Best Dirtbike Of 2017

While we had no doubt that an all-new CRF450R was on tap for 2017, we wondered if Big Red would do what it took to raise the CRF450R’s engine performance level up to par with the raw power of other machines in its class. We’re stoked Honda responded with a new version of its Unicam engine that boasts more compression, a more radical cam, a finger-follower-style rocker arm and a new cylinder with a downdraft intake layout that gives the incoming air charge a straighter shot to the CRF450R’s valves. While the new engine doesn’t dominate the class in terms of sheer output, it more than makes up for that by providing the most exciting power delivery of any 450cc motocrosser available.

2017 Honda CRF450R First Ride Review

And Honda didn’t stop there. It packaged the high-steroid engine in an all-new, lighter, aluminum perimeter chassis, featuring longer and more gradually curved main spars that vary in thickness along their length to give the ’17 CRF a more compliant feel while retaining the previous version’s cornering competence. Ditching the KYB air fork in favor of Showa coil-spring fork that features a production version of the factory’s “A-kit” race suspension internals and revamping the CRF450R’s Pro-link rear suspension to lower the shock absorber in the chassis also give the CRF450R class-winning suspension performance.

2017 450cc Motocross Shootout

What you end up with is a new CRF450R that makes pro-level power, bends around corners and soaks up bumps like no other Honda CRF we’ve ever ridden – save for its off-road sister, the CRF450RX, which also deserves a mention here. While it may lose a step to different competitors in some of these categories, none can match the Honda’s ability to balance aggression and excitement with a polished overall character.

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