Car Tester Gives The Honda CRF450L Dual Sport A Spin
Jason Weigandt


Car Tester Gives The Honda CRF450L Dual Sport A Spin

Secretly, I'm a car guy and spend parts of each evening perusing the major websites for news on new products. One headline really caught my eye when Autoweek said they had a test of the 2019 Honda.... not Accord, not Civic, not Matthes' Ridgline, but the CRF450L dirt bike. Hey, it's a street-legal dirt bike so maybe that fits? We had our own Racer X test of this bike a few weeks ago but I was curious  how the car-guy would take to the dirt. Unfortunately, I don't know who this car guy is because for some strange reason Autoweek forgot to include a byline for the bike test.

The test is good, though. Here's a snip.

Then we turned off onto a fire road with packed dirt over which was slathered a layer of gravel about the size of walnuts. With every twist of the throttle on this salad of slip the rear tire lurched out sideways alarmingly. The moto men all thought this was another blast, and they ripped through it all with glee. It took me a while to realize that you use the sliding back tire to aim the less-sliding front, that the rocks machine-gunning from the back tire acted like retro rockets pointing the nose around the corners. It was terrifying, yes, but fun-terrifying.

I kept up.

One time, giving it just a little too much front brake on a downhill talcum-powder dirt turn of single track, the front wheel slid off the trail’s edge and I went flying over the handlebars like some kind of cartoon character. I landed in a perfect aikido roll and popped right back up faster than anyone could radio for a life flight chopper extraction and, with Spears’ help, pulled the bike back up and kept going.

Honda had its full line of bikes on display, so here's a shoutout to other bike perhaps more suited to beginners.

It went on like that all day, over 110 miles in the rain and scenic splendor. I’d say that if you are a good to expert rider like my media colleagues that day you can really exploit the engineering that went into the CRF450L. It’s not a comfort cruiser, not something that anyone but iron-buttocked youth could actually ride to work and back every day. For beginners there is the less powerful CRF250L or, even better, The Grom, a micro dirt bike that is almost comically small but far easier to master. Or, for the true beginner, and I mean this in all seriousness, you can get a feel for dirt riding on the new Honda Monkey, the cutest little dirt spelunker you’ll ever see. As you graduate up through the size and power ranks of Honda dirt bikes, with the CRF450L being the crowning glory, you will want to keep the Monkey on which you started it all as a coffee table keepsake in the living room, it is that cute.

And remember to check our own bike test by Simon Cudby right here.