2014 Honda CRF450F Tune-Up: FEATURE

Cycle News Staff | March 26, 2014

Honda’s pride and joy in the big-bore class, the CRF450R, is blessed with above-average suspension and solid handling. It’s also light on its feet and offers that just-right feel that no other machine in its class can boast. As good as the Honda is, however, there are a few minor and simple – though not necessarily cheap (but still worth it) – things you can do to make your 2014 CRF450R even better.

First of all, compared to some of the other bikes in its class, like the Kawasaki KX450F, KTM 450 SX and Yamaha YZ450F, the Honda’s total power output is a little on the soft side for our tastes. For some, though, that might not be a terrible thing but for hard-core motocrossers like us, the Honda, we feel, could benefit from a bit more snap and overall output from its motor. Since we like to keep things relatively simple, the first and most obvious thought that came to our mind was to swap out the stock exhaust system with an aftermarket system. And really, who doesn’t do that anyway? In this case, we went to FMF for answers and their answer was its Factory 4.1 RCT titanium/carbon slip-on muffler and Power Bomb titanium header. We chose to replace the stock dual-muffler system with FMF’s single-muffler version to save weight and to just plain simplify things. Compared to dual mufflers, single muffler systems have less parts to hassle with, are less susceptible to crash damage, and are easier to repack. Yes, you’re left with an ugly large vacant gap under the side panel where the left muffler used to reside, but no worries, the FMF single muffler comes with a UFO-made side panel to replace the stock left panel. Sweet!

In one fell swoop, you now have a bike with more bark across the board, is narrower at the back and is four pounds lighter. Yes, four pounds! That’s significant, especially with a bike that’s already the lightest in its class.

On our dyno, the FMF exhaust system, which was mated to our 20-hour-old test bike, showed slight horsepower gains from bottom to mid but a significant boost from mid to top, with max power peaking at 50.49 horsepower compared to 49.81 horsepower with the stock pipe. Max torque remains virtually the same, as it pretty much did across the board, though there was some minor torque gains from mid to top.

“Power delivery is definitely improved across the board,” said Cycle News chief test rider Jason Abbott of the FMF exhaust system. “It did sign off just a tad sooner but the increase in aggression overall up top was well worth the tradeoff for me.”

The FMF exhaust is louder to the ear than the stock dual mufflers. In fact, the FMF exhaust, which produces a much more pleasing factory race-bike tone, makes the stock Honda sound almost like a dual sport in comparison. Still, we would not say that the FMF pipe is unreasonably loud. If you think it is, however, the system comes with an insert to help tone things down a bit if you want. We didn’t because it will also tone down power.

To read more of the 2014 Honda CRF450F tune-up feature in this week’s Cycle News, click here

For more Cycle News Motocross motorcycle reviews, click HERE.

For more Honda motorcycle reviews, click HERE.