It’s not often we at Enduro. ie get the opportunity to test and report on new bike launches. Generally we report on events but when asked to test Hondas new 450 L the chance was too good to miss. The “adventure” bike market or more Accurately the dual sport market has become increasingly popular with smaller capacity machines launched on a regular basis … Ktm 690, Husky 701, SWM600, Mash 400, Enfield 411, Benelli 500 to name a few. Now Honda have joined the party launching the 450 L their first larger capacity machine since the 650 a bike burdened with no E – start. To run a complete test enduro.ie took the bike on two very different venues …. the first a full on off road day comprising forest , fire roads and lanes , similar to a full enduro route . The 450 l basically has a de tuned 450 CRF motor, the same alloy chassis with all the running gear needed for the road … lights, side stands and of course an E – start. In typical enduro terrain the L motor is almost perfect. It is smooth with a low torque curve, ample power suspended on Forks and shock that perform very well in such conditions. Whether fired down a rough lane or battening with tree roots the suspenders were predictable and progressive. Excellent we would say. In typical Honda fashion, all controls simply worked … the clutch is light, brakes strong with a narrow section to the tank and seat. It all fits. In conclusion, the CRF L is offroad-friendly, very much so. It goes and handles as a good enduro/ trail bike should. There are a few small negative points … at very low speeds over the rough ground, there is a slight tendency to stall … possibly a result of the bike being brand new something easy enough to ride around once you know when it might happen. It is also unlikely most riders would encounter such conditions… it was tight and slow.
The absence of priority handguards was a surprise as was the lack of a rear wheel Cush drive. Nowadays we would expect both to be fitted as standard. That said it does not detract from the ability of the 450 L off-road conditions.
Tested in all conditions …
We took the opportunity to take the l on the c mas road Rallye, the 160 km run through rural Wicklow. Obviously, the L is fully road legal, has a 6-speed box with legal trail tyres. What is a Surprise is the 120, 80, 18 rear tyre …. a very narrow profile for a 450 mounted on a 2.15 rim. We would have liked both to be wider. Such a profile has little effect on narrow roads with the l comfortably at home on such roads. The bike is light, flicks easily in the twisties with the suspension equally at home on road as off-road. Again the controls fall easily to hand however the narrow section of the seat and tank will be a little trying on longer trips. The 6-speed box is Honda slick and whilst the gearing is well suited to back roads it would need gearing up for faster runs. Possibly 3 teeth less on the rear would have little effect on the off-road manners but a bigger effect on the road. In the same way, the motor runs a little out of steam when pushed on the road, upping the gearing would help here. As it currently is geared above 115 km/ hr is pushing the limit to be comfortable on the motor.
So, all in all, what gave Honda created?
The 450 l is a bike that is very surefooted off road.
Comfortable on the road that would need some small changes for longer road riding.
Outside of the comments on the wheels, hand guards, gearing there is little to fault. At 11500 Euro on road, it’s not inexpensive however it has dual purpose capabilities and is a Honda.
We like it.