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Honda Production Dakar Rally Racer Introduced

INTERMOT saw Honda introduce a Dakar Rally race machine based on a highly modified CRF450X.  Featuring fuel injection, increased fuel capacity, and the sophisticated navigation system required for this type of racing, the bike will debut at the Morocco Rally October 14 as a shake-down test prior to Dakar.  Below is the full press release from Honda:

Torrance, CA: Honda unveiled its new CRF450 Rally model Dakar racer at the 2012 International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bike Fair in Cologne, Germany. The world debut of this production-based race machine centers on its entry in the Dakar Rally, which will be held in January 2013.

America’s Johnny Campbell, the 11-time Baja 1000 champion who previously gained Dakar Rally experience in Africa, will join riders Helder Rodrigues (Portugal), Felipe Zanol (Brazil), Sam Sunderland (United Kingdom) and Javier Pizzolito (Argentina) in an international effort. Honda entered factory teams nine times from 1981 onward in the forerunner of the present Dakar Rally, the Paris-Dakar Rally. Cyril Neveu (France) rode Honda to its first victory in 1982, the race’s fourth year, and from 1986 to 1989 Honda won four consecutive titles for an overall record of five victories in nine years. In 2013, Honda will aim for its first rally victory with a model built from a production-based machine.

The CRF450 Rally model is based on Honda’s commercial CRF450X off-road racing machine, but it differs in a number of ways. Changes include its use of Honda’s Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system, increased fuel capacity and the addition of a sophisticated navigation system. In addition, other changes were made to the bodywork and chassis for protection, efficiency and durability. The CRF450 Rally model in its current configuration has undergone extensive testing in Japan and will be tested further in its first race at the Morocco Rally, beginning October 14th. The Morocco Rally will serve as a real-world test to gather data, identify any problems with the machine under actual race conditions, and pinpoint any operational issues.

Tetsuo Suzuki, President of Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) and Honda Motorcycle R&D, said, “Our young engineers have created a race machine based on the CRF450X production enduro bike. The Dakar Rally is a race that continues for two weeks across the hardest terrain of three different countries. The Dakar Rally is extremely long and extremely tough. This is a new challenge for us. Previously, we entered the Dakar Rally with machines purpose-built for racing. This time, we are aiming for our first victory in the Dakar Rally with a production-based machine.”

Johnny Campbell said, “My participation in the Dakar Rally over the past few years has been an amazing experience. I have been working very hard to bring the enthusiasm and attention of the USA to this prestigious global event. I am excited to be part of Honda’s official Dakar race team and I’m committed to its success. My role will be to provide consultant, development, rider and mechanical services as needed to the project.”


  1. Dunedevil says:

    But why didn’t they use the TRX700XX power plant?! It’s the air-apparent to the XR650R engine…

  2. Chase says:

    As cool as Rally bikes are, they have virtually no real world purpose. I cannot imagine riding a 450 single anything on roads for extended time and do not know very many people willing to trash a $20K+ motorcycle by riding anything resembling real offroad trails with one.
    This will provide KTM with some much needed competition this year in Dakar which is a good thing, bravo to Honda. This is very unHonda of them BTW.

  3. George Catt says: has a thread _begging_ one of the companies to build a bike like this for us. Many folks around the world have tried to do it themselves using various bits ‘n pieces, but only KTM and maybe Husaberg do it for real.

    The current 450X is just too fragile for regular street riding. It can be detuned using motor parts from one of Honda’s 400 quads, but that doesn’t address the small oil capacity and/or cooling capacity, etc.

    If this bike (minus the most expensive nav. gear) would actually reach production,I’d be in line. Is $20,000 too much to such? I don’t think so.

  4. MGNorge says:

    From many of the comments above and those left concerning other bike reviews it’s no wonder most motorcycle companies are trying to find themselves, except Harley that is. Moto snobs is right! There’s no clear picture coming from so many.
    Collectively everyone should lighten up some and be more welcoming of the diversity motorcycling can be. With so many conflicting wants how can there be clear direction?

    • Doc says:

      MGNorge, thank you.

    • Richard says:

      Never seen any group more deserving of the term “moto snobs” than the Harley folks. No other group is so narrowly minded regarding a brand than they.

      • MGNorge says:

        Can you name any other popular consumer items that draw people in just because that’s what so many people want? One comes to mind right off the top of my head..Apple. I’m not particularly a fan myself but just look at the people who zero in on their products. It’s an enviable position for any manufacturer to be in and this customer behavior is stroked by both Harley and Apple, you better believe it.

        No matter what you think of Harleys or the company itself they enjoy a loyal customer base that’s willing to plunk down big bucks every year on what amounts to in many cases cosmetic changes. People are willing to get in line to be like everyone else because they want to be part of something larger than themselves. Rationalize human behavior any way you like but these things are real and will continue to be so. Other motorcycle manufacturers don’t have it so easy, they must fight what seems to be an every growing fickle customer base.

        • John Tuttle says:

          Huh? Were you trying to prove Richard’s point?

          • mr dirtrider says:

            Everyone seems to forget that Harley Davison needed a tariff on competition to survive. They may not be here if not for government proctection. Apple never needed such protection.

    • John says:

      I’m confused, which comments below did you find snobbish? They all seem pretty positive to me. And who said anything about Harley?!?

  5. John says:

    Why can’t we have an affordable consumer version of this?

  6. RAD says:

    Thats my cup of tea.

  7. Vrooom says:

    Man I want one of those. Probably wouldn’t tackle Dakar, but it would be a wonderful US rally bike.

  8. Ziggy says:

    Make a street-legal DS version without adding more than 15 lbs or barely-necessary crap and I’d pre-order one today.

  9. John says:

    Very cool, wonder what a street-legal version would cost?

  10. slimlids says:

    Now that is what I call and adventure bike!

  11. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Is this an actual to-see-production bike that will be rolling off an assembly line in the near future, or is it another one-off HRC works bike built only for team Honda’s racers?
    The wording of the press release and resulting articles does not make this clear.

  12. mike mosiman says:

    Great looking bike but… I want to know why Honda won’t send their CB 1100 to the USA. It is a retro based on the CB 750 of the 60’s and seventies and we were the largest market for that bike. Seems we should be getting it. The new Bonneville doers quite well here.

    • MGNorge says:

      I think that just may come to be..

      • Bologna says:

        Yeah, I second that, the cb 1100 would be nice or even bring back the 750 fours en retro with modern fuel injection & 6 speed.. and while they’re at it how about the CT-70 in the candy colors of the 60’s & 70’s, cant believe they wouldnt sell a bunch of those! But I’m just dreamin, lol..

        • Dave says:

          It’d be around just long enough for our moto-snobs to slam it for only making 80hp from 1100cc and not being offroad capable, able to carry 8 gallons of fuel, and weighing more than 425lb.

    • mickey says:

      Hat would be a bike I would take a serious look at, but I doubt it would be a big seller for Honda

    • Harry says:

      The UK gets the CB1100 january 2013.