When Honda debuted its 2020 off-road lineup, there was one big omission: Team Red didn’t have a big-bore motocross machine in the mix. Obviously, a new Honda CRF450R is coming soon, and now, we’ve got a good look at what the production version will look like.
Throughout May and June, 2020, Honda filed for design protections for the new MX bike in countries all around the world. Earlier in 2020, Honda was racing a new 450-class machine in the FIM's MXGP series, although it wasn’t a production bike. Even if we hadn’t seen the machine there, Honda’s not going to leave a 450-sized hole in its lineup. It wasn’t a question as to whether or not we’d see this bike, it was just a question of when.
There are still plenty of questions about the new bike, however, because all we see for now is the new bike’s design. There’s no talk about engine updates, suspension upgrades, chassis modifications—no technical deets to nerd out over. According to Motorcycle.com, Honda confirmed the 450 will still have a four-valve Unicam head, with 96.0 mm bore and 62.1 mm stroke, but hasn’t given much else away.
Looking at the photos, you can see obvious changes to the exhaust system and clutch, as Motorcycle.com’s Dennis Chung points out. The new bike has a hydraulic clutch, instead of the current cable-operated setup, and a single exhaust can, instead of the 2019 machine’s two-muffler arrangement. Those are minor details, though, and they don’t reveal much about the bike’s performance.
Honda’s MXGP team seems to be doing well with the new machine, at least. In the four races so far this year (two in the U.K., two in the Netherlands), Honda’s Tim Gajser has two victories, and a second-place finish. With the help of teammate Mitch Evans, the defending Honda factory squad has not finished off the podium yet, running the updated bike.