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ADV NewsCRF450 Rally: Meet Honda’s Next-Gen Factory Dakar Bike

CRF450 Rally: Meet Honda’s Next-Gen Factory Dakar Bike

Big Red’s freshy evolved factory machine is taking Dakar by storm.

Published on 01.17.2024
Dakar 2024 Honda CRF450 Rally specs

If you’ve been following this year’s Dakar, you know one thing for certain: Team Monster Energy Honda is a force to be reckoned with. And it’s not all about having a top-shelf team of riders either, it’s about having those riders on Honda’s freshly-minted next-gen CRF450 Rally bikes. 

The evolution of Honda Racing Corp’s CRF Rally has been fairly constant since a prototype based on the maker’s production enduro bike at the time hit the rally raid scene back in 2013. But it wasn’t until the 2020 Dakar that Honda hit gold with the CRF when Ricky Brabec, riding an evolved version, grabbed the title like it was candy from a baby. The next year Kevin Benavides rode to victory for HRC, and as you might imagine, those back-to-back wins made for heady times at Honda. 

Dakar 2024 Honda CRF450 Rally specs

However, HRC hasn’t been able to take the top spot in the last two editions and although the Japanese powerhouse’s CRF Rally bikes did carry riders to the podium in ‘ 22 and ‘23, it just didn’t taste as good as an all-out victory. The powers at Honda Racing felt change was in order.


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HRC’s project leader, Takashi Sasaki, says getting a brand new CRF450 Rally ready for the 2024 Dakar, an edition touted as the toughest in Saudi Arabia yet, was a massive effort. Think: “A white piece of paper. Twenty engineers around a table and one goal in mind: Winning.” 

Dakar 2024 Honda CRF450 Rally specs

Sasaki says his team had one key guideline: build a lighter and more powerful machine that excels in the dunes. By implementing Honda’s long experience at Dakar in tandem with feedback from its riders, the engineers managed to keep “all the good points,” while erasing weaknesses.” 

“I think we met the target,” says Sasaki. “A light bike is always an advantage in the sand as well on the sharp and massive rocks.” And while Honda is known to keep details of its race machines close to its chest, Sasaki did offer up some of its winning formula: “Just to give an idea, we reduced around 8 percent of the weight and increased the bottom-mid power by around 5 percent. In terms of top speed, the limit allowed by the rules remains 160 km/h, so the acceleration is really good.”

Dakar 2024 Honda CRF450 Rally specs

According to provided specs, this latest CRF’s 449.3cc liquid-cooled DOHC single is pumping out “over 45 kW” (60.35 hp) utilizing a bore and stroke of 97.0 X 60.8 mm and the transfer of power is managed via six-speeds. Showa suspension, an inverted fork and mono shock rear, allow for 12.2 in (310 mm) and 12 in (305 mm) of travel respectively and the Rally’s frame is an aluminum twin tube-type design assisted by a carbon fiber subframe. Stopping the Honda is a 300 mm front and 240 mm rear disc. 

Total petrol capacity of the front and rear tanks is 35L (9.25 gallons), which might sound like plenty, yet riders need to stay in tune with terrain vs. consumption. Just ask Pablo Quintanilla who ran out of fuel 424 km into Stage 6, an error that cost him the race.

Dakar 2024 Honda CRF450 Rally specs

While the main goal of the design team was to cut weight and add power, durability was also addressed, as well as simplicity, something Sasaki feels is crucial for a rally bike. “The off-road department can have access to the innovations introduced in MotoGP. The airflow dynamics, for example, [were] taken from MotoGP, but all in all on rally raids we aim at simplifying the machine.”

The proof is in the pudding, of course, or in this case, the deep sands of Saudi Arabia, where Honda’s wildly talented arsenal of riders: Ricky Brabec, Skyler Howes, José Ignacio Cornejo, Pablo Quintanilla and Adrien Van Beveren have been making headlines every day including a Honda 1-2-3 podium finish on Stage 9 and 10. Brabec has consistently controlled the overall lead and is focused on a win, while Van Beveren has been also been keeping the podium warm.

Dakar 2024 Honda CRF450 Rally specs

All of Honda’s pros appear super pleased with their freshly evolved mount. “The new CRF450 Rally is faster and easier to ride on the sand,” confirms Brabec. “In a way it was necessary to make a new one because every year the race pace on the Dakar is faster. Imagine flat out on a motocross machine for 400 km. It’s insane.”

Skyler Howes also reports that the new CRF Rally is impressive: “Usually with a new bike, you need to work a lot at the development, but this bike – amazingly – [was] ready” right out of the box. He says there have been adjustments to personalize the suspension, but otherwise it was immediately “so fast” and ideal for the conditions of Dakar.  

Dakar 2024 Honda CRF450 Rally specs

“The chassis and the suspension make the bike comfortable to ride,” adds Pablo Quintanilla, a long-time Team Red rider. “It’s powerful and stable at the same time, and this gives me a lot of confidence.” 

At the time of this writing there are still two stages left in the 2024 Dakar, but with three bikes in the top five, there’s little doubt Honda’s CRF Rally project engineers already feel victorious. 

Be sure to follow along with our daily Dakar updates

2024 Honda Factory CRF450 Rally Specs

ENGINE:Liquid Cooled Single Cylinder DOHC
CAPACITY:449.4 cc
BORE X STROKE:97.0 X 60.8 mm
FUELLING:Fuel Injected
LUBRICANT:MOTUL 300V
TRANSMISSION:6 Speed
POWER:45 kW+ (60.35+ hp)
FRAME:Aluminum Twin Tube
SUBFRAME:Carbon Fiber
FUEL TANK:Front & Rear (Plastic)
FUEL CAPACITY:35 L (9.25 Gallons)
FRONT SUSPENSION:SHOWA Inverted Fork, 310 mm (12.2″) Wheel Travel
REAR SUSPENSION:SHOWA Single Shock, 305 mm (12.0″) Wheel Travel
FRONT BRAKES:300 mm 2 Pot
REAR BRAKES:240 mm 1 Pot

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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16 Comments
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Fred FlannD
Fred Flann
January 17, 2024 4:40 pm

Now if they could just sell a street legal version to the public…

Prasenjit Debroy
Prasenjit Debroy
January 17, 2024 6:24 pm
Reply to  Fred Flann

Yeah

That would be dope!

Quin Marais
Quin Marais
January 17, 2024 9:57 pm
Reply to  Fred Flann

yeah it’s coming and cheap too, haha… to a KOVE dealer near you – KOVE definitely won’t see & or copy anything from the 2024 Honda, LOL.

Fred FlannD
Fred Flann
January 18, 2024 5:02 am
Reply to  Quin Marais

I refuse to buy any Chinese made or Chinese owned vehicles, including the KTM 890.

donny
donny
March 6, 2024 6:38 am
Reply to  Fred Flann

Yet you type on advrider who supports China

Quin Marais
Quin Marais
January 17, 2024 9:50 pm

Everybody has a plan (RedBull-KTM), until they get punched in the mouth (by Honda).

Gedrog
Gedrog
January 18, 2024 1:37 pm

I see a single disk front not 2 disks, would love to see this coming to a dealer near me

Jamie Elvidge
Jamie Elvidge
January 19, 2024 2:08 pm
Reply to  Gedrog

That would be awesome! The article states one front disc (300mm) and one rear disc (240mm), so two, but only one up front ; )

Kendrick Pavey
Kendrick Pavey
January 31, 2024 12:06 pm
Reply to  Jamie Elvidge

Actually the article says 330mm front in the main text typo?

Jamie Elvidge
Jamie Elvidge
January 31, 2024 3:04 pm
Reply to  Kendrick Pavey

Correct. Thanks for the catch.

Joe John
Joe John
January 19, 2024 1:59 pm

Sweet bike but it’s an assault on the visual senses. Boy that’s ugly!

Michael Konshak
Michael Konshak
January 24, 2024 4:35 am
Reply to  Joe John

Rally bikes are the most gorgeous motorcycles in performance and functionality. I am partial to KTM, 690s which is the platform for many aftermarket rally kits. I used mine for travel in North America.

vic
vic
January 31, 2024 1:36 pm

She got the bore and stroke reversed in the text, it seems.

Jamie Elvidge
Jamie Elvidge
January 31, 2024 7:03 pm
Reply to  vic

Too true. My brain pinging from writing pre-dawn Dakar updates. Thanks for the catch, it’s appreciated.

Quin
Quin
February 1, 2024 10:46 pm

+1 for the look of this Monster HRC Honda. Looks amazing in the photos and on the Dakar footage. Honda really did a great job and put KTM off the podium too.

Steve
Steve
March 30, 2024 7:46 pm

Yeah…great, but when will the public who have been crying for a CRF450 Rally for a decade actually get one? The RL falls far short being so maintenance intensive with a tiny tank and no bottom end.

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