It is curious that the past couple of weeks have been rife with internet chatter about Ducati working on a 450cc motocross bike. It is a strange rumor, and if true it would be big news for Ducati.
Of course, for the very same reason that it would be big news, this rumor is also hard to believe, if for no other reason than Ducati getting into the MX scene would be a huge jump for the Italian brand.
What is more curious though is the timing of the story, as it comes only two weeks after we published some thoughts about how Ducati can expand its lineup, through the acquisition of a brand like TM Racing.
Much was said about the 2019 Honda CRF450L before it even debuted in the United States, and the resounding collective opinion of the moto-journalists in attendance at its press launch was that the 450cc dual-sport is potent off-road, and well-mannered on the street.
Our own thoughts on the new Honda CRF450L are quite positive, and it rises to the top of the list of dual-sports that we would put in our garage. Getting an up-close look at the machine, you can see Honda’s quality shine through, from the engine to the switchgear, and even the body panels.
Making roughly 45hp at the crank, the CRF450L isn’t the most powerful bike in the category, put the torque curve on the Honda is tabletop flat and without holes. This makes the machine easy to hookup on the dirt, and refined for street riding…all the way to 85mph or more.
One of five new 450cc dirt bikes from Honda, the CRF450L is a true dual-sport – letting bikes like the CRF450RX and CRF450X fill the enduro niches for racing and pure trail riding. Thus having a weapon for every use, Honda smartly focused the CRF450L to be a dual-sport that can actually handle on street riding, instead of just compromising an exist dirt-focused machine.
Where do you begin about the 2019 Honda CRF450L? You can start with the dearth of 450cc dual-sport motorcycles for the American market, for one. You can talk about Honda’s new 450cc dirt bike lineup, which has spawned five separate models for the 2019 model year.
We of course have to mention the domination of the market by a certain European manufacturer, which prefers the color orange. And naturally, we should give a nod to the resurgence of the American off-road scene, and how Big Red wants to be part of that growing movement.
The truth is, all of these points are realities when it comes to the new Honda CRF450L – a dirt bike that is street-legal from the factory, for all 50 states of the Union. The United States is the target market for the 2019 Honda CRF450L, and for good reason. Honda sees a real opportunity for a 450cc dual-sport in the USA, one that can slot in between the woefully old Suzuki DRZ-400S and the “race bike with lights” KTM 450 EXC-F (sold in the US only as its kitted-out “Six Days” variant).
Among the first in the world to ride the 2019 Honda CRF450L, American Honda brought Asphalt & Rubber out to our own backyard, and let us loose on the CRF450L in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Providing a mix of gravel roads, single-track, double-track, and proper street use, we spent over 100 miles getting to see how well the Honda CRF450L plays on both the dirt and asphalt. In short? Very, very well.
It has been a long-time coming, but Honda has finally has a road-legal 450cc dirt bike back in its lineup. As such, say hello to the 2019 Honda CRF450L.
Taking its DNA from Honda’s 450cc MX bike (which is also updated for 2019), the Honda CRF450L offers mirrors, LED lighting, an electric starter, and even a place to stick a license plate, giving you the ability to on-road, between trailheads.
Other features include a wide-ratio six-speed transmission, 18″ rear wheel, a two-gallon titanium fuel tank, Showa suspension front and back, and more crank mass than the Honda CRF450R MX bike. The curb weight is claimed at 289 lbs, topped up with fuel and ready to ride.
Honda says that the CRF450L will be available in September 2018, with pricing set for now at $10,399.
The All-Japan Nationals for motocross always seem to give us a glimpse on what to expect from the Japanese manufacturers’ dirt bike divisions, so much so, that it has become a thing in moto-journal circls.
This year, Yamaha decided to drop some of the pretenses and help the journalists out, and even provided some photos and a statement about its upcoming motocross machines.
As such, the above motorcycle is the 2018 Yamaha YZ450FM – Yamaha’s revised 450cc motocross racing machine, and while actual details on the new motocross bike are thin, we can glean some details from the photos.
You probably haven’t heard of Fantic Motorcycles, but you won’t want to miss the company’s two new 500cc models, which are tastefully done heritage models.
Bringing Italian sexiness to a segment dominated with an American aesthetic, the Fantic Caballero 500 street tracker and scrambler bikes are remarkable examples of purposeful and elegant machines.
Based around a 449cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine that makes 43hp, the Fantic Caballero 500 scrambler comes with a 19″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel, whereas the street tracker model comes with 19″ hoops fore and aft.
A reader asked me recently what I knew about the upcoming 2017 Honda CRF450R dirt bike, and admittedly I had to say “not much” – it’s called Asphalt & Rubber after all.
For the past year though, even my radar has picked up sighting of Akira Narita (one of the greatest Japanese MX racers of all time) showing up to events in Japan with a race bike that looked pretty advanced from what was currently on dealership floors.
This is nothing new in the world of Honda though, with next year’s models often ending up at events on the other side of the Pacific…usually in Narita-san’s very capable hands.
But today, we can answer more accurately what Big Red is up to with the 2017 Honda CRF450R, as the folks at VitalMX caught the new motocrosser spinning laps at an MX track in Southern California (read their expert breakdown of the new bike, here).
The Husqvarna brand will continue with its FS 450 offering for the 2016 model year, though you would be wrong to confuse the 2016 bike with its predecessor.
Trimming the fat off the 2015 model, it is clear that Husqvarna looked for ways to make the FS 450 even lighter than before, for 2016, and the Swedish brand look successful in that endeavor, with a 232 lbs machine (sans fuel).
To hit that target weight and other benchmarks, the 2016 Husqvarna FS 450 needed a new chromium molybdenum steel frame, a potent 63hp, 450cc, SOHC, engine, and a bucket of weight-saving items.
Our press release says the new FS 450 will be out in dealers in September of this year, but we take that to surely mean European showrooms, not American. We hope this bike will come the USA though, as it sounds like two wheels of hoon for sumo enthusiasts, and a lighter option than the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto.
Italy’s motorcycle publication of record, Motociclismo, is reporting that BMW Motorrad is developing a 450cc race bike for youth racers. Said to be a ground-up design that centers around a single-cylinder motor that will likely be prepared by Husqvarna, the BMW race bike would feature a frame built in Bologna, Italy with “racing” suspension, forged wheels, and carbon fiber bodywork.
With pricing to be in the €20,000 range, BMW hopes that its 450cc cup bike will appeal to 15 to 18-year-old riders, and is formulating a racing series that will piggyback off six select World Superbike and British Superbike rounds. As such, BMW’s proposal appears to be in direct competition with the European Junior Cup (EJC), which will use the Honda CBR500R as its spec-machine for the 2013 season.
We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t publish any more Ducati singles by Oberdan Bezzi, after the Italian designer set out with his pen and paper to imagine the Italian brand with a bevy of off-road inspired motorcycles; however Bezzi’s Ducati Desmolight 450 concept was just too great of a design to ignore, and thus here we are. With styling drawn from the current Monster line, Obiboi’s 450cc single looks delicious, especially with the coloring that’s reminiscent of Ducati’s Corse theme. This is the kind of bike that would go in our fantasy garage, and we’ll need a Prozac knowing it won’t be built.
Thursday, the organizers (ASO) of the Dakar Rally announced that the event will only allow 450cc motorcycls in the professional class. Taking the news a bit hard, KTM has now claimed that the new class regulations are specifically “designed to end the dominance of KTM” in the historic and difficult race.
Unable to field and prep 450cc rally bikes, the Austrian company has announced that it will cut the race completely out of its schedule and budget, leaving nearly 50 riders SOL for bikes and/or sponsorships.