Honda is making a big deal about the 2009 CRF450R. Initially, it was easy to wonder why. However, after making the trek over to the Honda headquarters in Torrance, California, and seeing the bike and many of its technologies on display first-hand, there was no more wondering. The 2009 CRF450R is almost completely new this year, and it may just be a step that will again revolutionize the four-stroke MX market. It is set to retail for $7599.
There she is: The ’09 fo-fiddy. When Honda says the bike is “new” they mean it. It shares exactly five parts with the 2008 CRF450R, including the front tire and some brake parts at both ends. That’s it, folks. Also, check out the “shorty” exhaust. It’s actually not as short as it looks, as you’ll see in a little bit. Oh yeah, and it’s got electronic fuel injection. Courtesy of American Honda There she is: The ’09 fo-fiddy. When Honda says the bike is “new” they mean it. It shares exactly five parts with the 2008 CRF450R, including the front tire and some brake parts at both ends. That’s it, folks. Also, check out the “shorty” exhaust. It’s actually not as short as it looks, as you’ll see in a little bit. Oh yeah, and it’s got electronic fuel injection. photo: Courtesy of Honda Here’s the left side of the bike. You’ll notice that the exhaust actually exits on the left side of the cylinder and then routes around behind the front tire. So, the exhaust isn’t as short as it seems. But by routing it this way, it shortens the exposed area at the back of the bike and lowers the center of gravity by keeping as much of the exhaust material as possible as low as possible. photo: Courtesy of Honda The left-front view. This better illustrates the header routing and also shows off the new CRF’s slick lines. The forks (48mm in diameter) and shock are Kayaba, not Showa, and the front axle now sits 15mm closer to the swingarm pivot, creating better tight-turning performance. Although in the past this might lead to headshake, Honda says this isn’t the case on the new CRF450R because of Honda’s HPSD (Honda Progressive Steering Damper) that debuted last year. photo: Courtesy of Honda In the right-front view, you can see the new-shape wave rotor on the front and rear brakes, the Kayaba shock with its new shorty reservoir, and how the exhaust routes behind the frame rail. Immediately to the rear of the main frame spar is where the muffler section starts. Also, notice the lack of an engine guard on the right side of the engine. The engine is significantly slimmer in this incarnation of the bike, so it’s less in harm’s way. photo: Courtesy of Honda The left-rear view of the bike shows how short the exhaust can ends up being on the bike. Also, although not visible to the naked eye, the swingarm is 18mm longer (for better bite). Combined with the changed fork geometry, and Honda says it results in the best of both worlds – both increased straight-line performance and increased turning performance. photo: Courtesy of Honda More detail is revealed from the right-rear view. Take notice of the seat, as it actually somewhat surrounds the gas cap now, maximizing rider mobility for cornering. photo: Courtesy of Honda The 2009 CRF450R is much slimmer than previous incarnations. It’s also easy to see how much nicer the plastics fit together from the rear fender, through the numberplates, and up through the radiator shrouds. photo: Courtesy of Honda Even the grips are new. The front end looks much different for 2009. photo: Courtesy of Honda The rear end of the beast. photo: Courtesy of Honda Strip off the bodywork and even more is revealed, including the easier-to-access airbox and lower-capacity fuel tank. It holds less fuel because it doesn’t use as much fuel, and this brings the weight down in riding/racing trim. Unlike last year’s Suzuki RM-Z450, which was the first with electronic fuel injection, Honda’s fuel pump works just fine when mated to a plastic tank, instead of Suzuki’s aluminum one. photo: Courtesy of Honda The left-side naked view. Notice the HPSD mounted to the front end. This unit works so well that there are quite a few non-Hondas in the pits at the Nationals running it. For 2009, it’s revalved to be more linear in operation. photo: Courtesy of Honda The rear subframe has been redesigned to eliminate brackets and cross-members, and its shape has been altered to improve access to the air filter and narrow the bike simultaneously. photo: Courtesy of Honda The frame is completely new – the fifth generation of Honda’s twin-spar aluminum frame. photo: Courtesy of Honda According to Honda, the exhaust meets the current 99db sound limit. For 2009, though, that sound limit will dip to 94db, and Honda didn’t indicate that it meets the new standard. photo: Courtesy of Honda Although essentially naked, another big change is hiding between the frame spars – the EFI’s throttle body. photo: Courtesy of Honda The front end, minus plastic. photo: Courtesy of Honda The slimness of the bike is exaggerated when it loses its plastic bodywork. photo: Courtesy of Honda It looks minimalist, but that’s by design. Despite adding EFI, the ’09 is significantly lighter than the ’08. Honda lists its curb weight at 234.8 pounds completely full of fuel and ready to ride. photo: Courtesy of Honda For ease of maintenance – a big priority this year – the gas tank detaches and flips over to allow access to the engine head without having to disconnect anything. photo: Courtesy of Honda A closer look at the redesigned subframe. photo: Courtesy of Honda The all-new engine can now spin to 11,450 rpm and puts out a claimed 56.3 bhp at 8500 rpm along with 37.5 lb./ft. of torque at 7000 rpm. The engine is shorter and narrower than it used to be, which saves weight while simultaneously lowering the center of mass for better handling. photo: Courtesy of Honda The 50mm throttle body features a 12-hole injection nozzle fed by a lightweight 50-psi pump to ensure optimum fuel atomization. It also allows the bike to go further with less fuel. photo: Courtesy of Honda Even the kill switch is all-new! This new kill switch has an integrated LED pre-ride check indicator with EFI diagnostic capability to let you know if/when your EFI isn’t working properly. photo: Courtesy of Honda For an added $349, you can buy the HRC PGM-FI Setting Tool, which allows CRF450R owners to alter EFI fuel delivery as well as ignition timing over a wide range of settings. photo: Courtesy of Honda Here’s a closer look at the wrap-around seat front. photo: Courtesy of Honda The all-new fifth-generation aluminum frame and subframe. The frame is now 14 ounces lighter than the previous design while the subframe is also redesigned to save weight and increase access. photo: Courtesy of Honda The exhaust header is now steel (to make it better for handling the rocks inevitably thrown up by the front wheel) while the muffler is now titanium to save weight. photo: Courtesy of Honda Jeremy McGrath checks out his new mount in Torrance. He was impressed by its handling. We’ll be testing it next week, so we’ll let you know what we think then. photo: Courtesy of Honda