The 2021 Honda CRF450RX Works Edition has arrived and we have some time on it. This begs obvious comparison to the KTM Factory Edition, but the concept is quite different. In the case of the KTM, the FE is sometimes a preview of the next year’s model. More often than not, it’s a race replica with lots of cosmetic upgrades. The Akrapovic slip-on silencer is the only performance upgrade for the current Factory Edition. In the case of the Honda, there are a great many performance-oriented upgrades as well as cosmetics. 

The price for the 2021 Honda CRF450RWE is $13,380, which is $1781 more than the standard model.

Here’s the list of items that separate the Works Edition from the standard Honda CRF450R:

  • Hinson Clutch basket and cover
  • Full Yoshimura titanium exhaust system
  • Ported cylinder head
  • Ti-Nitride coated lower fork tubes
  • Ti-Nitride coated 18mm shock shaft
  • Twin Air filter
  • Throttle Jockey seat cover
  • HRC graphics
  • Red cylinder head cover
  • DID Dirt Star LT-X rims
  • Gold RK chain
  • Black anodized triple clamps
  • Renthal grips
Ray O lets the RWE loose at Glen Helen.

The standard 2021 CRF450R quickly became infamous for having somewhat glitchy fuel mapping. Honda corrected it with a second generation map. If you have a 2021 CRF450R, a CRF450RX or CRF450RWE, any Honda dealer can reflash your ignition with the upgraded specs for free. We met with the Honda guys to have our standard model reflashed at the same time that we first rode the CRF450RWE, so we got to compare the new mapping with the original  spec. It’s definitely better. There’s no trace of the original hesitation that would occur when the motor was suddenly put under a load at mid throttle openings. It’s interesting to note that even without the update, the hiccup wasn’t as severe as it was in our original test. That took place in September when it was crazy hot. In cooler weather, it was much less noticeable. Regardless of that, it’s gone now, on both our standard Honda and our Works Edition

It’s also interesting just how different the Works Edition is. First of all, it’s faster. That’s saying a lot. The standard Honda already felt like it was the fastest bike in our 2021 450 shootout. The dyno showed that there were other 450s that made as much, but the Honda’s curve was steeper, which gave it more of a hit. With the porting and the Yosh pipe, that big hit was much smoother. The bike was actually easier to ride than the standard model. If you aren’t familiar with the changes for the 2021 Honda 450, the short form is that everything is different, but it’s still a Honda. It’s still a very aggressive motocross bike with fast handling that some people–but all people–love. The biggest single improvement for 2021 is in the clutch. It was redesigned along with everything else and now has Nissin hydraulics. The pull is much lighter, the actuation is consistent and what used to be a Honda weak point is now a strength. With the previous 450, a Hinson clutch basket was an immediate improvement, but you can barety tell any difference with the RWE. There’s no doubt that durability will be greatly improved with the Hinson stuff, though.

The suspension also generated some red flags with the standard edition. The rear end, in particular, was very soft,  prompting some odd-ball set-ups. The valving and springs are the same for the RWE, so some of the same issues still exist. The ti-nitride coating, however, makes everything feel different. This caught us by surprise on last-year’s RWE. The reduction in friction, apparently, makes the suspension ride lower in the travel at both ends. So stiffer settings are a good idea. Like the standard bike, we recommend upping the rear spring rate from 54 N/m to a 56.

The Honda not only gets a Hinson clutch cover, but the clutch hub, as well.

The $12,380 price tag is going to be a shocker for most riders, especially in light of the fact that the KTM Factory Edition is “only” $11,299.  Honda adds $1781 to the price over the standard bike. If you’re the type of rider who’s going to upgrade with aftermarket stuff, it still makes sense. The price for the Yosh system is $1200. The Hinson parts are $500, so you get everything else for almost nothing. For the full test of the 2021 Honda CRF450RWE, check out the June 2021 print edition of Dirt Bike.


The 95th edition of the ISDE is scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 4 in Lombardy-Piedmont, Italy.  Erek Kudla of the AMA has finalized the procedure for attending the 2021 ISDE. There will be a total of six qualifiers (three on each coast)

AMA West ISDE Qualifier Series

March 20-21: Red Mountain, Calif., Desert MC and Prospectors MC, AMA District 37 Sprint Enduro
April 17-18: Campwood, Ariz., Arizona Trail Riders, AMA AMRA
May 22-23: Craig, Colo., Enduro Colorado, AMA RMEC

AMA East ISDE Qualifier Series

April 10-11: Society Hill, S.C., AMA Sprint Cross Country Series
May 1-2: Battle Creek Mich., AMA Michigan Sprint Enduro
May 28-29: Plantersville, Ala., Perry Mountain Motorcycle Club (Friday-Saturday event)



The Round 1 flier for the West series will be out in a few weeks. All documents will be on the AMA website shortly.

One important thing to note is it looks like the ISDE classes have finalized the update they were looking to implement in Chile.

FIM Classes:

Class 1 (E1): 100cc to 250cc 2-stroke, 175cc to 250cc 4-stroke

Class 2 (E2): From 255cc to 450cc 4-stroke

Class 3 (E3): From 255cc to 500cc 2-stroke, From 455cc to 650cc 4-stroke

Another thing to note on the Important deadlines are the fees. The entry fee has gone down for 2021 but the FIM license fee has gone up. It’s pretty much a wash.

Finally, DON’T FORGET, the Arai Helmet program is still in effect. If you qualify while running an Arai helmet (you MUST wear an Arai to qualify) you will be provided with a classic Arai helmet with the traditional ISDE Skunk Stripe paint job. Close to $1000 value for each helmet and paint job.

Additionally, for those not part of the Arai Helmet program you will have discounted access to US ISDE Trophy team paint job for your helmet.


We can walk down to Pro Circuit any time to try to talk to Matich Payton, but the operative word is “try.” he’s  like a dust devil that spins through the shop and you either have to get out of the way or try to keep up. The guys at Fox captured some good Mitch time as part of the Unplugged series.


Ben Kelley has been training at Kailub Russell’s Florida place. Photos by Travis Fant.

Ben Kelley is back at Kailub Russell’s Florida place, training for this weekend’s round two of the 2021 GNCC XC1 Pro series. If Ben is feeling the pressure of stepping into Kailub’s role as the leader of KTM’s off-road team, he’s not showing it. Ben did an interview with Dirt Bike’s video editor Travis Fant yesterday, seeming perfectly at home. We’re looing forward to seeing great things from Ben, but the competition is deep with about five riders who could take the prize in 2021.

One thing nice about riding for KTM, you have a lot of bikes to choose from. Ben tested the 450 and the 350, eventually settling on the 350XC-F.

At round one, he scored a fifth. For most people that would be a great achievement. For Ben, he feels that’s just something to build on.


I can’t help but go to the Mecums website every week to see what will be up for bid in Las Vegas on April 28. This Maico caught my eye because I almost bought one when it was new. Yes, I’m that old. Even if you don’t have one foot in the grave, you’ll get a kick out of all the old bikes there.

See you next week!

–Ron Lawson



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