2009 HONDA CRF450R
Fuel injection is just the beginning

Well hold onto your shorts folks. The new Honda is here and there is no doubt that its sole goal is up the ante in the dirt bike world.  The 2009 model is all new and as expected, is fuel injected. What wasn’t expected was the fifth generation aluminum chassis, the reconfigured motor and the new suspension components. Honda not only started with a clean sheet of paper, but a blank hard drive as well.

      As it turns out, the Keihin fuel injection system is the one item that isn’t that new on the Honda. In general principal it isn’t that different from what we have already seen on the Suzuki RM-Z450 and for that matter on the Honda-designed Montesa 4T trials bike. It uses no battery, just a big generator and capacitor to immediately capture energy from the kickstarter and fire up the electronic brain. Honda claims three kicks cold, one kick warm. Like Kawasaki, Honda also has an HRC PGM-FI Setting Tool, which allows CRF450R owners to alter EFI fuel delivery as well as ignition timing. The price of the HRC PGM-FI Setting Tool is $349.
      The rest of the motor is more compact due primarily to a shorter connecting rod and a new valve train. It still uses the Unicam design, which places the cam directly over the intake valves but now the exhaust valves are operated by two more compact rocker arms rather than the old forked one. Honda shaved off tiny bits of weight in places like smaller intake valve stems, a smaller big-end rod bearing and by eliminating the bolts that held on the cam chain sprockets (now it’s a pressed on design). The decompression system is more compact and the top end is now held on by through-bolts rather than studs, and that is said to make engine disassembly faster. The head is all new, of course,  and the wildest part is that the exhaust port has been moved way over to the left to allow more room for head pipe, which in turn moves the muffler forward. The head also has a built-in cam carrier instead of a separate part. The squish band and piston have been redesigned too.

      Here’s something interesting: The waterpump now has a mechanical seal rather than a rubber one. Honda engineers say it’s more reliable. They left the five gear ratios alone but made several design changes in the gear box. With new cases and relocated journals, it’s doubtful that you can find many part numbers that haven’t changed
      One goal with the new frame was to locate the center of gravity lower and closer to the front wheel. The steering head pipe was moved back 10mm, which combines with a reduction in triple clamps offset to position the front wheel 15mm rearward and closer to the crankshaft. Spar height was reduced (70 to 66mm) and width was narrowed (27 to 26mm). The swingarm is 18mm longer and its cross-member wall thickness was reduced (3.75 to 3.0mm). But Honda owners will be most delighted by a new subframe with has no cross members and a larger airbox. Translation: it’s easier to change the filter.

      The CRF450 still has the Honda Progressive Steering Damper System, although it’s [less] progressive than before. It’s still mounted behind the front number plate, but now it works with an all-new Kayaba 48mm fork. For years, Honda has used Showa components for the 450 and Kayaba for the 250, but has no doubt noticed the dramatic improvement in KYB quality over the last few years. The fork is said to be exclusive to Honda. Likewise, the shock is KYB.
      So what does it all mean? With the economy dragging, Honda could have played it safe and waited for better times to release the new bike. But this isn’t just about sales numbers. Kawasaki is releasing its all-new 450 in 2009, and with the drubbing that James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto are dishing out on the racetrack, corporate pride was at stake. Honda is in the game for the long haul and the new 450 will be the platform for the company’s motocross effort for years to come. We can’t wait.

Features & Benefits
New for 2009
– All-new lighter engine.

– Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)

– All-new fifth-generation aluminum frame features a longer swingarm, and a lower Cg for improved acceleration and better front-wheel traction.

– Kayaba front and rear suspension.

– Redesigned higher-capacity airbox improves filter access.

– Innovative exhaust system improves mass centralization.

– All new bodywork.


– All-new engine spins faster–11,450 rpm–and harder, churning out 56.3 bhp at 8500 rpm and 37.5 lb./ft. of torque at 7000 rpm.

– Liquid-cooled four-valve Unicam(r) 449cc engine produces more than 125.3 hp per liter and now utilizes a four-lobe camshaft and individual rocker arms for each exhaust valve to reduce weight and contribute to higher rpm ceiling.

– Engine completely redesigned to lower the overall height and position it closer to front wheel, resulting in a lower overall Cg and better weight distribution for better handling.

– Engine height reduced by shortening length of connecting rod 3.5mm (105.6 to 102.1mm) to allow shorter cylinder.

– Relocated crankshaft main journal cradles (inside of flywheels) allows reduction of connecting rod big-end diameter (34 to 33mm), reducing weight while maintaining overall strength. Crankshaft cutaway eliminates piston skirt contact at BDC, also reducing weight. 

– Reshaped cylinder head combustion chamber is shorter yet has a larger volume squish area for better flame propagation.

– Lightweight titanium intake valves and redesigned valve springs reduce overall engine height and permit higher rpm. New intake valve stem diameters reduced (5.5 to 5.0mm).

– Lower camshaft mount built into the cylinder head to reduce weight and engine height.

– Cam sprocket now press-fitted to camshaft, reducing weight by 20 grams compared to previous bolted design.

– Cylinder attaches to engines cases with through-bolts instead of studs, allowing in-frame cylinder removal.

– New forged slipper-piston material permits thinner crown, contributing to shorter cylinder height. Low-friction surface treatment assures high-rev potential.

– Lightweight Ni-SiC cylinder lining provides cooler and quieter operation for extended engine life.

– Redesigned, lighter auto decompression system and hot restart procedure is simplified with cam-integrated plunger and shaft-integrated decompression weight for easy starting in hot or cold conditions.

– All-new Programmed Fuel Injection system (PGM-FI) utilizes a 50mm throttle body design with 12-hole injection nozzle fed by lightweight 50-psi pump to ensure optimum fuel atomization and precisely targeted fuel charge. System also achieves an improvement in fuel consumption.

– PGM-FI system monitors throttle position, intake air and coolant temperatures, air pressure and gear position to accurately map fuel charge and ignition spark, significantly improving partial-throttle response and helping assure excellent rideability.

– AC generator enlarged to service PGM-FI system. Two crankshaft position sensors quickly determine crank position to provide quick starts, hot or cold.

– Twin-sump lubrication system separates the oil supply for the crankshaft, piston and valve train from the clutch and transmission. This ensures a cool supply of oil to the clutch, eliminates clutch and transmission material contamination of the engine oil and reduces the amount of circulating oil, allowing the oil pump size to be reduced.

– Redesigned exhaust system incorporates a left-side cylinder head exhaust port, increasing header length and allows muffler to be positioned closer to center of mass, contributing to significantly improved weight distribution and handling.

– Gear-driven balancer reduces vibration and drives the water pump.

– New mechanical water pump seal improves durability.

– Coolant flow rerouted outside engine cases via bolt-on flange/jacket, allowing reduction of crankcase and cylinder width, and overall weight.

– Oil pump strainer now built into the engine case to reduce parts and weight.

– Eight clutch plates handle the engine’s massive torque while the number of clutch springs is reduced from six to four. This reduces centrifugal weight, allowing the engine to rev quicker.

– Kashima coating applied to the clutch basket, clutch center and pressure plate improve clutch life and clutch feel.

– Numerous transmission modifications narrow transmission width and reduce weight without sacrificing durability.


– Fifth-generation Twin-Spar Aluminum Frame with forged-aluminum steering head is now 14 ounces lighter than previous design. Spar height was reduced (70 to 66mm) and width was narrowed (27 to 26mm). Stronger downtubes improve front-end feel.

– Steering response and overall handling were improved by moving the steering head pipe back 10mm (and closer to swingarm pivot). Positioning the front wheel 15mm farther back and closer to the crankshaft.

– Swingarm is 18mm longer for improved traction.

– Frame, steering head and swingarm modifications permit a reduction in triple-clamp offset (22 to 20mm).

– Swingarm cross-member wall thickness was reduced (3.75 to 3.0mm) to save weight.

– Forged swingarm pivot plates increase rigidity for improved handling.

– Lower engine frame rails are widened and beveled to provide added cornering clearance.

– Removable rear subframe was redesigned to eliminate brackets and cross-members. Shape altered to improved air filter access and narrow the bike profile.

– Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD) revalved for more linear damping. HPSD features a compact damper attached to the lower triple clamp and the steering head to allow more aggressive steering characteristics and assist straight-line handling. Damping action smoothly progresses as handlebar deflection increases, which produces very natural steering characteristics and feel.

– Front and rear wheels feature HRC works-type lightweight aluminum spoke nipples.

– Front wheel featuring new stiffer axle collar provides excellent rigidity.

– Rear axle diameter of 25mm and large-diameter bearings provide additional rigidity. Axle wall thickness reduced (2.5 to 2.2mm) to save weight (38 grams) while axle collar is strengthened for better rigidity.

– Revised, sophisticated inverted Air-Oil-Separated (AOS) fork features exclusive Honda 48mm diameter fork made by Kayaba with all-new damping and spring settings.

– Pro-Link(r) Rear Suspension features exclusive Kayaba integrated reservoir with all-new damping and spring settings.

– Large 50mm rear shock damper piston diameter for consistent performance under demanding riding conditions.

– HRC works-style rear brake system integrates the rear master cylinder and fluid reservoir, eliminating the separate reservoir and hose.

– Link-type front brake master cylinder and a lightweight brake rotor provide strong braking.

– Re-shaped works-style 240mm front brake rotor is 1.3 ounces lighter. Front disc guard is smaller, lighter and vented.

– 240mm rear brake rotor features works-style pattern and is 1 ounce lighter. New plastic disc guard saves 4 grams of weight.

Additional Features

– Honda First: Engine stop switch features an integrated LED pre-ride check indicator with EFI diagnostic capability to ensure CRF450R is operating at maximum capacity.

– New gray color magnesium head cover, clutch cover and left sidecover.

– Clutch cover profile reshaped for improved foot placement.

– Left side oil check dipstick replaces sight glass.

– Redesigned higher-capacity airbox improves filter access.

– New sidecover shape is narrower and improves flow to airbox.

– Redesigned radiator shrouds are narrowed to aid rider movement.

– Kickstarter arm reshaped to reduce weight.

– Seat base redesigned to reduce overall height and width while maintaining foam thickness.

– New handgrips are 3mm longer and feature a softer compound and wire grooves.

– Front and rear fenders redesigned with greater rigidity; rear fender design helps prevent mud and debris from gathering on muffler.

– Removable engine mounts allow easier engine removal.

– Narrower engine allows right-side engine guard to be eliminated, saving weight.

– New fuel tank tether eliminates need to disconnect fuel line to work on top end.

– Rider ergonomics are optimized by adapting the handlebar, seat and footpeg height  for improved comfort and handling feel.

– Lightweight aluminum brake pedal and shift lever are designed to complement new ergonomics.

– Fuel cap height is shorter, allowing rider to move farther forward on the tank.

– Brake pedal features optimized ratio to match integrated rear-brake master-cylinder design.

– Wide, cleated stainless steel footpegs provide excellent grip and are self-cleaning and corrosion resistant.

– Adjustable front brake lever for improved control.

– Quick-adjust clutch perch for easy cable adjustment.
– Aluminum Renthal handlebar (971 bend) is rubber mounted to help reduce rider fatigue and improve comfort.

– Handlebar holders provide two different mounting positions to match rider preference.

– New handlebar grips add to rider comfort.

– Dunlop 742FA front and a new 120/80-19 D756 rear tire maximize traction.

– Washable, two-stage foam air filter for optimal engine protection and easy maintenance.

– Repackable silencer for maximum performance and minimal noise.

– Comfortable, durable controls and high-quality fasteners.

– Stainless steel clutch cable for long life.

– Honda Racing(tm)-inspired colors and graphics.


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