– CRF Dirt Bike / Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide | 2018 CRF450R Race Bike: Badder than ever! –
Man oh man time flies! It seems like it was just a few weeks ago we were discussing the 2017 CRF450R and all of the changes Honda decided to throw at it and now we’re back again with the 2018 models being announced. Speaking of announcements, you can check out my posts covering the first two announcements here: 2018 Motorcycle Announcement #1 Click Here / 2018 Motorcycle Announcement #2 Click Here. Today we’re going to do a review of the 2018 CRF450R and the changes Honda brought to it for this year. If you want the quick version of all the details, scroll all the way down near the bottom of the page.
- 2018 Honda CRF450R Price – $9,149
- 2018 CRF450R VS 2017 CRF450R = $300 price increase
- 2018 Honda CRF450R Release Date – August 2017
2018 CRF450R VS 2017 CRF450R Changes? Yes! Surprisingly, Honda did throw some changes at the CRF450R for 2018 even though it was an all-new model update last year in 2017. Honda listened to their customer base and for 2018 the CRF450R now comes standard with Electric Start! Now you don’t have to dump almost $1,000 to put an electric start setup on your 450R! Honda stated they dropped the kick-start assembly to save weight now that it comes standard with electric start – call me crazy but personally I would have liked to seen them keep that around for a back-up kick-start just like the CRF450X, CRF250X etc. Another new tweak for 2018 is that the CRF450R comes with a lithium-ion battery to help shed even more weight as well as new ECU settings to fine-tune her even more straight off the showroom floor for a more useable power delivery than ever before. In addition, updated suspension settings to the Showa shock and 49mm coil-spring fork improve handling and overall chassis feel. The lithium-ion battery helps keep the added weight to a minimum as with the new electric start setup added for 2018 the weight was going to increase but thanks to the lighter battery the overall curb weight on the 2018 CRF450R only goes from 243 lbs to 248 lbs.
Want the short version of the 2018 CRF450R Review and all of its recent Changes & Features? Scroll down to the bottom for a quick overview plus a gallery of all the detailed 18′ CRF450R pictures showcasing the engine, frame and suspension changes (2016 vs 2018 CRF450R changes).
The Honda CRF450R has been a benchmark since its introduction in 2002. It has defined the art of balance, with an engine that produces hard-hitting, useable power and a chassis that allows riders of all experience levels to put every drop of that power to good use. From a rider’s perspective – whether amateur enthusiast or pro-racer – it’s always been a machine that offers total control, together with the durability and longevity that Honda has long been famed for.
And of course, the CRF450R has constantly evolved, with every upgrade drawing on lessons learned in the white heat of Honda’s Supercross & Motocross racing programs throughout the world. Over the last eight years the CRF450R has been honed into one of the most complete race-ready rides. Now, revolution has replaced evolution. Europe’s favorite open-class motocrosser is effectively brand new, wielding a major power boost from its new engine, plus increased grip and drive from a redrawn chassis.
It looks different, feels different and delivers a whole new experience trackside. In plain and simple terms, it’s faster. Much faster.
Mr M.Uchiyama, Large Project Leader (LPL) CRF450R:
“This is a full model change for the CRF450R. Nothing has been overlooked, and we have been relentless in our effort to provide customers with a machine that’s ahead of the pack.
Our focus has been on producing a machine with exceptional engine performance, outstanding rear wheel traction and a low center of gravity – to create a 5% improvement in acceleration on the previous model. The phrase underpinning development was ‘Absolute Holeshot’.
We have already started racing and perfecting the new CRF450R in the Japanese MX championship, winning the first five moto’s in succession.
We are proud now to give a machine with this kind of performance to motocross lovers worldwide.”
2018 CRF450R Videos
CRF450R Walk-Around Video | 4K
* These videos are of the 2017 model which are identical except for the electric start being added. I will have the 2018 CRF450R videos up shortly…
2018 CRF450R Overview
More and more, motocross races are all about getting the holeshot. And Honda’s CRF450R is a machine designed to get you out front by the first turn, and then keep you there all the way to the checkered flag. Everywhere you look, you’ll see features optimized for modern MX competition, where fractions of a second add up to a big lead at the end. The new CRF450R has been developed – with direct input from Honda’s AMA and MX GP teams – to be first out of the gate, first into turn 1 and to punch a blistering lap time. With a new engine packing an 11% increase in peak power matched to a chassis that can truly make full use of it, the 2017-2018 CRF450R is stronger, sharper and more focused.
And as MX1-class machines are all about competition, both new and old CRF450R machines were raced back to back by HRC in a series of start simulations. The power and drive of the new bike saw it gain a significant advantage. 0-10m (32.8 ft) took 1.53 seconds, 6.4% less time than the outgoing 16′ CRF450R machine.
The new power unit uses innovative engineering on both intake and exhaust side. On the intake, straight passageways reduce air resistance significantly for improved combustion efficiency. On the exhaust side, the twin pipes divide close to the engine, facilitating the increase in compression ratio from 12.5 to 13.5, a key element in the greater power output.
A 49mm Showa USD fork – steel sprung and developed from a race-ready factory item supplied to MX race teams in the Japanese championship – replaces the KYB air fork. The aluminum frame’s main spars are now tapered for more front-end stability and traction, and the new generation CRF450R has completely revised geometry; it’s shorter in wheelbase, with a more compact swingarm and adjusted rake and trail. It also has a lower center of gravity thanks to details like a lightweight titanium fuel tank and lower upper shock mount.
Brand new plastics create ultra-efficient aerodynamic performance, and a smooth, ‘organic’ shape to give the rider ultimate freedom to move. They also feature film insert graphics, which deliver sharp visuals and a durable finish. For the first time, electric start is now available as an option.
- 2018 Honda CRF450R Colors – Red
- 2018 Honda CRF450R Price – $9,149
- 2018 CRF450R VS 2017 CRF450R = $300 price increase
- 2018 Honda CRF450R Release Date – August 2017
2018 CRF450R Features
- 2018 CRF450R Horsepower: 59.9
- 2018 CRF450R Torque: TBA
The 2018 CRF450R’s 449cc engine now makes a full 11% more top end power than the outgoing generation model. Overlaid, the power and torque curves of the 2016 and 2018 graphically display the performance gain of the new design: it’s stronger everywhere but especially through the midrange torque area and at the top end, with a major increase in rpm, peak power and over-rev.
To produce this gain in output every aspect of the engine’s performance was painstakingly developed together with HRC’s engineers. The cylinder head features a completely redesigned Unicam four-valve head, with a finger rocker arm on the inlet valves increasing valve lift by 0.5mm to 10mm (exhaust valve lift is also increased, by 0.85mm to 8.8mm).
Inlet valve diameter is up 2mm to 38mm; 2-way valve seat machining smooths gas flow. The downdraught intake now provides a direct, straight shot to the inlet ports and flow efficiency is improved 19% on the way in. Equally, flow out is 10% more efficient through the twin exhausts, which themselves have been redesigned with gradual radius bends. The twin mufflers are 78mm shorter.
The valve springs are oval in cross section, reducing height and allowing for more compact dimensions. A narrower valve angle of 9° intake and 10.5° exhaust (from 10°/11.5°) plus a redesigned piston boosts combustion and gives a compression ratio of 13.5:1, up from 12.5:1. A 4-hole piston oil jet (replacing the 2-hole system) reduces piston temperature and deals effectively with the heat generated by the higher compression.
Both the piston pin and finger rocker arms receive DLC coating (Diamond-like Carbon), which has excellent abrasive resistance and durability, while also reducing frictional losses. Bore and stroke remains 96mm x 62.1mm.
The engine now uses a scavenge pump to distribute the oil by force (rather than spray) for both transmission and clutch, reducing friction, improving lubrication efficiency and greatly reducing pumping losses. Only one source of oil is employed rather than two; this means a reduction in volume from 1390cc / 1.45qt (combined engine and transmission oil) used by the outgoing design, to 1250cc / 1.32qt total capacity.
Light weight and compact size have been achieved with several new approaches. Positioning the balancer weight inside the crank-case reduces the distance between crank and balancer. The primary drive gear and balancer drive gear are a common part, as are the primary driven gear and oil pump drive gear.
Primary gear rotation speed is 30% faster, putting less stress on both gearbox and clutch. To make best use of the extra power and torque all five gear ratios have been adjusted, with final drive handled by 13- and 49-tooth sprockets (as opposed to 13/48).
With the new setup the clutch now spins 7 friction disks rather than 8 with no loss of durability; this saves space (it’s 2.6mm slimmer, at 77mm), weight and running costs and the 6 clutch plates feature a special surface friction material. A 2mm clutch plate (thicker by 0.4mm) dissipates heat more efficiently, while the judder springs remain to generate a good, consistent connection to the clutch.
The rider controls and displays are now rationalised together and sited on the left handlebar: engine stop button, EFI warning, plus EMSB mode button and LED indicator.
And Honda’s EMSB (Engine Mode Select Button) is the key that puts instant engine character adaptability at the rider’s command. With the machine stopped, and engine at idle, a simple press and hold of the button for just under a second selects the next map in sequence.
The LED built into the button signals the map in use with a quick press and number of subsequent flashes (1 flash for Mode 1, etc). If a new map is selected the choice is also confirmed to the rider.
Mode 1 uses the standard combination of ignition and fueling maps to present a balanced power and torque delivery. Mode 2 is more mellow in nature, giving easy-to-manage throttle feel. Mode 3 hits sharply, with aggressive and responsive power. Mode 2 and 3 can be further tailored via the existing HRC setting tool for mapping hardware and software.
For the first time ever in CRF450R history, the 2018 CRF450R now comes standard with electric start.
Check our more detailed 2018 CRF450R engine specs and the changes in the photo gallery below at the bottom of the page.
Frame / Chassis
The completely redesigned chassis from last year gives the rider absolute control of the CRF450R’s new power-up engine. The goals for this seventh generation of CRF aluminum beam frame were clear: to improve turning performance, front-end stability and traction, plus rear wheel drive with elevated levels of rider feedback and predictability.
The major visual change is in the dual main spars, which are now tapered, giving greater front end stability, traction and feel. Torsional stiffness is 6.8% less – with the same lateral stiffness – to improve turning ability and feel. 270g / .6 lb has been shaved. Now an extruded (rather than forged) part, the rear subframe also saves 225g / .5 lb.
There are many less obvious changes to the geometry and dynamic parameters of the frame’s performance. center of gravity is 2.7mm lower. Wheelbase is 11mm / 0.4 in shorter, at 58.3 in. Distance between the front wheel axle and swingarm pivot is increased (up 13mm at 913mm), with distance from swingarm pivot to rear axle reduced (24mm shorter at 569mm). This new geometry transfers more weight to the rear wheel for outstanding traction – a key target for the development.
Rake and trail are set at 27.4°/116mm (from 27.1°/117mm). Total wet / curb weight comes in at 248 lbs for the 2018 CRF450R.
The new generation CRF450R is a slimmer, more compact machine that’s even easier to manage thanks to the lower center of gravity. The new geometry loads the rear tire harder to dig for drive, matching the front end’s enhanced grip level and feel for traction at the limit.
The CRF450R now wears a fully adjustable 49mm Showa USD coil spring fork, a version of the Showa ‘factory’ fork supplied to MX race teams in the Japanese championship. It is not an evolution of the 48mm item last fitted to the 2014 CRF450R, with which it differs in every dimension: the cylinder has a 25mm diameter as opposed to 24mm, the rod 14mm (12.5mm) with the compression piston 39mm (37mm). As you’d expect from what is effectively race-spec suspension, out of the crate the fork action is supple, smooth and fully in control.
The fully adjustable Showa rear shock’s top mount is 39mm lower and the shock itself is mounted on the centerline of the machine (it was 5mm offset before), improving mass centralization and high-speed stability. At 599mm in length the aluminum swingarm is 18mm shorter, with thinner shaping (in cross section) for the arms. It’s 220g / 0.49 lbs lighter.
A 260mm wave-pattern disc delivers effective heat dissipation, power and feel from the two-piston brake caliper working it; a matching 240mm wave-pattern disc and single-piston caliper is at the rear. Lightweight aluminum rims, with directly attached spoke pattern layout reduce unsprung weight; the front is a 21 x 1.6in, the rear an 19 x 2.15in. Fitted as standard equipment are Dunlop’s MX3SF and MX3S soft terrain tires.
The CRF450R now uses a 1.6 gallon titanium fuel tank, which weighs 1.1 lbs less than the plastic design it replaces. The loss of a pound alone on the machine contributes significantly to the lower center of gravity. The smooth external lines of the new plastics help the rider move easily, and the frontal area is also narrower – the width of the radiator / tank shrouds has been reduced by 30mm while a redesigned front mudguard directs a more efficient funnel of air to the radiator. The bodywork also uses durable film inset graphics that cover a wide area with scratch-resistant style.
Don’t want to read through the whole post? Here’s a quick overview of the 2018 CRF 450R features and specs you need to know below…
2018 CRF450R Features | Quick Overview
2018 CRF450R Performance
Downdraft Fuel Injection
Part of an entire engine overhaul last year, we gave the CRF450R a new downdraft intake tract and FI body to help increase both power and fuel-metering precision. It’s part of the reason the CRF450R offers such explosive power and massive torque, especially out of the starting gate and in the critical first 100 feet of the race to the first turn.
Dunlop MX3S Tires
Developed using Dunlop’s latest “block-on-block” design technology, the CRF450R’s MX3S tires give excellent feedback and are a perfect complement to the CRF450R’s frame and suspension.
New Cylinder Head Layout
The CRF450R uses our latest finger-follower rocker design. The Unicam cylinder head remains the most efficient in the MX world, giving you the design and performance of a double-overhead-cam layout but the compactness of a single-overhead-cam design.
Higher, 13.5:1 Compression Ratio
By revising the CRF450R’s squish area last year, we helped boost the bikes compression to an impressive 13.5:1. That means improved combustion efficiency for more power.
New “In Molded” Graphics
With the all the time you’ll be spending in victory circle, you need to look your best. The 2018 CRF450R has you covered. Our “in molded” graphics look great, and stay looking good longer.
A factory skid plate is light and offers the engine and lower-frame protection that a racer demands.
2018 CRF450R Handling
New Showa® Spring Fork
The 49mm Showa® fork features a conventional spring design that helps increase the CRF450R’s front-suspension precision, handling and feel. And this year we’ve revised the spring rate for better bottoming resistance and improved handling.
Next-Generation Aluminum Frame
The CRF450R’s Next-Gen twin spar aluminum frame positions the rear shock’s mounting point lower, opening up the airbox area and contributing to a lower center of gravity for more holeshots. The frame geometry also helps improve traction, feeling and steering precision.
Updated Twin-Muffler Exhaust System
The CRF450R’s dual exhaust system is light, compact, and positioned close and low in the frame to take weight off the rear end and bring more mass to the bike’s center for improved handling. It also allows for more air flow, and that equals added horsepower.
2018 CRF450R Engineering
This was such a popular option last year that Honda has made it standard for 2018, and ditched the kickstarter entirely to save weight. Electric starters and lithium-ion batteries are so light now and so good that putting them on a bike like this is a win/win combination.
260mm Front Brake
The CRF450R’s large front-brake disc measures a whopping 260mm. You get great brake feel and a wave pattern that cuts down on weight. Front and rear brake-disc guards are part of the package too.
Titanium Fuel Tank
Grams and performance count, and the 2018 CRF450R uses a titanium fuel tank. Light and strong, it’s also thinner than our previous plastic unit, while maintaining the same capacity, freeing up more space and helping to centralize fuel mass.
Engine Mode Select Button
This simple handlebar-mounted button lets you dial in engine power delivery character with a push of your thumb. Choose between Standard, Smooth and Aggressive, depending on track conditions.
New Scavenge Pump
Deep in the engine, there’s a special oil scavenge pump. While you may never see it, it helps keep the CRF450R’s overall design compact.
2018 CRF450R Comfort
Flatter Seat/Tank Junction
The 2018 CRF450R features a flat seat/tank junction, including a titanium fuel tank. The superior ergonomics make it easier to move forward and back on the bike, increasing your control.
|Engine Type||449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke|
|Bore And Stroke||96mm x 62.1mm|
|Valve Train||Unicam® four-valve; 38mm intake, titanium; 31mm exhaust, Steel|
|Induction||Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 46mm downdraft throttle body|
|Ignition||Fully transistorized with electronic advance|
|Final Drive||#520 Chain; 13T/49T|
|FRAME / SUSPENSION|
|Front Suspension||49mm inverted Showa fork with rebound and compression damping adjustability; 12.0 inches of travel|
|Rear Suspension||Pro-Link® Showa single shock with adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; 12.3 inches of travel|
|Fuel Capacity||1.6 gallons|
|Curb Weight||248 lbs (Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.)|
|Front Brake||Single 260mm disc with twin-piston caliper|
|Rear Brake||Single 240mm disc|
|Front Tire||Dunlop MX3S 90/100-21|
|Rear Tire||Dunlop MX3S 120/80-19|
|Rake||27° 22′ (Caster Angle)|
|Trail||116mm (4.6 inches)|
|Seat Height||37.8 inches|
|Ground Clearance||12.9 inches|
|Price / MSRP||$9,149|
2018 CRF450R Photo Gallery / Pictures