2019 Honda CRF450X First Ride Review
The Honda CRF450X was first introduced in 2005 and was designed to dominate Baja. Since then, approximately 27,000 have been sold and it’s been the most successful bike in Baja with 11 Baja 1000 victories and another nine wins in the Baja 500. The 2019 model is completely revised with a fuel injected engine, different Showa suspension components, a new chassis, and updated bodywork. Developed to be ridden on single-track, wooded trails, and wide open desert, Honda gave us the opportunity to test the green sticker-legal machine on a 70-mile loop in the Mojave Desert of Southern California to get a first impression of the all-new bike.
The all-new CRF450X engine is based off the latest generation CRF450R motocross bike powerplant, but has some key differences to make the power delivery more suitable for off-road riding. The differences from the R model engine include a 12 percent increase in crank mass, a different piston shape, a wide ratio six-speed transmission, dedicated ECU settings, and case covers to dampen noise. Unlike the street legal CRF450L model, the CRF450X does not have a catalyzer in the muffler. The header pipe is 100mm longer and 3.1mm larger in diameter than the L model, too.
The CRF450X engine is very user-friendly thanks to its linear power delivery. The bottom-end is smooth, which makes the bike manageable in tight trails and when riding over obstacles. It picks up in the midrange and pulls well on the top-end. We rode up plenty of long and steep hillclimbs and were impressed with how well the CRF450X continued to pull. Even after chopping the throttle after cresting an obstacle, the Unicam engine picked right back up without any issues.
The X has a bit more engine braking than the R or RX models, which helped maintain control when riding down hills, and descents were the only time it was noticeable. The six-speed transmission’s gears are evenly spaced and it never felt like I was between gears while riding it. As with all of the models we’ve tested in the CRF Perfomance Line, the CRF450X shifts buttery smooth. Suspension
The CRF450X uses the same Showa 49mm coil-spring fork and Showa shock as the CRF450R, but each component features off-road specific settings. The fork has a very plush feel and offers tons of comfort on small impacts such as braking bumps and rocks. On slightly larger impacts such as drop-offs, whoops, and g-outs, the fork is progressive and holds up well, evidenced by the fact that we didn’t bottom it out once during our 70-mile ride. The shock has a more comfort-oriented feel. It stays planted and doesn’t kick out or do anything unpredictable when riding over rough terrain.
The CRF450X has a few unique model-specific components including a different subframe and engine hangers, a dedicated top triple clamp, and an off-road tailored front brake master cylinder and brake hose. It also has a damper-equipped countershaft sprocket and a 2.01-gallon fuel tank, which is just over 0.1-gallon larger than the prior generation model.
The CRF450X has a good combination of nimbleness and stability. It reacts well when applying pressure to the footpegs to change direction, and is also predictable at speed. As we have come to expect from Honda CRFs, the ergonomics are very agreeable. The rider triangle plays a part in how comfortable the bike is, but if there’s one thing we would change in this area, it would be to have the stock Renthal Fatbar from the CRF450R and CRF450RX model as it’s a bit lower and more to our liking—a very minor detail about a part that’s easy and relatively inexpensive to replace.
After putting the all-new Honda CRF450X through its paces in the Mojave Desert, we came away very impressed. The engine makes plenty of power, yet is easy to ride thanks to its controllable low-end and linear power delivery. The suspension is plush and comfortable right out of the box, and the chassis reacts well to rider input, yet is stable at high speeds. Agreeable ergonomics make the CRF450X that much more enjoyable to ride. Honda has done a great job of producing an off-road motorcycle that is fun to ride, offers good performance, and can legally be ridden year-round in all 50 states.