HONDA CRF450RX FIRST RIDE
We got our first chance to ride the Honda CRF450RX this week. This is the off-road version of the new CRF450R motocross bike, and it’s part of a growing movement in the industry to replace legitimate trail bikes with so-called “off-road, closed-course, competition bikes.” In general we find the very concept to be a contradiction in terms–most of the bikes in the class are just MX bikes with some off-road fluff. In this case, we’re relieved to report that the RX is legit. It’s a real off-road bike despite a close kinship with the MX version.
This new class is a way to skate around absurdly tight emission and noise regulations that are being imposed on anything called an off-road bike. Honda still has the old CRF450X in the line, too, so we have to give Honda credit for doing it the right way and covering both bases. The X is for real trail riders, the RX is for racing, or riding like you’re racing.
The best thing about the new bike is that it has a much broader appeal than the KTM and the Husky in this category. Those bikes have motocross power deliveries, motocross gearboxes and motocross manners. When you get them on a tight trail, they’re a handful. The Honda CRF450RX’s powerband is much smoother than that of the MX version. There are three maps available through a handlebar-mounted button, and the standard one works well at the very bottom of the powerband where off-road riders spend most of their time. When you click into the mildest map, it’s even better.
The biggest difference between the R and the RX is the electric starter. Honda also gave the bike a 2.25-gallon fuel tank (plastic, not titanium), softer suspension, an 18-inch rear wheel, a skid plate and a kickstand. It still has a muffler without spark arrester and the gearbox from the MX bike. We’re still testing the bike, and the complete story will appear in the March print edition of Dirt Bike.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE STUDIO
For months, people have been asking us what the new Honda 450RX is like. We didn’t have much to say until this week, because we hadn’t ridden it. “What about the December issue?” they ask. That issue pictured Mark Tilley on the bike. There’s a story behind that photo.
Back in September, Honda announced the bike at a press conference in Torrance, California. They let us look at the bike, they gave us tech information and even provided photos of the machine being ridden. But the bike we saw was never started. This was very important news to us, and we wanted it for the November cover, but the photos that Honda provided weren’t really cover material. We asked if we could shoot our own. One thing led to another, and the next day we had a non-running 2017 CRF450RX in our studio, in Corona, California. We really wanted an action shot, so we dressed up Mark in riding gear, and the rest was up to art director Tim LaPaglia. It made for a great cover, although we had to wait until now to provide a review of the machine. Was it misleading? Other publications printed action photos of the bike, too–the ones Honda provided. The only difference was that our photos were better. So there.
Johnny Campbell had his two main riders at the RX intro. Both have National Championships for 2016, which is an impressive average result. Ricky Brabec got to ride the RX for the first time and it’s apparent that the bike will be the basis for his title defense in the National Hare & Hound Series. Trevor Bollinger will switch to the XC1 450 class in the GNCC series rather than defend his XC2 championship.
Out west, JCR will have Trevor Stewart on the 45oRX riding Big Six and WORCS races. Benny Breck will also ride these events, although his main job at JCR is as an in-house test rider and wrench.
Klim just announced a contingency program to pays $25 in Klim bucks for a win. The program information doesn’t yet say which races are eligible, but you can ask them yourself, at (208) 552-7433.
DIRT BIKE AND WORCS
The WORCS series continues to be the most professionally run off-road race series in the west, and Dirt Bike Magazine is happy to continue our partnership there. There are some big changes in the series for 2017 that we think will be good news for the motorcycle community. The most important news is that the motorcycle and side-by-side events will be scheduled on separate weekends. Here’s the offical word from the WORCS organization:
- Round 1 at Mesquite is for motorcycles and ATV’s ONLY and is just 30 days away. So get your memberships done ahead of time so you can have your cool backgrounds printed up. Track info page link has all the hotel info and race schedule.
- The Open class is back for the Motorcycles in 2017 and will be available for Pro 2 qualifying at most rounds.
- Round 6, The WORCS Las Vegas round will be at the Orleans Arena for the next two years.
- Round 8 will be the WORCS Summer Festival at the Stater Brother Stadium in Adelanto, CA. A unique mix of music, racing and fun. All this will be in the stadium and the surrounding off road areas.
|Mesquite MX – Mesquite, NV
SXS WORLD FINALS– SXS ONLY!*
|Buffalo Bills – Primm, NV
|Buffalo Bills – Primm, NV
|Honolulu Hill-Taft, Ca
|Crazy Horse – Lake Havasu, AZ
|Crazy Horse – Lake Havasu, AZ
|MC/ATV/Limited SXS Classes
|The Orleans – Las Vegas, NV
|Sand Hollow – Hurricane, UT
|Iron Mine – Cedar City, UT
|Summer Festival – Stater Brothers Stadium – Adelanto, CA
|Glen Helen – Devore, CA
CASELLI FOUNDATION RIDE DAY
Tomorrow is the 4th annual Caselli Foundation ride day at Glen Helen. There will be an off-road loop as well as a fully prepped MX track. Glen Helen will be a busy place this weekend. Saturday will also have REM motocross on the Arroyo track and then Sunday will be the GHR Christmas GP with a Kyle Yarnell team race at the end of the day.
See you next time!