The Honda TRX450R

Honda Published Specs

Engine Type 450cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke 94.0mm x 64.8mm
Compression Ratio 10.5:1
Valve Train Unicam; four-valve
Carburetion Keihin 42.0mm with throttle position sensor (TPS)
Ignition CD with electronic advance
Starter Forward kick
Transmission Five-speed
Driveline O-ring-sealed chain
Front Suspension Independent double-wishbone with Showa shocks, featuring adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping; 8.4-inch travel
Rear Suspension Pro-Link with single Showa shock featuring adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping; 9.0-inch travel
Front Brakes Dual hydraulic 174.0mm discs with twin-piston calipers
Rear Brake Single hydraulic 190.0mm disc with single-piston caliper
Front Tires 22 x 7-10 knobby radial
Rear Tires 20 x 10-9 knobby radial
Length 72.6 inches
Width 46.3 inches
Height 43.6 inches
Wheelbase 49.2 inches
Seat Height 32.6 inches
Dry Weight 350.0 pounds
Fuel Capacity 3.2 gallons
Options Consult your owner's manual for optional HRC Racing kit parts
Available Colors Black, Red
Model ID TRX450R
6 months Coverage of defects in materials and workmanship

We came into posession of a Honda 450R. Buddy's wife (now here's a keeper) gets him a suprise present for his birthday of an '04 TRX450R. Not sure what lucky star buddy solo'd under, but I'm thinkin - "keep da chick!"

Anyway, I got to play with it, fondle it, ride against it with the Mighty YFZ and generally get a pretty good feel for Honda's submission into the 450 class and their attempt at the title.

Firstly, I'm a Honda guy from way back. Not way-way back, just 'way'.  Reason being the quality of the product. Second to none, first place, period. The 450R is no exception. It's ergo's are perfect. Suited well to both large and small riders. Brakes, shifting, throttle pull, location of controls - Honda perfect.

However - (and you knew this part was commin) - it's kickstart only offering earned it the title of "The Dog" (kick the dog - get it?? - sigh) - ok it was a bad joke but it stuck nevertheless. See Honda got in some trouble being pioneers in the ATV industry and all. Back in the days of 3-wheelers (I had a couple of them) Honda got sued a few dozen times and became corporately gun-shy towards ATV's. So Honda's phylosphy - at least in the last decade or two - has been to concentrate on quality and not so much on outright performance. This is evident across their lines from ATV's to streetbikes to outboard motors. It's also earned the company the #1 spot in the ATV market (as well as others). Honda outsells all other manufacturers COMBINED in the ATV market.

Introduce the Raptor. The Grizzly. And now the YFZ450. Not good for our little red friends. See, the Raptor they ignored cuz it was soo big and out of the norm, only Bombardier was in that market. The Grizz, well, that was easy to answer with the Rincon because it's not an all out performance machine and right up Honda's alley. However, come the YFZ and Honda's blissfull existance in denial was shattered and the unthinkable happened. Yamaha started to gain a significant market share across the board.

So now you've got a gun shy company that has seen the writing on the wall. What to do....what to do... Hey I know! We'll introduce a Rock and Roll performance machine that we will insure is openly accepted as intended for racers only by leaving off the electric start. And that, friends and neighbours, is how Honda - finally - re-entered the performance market. Welcome the TRX450R.

The R is a state of the art attempt at recapturing a position held in 1989 by the Honda 250R. It is NOT a 250R with a 4 stroke motor. It's all new, all re-engineered Honda from the ground up. The machine is a well needed direct shot at the YFZ450, aimed directly at dune riders (check out their web site - paragraph one, sentance two). No reverse, manual trans and no electric start ensures the legally minded at Honda that they have a built in defense for the first 8 year old that breaks his neck on the new Honda.

And you know what? I'd own one if it had electric start, cuz it's one sweet machine. It pulls as hard, or harder, then my YFZ in stock trim, and only with a full GYT-R breather, pipe and can (and jets) does the Yamaha walk away from the Honda. And I didn't say "walk" by accident - even unleashed, the Yamaha only 'just' is faster then the Honda.

The Honda Handles all types of terrain with vigor and superceeds the YFZ in tight stutter whoops and will carve inside a YFZ in all but the fastest sections.

The Honda makes less stated HP then the YFZ (3) although it's most noticeable right off idle. There's still some Raptor in the Yami 450 down low, and only it's larger cousin hits harder. But spool up the Honda and it's every bit as high strung as the YFZ and will do the equivalent of destroying a family dinner with it's poor manners on one hand while kindly offering you a piece of Aunt May's cherry pie with the other.

Essentially, go read the YFZ450 review and substitude 'Honda TRX450R" everywhere it says YFZ. Because it's basically the same ATV. Yes, in typical Honda style it's got a little less power, a little more reliability, it's a little more forgiving and friendly to ride and it's not blue.  It is, however, a little more protected underneath then the YFZ - mind you you're gonna throw away the crap skidder and get a new one before you ride it anyway right??? And while you're add it, chuck the bars too. They're better then the Yami's but just.

The Honda starts on the first few kicks cold - and if you use the "hot start" on the first kick warm. Everytime. Incidentally, for those older then this generation - Hot Start = Decompression Lever. It was too long to fit on the lever I guess.

Honda is in a transition period I think. The introduction of the 450R was much anticipated, but 2 years to late, and the re-release of the 400EX with reverse and 450R plastic, was, well, petty. The sad thing here is that Honda has enough talent (and money) to not just release an ATV that will run with the competition, but totally blow us and the competition away. Why they refuse to do this is beyond me. If Honda ever got serious about ATV's there would only be one ATV. And it would be red. Instead of re-releasing the EX Honda should have, at the very least, jumped on the Z400 bandwagon with everyone else.

However, what do I know - they didn't get to be number one by taking chances. And they have yet to release as poor a machine as the first year Raptor. So someone over at Big Red knows wtf they are doing. And if you don't like Yamaha (and who does?) and you don't mind kickstarting - good news! You can buy a 450R and claim you've got the best all out pure sport machine in the market - cuz you know what? You do.