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2014 CRF450R First Impression

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Recent bikes as reference
1) 09 KX450
2) 11 350 SXF
3) 12 RMZ250

Rider
6' 165lb, 40 yrs, VET Intermediate

Bike Setup
100% Stock (including suspension settings)

Ergos
(+) bar, footpeg, seat triangle is perfect.  Slightly better than my all time favorite, RMZ250 (KTM sits too high for me, CRF bar bend is better than all of them)
(+) Grips: very good - comfy, good feel, good length (1st stock grips I will keep on a bike in >10 yrs)
(+) Controls all in the right place - no mis shifts (had to increase shifter length on RMZ)
(+) Throttle control effort is correct (KTM 350 was too easy)
(+) seat foam is best: firm for feedback, yet comfy, stays the same the whole day (KTM too soft)
(-) caught leg on shroud tip 2 times during aggressive cornering (the bike lays over so far so easy which is good).  Simply need to adjust style.

Starting
(+) effort and lever position are good for a 450 (similar to best - KX450)
(-) Cold: 5-10 kicks.  However, my RMZ250 did the same thing until ~5 hrs.  Then, 1-3.
(+) Hot: 1-2 kicks
(+) no hot start procedure to deal with (RMZ)

Idle
(+) stable with high resistance to flame out during throttle cracking even cold.

Low Speed driveability
(+) Light throttle control is good in the pits (1st gear).  (09CRF450 was unacceptable)
(+/-) Hard to stall while putting.  However, stalled in 2 corners (high engine RPM to hard braking).  Expect to get better with B/I - approaching 350 SXF (excellent).

Stability/Handling/Cornering
(+) Cornering is better than RMZ250.  Turn initiation is effortless like the Suz but the breaking bump approach is much more stable allowing to get into the line better.
(+) Bike holds a line precisely and moves around the track easily like the RMZ250 (KTMs in general feel vague).
(+) Feels light and flickable.  I feel more confident moving the bike sideways in the air than even RMZ250 and much more than KTM.
(+) Very small and compact
(-) High speed is a bit sketchy when hitting certain kinds of holes or pockets in soft soil - the bars move way to much.  Need to tune steering damper.  KX is king in this area (but turning is the worse of any bike)

Suspension
(+) Best I have experienced: plush (like KTM), stays up during hard braking (like RMZ), great bottoming resistance (like RMZ).  Very confidence inspiring.  This feels like I would expect a factory setup to be.

Comfort
(+) Rode 1.9 hrs and did not feel beat up at all.  RMZ was much more harsh.  KTM was comfy but vague and lacked confidence on jumping big.
(+) Left arm is no longer sore like RMZ250 (less clutching, no need to ride with a finger on the lever)
(-) Right arm is more sore than RMZ250 (throttle control is more sensitive)

Motor
(+) Solid low-end into a good mid.  Very smooth hard pulling with no arm-tiring hit (KX more exciting but tiring and scary).  Could ride the entire track in 3rd w/ little clutch.  Will not be changing final drive.
(+) Sound quality and quantity are great (KX is the worse).
(-) Top-end is a little flat for me.  I like to rev the bike v. shifting.  But, due to the transmission/clutch this is not an issue and will simply adjust technique (and save valves).
(+/-) Engine braking is good to slow down because the brakes are average.  However, too much can cause bike to unsettle if done quickly.  This should improve with break-in (RMZ and KTM 350 were much better but not big bores)

Transmission/Clutch
(+) Best I have experienced: solid shifting yet smooth (RMZ was too easy and wondered if it was in gear or going to hold the gear) (KTM was good but slightly notchy in comparison)
(+) Can find neutral during stop (RMZ was difficult)
(+) Clutch is fantastic: lever effort is perfect (like RMZ250) and great feel (did not like KTM hydraulic on big bore).  I see no reason for a Rekluse on this bike.

Brakes
(+) feel is good (KTM is a little better)
(+/-) initial bite is good but want more power.  Perhaps they need to break-in (KTM is better).  An oversized-rotor kit would be nice.

Fit/finish/looks
(+) Wire management is the best in the business (KTM is the worst... even 2014 is a joke)
(+) hardware, platings, castings, plastics all top quality
(+) long term durability seems best
(+) very modern without looking strange (Yamaha)

Maintenance
(+) Very intuitive
(+) Air box access is best (RMZ too small and hard to confirm seal, KTM is difficult to seat and don't like pull off cover as it seams cheap)
(+) don't have to deal with battery (although I appreciate e-start).

Overall
Best suspended cornering bike I've ridden.  The fact that it is a controllable 450 adds excitement without feeling bulky and overwhelming.
The bike gives the rider the ability to push harder each lap without getting into too much trouble.  It was easy/safe/comfortable to ride faster than any other bike I have tried.
If I was really fast I would change a couple of things (mostly engine and straight line stability).  Great platform to start with.
Honda did an excellent job with this bike and will struggle to improve in the next couple of years.

 

I'll post a follow up after more riding and some pics.

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Good to hear I have had the 14 for almost 2 months now and I agree with you tips on the flame out turn up the idle just a bit end of that also will get better with hours on bike the top end is not as bad as the 13 but can be fixed with pipe/remap wont be the best but alot better also radiator braces are a must when u got the 90 bucks to spare make sure thats the 1st thing u buy lol

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Thanks for the tips.

 

Already have the following:

WC rad braces

WC skid plate

WC EZ air

WC hour meter/bracket

DID VT2

backgrounds

 

Going to keep the rest stock for a while.

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Have you ever ridden the 2012 CRF 450? I own a 2012 and I am really considering buying the 2014 as I believe I would be faster on the 2014. Is it truly that much better for your average rider?

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Thanks for the great detailed write up.  I was/am interested in buying a new honda.  Last weekend, I had a chance to ride a 2013 CRF 450.  It was nice except for the low/mid only motor.  I wasn't blown away by anything.  Sure it was narrow and felt light in the air, handled very good no surprises, pulled down low like a tractor but went flat immediately past mid range.  The suspension was good but nothing that gave me a chubby.  The forks felt a little harsh but I only spent about an hour on the bike and might have been able to dial a little more of this out if I had more time.  I currently own a 2007 and a 2008 CRF 450 and was honestly expecting a little more.  I had never ridden a 2009-2013 before this.  If I can get confirmation that the 2014 has more mid to top power compared to the 2013 I will be buying one.  If they are basically the same for power I guess I will have to keep riding the old iron.  Some like the old stuff others say it is crap in comparison...

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I understand.  I don't have a good comparison for the 13.  Honestly, I don't want to say too much about the 14 top end until I get another ride or two.

 

I was blown away with the suspension and cornering.  It's a great package to start with even if the top end is still lacking.  That is not too difficult/$ to fix.

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Sure looks sweet.  Just like a new bike should :)   Did you get a chance to ride anymore so you can comment a little more on the mid to top power?

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I had a 06 CRF 450 and now own a 12 CRF 450. I have ridden a 13 CRF 450 that a friend owns. Comparing the 12 to the 13, stock to stock the 13 is better. But after i got the suspension dialed in (and the 13 had its suspension dialed in as well) there was no mind blowing difference between the years.  I also chucked the stock stabilizer and use a Scotts in place with more high speed dialed in and it is pretty good. Overall, i prefer my 12 over the 13 mainly due to the air fork and dual exhausts but that is more of a personal preference. My 06 motor was great in comparison to any 09 CRF or newer. Loved that motor, hated the weight and tank-like cornering of that year group.

 

Thanks for the review Honda 547, very detailed.  I was surprised that you found the Honda handled better than the suz.

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Sure looks sweet.  Just like a new bike should :)   Did you get a chance to ride anymore so you can comment a little more on the mid to top power?

Yes.  Rode another 2 hrs Sun at National style MX track.  Lots of flowing 3rd and 4th gear 3/4 throttle.  The bike is starting to loosen up a bit.  The power delivery is excellent for those looking to push harder while building confidence and not getting wore out.  If I was a seasoned 450 "fast" guy I would probably want a little more top-end.  Honestly, I am usually a top-end guy (love 250F and 350s) but not feeling limited yet.  Typically, my max RPM after a 250F moto is at or near rev limiter.  The 450 is only around 8900.  I don't feel the need to crank as much or I'm shifting into 4th.  But no bike could pull these straights in 3rd and be fast.  So, I guess I would have to shift once anyway.

 

Sorry if this is not making sense.

 

I'm not a seasoned 450 and am adjusting still.

 

Finally, I am getting comfy on this 450 quickly and wondering if I will go back to a 250F.  It's that good for me.

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Additionally, I rode a 13 back to back that day.

 

Things that stuck out:

1) 14 clutch is much much much better in every way.  I'm really blown away with this as I was expecting a stiff arm pumping lever and got a 250F pull with excellent feel.

 

2) Front fork settings are better.  Holds up better in the stroke without any added harshness

 

3) 13 had a single aftermarket exhaust and slightly quicker throttle response (but had many more hours and was well broke in).

Edited by Honda574

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Yes.  Rode another 2 hrs Sun at National style MX track.  Lots of flowing 3rd and 4th gear 3/4 throttle.  The bike is starting to loosen up a bit.  The power delivery is excellent for those looking to push harder while building confidence and not getting wore out.  If I was a seasoned 450 "fast" guy I would probably want a little more top-end.  Honestly, I am usually a top-end guy (love 250F and 350s) but not feeling limited yet.  Typically, my max RPM after a 250F moto is at or near rev limiter.  The 450 is only around 8900.  I don't feel the need to crank as much or I'm shifting into 4th.  But no bike could pull these straights in 3rd and be fast.  So, I guess I would have to shift once anyway.

 

Sorry if this is not making sense.

 

I'm not a seasoned 450 and am adjusting still.

 

Finally, I am getting comfy on this 450 quickly and wondering if I will go back to a 250F.  It's that good for me.

I hear ya... If you are mostly a 250, guy the 450 will feel like an animal in comparison.  I'm just struggling with buying a new bike and then having to stick a bunch of cash into the motor to have it equal a stock bike that is six years old.  The 13 I rode had great roll on and mid range.  It's just those times you want or (need) to have some overrev or top end.  We don't have any it seems with the new Honda bikes.  For what it's worth, I'm a mid pack Vet A rider that is not known for being a revver and I was still a little disappointed in the 13's top end.  

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Additionally, I rode a 13 back to back that day.

 

Things that stuck out:

1) 14 clutch is much much much better in every way.  I'm really blown away with this as I was expecting a stiff arm pumping lever and got a 250F pull with excellent feel.

 

2) Front fork settings are better.  Holds up better in the stroke without any added harshness

 

3) 13 had a single aftermarket exhaust and slightly quicker throttle response (but had many more hours and was well broke in).

Nice to know.....Thanks!!

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I own a 350 (2014) i love the bike,, i like to rev,, i have way more fun reving, using the clutch,, nailing the proper gears in corners and be active !! the bike handels better then an rmz i dnt know feels the same to me.  only problem is the throttle, way to easy to open,, makes it hard to ride being so sensitive,, hopefully i get some dirt in soon :ride: lol jajajjajajaj 

 

some info,, in spain we get pirelli scorpion tires with the ktm`s

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I had a 06 CRF 450 and now own a 12 CRF 450. I have ridden a 13 CRF 450 that a friend owns. Comparing the 12 to the 13, stock to stock the 13 is better. But after i got the suspension dialed in (and the 13 had its suspension dialed in as well) there was no mind blowing difference between the years. I also chucked the stock stabilizer and use a Scotts in place with more high speed dialed in and it is pretty good. Overall, i prefer my 12 over the 13 mainly due to the air fork and dual exhausts but that is more of a personal preference. My 06 motor was great in comparison to any 09 CRF or newer. Loved that motor, hated the weight and tank-like cornering of that year group.

Thanks for the review Honda 547, very detailed. I was surprised that you found the Honda handled better than the suz.

yeah that's what I'm sayin.. Suzukis handling is flawless..

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Additionally, I rode a 13 back to back that day.

 

Things that stuck out:

1) 14 clutch is much much much better in every way.  I'm really blown away with this as I was expecting a stiff arm pumping lever and got a 250F pull with excellent feel.

 

 

I didn't realize the clutch was changed on the '14. Any idea exactly what's different compared to the '13? Is the cable routing different?

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No they changed the clutch springs to lighter ones but they said it wouldn't change the durability of the clutches so its a win win

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I hear ya... If you are mostly a 250, guy the 450 will feel like an animal in comparison.  I'm just struggling with buying a new bike and then having to stick a bunch of cash into the motor to have it equal a stock bike that is six years old.  The 13 I rode had great roll on and mid range.  It's just those times you want or (need) to have some overrev or top end.  We don't have any it seems with the new Honda bikes.  For what it's worth, I'm a mid pack Vet A rider that is not known for being a revver and I was still a little disappointed in the 13's top end.  

 

After coming off an 05 - 06 model the motors felt stronger vs the efi models. Did some research on how to improve the flat topend the 09-12's have & had Eddie Sisneros remap an 09 / 10 model with stock motors / exhaust.   It was a big difference in the powerband as it gave it a strong broad pull & added some topend.   The new crf450 efi bikes seem to be detuned from the factory, but can easily be brought to life if need be.   For $50 on the remap I was impressed on how much of an improvement it made.  Best bang for the buck found so far thru the years as a mod.     

Edited by H4L

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