Does It Really Works?
By Jimmy Lewis with Chris Barrett Photos By Scott Hoffman and Drew Ruiz
Making a Works Edition isn’t anything revolutionary, after all KTM, has been playing the Factory Edition game for years now. But in application and in tactics, these “limited edition” machines are offering more choices for the customer and providing some stoke to the motocross market beyond a new release. KTM uses the “FE” to get a new race bike homologated earlier, to preview and debug a new model without huge production runs and provide some of the race team’s core sponsors a little additional exposure. Not to mention further promote the feature rider whom is costing them a pretty penny. Honda is not using the “WE” to change the race bike, but rather telling the story that the race bike (and racer, Ken Roczen) directly influenced the limited production Works Edition that anyone can buy.
The 2019 Honda CRF450RWE uses the same loose set of rules with the race bike look and numbers, all standard. Possibly one upping the KTM with not just a slip-on exhaust but adding some internal changes like the hand-ported cylinder head and matching ECU tuning to go along and provide additional performance over the standard version. The Yosh rear exhaust is also a unique and is specifically tuned for the engine mods and is not the same exhaust that will be available for the standard R. Yosh will also offer a specific header to work only on the WE edition. On to the suspension, Honda got not only the look of factory or kit suspension but the performance of the Titanium nitride (Ti N) coating on the fork sliders and the shock shaft and Kashima coatings inside and out of the upper fork tubes.
So with a $2200 dollar price increase over the standard R at $9299, is the CRF450RWE really worth it? We spent a day on the WE and rode it back-to-back with the standard CRF450R so we have a good comparison on how it works and how it differs. And yes we’ll do a little comparison very soon. But just on paper we’ll say that you’d easily spend over $2200 on the parts alone, not counting the labor to arrive with the same bike as is delivered in “WE” trim. So it comes down to asking are these mods the direction you’d already be going?
Even more important, do the modifications really work? We’ll break it down for you so you can make a decision.
-The Works Edition has all the similar traits that we liked on the standard CRF450R, yet everything just feels more more refined. Some of this is visual, for sure. Riding a bike that looks like a hero’s bike never seemed to hurt anyone’s ego. Unless you are Ken Roczen. As soon as the Fox gear starts flying off the shelves (along with these bikes) there will be lots of older, well to do Ken Roczen Replica Squids on the tracks all over the US!e Jockey stickers are just stickers and if you are hard on them at the knees, ankles and along the side panels, they will peel up unlike the impregnated graphics of the standard R. And Number 94 might be hard to get in the Senior Novice class.
-The non-slip seat is awesome for additional grip and was comfortable too.
-The triple clamp color is altered, no performance difference here, unless you seeing things counts for speed.
-The engine is smoother and stronger all around and in all the right places. We can’t stress this enough. It is like you get a whole year’s development a year early. It shows how small things make a marked difference. It pulls harder through the entire curve without being uncontrollable. More torque, more mid and pulls longer. Honda said they saw an increase in the 5000-6000 RPM range. We were riding the bike a gear high in some of the turns, shifting less and using way less clutch to control the power. One thing that was commented on was the “WE” stayed in the power where the standard R would rev through it at times. Some of it was engine and some of it traction, more on that later. The over-rev and top end pull was slightly better for sure as well.
-We didn’t feel a big change in the three different power curves, which isn’t a bad thing. At the track we were riding, which had a mix of soft and hard but never too slippery–so three of our four guys were still happiest with stock and aggressive on the “WE”. Aggressive is truly aggressive and actually puts some punch in the initial turn of the throttle which is out of character for a Honda but lots of riders like this delivery. It continues with a faster surge on top compared to standard but it is more useful than the standard CRF450R in any map. The mild curve was much more forgiving if you slowed down too much in the corners, but it is still slow to pick up off the bottom and into the mid. Once revved out the mild map is pretty good, not short on power at all but allows the rider to get longer work out of each gear. Interestingly enough our riders were talking about how we’d like to combine the bottom of map 1 or 3 with the top of map 2. All dooable with the HRC Tuning tool but that requires a PC, and a semi-knowledgeable tuner.
– The “WE” has a more of a throaty sound with the Yosh Slip-ons. It isn’t a loud or raspy noise but a different tone to the rider (actually sounds quieter while riding) and those off the track (little louder). Additionally the exhaust drops close to two precious pounds off the rear of the bike. We didn’t feel the weight and our sensitive rider noted the “WE” felt heavier, more on that later too.
-The suspension differs in the coating only, we are told that the internals are identical in valving and spring rates. What we noticed was that the small bump compliance was better and we actually added a bit of compression and were able to slow the rebound damping as well and arrive with the same handling character. With this there was less bump transmission to the rider and the bike stayed up higher in the stroke when needed in the bumps and on jump takeoffs and landings then was able to settle in the turns. It shows the coatings allow the forks and shock to move more freely. It gains a more planted feeling while staying plush and this is the character that is associated with “works suspension.”
-If Honda lost 2 pounds with the mufflers, why is the weight the same? It is the wheels. The rims are stronger LT-X and they weigh a little more. And here is where the biggest differences between “WE” and standard may arise. With that weight spinning, the “WE” feels a little heavier if not more connected to the ground. Some of the comments about the bike feeling faster due to better traction could result from the wheels. And that “dead plush” planted feel and slight added stability would easily be explained through this. Since we are not the types of rider’s that snap the front wheel scrubbing off of jumps (improperly we might add, done correctly it would be an advantage) we did not feel any drawbacks to the rims or the bike having more unsprung weight. Stronger rims seem to be a good thing with the bumps and jumps these days anyways.
As markets get more competitive, niche segments with the need for a Replica become important. This Works Editon is a winner on all accounts. It provides a little extra interest in its segment then backs it up with how the CRF450RWE works. The parts comand the price and the fact that they all compliment and work as a package is even better.