FIRST LOOK! THE 2021 HONDA CRF450 IS NEW FROM HEAD-TO-TOE

The all-new 2021 Honda CRF450 is finally here. 

FIRST LOOK! THE 2021 HONDA CRF450 IS NEW FROM HEAD-TO-TOE

Nearly two decades after its introduction to the motocross world, Honda’s CRF450 begins a new chapter for 2021, this latest version inspired by a “Razor Sharp Cornering” design philosophy. Already the industry’s top-selling motocross model along with its exclusive CRF450WE sibling, the CRF450 is guided by three main goals for 2021: improved power (particularly on corner exits), improved handling and more consistent lap times over the course of a tough moto.

For 2021, Honda is offering the 2021 Honda CRF450 (above), 2021 Honda CRF450WE as well as a discounted 2020 CRF450. 

Honda’s lightened, latest-generation twin-spar aluminum frame headlines the update list, with changes that reduce lateral rigidity for improved cornering performance and stability. Out back, a new swingarm improves rear traction. The Unicam engine features updates to the decompression system, intake and exhaust (including a switch from two mufflers to one), resulting in improved low-to-mid performance and a narrower layout. A stouter clutch with hydraulic activation is new, delivering reduced slip and a lighter lever pull for more consistent performance. The new bodywork and seat offer a slimmer, smoother rider interface, as well as simplified maintenance.

The long-awaited 2021 single-sided exhaust system  is 2-1/2 pound lighter than 2020’s dual system. 

“Having already earned a place on the list of all-time successful Honda models, the CRF450 continues to demonstrate Honda’s commitment to winning,” said Lee Edmunds, Senior Manager of Powersports Marketing at American Honda. “With its emphasis on cornering performance, we’re confident that the all-new 2021 model will help Red Riders write their own names in the record books with dominant performances from gate drop to checkered flag.”

Each of the CRF450’s updates is transferred to the closed-course off-road-focused CRF450RX and the high-spec CRF450WE motocross machine, which in addition to its already illustrious list of trick parts, features a Twin Air air filter plus Hinson clutch basket and cover for 2021. Benefiting dramatically from the reduced weight and increased attention to low-end power delivery, the CRF450RX adds off-road-focused features and, new for 2021, hand guards. The CRF450X, which has amassed an incredible 13 Baja 1000 wins, returns alongside the renamed CRF450RL dual-sport bike, both models adding hand guards and updated graphics to an already proven formula.

Honda brings back the CRF450 Works Edition for almost $3000 more than the standard CRF450. 

While the focus is on the all-new 2021 CRF450, Honda is happy to announce that it will continue to offer the 2020 CRF450R—the production version of the factory machine that was raced by Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton this season. Available at a permanent price reduction and made possible through an additional production run, the model is a standout option for customers seeking high performance and a good value.

2021 CRF450 HIGHLIGHTS & BULLET POINTS

(1)  The triple clamps have been changed for more flex and the bottom triple clamp is now 6.1mm higher. The 49mm Showa coil spring forks have 5mm more travel (310mm) and the front axle has its stiffness increased. The shock’s piston has been enlarged and the shock spring is 200 grams lighter.

The 2021 Honda CRF450 is 70mm thinner than the 2020 model.

(2) The seat is shorter, lighter and 10mm lower at the back. Maintenance has also been simplified as the number of 8mm bolts on the bodywork has been reduced from 6 to 4 per side. The 2021 CRF450 is 70 mm slimmer (50 mm on the left side because of the lack of a left-side muffler, 20 mm on the exhaust side).

(3) The head angle is 27.1° (previously 27.4°). The ground clearance is increased by 8mm to 336mm,. The dry weight is reduced by 4.2 pounds (which would make the CRF450 weigh approximately 234 pounds).

(4) The radiator shrouds are one piece instead of two plastic parts. The stock handlebars at Renthal FatBars. The top triple clamp has two bar mounts that allow the handlebars to be moved back and forth 26mm .

(5) The front brake caliper has 30mm and 27mm piston diameters and a 260mm wave disc is used. A rear single-piston brake caliper works in conjunction with a 240mm rotor.

(6) The frame weighs 1 pound, 9 ounces (700 grams) less than the 2020 frame. The subframe saves 11 ounces (320 grams). Torsional rigidity is unchanged, but lateral rigidity has been reduced by 20%. The aluminum swingarm has a new rigidity balance that is tailored to the frame, with narrower tubes. The Pro Link shock linkage rising rate also been revised.After years of putting hydraulic clutches on their team bikes, the 2021 production CRF450 get hydraulics to activate the clutch pushrod (right).

(7) There is a significant increase in peak power above 5000 rpm with more noticeable torque at low rpm. Some of this is because of the larger airbox, which is now easily accessible by removing the side panel. The engine has a new, lighter 46mm throttle body. It optimizes the efficiency in the intake tract and actively uses the latent heat of vaporization that arises in the intake ducts. The all-new hydraulic clutch delivers reduced manual force. There is a smaller fuel pump and lightweight magnesium valve cover. The seat is now smaller and lower in the rear.

The 2021 injector nozzle is aimed more downward than in 2020 injector (top) so that incoming air disperses the fuel droplets into a finer mist.

(8) The injector angle has been increased from 30° to 60°, which means that the fuel is sprayed in the opposite direction of the intake air. The decompression system is new and the counterweight is shifted from the right side of the camshaft to the left.

The exhaust port was round in e020, but for 2021 (right) it is oval.

(9) The biggest change is to the exhaust system. The exhaust outlet is oval instead of round. The previous dual exhaust system has been replaced by a single pipe and muffler that is 2-1/2 pound lighter than the 2020 dual system. The manifold is also mounted 74mm closer to the center axis.

We didn’t think it could be done, but Honda’s engineers made their electronic controls even more complicated. This is the new left side switch.

(10) The electronic controls (start control display, the EFI warning, the EMSB mode button, HSTC traction control button and the LED display) are located on the left handlebar. Pressing and holding the HSTC button for 0.5 seconds switches the system to the next mode, whereby a green LED display – one flash for mode 1, two flashes for mode 2 and three flashes for mode 3 – confirms the selection. The HSTC system can also be switched off completely. When the engine is switched on, the system uses the last selected setting.

The seat bolts are at the front of the saddle (in the notch in the radiator wing just above the frame) and the hook is on the back.

The black plastic cover that previously covered up the Ti gas tank has been 86’ed for 2021,

(11) The seat is now bolted up front with a bolt from each side (just below the rear of the gas tank). Speaking of the gas tank, it is still titanium, but it doesn’t have the cheesy black plastic tank cover anymore.

2021 HONDA CRF450

The industry’s benchmark motocross machine, Honda’s CRF450 has amassed an impressive collection of awards and titles over the years. Rather than rest on its laurels, Honda has gone back to the drawing board for the 2021 model year, endowing the legendary machine with updates aimed at improved power, handling and consistency, with a focus on “Razor Sharp Cornering.” Drawing on lessons learned from Honda Racing Corporation’s global race program, including Team Honda HRC’s AMA Supercross and Motocross efforts, the 2021 CRF450 features engine updates focused on low- to midrange performance, a newly designed chassis with revised rigidity and a slimmer overall package. The combination yields a machine that performs at a high level for the duration of a tough moto. Pricing: $9599

One bolt accesses via the removable left side panel and the air filter is clips in. Underneath the 2021 CRF450 clothes, you can see the redesigned gas tank, frame, subframe and swingarm.  

2021 HONDA CRF450WE WORKS EDITION


For motocross enthusiasts who demand the absolute best when it comes to performance, the premium CRF450WE (“Works Edition”) benefits from the same improvements as the 2021 CRF450, plus a long list of elite-level updates based on the machines in the Team Honda HRC factory race shop. As with the CRF450, this model is endowed with important updates aimed at improving power, handling and consistency and—befitting its status as the clear benchmark when it comes to lap times—it boasts additional features aimed at refining power, suspension performance and aesthetics. New for 2021, the CRF450WE now comes standard with a Hinson clutch basket and cover, as well as a Twin Air air filter. Pricing: $12,380

Some specific measurements of the 2021 CRF450. 

2021 HONDA CRF450RX OFF-ROAD

Ridden by Phoenix Racing Honda, SLR Honda and JCR Honda at the national-championship level, the CRF450RX is well-suited for closed-course off-road competition such as GNCC, WORCS and NGPC. For the 2021 model year, it’s better than ever, getting the same important performance upgrades as the motocross-focused CRF450R and retaining off-road-specific features like dedicated ECU and suspension settings, an 18-inch rear wheel and an aluminum side stand. New for 2021, the CRF450RX comes standard with hand guards and a revised 2.1-gallon fuel tank that narrows the bike width at the radiator shrouds. The combination yields a race machine that’s ready to chase arrows and ribbon along trails from coast to coast. Pricing: $9899

Notice the jumbo-sized electronics suite on the left-hand side of the CRF450RX bars. 

2020 HONDA CRF450

The 2020 Honda CRF450 will be available for $1000 less than the 2021 CRF450 for the 2021 model year. 

While many off-road riders demand the latest technology, a number of customers see value as a top priority, though still not willing to make a big sacrifice in terms of performance. By creating the all-new 2021 CRF450 and making an additional production run of 2020 units that will be available at a permanent price reduction, Honda is able to address the needs of both groups. The same platform that was raced by Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton in the 2020 AMA Supercross series, the 2020 CRF450 features proven performance alongside electronic rider aids like Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), which maximizes rear-tire hookup to keep all of the Unicam engine’s horsepower driving the bike and rider forward. Pricing: $8599

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