When the Honda CRF450L was announced, it had A LOT of hype. Hell, I was excited. There was talk of service intervals similar to that of the smaller CRF250L, a reasonable sized fuel tank, with solid road handling while still being a serious off road machine. What we got was…pretty well another CRF450X. Don’t get me wrong, it’s by all accounts a great machine, but it’s not quite the souped up 250L a lot of people were after. Service intervals are much shorter than originally expected, oil and filter changes are 1000km apart and valve checks are every 3000km. This is a far cry from the 250L’s 12000km oil change intervals and 24000km valve checks. The fuel tank is also a tiny 2 gallons! The price is an eye watering $10500 US dollars. It’s a bit more acceptable in Australia at $12999, but man, that’s not what I thought a Honda ”L” would cost.
There are some positives though, it has a great sub frame that can handle luggage, it’s a good off-road machine with high quality suspension and engine performance is great. Honda also employed some anti-vibration and noise dampening techniques to help with on road performance, dampened engine covers, a foam filled swing arm and rubberised sprockets.
But Honda, what we really wanted was a proper dual sport that suits the ‘L’ name. Further to that, I want a RALLY version. Think the 250L Rally, but actually good! The 250L Rally looks great, but it’s underpowered, heavy and under suspended. You need to spend a bit of money on it if you’re a reasonably advanced trail rider.
So what does a CRF450L Rally need? For starters, a bigger tank, say 15 litres or more. Why manufacturers persist with putting shitty little 7 litre tanks on bikes I don’t understand. This isn’t a motocross bike people; it needs to ride for more than 30 minutes! Next, the power needs to be the same at about 45hp, it’s a good amount. They’ve done a good job with the suspension, though Honda could possibly put in some heavier springs to compensate for luggage. Oh, and it can’t be a big fat ass!
This may sound like a magical dream, but so many people want this and try to do exact same mods to their dual sports.
Now Honda has already toyed with this idea. In late 2018 at EICMA they showed off a 450L Rally Concept. This honestly looks bad ass. It’s modeled heavily off the Honda Dakar bike, with a reported 20 litre, dual fuel tank that also acts as engine protection (similar to the KTM 790 adventure and CRF250L Rally). It also has an under slung exhaust, giving you storage space where the exhaust usually runs on the standard 450L. This would be great for tool kits or oil. Further to this, they’ve added in a tower for navigation and wind protection. Give us this bike Honda, this is what I want!
Unfortunately, you are still going to have relatively short service intervals. Why? Because the 450L motor is pretty well a detuned 450R motor and the R is a highly strung race engine. With that comes a small oil capacity. Look, 1000km service intervals are pretty damn good for a dedicated dirt bike. That’s a lot of single track and weekends of riding. Hell, that’s not even bad for some light adventure work. But what we really need is something in between the road based 250L intervals and the 450L’s race intervals. Realistically, you could probably stretch them out a bit longer if you’re not caning the ass out of it all the time. I wouldn’t say this is ideal though. I mean, Adam Reimann did ride his KTM EXC500 from Austria to Egypt and stretched out the servicing, but he was supplied those bikes by KTM. Me paying for my own bike, I’d be reluctant to push it that much.
So do I think Honda is going to make a CRF 450L Rally? You would think since they did a concept, yes. But I honestly don’t think they are. They can’t change the service intervals without spending a ton of money redesigning the engine, though they could get away with leaving it as is, short service intervals and all. Probably the biggest reason they won’t, is price. The CRF450L is already expensive, and this is going to be even more. I’m thinking it will be up around the $16000 AUD range, and that’s getting bloody close to the Africa Twin. With all this talk of a baby Africa Twin happening…I just can’t see it happening from Honda.
So what do you think? Should Honda make a CRF450L Rally? Let me know in the comments below.