Honda’s 2018 CRF450R might not look much different to the 2017 version but the change that counts isn’t something that’s been added but something that’s been taken away.
Yep, there’s no kick start lever on the right hand side anymore. That’s because Honda’s followed the latest trend in motocross machines by swapping to an electric start.
It makes so much sense that it’s a wonder motocrossers have taken so long to migrate to electrics. No more precious seconds lost trying to kick the bike back to life after a mid-race tumble, just thumb a button and it’s off.
Of course, it’s really the modern availability of lightweight lithium ion batteries that makes the difference. The weight of a lead-acid battery – not to mention the potential acid spillage – would be unacceptable to most motocross riders. But a sealed, lithium ion pack is far lighter and smaller. In fact, Honda says that the removal of the old kick start lever actually saves weight on the new bike.
Starter aside, the 2018 CRF450R gets retuned suspension settings, but is otherwise largely unaltered. That’s no surprise since the bike was given a ground-up redesign for 2017, with new geometry, 11% more power and new suspension.
The existing enduro-spec CRF450RX already had an electric start in its 2017 form, but like the 2018 CRF450R next year’s bike is adopting a lithium ion battery that saves 600g compared to the old one. It also loses the back-up kick starter that was to be found on the 2017 model, saving more weight. Compared to the 2018 CRF450R, the CRF450RX gets an 8.5l fuel tank, 18in rear wheel and a side stand.
Both models will go on sale in Europe this summer.