Unlike the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, your choice for Best Electric, there’s nothing shocking about the Honda CRF450R, and yet its popularity is certainly understandable. Big Red’s sleek and slick big-bore moto thumper has been the model of consistency since its debut 15 years ago, and Honda has never strayed from the basic elements that make it a perennial contender.
For instance, the CRF450R’s Unicam (SOHC), four-valve, four-stroke Single continues to buck the double-overhead-cam trend of its competition, and its aluminum perimeter chassis is unchanged from the previous model. Honda nonetheless updated the 2015 CRF450R with a new cylinder head, new 48mm KYB Pneumatic Spring Fork and Honda’s sportbike-derived Engine Mode Select button that allows the rider to tailor the CRF’s power character by accessing multiple ignition maps practically on the fly. These changes only added to the CRF450R’s already sky-high level of refinement.
The Honda CRF450R isn’t the most powerful or best handling machine in its class, but it is certainly one of the most balanced. Keeping that in mind, we’re not surprised that MO readers picked it as the number one dirtbike of 2015.