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2018 Honda CRF450RX First Ride Review

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The Honda CRF450RX was a brand-new model last year that shared many similarities to the all-new CRF450R motocrosser, with the main differences between the two being different engine hangers that allow for more flex, softer suspension settings, an 18-inch rear wheel, oversize fuel tank, kickstand, and Dunlop AT81 tires. For 2018, the CRF450RX receives a few minor updates including an upgraded lithium-ion battery to reduce weight and increase performance along with the removal of the kickstarter to further cut weight.

Engine
The CRF450RX engine feels very similar to the CRF450R in that it packs a ton of power and revs quickly. When transitioning from on to off throttle, the bottom-end hit is sudden and that can make for a slightly jerky feeling in tight, nearly stop-and-go single-track but is less noticeable when riding in more regular conditions. The midrange and top-end pull are both very strong and allow you to carry a gear for a long time, so you don’t have to shift as often. As far as engine feel, the CRF450RX’s quick-revving nature makes it feel almost two-stroke-like, hence it has a very exciting, fun-to-ride powerband. The midrange and top-end pull and how quickly the engine gets there make it ideal for more motocross-style, wide-open terrain, and given the engine’s similarity to the CRF450R, the motocross track too.

Suspension
The CRF450RX uses a Showa 49mm coil-spring fork and Showa shock, both of which are the same units found on the CRF450R, but with softer settings to better suit off-road riding. Right out of the box with stock clicker settings, the fork has a plush and comfortable feel in the beginning of the stroke that does a great job of absorbing small impacts on the trail such as fist-sized rocks and bumps. On larger and higher speed impacts such as drop-offs and whopped-out areas, the fork gets progressively stiffer, yet retains plushness. The shock had a comfortable and predictable feel as well and occasionally came close to bottoming out when hitting a large G-out or whoop, but this only happened a few times and the rear end didn’t swap out in these situations either.

Chassis/Handling
At 255 pounds wet, the CRF450RX isn’t all that much heavier than the CRF450R motocrosser, which weighs in at 248 pounds, and most of the RX’s extra weight comes with the larger gas tank. The CRF450RX chassis is a bit on the rigid side, which makes it easy to throw around and put where you want it on the trail. The bike also corners well while riding single-track or a more traditional motocross track and feels a lot lighter than it really is. The chassis is sensitive to rider input partially due to it being more on the rigid side and also because of how snappy the motor is, which makes it feel and perform very much like a racebike.

Conclusion
The CRF450RX is a powerful, well-suspended, and nimble-handling bike right out of the box. From what we gathered in our first ride impression, this bike is very much a racebike and is designed more for, and works best in, more wide-open types of off-road riding and racing, mostly because of its powerful, snappy engine. We feel this bike might even be a suitable motocross bike for those who like to mix it up and hit both the track and trail, but riding it at a motocross track may call for stiffer suspension settings, especially for heavier and/or faster riders. We’ll be riding this bike a lot more in the coming weeks on several types of terrain and riding conditions, so stay tuned for the full review.

 
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