Honda Australia are about to bounce back into the serious off-road enduro market in a big way with the pending arrival this Spring of the new CRF450L.
Using the base platform of the latest CRF450R, currently Australia’s biggest selling 450cc category motocross machine, the CRF450L promises to take Honda back in to the bush with a machine that has some very serious bang.
For the types of more extended use that an enduro machine endures over that of a motocross bike, Honda has modified the firebreathing 450cc engine for enduro with a 13 per cent heavier crankshaft while a more durable three-ring piston lowers the compression ratio from 13.5 to 12.0:1. Different valves but of the same 38mm diameter and valve angles in the Unicam head have also helped Honda push major stripdown services out to a massive 32,000km.
The titanium tank of the CRF450R is retained but enlarged to 7.6 litres with a lockable fuel cap while the fuelling and ignition maps are altered for enduro use and managed with the aid of Lambda sensors and the air provided by a modified air-box.
The difference in power outputs between the 60-horsepower CRF450R and the L has not yet been stated by Honda, but I think it fair to say that in L guise the 449cc fuel-injected engine will still have more than enough punch for most.
Highlighting the attention to detail and durability Honda have aimed to engineer into their new enduro weapon is a cush-drive hub in the new 18” enduro specification rear wheel which will greatly help reduce shock loadings through the engine and six-speed transmission during the rigours of bush use. This also makes the new CRF450L viable for occasional street use which of course thanks to the fact it will be fully road legal is another string to the Honda’s bow. The clutch has also been beefed up with seven friction discs and a 2mm clutch plate to further add durability in tight terrain.
The CRF450L has a 3mm longer wheelbase than its motocross sibling and features 28.2-degrees of rake and 123mm of trail. The L runs identical 22m fork offset and 466mm swingarm pivot height as the CRF450R.
The dual spar alloy frame has been widened at the swingarm pivot points to allow for the greater engine width due to the six-speed gearbox while the steering head is changed to allow for a steering lock while the swingarm has been injected with urethane to help reduce noise.
The rear sub frame is the same as the CRF450R apart from different mounting points for the tail light assembly and single muffler.
Showa provide the 49mm preload and compression damping steel spring forks matched to a fully adjustable shock provided by the same company.
With all the extraneous road kit (speedo-horn-indicators-mirrors-stand) fitted Honda are claiming a kerb weight of 131kg but after stripping the machine down to a rec-reg level of equipment that number will be able to be lowered significantly.
As the plastics are the same as the CRF450R the availability of body kits in various race replica styles will already be in the market. I can’t wait to see one of these stripped of the road gear and sporting a nice aftermarket exhaust system.
All the lighting, including the headlight, is LED and powered by a beefed up generator to keep the Lithium Ion battery healthy enough to ensure the reliability of the electric start.
Honda fans will be very excited at this development as will Honda dealers, who for the first time in many years will now have a fully viable and road legal bike that will truly bang hard in the bush available to their customers. The machine is sure to make a big splash when it arrives around October this year.
In an ideal world the CRF450L would have a larger fuel tank but that is something the aftermarket industry will get on top of soon enough no doubt. The clutch does not appear to be hydraulic which is a bit of a shame and it will interesting to see how well the braking hardware works under duress. That said though, it is great to see Honda back in the game and the CRF450L will win plenty of admirers.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.