The 2021 Honda CRF450R MX racer gets a new frame, updated suspension and several other improvements. The result? Honda says the new bike hooks up better in the rear, with quicker corner exits and consistent “optimal lap times.” The CRF450RX cross-country bike gets similar changes, too.
What’s new for the CRF450R, then? The updated twin-spar aluminum frame is more rigid, and more narrow, with tightened rake and trail. Honda cut a bunch of weight off the frame, too. The swingarm is new, with the rear suspension geometry revised. In turn, that’s supposed to help the rear wheel find more traction. The 2021 Honda CRF450R also has more ground clearance than the previous model, thanks to the chassis revisions.
Honda didn’t completely rethink the suspension for 2021, but it did do some tinkering with the fork and shock, supposedly bringing it closer to factory race spec.
Honda’s press release says the only part of the bike that wasn’t changed was the engine and the wheels, but it seems the engine actually received some upgrades, too. The 449cc liquid-cooled Unicam thumper now has reshaped exhaust ports and a re-designed magnesium cylinder head cover. The 450 gets a hydraulic clutch, with some other slight changes to the internals. And, the exhaust system is significantly overhauled, from a dual-can set-up to a single muffler. the airbox is also new, and so is the fuel pump and throttle body.
All together, these changes supposedly give the engine more low-range and mid-range grunt. Honda didn’t mess with the three-level traction control system, but it did do some tinkering with the mapping for the engine mode system. Supposedly, “Smooth” mode is … smoother for 2021.
Honda also rejigged the plastics, shortened the seat, and even went so far as to shave a few ounces off the control cables.
The CRF450RX gets basically the same upgrades as the CRF450R, with some minor differences. Because it’s aimed at cross-country racing, the RX model has an 18-inch rear wheel, and the ECU has different power maps built-in. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same machine. It’s priced at $10,899 for 2021, while the CRF450R is priced at $10,699. We’d expect to see both at dealerships this fall.
For more details, check out the Honda Canada website.