The Honda CRF450R was all-new in 2017 and won Best Motocrosser last year as a result of the full redesign. For 2018, Big Red took its excellent platform and refined key areas, resulting in another strong performance for this historically dominant motocross bike.

It didn’t take much for the Honda to retain its crown as the best motocrosser of the year. A few tweaks to ECU settings, a different set of engine hangers, plus stiffer springs and updated valving in the Showa 49mm coil-spring fork and Showa shock were all it took. A nice touch? Electric start came as an option on the 2017 model, while the 2018 machine is fitted with it standard.

The Honda CRF450R wins Best Motocrosser for the second year in a row.Jeff Allen

The CRF450R engine retains the same exciting character from last year’s bike, but the power delivery in the lower rpm range is more manageable and easier to ride thanks to the ECU tuning changes. Hard-hitting midrange transitions into a long and strong top-end pull. The Honda’s broad powerband makes it easy to short-shift or rev to the moon, and therefore caters to riders of varying abilities and riding styles. Electric start expands the bike’s accessibility and is worth the 5-pound weight gain.

Honda made minor revisions to the 2018 model that add up to big gains on the track.Jeff Allen

Updated suspension settings for 2018 are better matched to the CRF450R’s stiff chassis and work better for most riders. Overall, the Showa suspension has a performance-oriented feel that sacrifices a little bit of comfort at lower speeds and in braking bumps, but hold the bike up in the stroke better, especially on large impacts.

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CRF450R cornering
Cornering is one of the many areas where the CRF450R excels.Jeff Allen

The CRF’s nimble-handling chassis reacts quickly to rider input and makes it feel light. Another contributing factor to its lightweight feel is the copious amounts of low-end power. The ergonomics are every bit as comfortable as we have come to expect from a Honda motocross bike with its neutral bar bend, flat seat, and fairly thin radiator shrouds.

Showa suspension
The Showa suspension components have a high-performance feel but still offer a decent level of comfort.Jeff Allen
broad powerband
The engine has a broad powerband that is free-revving and offers lots of excitement.Jeff Allen

The 2018 Honda CRF450R is truly excellent. It's a powerful, well-suspended, great-handling motocross bike that is easy to hop on and go fast, and is an absolute blast to ride. It also won Dirt Rider's 2018 450 MX Shootout. There is no arguing with that.