Honda’s 450R is a staple of the sport
quad community. By today’s standards, the Honda might seem somewhat dated, without fuel injection, an
aluminum frame or even a double
overhead cam. But racers love the
Honda, especially if they buy their
own parts and do their own work. The
450R is simple, and everyone knows
how to get the most from them. The
first 450 from Honda came out in 2004
as a kickstart-only model. The motor
was strikingly similar to that of the
CRF450R motocross motorcycle that
arrived two years earlier. It was in
2006 that it got an electric starter—that
was the same year that Honda came
out with the electric-start CRF450X
off-road motorcycle, and the two
machines shared many engine parts.
WHY IT’S SO GOOD
Honda is brilliant at getting the
most for the least. The TRX is simple,
light, fast and dependable, and it’s
the most affordable of all the 450
sport quads. Even the parts tend to be
less expensive. A Honda 450R head
can be found online for $260, whereas a Yamaha head is around $450.
Honda still offered a kickstart-only
model until last year, which endeared
it even more to racers who want
lightweight and simplicity above all.
That’s why you see so many riders like
Beau Baron and John Natalie racing
Honda without factory support.
HOW IT CAN BE BETTER
Performance modifications are
less expensive on the Honda too. A
cheap power boost can be attained
from a slip-on pipe (around $250),
the removal of the airbox lid and a
larger main jet (about a 180). There’s
also more rpm that can be attained
by cutting the green wire that comes
out of the ignition box under the hood.
Unfortunately, this modification yields
very little return unless you install a
performance cam from a company
like Hot Cams, Web or Yoshimura.
The stock motor doesn’t rev out high
Racers claim that the pre-2006
motor has a stronger gearbox. This
might be true, but under normal use,
the later model is nearly bulletproof.
It takes pro-level speed to push the
gearbox to the point that you have
to do something about it. Baldwin
Motorsports actually did that for Josh
Upperman, but has never included
the product in its catalog.
There are Hondas everywhere,
including at dealerships. There are
only three versions: the pre-2006
model, the late electric-start one and
the late kickstart-only version. On
Craigslist, they show up more often
out West and carry pricing that vary
by thousands. A good 2008 version
is in the high $3000 range. We’re still
expecting a fuel-injected version to
come from Honda, but that project
has been on hold until the economy
recovers more fully.
Honda’s carbureted, steel-framed,
SOHC TRX450R might seem old,
but it just won another WORCS