The Honda TRX450R
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
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
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
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
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