but the power delivery takes getting
used to, especially in slower, technical
The 450R’s clean throttle response
helps whether you want to attack
or take it slow. Where rideability is
concerned, fuel injection really doesn’t
have an edge over the Honda’s
carburetor. Smooth, positive shifting
and clutch operation make the 450R
a joy to ride at any speed. As with
most competition 450s, the five-speed
transmission has no reverse. For now,
Kawasaki’s KFX450R is the only 450
that backs up under power.
WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES IT
Double-A-arm front suspension and
solid-axle, swingarm rear suspension
with compression, rebound and spring
preload-adjustable piggyback reservoir
shocks front and rear.
It sounds just like what other
competition 450s have, but there are
a couple key differences. First, the
Honda is 46. 3 inches wide with 8. 4
inches of travel up front and 9. 3 in the
rear, which is similar to other woods-width quads like the KFX450 and DS
450. Motocross-width machines like
the Yamaha YFZ450R and Can-Am DS
450 X mx are just under 50 inches wide
and have more than an inch more travel
front and rear. The Honda’s shocks and
suspension settings contribute as much
to its feel as its travel numbers.
HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK?
The Honda’s suspension provides
the control and bottoming resistance a
450 needs for jumps and high speeds
on rough terrain, but there’s room
for improvement in the ride quality
department. Fast riders looking for the
more fluid feel of a YFZ450R or Can-
Am DS 450 will bottom the suspension
in motocross conditions if they back out
the compression damping more than a
few clicks. Reducing the compression
damping helps for trail riding, but the
ride doesn’t have a truly refined feel.
Fortunately, the Honda’s shocks
are rebuildable and re-valvable, and
suspension experts like Race Tech can
improve their action considerably.
HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
The Honda feels light and compact,
and it corners easily and accurately
whether you want to steer or slide
through turns. For a woods-width
machine, it’s also impressively stable,
though it lacks the magnetized-to-the-earth feel motocross-width quads
have in corners. Choppy terrain can
confuse the Honda’s suspension and
make it feel busy momentarily, but the
450R has the composed, predictable
manners that make it such a sought-
after race machine. This is a quad that
you’ll want to extend your limits on,
because it makes you feel confident. If
you ride like us, you’ll feel it saves you
from some of your own mistakes.
HOW IS IT FOR DUNES AND TRAILS?
Very good. The Honda’s strong,
quick-building power and light weight
make it a joy to ride in the sand.
Motocross-width machines’ extra
stability is a plus in dunes, but the
Honda is impressively stable and easy
to control. The ride isn’t as refined as
some 450s in choppy sand, but the
suspension handles jump landings well.
Tight trails are where the Honda’s
agile handling and lack of width work
HOW ARE THE BRAKES?
Incredible, which is what you need
on a race machine. The nice thing
about powerful, controllable brakes with
excellent feel is, they add confidence
and control no matter what kind of
riding you do.
Honda’s 450R is as competitive as any
450, but its performance and reliability
have made it as popular with duners and
trail riders as racers.
Like other high-performance 450s, the Honda has fully adjustable
piggyback reservoir shocks, but the ride is less refined. The reservoirs
are located behind the shock bodies to protect them from roost.
A linkage-operated, fully adjustable rear shock provides
9. 3 inches of travel.