright HP, its about having a bike that does not have to work as hard, and therefore have less engine wear over the years. My WR250R was a great bike, I’d rather get another one of those and another TE630, instead of this overpriced Honda.

          • I beg to differ on that one. I have a 350exc with 12k miles and 375 hrs on it. Never needed a valve adjustment yet, doesnt burn oil, original top end, been on 7day DS trips with luggage and and never an issue. Weighs a hell of a lot less then any Japanese machine semi comparable out there with way more HP and suspension. Oul changes every 25hrs, which will getyou almost theougb a week long DS trip. Just sayin

  2. Wish honda would just fuel inject the xr650l and improve the weight and width by moving the battery box under the seat.

  3. Is this just a street legal 450R or can it be expected to log real pavement miles? It looks like it is the same vein of KTM and Beta “dual sports” which are no more than plated racing bikes.

  4. I was so excited about this bike until I read the oil change intervals are more often than the 450x. I can’t believe this. So lame! So dissapointed.

  5. This article sure brought out the lurkers 🙂

    This is a good candidate for the light adventure category. It certainly puts the other Japanese OEMs on notice that Honda intends to fill a perceived space.

    I think the words from Mr. Miller indicate that, if you (the user) expect to ride at US freeway speeds, then expect the cycle to run hot. Ideas arrive out of that suggestion, and oil change interval is just one of them. No mention of valve lash check and adjust interval, so that caught my eye. I can sort-of live with on the trail oil change and top up (if I’m connecting freeway roads), but I’m really not on board with inspecting valves on the trail. Also, be prepared for a very hot, and maybe heavy, silencer. That is usually solved with a lighter aftermarket silencer, but it’s getting harder to fit them due to increased state regulations in the US. Heat can be managed with stick-on thermal heat shielding very inexpensively, if you can live with the weight of the OEM silencer. (That idea also retains the emissions reduction elements, an idea important to me).

    It’s clear to me that the competition is the KTM 500 EXC. That cycle is well know for many maintenance intervals as well (ie: more maintenance required per mile). However, it is also well known for instability at high speed on pavement. There’s many contributors to that problem, but it’s there and can not be modified out of the cycle. You can not just change a tire and remove it. No mention of high speed behavior of this Honda.

    It’s curious the specs mention a higher output electrical system in the same sentence as the LED headlight. That leads me to believe the LED lighting will already consume any extra available power, and not much remaining. That would be bad. If Honda is removing copper from the stator in a weight savings play, or there is just no room for more stator copper, then we’re stuck with little remaining electrical power for extras. That would be a major detraction for the light adventure machine category and at this price point (a la 690 Enduro price), that would cause me to begin to look elsewhere.

    I do like this cycle, it ticks a lot of boxes for me.

  6. Looks awesome albeit pricey. I have two immediate concerns though. I don’t mind frequent oil changes but I hate cleaning and changing oil impregnated air filters on dirt bikes. So I hope this uses a replaceable paper air filter. And if I’d need to check and shim titanium valves every 100 engine hours, forget it. What is the valve check interval? Does it have stainless steel valves?

  7. The price is way too high. Yeah the Honda fanboys will be all over it, but the smart buyer will get a KTM instead.

    Okay Yamaha, now it’s your turn…

    • Smart buyers regularly spend 37% MORE where you come from? $10,399 vs $14,195
      Sounds like a “status buy”… a p-e. While traveling up the divide ride my fellow orange rider had to sat phone call parts three times! (Thanks fedex overnight) we picked up Austrian orange and German alphabet parts several times along the trail. That heavy, gutless klr I rode never skipped a beat or broke anything. Still, I’d sure like to ride a lighter, more powerful machine. Just don’t want to pay for it with high maintenance or repairs. Or status symbol prices.

  8. The article is wrong – Yamaha WR450F is the first road-legal 450 motocross-based machine offered by a Japanese OEM …in Australia and New Zealand markets, and possibly others.

  9. It’s great to see so much interest in this bike. Since there are so many valid questions, we are currently talking to Honda directly and working on a follow-up post to answer as many questions as we can. This will depend on how much they are willing to share.

  10. Engine should still be more street-able and this would be worth every penny. Just a bigger oil reservoir it seems would do a lot.

  11. Pingback: Wha do you think of the new CRF 450L? - Page 4

  12. Looks like a great bike and being a Honda quality will be top notch. My question is this bike any better than my 01 KTM 520 EXC with a 570 kit? My EXC is street legal, has 6 speed transmission, super easy valve adjustments, 15 hour service intervals. High wattage stator allows me to run multiple LED lights without killing the battery. Fairly beefy subframe accommodates rear rack. Oil changes are a PIA but whatever. Still trying to understand how this would be an upgrade for me? 18 years later and no real advances. Agree with the comment below-Honda should have modernized the XR650R. Better idea if you ask me.

  13. It’s great to see Honda come out with a bike in this category. If this is going to be a plated dirt bike to compete with KTM and Husky, Honda really has their work cut out for them. KTM/Husky has that category about perfected and makes improvements each year. I think the more untapped category would be a less race powered 450 with longer service intervals, like a bigger displacement version of the the wr250r. For those who want more power, but do not need race bike power and want longer service intervals, at 450cc it would still have much more power than the wr250r and would be more comfortable and usable on the road, but would still be light enough for actual single track use.

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  15. Oil change is required every 1.000 km. That is a clear hint on a competition enduro. I would not expect the durability for long travels any longer than Yamaha WR450F or KTM 450 EXC.
    This does not recommend the CRF450L as dual sports adventure bike, I’m sorry to say.

    • Will be compromised for sure as ADV. Maybe an external high capacity oil cooler and big gas tank. Sure wish the price was more attractive. And tired of that being compared to a small number company like KTM. High guantity from a high quality company like Honda ought to be at a better price point. Not a lot of new enginuity to buy…

  16. “Lightweight, 2.0-gallon titanium fuel tank for long range.”…who okayed that marketing BS? The bike looks fun and I would love to ride one, but we seem to be throwing everything into the “adventure” category these days. This is an enduro bike plain and simple and Honda is just trying to fill a gap for small displacement a “adventure” bike.

    • Who doesnt like to go on a two week ride and dump oil 5 times. Honda perhaps should of had an oil change reservoir compartment to aid riders for the inevitable. This is a dirt bike in disguise, modified to meet dot standards.
      Polishing a turd its still a turd, call it an adventure turd its still a turd. Adventure and ds terms are so loosely awarded these days.
      This is a “the trails are 1/2 a km away from my house and I need to legally cross traffic bike”
      Many would argue that throwing a dirt bike in the box of a truck or trailering to the trails may be cheaper or more practical.

  17. 2 gallons isn’t nearly enough, think there will be accessory large capacity tanks or will something from the X work on it already? Need at least 3 gallons and 4 would be nice.

    • Have any of you,,,really rode dual sport on a 450x,2008,street legal????

  18. Pingback: There's finally a street legal Japanese 6 speed, fuel injected, 450cc, dual sport in the works. - Deluxe World

  19. This bike is nothing more than a KTM EXC. it’s not a Dual Sport! 2 gallons of fuel what a joke. Change the oil and air filter every time you ride it what a joke. This should have been labeled by Honda as a CRF450R. Close but not a DUAL SPORT HONDA!

  20. Pingback: 7 Things To Know About The All-New Honda CRF450L - ADV Pulse

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  22. A light weight plated enduro. It’s not an adventure bike and it’s not trying to be one. People may throw that label on it. But there are already purpose built Honda adventure bikes. This is enduro.

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