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2017 Honda CRF450RX | Back End | Bike Reviews | Features

Honda rejoins the cross-country wars with the 2017 Honda CRF450RX and Geoff Braico rejoices.


When I first heard that Honda was bringing out a CRF450RX based on the latest motocrosser I couldn’t wait to get on it. Just as I was getting really excited, Honda Australia decided that it wasn’t going to bring it into the country!

Well, thankfully, Team Honda Racing manager Jay Foreman convinced the company that there was a market and that the nation needed the CRF450RX. Yes. We were back on. Fast forward to the middle of May and the day had finally come.

Greeted with a picture-perfect day and primo conditions at the McCleary Ranch on the NSW central coast, I was itching to get out on the red machine.

As an off-road model, the RX comes with an 18-inch rear wheel, Dunlop AT81 tyres, a sidestand, electric start, three on-the-fly ECU map options, an 8.5 litre plastic tank (up 2.2L) and off-road specific suspension. The RX model is claimed to weigh 119kg, about 8kg heavier than the motocross version.

2017 Honda CRF450RX

The Ride

Geared up, suspension sag set, I fired the new CRF-RX into life and headed out. Jay mentioned that the motor is almost identical to that of the R, with the exception of the ECU maps. Straight away you can tell this thing is a powerhouse and it didn’t take long for me to start smiling. The motor is strong but very smooth and I found myself running third gear everywhere on the more flowy grasstrack sections, with minimal clutch. I used the grunt to carry me in and out of the corners with ease.

I am not a fan of cable clutches, and it baffles me why they are still around, so to be able to use minimal clutch and just rely on that meaty bottom-end torque was very nice. Once I hit the tighter sections of the loop, I found that I had to be quite precise with my gear selection as it is a five-speed gearbox and the jump between second and third is decent when threading trees.

I think a sixth gear and closer ratios would be ideal. It is also difficult changing between second and third with the heavy cable clutch. Get with the times, Japan!

Just like all the other ‘cross country’ bikes (KTM XC-F, Husky FX, Yami YZ-FX) on the market, the CRF-RX would flame out easily in the tight stuff, especially when transitioning from quarter throttle to full throttle.
I just found that when I would slow to almost a stop to hop a log, almost every time, it would stall just as I went to pop the wheel up.

It’s kind of annoying, but hitting the ECU button did improve the situation. I really like the mild map. It gave the bike a mellower feel and it wasn’t so snappy. Great for guys who get tired towards the end of a big day. For me, the motor is as solid as it gets. Very impressed with it.


Honda has gone back to a Showa 49mm coil-spring fork which is awesome because I have seen and heard horror stories about air forks in off-road racing.
The RX suspension is almost identical to the R but with ‘enduro spec’ damping. I believe that’s code for softer and more rideable, although the RX’s extra weight would help there. It is a nice set-up and the suspension felt ideal for a race track situation. Firm enough to charge into G-outs and launch off rock ledges yet plush enough that it doesn’t beat you up.

I really liked the way the bike turned on a flat grasstrack turn. I could come in, get on the brakes with no funny business through the bumps and then steer out with ease. My only drama was in the tighter stuff. It wasn’t a deal-breaker kind of drama but when going from rut to rut, I found myself chasing the front to stay in the ruts.


If I was hard on the gas out of a turn and then shut off ready for the next one, there was a little more engine braking than I would have liked which then made the rear end unload and the front dive so I couldn’t be as smooth. Add a bunch of corners like that together and it was a little tricky.
Foreman said they have put firmer fork springs in the CRF Honda Racing bikes as they’d had similar feedback from his riders. I would be interested to try that as I believe that would eliminate that small diving feeling I got. When the track was faster, I did not get that same feeling as I could be smoother with my braking.


I give Honda props for bringing out the RX and adding a bike to a market that desperately needs more variety. Imagine if a green and/or yellow cross-country bike was released, that would be a fun day of testing that’s for sure.
If you’re a rider who wants to play around on a motocross track on Saturday and then go do some bush stuff on Sunday, then consider the CRF450RX.

Read the full review in ADB Issue #455

Honda CRF450RX Spec

Type: SOHC, four-valve
Displacement: 449.7cc
Bore & STROKE: 96mm x 62.1mm
Cooling: Liquid
Compression ratio: 13.5:1
Fuel metering: Keihin 46mm EFI
Tank capacity: 8.5L
Transmission: Five-speed
Clutch: Wet multi-plate

Wheelbase: 1477mm
Seat height: 959mm
Ground clearance: 328mm
Weight: 119kg wet

Front: Showa 49mm cartridge, 305mm
Rear: Showa monoshock, 312mm travel

Front: Nissin two-piston, 260mm wave
Rear: Nissin single-piston, 240mm wave

Running Gear
Handlebar: Renthal tapered
Front TYRE: Dunlop Geomax 90/90×21
Rear TYRE: Dunlop Geomax 120/90×18

Price & Contacts
THE BILL: $12,499rrp
BLOWER: 1300 559 846
Warranty None