2019 Honda CRF450L VS. X VS. R Spec Sheet Shootout

Brent Jaswinski
by Brent Jaswinski

One platform, endless possibilities...

If you haven’t already heard by now, Honda set the motorcycle industry on fire Wednesday with the announcement of its 2019 CRF off-road, motocross and dual-sport – yes, you read that right – dual-sport model lineup. While upgrades and improvements to current models are always exciting and welcomed news, the announcement of the all-new CRF450L is something that really took us by surprise, and ought to make some big waves in the motorcycle world.

2019 Honda CRF Off-Road, Motocross and Dual-Sport Model Line First Look

Honda has always been known as one of, if not the most conservative manufacturers, so for Big Red to step out and break the mold like this is pretty awesome. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, I think Honda has played a role in just about every rider’s story and their introduction to motorcycling in one way or another. Growing up on XRs and then CRFs, It certainly did for me.

Having the ability to legally ride on- and off-road, as any dual-sport rider can attest to, is a big deal, and it truly opens up a world of opportunities. You can now go basically wherever you want. No one likes getting stopped by the police, told they can’t be somewhere, or worse, getting their bike impounded for not being street-legal – ask me how I know. The beauty of the CRF450L, though, is that unlike other dual-sports on the market (save for the KTM EXC-F and Husqvarna FE models) like the Suzuki DR-Z400, DR650, Kawasaki KLR650 or Honda XR650L, the 450L has more actual dirtbike DNA than the others. This essentially translates to higher performance capabilities.

Check out the spec sheet comparing the 2019 Honda CRF450R, X and L below. You’ll notice that, for the most part, all the fundamentals are the same.




Engine449.7cc liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke449.7cc liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke449.7cc liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke96.0mm x 62.1mm96.0mm x 62.1mm96.0mm x 62.1mm
Fuel SystemProgrammed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle boreProgrammed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle boreProgrammed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle bore
Compression Ratio13.5:112.0:112.0:1
Valve TrainUnicam® OHC, four-valve; 10.0mm intake, steel; 8.8mm exhaust, steelUnicam® OHC, four-valveUnicam® OHC, four-valve
Drive Train
TransmissionConstant-mesh 5-speed return; manualConstant-mesh 6-speed return; manualConstant-mesh 6-speed return; manual
Final Drive#520 chain; 13T/49T#520 sealed chain#520 sealed chain
Front Suspension49mm fully adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork49mm fully adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork49mm fully adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork
Rear SuspensionPro-Link system; fully adjustable Showa single shockPro-Link system; fully adjustable Showa single shockPro-Link system; fully adjustable Showa single shock
Front Brake2-piston caliper (30mm, 27mm) hydraulic; single 260mm disc2-piston hydraulic; single 260mm disc2-piston caliper hydraulic; single 260mm disc
Rear Brake1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc2-piston hydraulic; single 240mm disc1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc
Front TireDunlop Geomax MX3S 80/100-21 w/ tubeDunlop Geomax AT81 80/100-21 w/ tubeIRC GP21 80/100-21 w/ tube
Rear TireDunlop Geomax MX3S 120/80-19 w/ tubeDunlop Geomax AT81 110/100-18 w/ tubeIRC GP22 120/80-18 w/ tube
Rake/Trail27°22’ / 116mm (4.6 in.)28°06’ / 116mm (4.6 in.)28°20’ / 116mm (4.6 in.)
Wheelbase58.4 in.58.8 in.58.9 in.
Seat Height37.8 in.37.4 in.37.1 in.
Curb Weight247 lbs.275 lbs.289 lbs.
Fuel Capacity1.66 gal.2.01 gal.2.01 gal.

The only main differences are the R’s compression ratio; 13.5:1 compared to the X and L’s 12.0:1, the various tires and each bike’s weight – which is mostly accounted for by the headlights, turn signals and heavier, EPA-compliant exhausts. The meat and bones of all three bikes are essentially the same, but each is tweaked and tuned differently for its own purpose.

The X and L have six-speed transmissions (which is one more cog than last year’s X), versus the R’s five, and the steering geometry is slightly different, but that’s to be expected for the quicker-steering R motocrosser. Here’s why all this is important and the real reason why we’re excited: At 289 lbs., the CRF450L ain’t no pig…

XR650L: 346 lbs. -> +57 lbs.

CRF250L: 317.5 lbs. -> +28.5 lbs.

KLR650: 432 lbs. -> +143 lbs.

KLX250: 304 lbs. -> +15 lbs.

DR650: 366 lbs. -> +77 lbs.

DR-Z400: 317 lbs. -> +28 lbs.

Off-roading not really your thing? It could be, and you just don’t know it yet. Or, imagine the 450L with 17-inch supermoto wheels and tires. Are we getting warmer yet?

The CRF450L is lighter than even the two smallest 250cc dual-sports mentioned above. On the asphalt, you won’t notice the weight as much, but on the trail is another story. For the more hardcore dual-sport guys, the 450L can get even lighter with the removal of all the EPA stuff like the charcoal canister and heavy muffler, and that’s not to mention the performance gains you’ll get in return – a win-win if you ask me. While we don’t recommend or endorse doing that, it will be the first thing any true off-roader or prospective buyer would do. I know I would, and maybe even plan to now… Who knows?

The aforementioned dual-sports can tackle most light off-roading and fire roads with ease and more moderate terrain in stockish trim, too – sure, why not? – but the CRF450L should be able to hang with the real dirtbikes through the gnarly stuff, no problem. Before you say the other bikes can do what real dirtbikes can do, know that for the most part I agree with you, and yes, the XR650 has dominated Baja in the past. Any bike in the right hands is capable of just about anything. I’ve even seen an XR650 run underwater – like, completely submerged, exhaust burbling and everything – and for a lot longer than I would have ever imagined. A few kicks later and it came back to life. That’s a Honda for ya, baby!

You don’t need to load and unload a pickup truck or trailer to get here. Ride the CRF450L on the road and right onto the trail. So easy, even a caveman can do it. The world is your oyster.

On the other hand, maybe you’re not a big off-road rider, and would rather slap some 17s on and turn it into a supermoto – you’d have our blessing, that’s for sure. The amount of fun you can have on a supermoto should be illegal. Just kidding, but with everything else slowly becoming outlawed these days, we’re surprised the fun-police haven’t blown the whistle on motards, yet. So get after it while you can!

The 2019 Honda CRF450L is expected to become available in September, and $10,399 might sound like a pretty penny, but you can’t put a price on all the places you could go and the amount of legal fun you could have on this thing in the process. With two sets of wheels and tires, you could have the ultimate motorcycle. Just sayin’…

Brent Jaswinski
Brent Jaswinski

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4 of 10 comments
  • Eric Sin Eric Sin on Jul 27, 2018


    • Phil Phil on Dec 23, 2018

      Not true about the 25 HP. That is the European version. US 450L is said to be in the 45-50 HP @ the crank neighborhood. Supposedly just slightly less than the 450X (4 less HP according to a Honda Rep) due to leaned out air-fuel ratio for EPA compliance. I'm sure even if there becomes an aftermarket cat delete kit (cat is integrated into the muffler) or just a full exhaust kit, smog delete kit, ECU reflash, air box mod, bigger fuel injector or anything else the aftermarket can devise, we probably still won't be seeing the 60 HP @ the crank that the 450R has just simply because the 450L & 450X have quite a bit lower compression ratios but maybe in the 50-55 HP range seems like it could definitely become a reality without having to get into the internals of the engine just yet (camshaft & piston changes). That would probably be done by someone years down the road since this thing just came out. But even @ 45 HP & considering how many thousands of dollars you'd have to spend to get it up into that 50-55 HP range, A) is that amount of $ worth it for that gain? & B) do 90% of people riding this style bike even need that much power? I personally ride a 2006 CRF450X with all the Honda Competition Mods + a little more of my own mods so roughly in the 50-55 HP range & I absolutely love it. Would I like to get into the 60 HP range with the purchase of a 10+ year newer bike? ABSOLUTELY! But the reality for me personally mainly where I ride in the Pacific Northwest just west of Portland @ Diamond Mill OHV & Browns Camp OHV both of which are 90% single track steep mountain climbs of a few thousand feet in just a few miles, do I really need that much HP? The reality is that I'm in 1st & 2nd gear 90% of the time occasionally hitting 3rd on a trail but rarely get into 4th or 5th unless on a gravel road. So for me, I think part of me would miss some of the power of a true off road only dirt bike but another part of me just loves the overall concept of the 450L! And it's not like the European competition that just slapped a Baja kit on a dirt bike & called it a dual sport. Honda actually put a lot of thought into making this bike an actual 50/50 legit dual sport that you might actually want to ride on the highway to get to a trail! They dampened the front & rear sprockets, they filled the rear swing arm with polyurethane, they added engine side covers & tweaked the frame & suspension to give it a bit more road worth handling. Of course some will argue that some or all of these things hurt it in the off road segment...of course they do! That's why it is a dual sport! If you are strictly going for performance, this isn't the bike for you. No dual sport is because there is always going to be a compromise. For those performance only people, you just need a dedicated off road only dirt bike like the 450R or maybe the 450RX. If you just want light weight & high HP with no quality or reliability, then go buy a European dual sport. Are they fun to ride? Of course. It's the same concept with cars. European cars handle amazing & typically have great power depending on the car. But the quality is non-existent. The Japanese mindset is about quality, durability & reliability (QDR). Sure they might give up a few pounds & HP but which one will still be around in 30 years? For perfect examples of this look @ Toyota & Honda cars. They pretty much last forever & people usually keep them forever. Look @ BMW, Audi, Mercedes, etc. They have problems starting @ 50K miles & people don't keep them forever. It's a similar story with dirt bikes as well. Look @ that friend you know that buys that KTM, Husky or Beta every few years...why do you think that is? He's gotta have the newest toy with the most power & get rid of his before it grenades! Most people that buy a Japanese bike aren't upgrading at that pace for a reason...cause they don't have to & don't want to!

  • Eric Sin Eric Sin on Jul 27, 2018


    • Riverstrat . Riverstrat . on Nov 04, 2018

      So very true, why on earth would you post weight
      and dimensions etc, and omit the HP. Might as well just
      post a nice picture and be done with it, forget pretending to
      provide specs.