Try Out : Honda 2012 CRF450R


The Honda 2012 CRF450R.

Photo: AWhite

Since it’s introduction, the CRF450R has served as the standard by which all other bikes are judged in the big-bore class of motocross machines. In 2012, Honda raises the bar once again with a host of improvements that will help the CRF450R stay at the head of the pack. A new, stiffer fork outer among other refinements bring a more solid feel to the front end, and stiffer fork springs, revised suspension settings front and rear plus a new shock linkage yield improved tracking, more precise handling and added rider confidence over rough terrain. New, longer and wider footpegs offer more support with a larger platform and Dunlop’s premium MX51 tires add to an overall package that makes the CRF450R the bike of choice in the open-class for 2012.

New for 2012

  • New, stiffer fork outer tubes and front axle collars bring a more solid feel to the front end.
  • Stiffer fork springs, revised suspension settings front and rear plus a new shock linkage yield improved tracking, more precise handling and added rider confidence over rough terrain.
  • New foot pegs are wider and longer for more support, and are now silver color.
  • Premium Dunlop MX51 tires front and rear.
  • New chain roller for added durability.

Rider: Buddi Bruner

Skill Level: Pro (AMA Pro License holder)

Hight: 5′ 9″

Weight: 155lb

Coming into this test ride, I had about 6 hours worth of driving to get me completely pumped!  We were testing a 2012 Honda CRF450R at Racetown 395 with American Honda; not some local shop or friends bike.  This was the real deal. We had the options of changing the bike setup including: mapping, suspension, bars, and really anything we wanted to do to the bike.  The only problem that I faced was time.  I ended up going down at the end of my first session and injured my ankle so I never really got super deep into testing.  But, I was able to get this info out of it for everyone.

Bruner felt he could carry tons of speed into the corners with the new changes to the 2012 Honda CRF450R.

Photo: AWhite

Motor/Engine/Power: 7 out of 10

The first thing I notice on the 2012 CRF450R was how quite the bike was.  It sounded like I was barely moving.  The bottom end had a really smooth punch on it and made cornering awesome. I personally like a little more punch on the bottom.  But, for a bone stock bike it was good enough for me. The top end seemed to pull for quite awhile and then kind of flattened out which I’m sure can be fixed very easily with different mapping. Overall, I feel the 2012 CRF450R has a good all around motor.

Bruner felt the Honda handled better than his 2011 Kawasaki KXF450

Photo: AWhite

Suspension/Handling/Control: 8.5 out of 10

Since I only weight 155 lbs dripping wet, the suspension on the 450 was a little stiff; but. it seemed to still work pretty good.  I really liked how the bike tracked through sweeping corners with no ruts.  Most bikes you really have to fight to get rear wheel traction; but, on the Honda it was hooking up awesome. With only setting the sag on the bike, I was really surprised how well the bike felt. Coming into ruts the bike stayed fairly even and seemed to really let you lean it over and keep it leaned over. One of the things I didn’t like was the tight cornering.  It was hard for me to get the bike into the corner easy.  But that probably also had a lot to do with the suspension being too stiff.  Carrying speed through the long sweeping berms at Racetown 395 seemed to come with ease on the 2012 CRF450R.  This being said, I was having a  great time trying to go faster and faster through all the outside corners. All in all the suspension on the 2012 Honda is setup very well.  With some slight changes in the spring rates, you can have some awesome suspension using stock valving.  Which is a plus on the wallet!

Bruner looked right at home on the new Honda 2012 CRF450R.

Photo: AWhite


-How easy it is to carry corner speed

-Bottom end power

-Chassis set up



-How quiet the bike is

-Going through tight corners


Overall: 8 out of 10

Overall this is a great all round straight off the show room floor bike.  I really enjoyed riding the 2012 CRF450R with I normally ride a Kawasaki 450 and I’m considering buying a Honda 450 for my next bike. The bike has a strong motor with a well setup chassis to go along with it. With some slight changes in the bike setup to fit your style ,you can really make this work well.  One of my favorite things on the bike was how easy it was to carry speed through corners and how well the bike tracked.  I’ll be looking forward to riding another in the near future.



Rider: Austin White

Skill Level: Pro (AMA Pro License holder)

Hight: 5′ 10″

Weight: 165lb

This was our first ever manufacturer test at Insider MX and we enjoyed every minute of it.  We were treated like we were a factory rider;  just show up with your gear and ride.  Any changes we needed and the Honda tech was standing by to get it handled.  What a treat it was.  It was hard going back to the track on my own. I have rode Hondas for about 5 years and just recently made the switch to Yamahas late last year.  So ,going into this test I had a lot of good settings and already had a feel for the new body style.  I owned a couple of 2009 Hondas and kind of knew what to expect which really helped me with this test.

AWhite getting the factory treatment by Kevin from American Honda.

Photo: JMetzger

Motor/Engine/Power: 7 out of 10

Right off the bat I noticed the sound of the bike, it was quiet, really quiet.  Most of us relate horsepower with sound and that’s what I was doing.  It took me a little to get used to it.  It wasn’t until I was pushed by a really fast B rider that I noticed it had the power of a 450. Still, after that, I felt the bike was missing something right off the bottom, right when you come out of corners. It was right at the point where you would get back on the gas, it just seemed to bog down a little bit.  So we went to work on mapping it differently to get rid of the bog and bring some power back to the bottom.  Richening it up did the job; no more bog and the power was back into the bottom end. Giving me that 450 power that I felt was missing. This made it so I could ride the bike a gear higher in the corners and pull longer coming out.  I would recommend this for anyone who gets the new Honda 2012 CRF450R!

The lightness of the Honda 2012 CRF450R makes it easy to toss off of jumps.

Photo: Buddi Bruner

Suspension/Handling/Control: 7 out of 10

The reason I switched from my Honda was because I felt the new Honda body style had handling issues.  With the new rear link and stiffer front end on the 2012, it is supposed to clear up all of those issues.  My first ride out I felt like I had those exact issues; but, after working on setting the sag down to 110 and a few clicks on the compression in the front, I felt we got most of the twitch out that you feel when coming into the corners.  I never felt the twitch again in berms or good rutted corners; but, on a few tight corners when you would really get on the brakes, it felt like the front end still wanted to twitch a little.  My suggestion would maybe be stiffer front springs to help keep the front from driving down….maybe?   Besides the little twitch, I felt like I could slice and dice any curvy straight away and could instantly move myself over wherever I needed.  Racetown 395 had this curvy straight that ended with a little hill that dropped you into a tight left hander. I felt like I could come from left to right to setup for this section really good on the Honda with little or no effort. Something I felt on my Yamaha I would have to setup a few sections before to get to that line.  When it came to jumps, I felt a little uncomfortable because it seemed I had a little trouble gripping my inner thighs to the tank.  But. with the new wider foot pegs I was able to put it back where I wanted.  Something the Honda has been missing for a couple of years now.

Once remapped, the Honda 2012 CRF450R ripped in and out of the corners good and I was able to ride it a gear higher.

Photo: JMetzger


- New foot pegs help a lot

- Stronger front end helps with twitch

- Feels light, can put it anywhere you want

- Dunlop MX 51 front tire, we hated the old 742



- How quiet the bike is, it throws you off

- The twitch when getting on the brakes hard


Overall: 7 out of 10

Honda is getting closer and closer to getting all those little kinks out of the new Honda body; but, I still think it needs just a tiny bit more for me to give it a 10 out of 10.  With that little twitch still in there and the quiet motor sound, it makes you have to do some work when you get the bike off the showroom to what I would like.  The improvements from last year and previous years helped a ton and were a strong step in the right direction. With the proper direction, there is no reason why you can’t make this bike work phenomenal.



A huge thanks goes out to Bill & Kevin at American Honda for setting us up with this try out, Warren at FOX for the head to toe gear setup, Andrew at Answer for a set of gear for Buddi Bruner, Jace at Impulse Graphics Donn at Transworld for the tripod and Racetown 395 for the awesome track.

One comments on “Try Out : Honda 2012 CRF450R
  1. Jimmy-B from Arvada, CO, United States on said:

    I think everyone that I know who has the 2010,11,12 Honda 450 complains about that low end bog. I rode the 2011 450 and the bog is so bad it's almost sketchy. Other than that it basically feels like a fast 250f. If they can get their old power back that bike will be insane!

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