Honda and Yamaha introduce new off-roaders

PAR Steve ThorntonPosted on

Honda and Yamaha have both introduced serious upgrades to some of their popular offroad-only models.

Honda Canada has announced a 2021 CRF450R with so many new parts it hardly recognizes itself. “Every part of the CRF450R is new save for the wheels and engine,” Honda says.  The refreshment comes from experience gained in Honda’s racing programs, and inlcudes a new frame and swingarm, changes to geometry and suspension, weight savings, intake and exhaust improvements, and a smaller seat, because it’s not a bike you’re supposed to sit down on for long.

Yamaha YZ450FX.

Not to be outdone, Yamaha Canada announces a redesigned YZ250F and an updated YZ450FX for their 2021 line-up. A “thoroughly refined engine, revised frame, new suspension settings, new brakes and more” contribute to better mid-range and high-end power, cornering ability, traction and suspension compliance in the YZ250F. The cross-country YZ450FX gets many of the updates given to the 450F last year, including a more efficient engine and a redesigned frame with better flex, suspension settings, and, of course, “more.”

Honda’s CRF4540R motocrosser was introduced in 2002 and has been upgraded several times in the past 18 years. It was given electric starting as standard equipment in 2018 and last year a new cylinder head that improved peak power and torque “considerably.” For the 2020 model, Honda Selectable Torque Control was added.

Now, Honda’s 2021 model gets more improvements under the tag “razor-sharp cornering.” It’s 1.5 kg lighter, the engine produces improved low-end and mid-range torque, and the hydraulic clutch has increased volume and a lighter pull at the lever. The twin-spar aluminum frame is “completely renewed,” says Honda Canada, for improved cornering. There’s a fully adjustable 49 mm Showa USD fork that is “a version of the Showa ‘factory’ fork supplied to MX race teams,” and a Showa rear shock with faster response and improved bump absorption. Rake and trail are tighter, ground clearance is a little higher, and curb weight is a claimed 110.5 kg, a kilo and a half lighter.

Honda says the engine brings a “significant increase in peak power above 5,000 rpm” and “stronger low-rpm torque feel,” which comes about because of a bigger air box. Oval exhaust ports and a lighter downpipe and muffler save weight, and a hydraulic clutch improves control and feel.

Well. Let’s see if Yamaha can top that.

For 2021 the YZ250F gets a new cylinder head, new airbox and intake tract, a new silencer, an improved transmission and revised clutch, an updated aluminum frame, retuned KYB fully adjustable fork and revised KYB fully adjustable rear shock, light brake calipers, larger brake pad surface areas, and redesigned brake discs.

The YZ450FX gets a new cylinder head with improved combustion chamber shape, higher-compression piston, a smoother shifting transmissioin, a lightweight aluminum frame, better compression and rebound in the fully adjustable KYB suspensino, and newly designed front brake  caliper, brake pads, and front and rear disc.

Yamaha is also returning the YZ65, YZ85, YZ125 and YZ250 two-stroke motocross models as well as the YZ250FX, YZ250X and YZ125X cross country racer, as well as the TT-R230, TT-R125, TT-R110, TT-R50 and PW50 off-road recreation models, plus the XT250 and TW200 dual sport bikes in new graphics for the 2021 model year.

Like Honda, Yamaha will also introduce a couple of special models: the YZ250F and YZ450F in Monster Energy Yamaha Racing Edition colour options. They should be available this fall.

Honda CRF450RWE (Words Edition).

We don’t want to leave Honda out, so listen up: the CRF450RWE (Words Edition) motocrosser gets all the improvements of the 450R but also get a hand-ported cylinder head, a Yoshimura exhaust system, titanium nitride-coated lower fork legs and shock shaft, and special ECU settings.

So, what do you think? Honda, or Yamaha? Yamaha, or Honda? Choices, choices…

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