The Honda CRF450R motocross racer gets a massive makeover for 2021, with Honda saying everything but the engine and wheels are new. Guess what? A closer examination reveals the engine is changed, too.
There are upgrades all over the bike, but the biggest changes apply to the twin-spar aluminum frame. Honda narrowed the frame for 2021, tightened the rake and trail, and cut its weight. Honda also redesigned the swingarm. The result? The bike is supposed to corner better, with more hustle on the exit and better rear tire traction.
The shock and forks both see some tweaking as well, to match the dynamics of the updated frame, with new valving. Now, it’s supposed to be closer to Honda’s race bike setups. The bodywork, fuel tank and seat were also all revised to match the updated frame.
As for the engine–it’s mostly the same as the 2020 model, but there are some differences. Honda put a new hydraulic clutch in the 450, with an extra plate and a pressure spring added as well. Supposedly, this greatly reduces slippage. There’s also a new magnesium cylinder head cover, and the exhaust ports have been re-shaped. The decompression system was also moved around inside the head, too. However, on the whole, the liquid-cooled single-cylinder Unicam engine, with 449cc displacement, is almost identical to the current engine. The traction control system hasn’t been changed, and only one of the three engine maps (the Smooth map) was reworked for the 2021 bike.
The CRF450R gets a new exhaust, with a single can; previously, Honda had a dual-muffler setup on the 450. Honda re-routed the header as well. On the intake side, there’s a new fuel pump, larger airbox and lighter throttle body. Although the engine itself hasn’t changed much, these changes are supposed to give the bike better low-end and mid-range performance.
For 2021, Honda’s pricing the CRF450R at $9,599 in the US, $10,699 in Canada. It’s also selling the Works Edition version of the bike, with all sorts of hop-up parts, for $12,380 in the US (no word on Canadian availability). The CRF450RX is also back, optimized for cross-country racing (GNCC, etc.). It’s got a larger gas tank, 18-inch rear wheel, handguards and kickstand. Pricing is $9,899 in the US, $10,899 in Canada.