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2019 Honda CRF450RWE First Ride Review

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The Honda CRF450RWE (“Works Edition”) is an all-new model to big red’s lineup for 2019. The CRF450RWE is a factory-replica version of the CRF450R motocross bike and receives all of the same changes as the standard model for 2019, but also features some special parts that are made specifically for it. Honda invited us to ride and test the all-new model and compare it to the standard CRF450R at Chaney Ranch MX in Warner Springs, California. Engine

The CRF450RWE engine features model-specific components including a specially designed cylinder head with hand-polished ports designed to increase low-end and midrange torque, especially between 5,000 and 6,000 rpm, along with a Yoshimura RS-9 titanium slip-on muffler and special ECU settings.

The Works Edition also has all of the same updates that the standard CRF450R model received for 2019 including a new cylinder head design, new clutch lifter and pressure plates, a new scavenge pump design, a new piston oil jet, a new shift sensor, HRC Launch Control, updated engine mode select options, and the kickstarter assembly has been removed from the side case of the engine as well. The bike also has a new header pipe with a larger pipe diameter and a different design at the branching location.

With the CRF450RWE, Honda took the already improved engine of the standard model and fine-tuned it even more. The combination of the hand ported cylinder head, Yoshimura RS-9 titanium slip-on system, and special ECU settings gives the Works Edition some seriously fun power. It’s roll-on power from zero to a quarter throttle is even easier to control over the standard model. It makes strong torque in the midrange and revs out further than the standard CRF450R. As far as the transmission goes, the gear ratios are evenly spaced, it shifts smoothly, and requires little to no clutch input when shifting. The feel of the clutch remains the same as the standard bike, but with proper riding technique, you will use the clutch even less on the CRF450RWE due to its improved power over the standard model.

The CRF450RWE receives the same revised internal settings, new shock linkage, and lower friction oil in the Showa 49mm coil-spring fork that the standard 2019 model did, but has some additional upgrades such as the Kashima coated fork tubes. Kashima coating is a special treatment for hard-anodized finishes that fills the micro-pores on the surface of hard-anodized aluminum for better lubrication and reduced stiction. The fork legs and shock shaft also receive a titanium-nitride coating.

Just like with the engine, the special changes made to the suspension cumulate to a more fine-tuned set up. Compared to the standard version, the Works Edition suspension offers a little more overall comfort. Like the CRF450R, running a little more sag at around 110mm helps alleviate the bike’s somewhat of a stinkbug feel. The suspension changes for 2019 are more of a fine tuning measure designed to match with the updated frame and new swingarm, and the special components on the Works Edition make it even better.

The CRF450RWE has a few special chassis parts including DID LT-X black rims, a gold RK chain, a Throttle Jockey seat cover, and factory Team Honda HRC graphics that are also done by Throttle Jockey. The Works Edition also features the same chassis changes as the standard 2019 model including an updated frame, a new swingarm, a revised top triple clamp that has two clamp locations, a new front brake setup, newly shaped footpegs, a black Renthal Fatbar, a redesigned front number plate, and new fork guards.

Being that they share many of the same major components, the handling characteristics of the Works Edition bike are similar to that of the standard model. The CRF450RWE is a touch more comfortable, but that is more due to the suspension differences between the two bikes. Compared to the 2017 and 2018 CRF450R, both 2019 models have less of a pitching feel on acceleration and when braking, and the rear of the bike absorbs square edge better. Also, the rear does not pitch the bike forward when the throttle is closed or you are not accelerating. The front wheel can still be a little vague at times if you let yourself get too far back on the bike, but the new lower bend of the Renthal Fatbar helped me stay more forward and is more comfortable than the Renthal 971 bar that came on prior year models. All of these things add up to this being an improved bike that was already one of the best in its class.

Everything that the CRF450R does well, the CRF450RWE does even better. The major upgrades are in the engine power delivery with the most important thing being more usable power. The suspension works well with a little more comfort over the standard version, too. The power delivery is immediately noticeable, while it took a few laps to notice the suspension improvements. The special ECU settings offer more traction control or “flywheel effect” from zero to half throttle, meaning the increased power is stronger, yet even easier to control. The 2019 CRF450R is an improvement over the previous year model, and the CRF450RWE is an even further improved version of the standard model.