Trail by fire! New performance kit almost doubles the power of 2020 Honda CRF450L

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The Honda CRF450L is a cracking bike aimed at those who want to go trail riding but will probably never spend two hours crashing around an enduro race course.

It’s also remarkably versatile – we know of folk who’ve fitted various adventure accessories then ridden them to Morocco and back. But there’s one thing it’s always been lacking: power.

When we first rode it we enjoyed the torquey nature of the engine which meant it was happy to chug along, if a little easy to stall at the bottom end. But we weren’t happy about it producing just 23bhp from its 449cc single, especially as the US version put out 40bhp.

But for 2020 you can change all that. With the mechanical differences between the two being very small – some enterprising souls had been sourcing the parts from the US and converting their UK bikes – and now Honda UK have decided to offer the upgrade parts as an official kit.

The Power Up Kit, as it’s known, consists of a new ECU and intake manifold, which together boost power into the mid-40s (there’s no official figure from Honda yet). Better still, fitment of the kit doesn’t affect the warranty nor affect the service intervals as Honda originally set them in accord with the higher output motor.

There is, however, one downside – it costs £772, which on top of the cost of the bike comes to a daunting £10,241 by the time you get on the road. If you consider that you could buy a brand new KTM 690 Enduro for £400 less, for a bike that has nearly double the horsepower again for similar weight, it does leave you querying the base price of the 450L.

That said, if you already have a 450L, this could be just the kit you’re looking for when it goes on sale in February. We’re going to take an upgraded model for a spin in the not too distant future and will report back with our findings.

Honda CRF450L side on view

2020 Honda CRF450L in detail

  • No comparison Unlike the 250L, which shares no parts with competition bikes, the 450L is based on the 450R motocross racer.
  • Road convert Using the 450R chassis as a base, the L benefits from some minor changes such as the addition of lights to make it road legal... until you fit the Power Up kit.
  • Quick swap Oil changes are due every 600 miles but this only takes a matter of minutes and could even be done at the side of the road.
  • Motoring on The engine, also based on that of the 450R, has a heavier crank, revised cam timing and six-speed gearbox for easier use.
  • 'Racing only' Technically, fitting the Power Up kit makes the CRF450L for 'competition use only' so it’s not actually road legal in that specification.

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Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.