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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

Understanding Honda’s strict durability standards for street-legal machines, we have little doubt that a properly-maintained CRF450L would handle the rigors of long-sustained travel. So far on paper, the only thing that might put a damper on riding this machine is a curb weight that tips the scales a bit heavy for the class. At a claimed 289 pounds wet (the new CRF450X is 275 pounds), the CRF450L is about 34 pounds heavier than a KTM 500 EXC-F. Also, depending on your budget, the target price of $10,399 might be a little steep but it is still about $600 cheaper than the Austrian 500s of the same style.

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

No dates yet for when we’ll get our first chance to test the bike but Honda says that the CRF450L will be available to the public by September of this year. And before we get to the Honda provided bullets and specs, we chatted with Chuck Miller, Senior Manager of Dealer and Customer Services who also had a major hand in developing this bike.


ADV PULSE: We are so glad to see this bike. Why now versus earlier or later?

Chuck Miller: “Five years ago I was in product planning and we knew that we wanted this machine. We knew that we had a great X platform and really we wanted an X with a plate on it. But, Honda’s standards are so different between a competition machine, a performance machine versus a street-legal machine. Street legal bikes have sound regulations and exhaust emissions, as well as certain light issues, such as a light has to go out so far. Part of it was helping the engineers understand that we really want this competition machine to just be street legal. It was difficult for Honda to understand both of those in the same bike. Because our street standards are so high for durability, so to have them understand that we want a performance machine with that same durability it has been a challenge. Over the last few years they’ve been able to overcome some of the sound and emissions issues with the performance of the machine and some of the parts they put on it.

For example, the case covers on this bike is actually for sound. There is a drive by test what a lot of manufacturers will do is detune the machine to be able to make that sound level. Honda came up with another way where they covered some of the parts to reduce the sound. By doing some of the things that they did, we were able to keep the performance up.”

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

ADVP: Dirt bike and street bike maintenance intervals are vastly different. How does this bike fit on that scale?

CM: “It will be a little more like a street bike actually. One thing we will be recommending on this bike is a more frequent oil change than the X and part of that is because, if someone rides it on the pavement all the time or down the freeway wide open for hours, they would need to check their oil. I think there is 1.8 quarts of oil so if you were to use some oil or it got too hot the maintenance intervals are a little sooner for sure.

What’s interesting is that we’ve been talking about the crossover between the L and adventure bike riding. Because this is adventure bike too, in a lot of ways. It’s just a more aggressive adventure bike. I can already see soft bags and some racks for the back, that the aftermarket will take care of and you’ll see people riding these bikes all over the country.”

2019 Honda CRF450L Dual Sport Motorcycle

CRF450L Features

  • Lightweight, 2.0-gallon titanium fuel tank for long range.
  • Riding time maximized by lightweight, compact LED lighting system, featuring headlight with high-intensity projection for illuminating broad area.
  • Rear-view mirrors.
  • Lightweight lithium-ion battery with increased capacity compared to CRF450R, to power electrical components.
  • Lightweight, compact digital meter with black characters on a white liquid-crystal background is easily legible while riding.


CRF450L Engine/Drivetrain

  • 449.7cc Unicam engine specially tailored for trail-to-trail riding.
  • Finger rocker arm contributes to compact layout while using dedicated design to attain off-road-specific power characteristics. DLC surface treatment reduces friction.
  • Dedicated valve timing for smooth power delivery in technical riding.
  • High crank inertia (up 12% over CRF450R) for tractable power delivery in technical terrain.
  • 12.0:1 compression ratio.
  • New piston with three-ring design.
  • Wide-ratio six-speed transmission is ready for a wide variety of off-road terrain or road going.
  • Special clutch design enables light lever pull. Primary damper mechanism with friction springs suppresses engine torque fluctuations, ensuring smooth running.
  • Large-capacity radiators with high heat-exchange efficiency for strong performance in demanding off-road conditions.
  • Electric fan and thermostat control engine temperature in brutal conditions.
  • ECU with dedicated settings.
  • Noise emissions minimized via covers on the left and right crank cases.
  • Powerful AC generator for street-legal lighting.
  • Air cleaner box.
  • Dedicated single-muffler exhaust system provides great sound while meeting emissions requirements.


CRF450L Suspension/Chassis

  • Aluminum twin-spar frame designed for nimble-yet-stable handling on trails.
  • Subframe designed to ensure optimum rigidity balance appropriate for carrying tools.
  • 49mm Showa fork with dedicated settings for trail-to-trail riding.
  • Shock based on that of the CRF450R but with dedicated settings and link ratio for off-road riding.
  • Front brake uses design from CRF450R, but with better fade resistance thanks to thicker discs and large-capacity reservoir.
  • Endless sealed chain withstands the elements.
  • Front and rear sprockets, produced in durable steel material, feature damper system for smooth, quiet running.
  • Urethane injection in swingarm to reduce road noise.
  • Fuel tank cap with a cut-off valve prevents fuel from flowing out of tank if the bike is on its side.
  • LED turn signals with flexible mounts for durability.
  • Easily accessible electronic component box on left side of the frame.
  • Black 7/8” Renthal handlebar with red pad.
  • Compact, lightweight handlebar switches.
  • In-mold graphics are resistant to peeling caused by washing or abrasion.
  • IRC GP-21F/GP-22R tires provide great balance of on- and off-road performance.
  • Black rims for strong presence


2019 Honda CRF450L Specs

Engine: Liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke,
Valve Train: Unicam OHC, four-valve
Displacement: 449.7cc
Bore & Stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm
Transmission: Constant-mesh 6-speed return; manual
Clutch: Multiplate wet (6 springs)
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Induction: Programmed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle bore
Ignition: Full transistorized
Start: Push-button electric starter
Final Drive: #520 sealed chain
Front Suspension: 49mm fully-adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link system; fully-adjustable Showa single shock
Suspension Travel (Fr/Rr): 12.01 in. / 12.36 in.
Front Brakes: 2-piston caliper hydraulic; single 260mm disc
Rear Brakes: 1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc
Front Tire: IRC GP21 80/100-21 w/tube
Rear Tire: IRC GP22 120/80-18 w/tube
Rake (Caster Angle): 28°20’
Trail: 116mm (4.6 in.)
Length: 85.9 in.
Width: 32.6 in.
Height: 50.0 in.
Ground Clearance: 12.4 in.
Seat Height: 37.1 in.
Wheelbase: 58.9 in.
Fuel Capacity: 2.01 US Gal.
Wet Weight: 289 lbs.
Color: Red
US Availability: September 2018
Pricing: $10,399 USD

Author: Sean Klinger

With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean 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. 

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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!

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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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