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Racer X Tested: 2007 Honda CRF450R

 

David Pingree on the new CRF450R
It’s that time of year again. Just as soon as the temperatures here in Southern California reach the virtually unbearable mark, the new-model-year motorcycles make their way off the boats in Long Beach and into the hands of the collective motorcycle media. This week we joined American Honda at Racetown 395 for the introduction of their 2007 CRF450R. (Want to take a shortcut and just watch the Racer X Films video? Click here.)

From a distance, the new Honda looks unchanged. But when you take a closer look or get the spiel from one of the on-hand technicians, the list of refinements starts to add up. The biggest changes are to the engine and carburetor. The exhaust valves are 1mm smaller and, combined with an all-new head porting, the changes give the new CRF more response off the bottom. The engineers were trying to eliminate any lag, from the time the throttle is turned to the time the rear wheel starts accelerating. To keep the middle- and top end from suffering from the increase in throttle response, a new, larger 41mm Keihin FCR carburetor has been added. The power plant also boasts a new ignition map to match the changes to the engine and carburetor, a stronger clutch basket and clutch center for improved durability, and a lighter, more compact engine decompression system.

 

Racer X Publisher Scott Wallenberg puts the new CRF through its paces
Other changes include new valving in the forks, a lighter rear-chain guide, a new link-type front-brake master cylinder that improves braking power by 15 percent, and a new exhaust system and subframe that relocates the exhaust closer to the bike’s center, improving the new machine’s mass centralization.

Honda also worked in conjunction with Dunlop to introduce (exclusively) Dunlop’s new 742 FA front tire. Similar to the current 742 model, the new FA version has dimpled side knobs with changes to the sidewall for increased corner grip. If you have been to an AMA MX National lately, you may have seen this exact tire on many of the Dunlop-backed team bikes. While factory riders have been developing the tire for a while, it will only be available on the new CRF models or at your local Honda dealer until Dunlop releases the tire sometime later this year.

 

Ping liked the Honda's improved throttle response and front brake
On the track, the bike is a blast. The improved throttle response is immediately noticeable, as is the stronger front brake. The new front binder is very strong but with a positive, progressive feel. Our fearless publisher, Scott Wallenberg, took his turn on the new Honda and was most impressed with the turning prowess of the 2007 model.

“I can turn in and hit an inside line easier than ever before,” said Scott, a one-time prodigy who replaced Marty Smith at Monark when Smitty went to Honda (seriously, I am not making this up). “I’m not sure if it’s that new tire or something with the mass centralization, but it's definitely an improvement.”

No doubt the production Honda is light-years better than the factory Monarch race bikes of Scott’s heyday. For a complete list of specs on the new Honda, check out powersports.honda.com, and be sure to check out Simon Cudby’s take on the intro at Racer X Films.

Scott was impressed by the new model's improved handling in the turns

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