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Honda Flexes Its Motocross Muscle

Three Honda representatives visited MD’s office today to discuss Honda’s new CR motocrossers, including the 125 and 250 two-strokes, and the 450 four-stroke. We will have a detailed report on these bikes next week, but there are some newsworthy aspects of these machines (and Honda’s racing team) which need to be shared with MD’s readers today.

First of all, when reading the Honda literature it became clear that Honda was able to shave significant weight off the 125 and the 250 (the 250 is new from the ground up). Even though these machines were the lightest in their classes last year (the 250 was definitely lightest, and the 125 was close), Honda threw away six or seven pounds from these motorcycles. The 250 will reportedly have a wet weight (all fluids, except gasoline) of 217 pounds, roughly seven pounds lighter than the next lightest 250, the Suzuki RM250, and just one pound over the AMA’s 216 pound limit for 250 race bikes. The new CR125 is in the neighborhood of 199 pounds wet!

The weight of the CRF450R is most impressive, however. This new, big-bore thumper, according to the Honda tech guys, weighs in at 231 pounds wet. This is seventeen pounds lighter than the wet weight of a 2001 Yamaha YZ426. 231 pounds is lighter than some of the 250 two-strokes that have been sold in the U.S. in the last few years. As our follow-up article will detail, Honda achieved these incredibly light weights through many detail changes and refinements common to all three machines. One example is the rear hub, which has a very small diameter, and is reportedly lighter than some works bike hubs.

Finally, we learned that Ryan Hughes has been posting significantly faster lap times on the new 450 than his two-stroke mounted teammates while practicing for the upcoming Nationals. Although we had predicted Sebastien Tortelli would be the fastest outdoor rider for Honda, we may have to amend that in light of this information. Ryno and Honda may have a surprise for Kawasaki and Ricky Carmichael on Mother’s Day (the opening round of the AMA Outdoor National Motocross series). We’ll see.