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MD Testing Trick Honda CRF450L Supermoto Conversion

Recently, at the launch of the CB500X, I was asked by Honda press liaison about MD’s test of the new CRF450L dual sport. Half jokingly, I replied that the only thing the bike needed was supermoto wheels. A Honda representative quickly responded, “We built a supermoto version, do you want to test it?” My immediate response was “Yes, of course.”

We just took possession of the one-off CRF450L supermoto conversion built by Honda (pictured), and here is a list of modifications:

  • Warp 9 supermoto wheels
  • Warp 9 floating rotor
  • Warp 9 pegs and rear axle sliders
  • Factory Connection suspension set up for Supermoto
  • Heal Tech Speedo healer
  • Continental Attack Supermoto tires
  • Seat Concepts seat

Stay tuned for our test results.


See more of MD’s great photography: Instagram

47 Comments

  1. thomas payne says:

    i have an SXV 450 (x team bike) and a couple of FE 570s. they are seriously redonculous…

  2. Neil says:

    I really like this type of bike. There is a guy who races at Loudon NH who is sooo fast on a supermoto that he leaves other bikes in the dust. Has it geared high and just roars around that track like nobody’s business.

    • Tommy D says:

      Loudon NH is short with lots of turns and makes it a perfect small bike track. All the tracks in this area are perfectly fine for SuperMoto’s. Plus they are easier on tires and don’t break the bank if they fall over. They tend to be no worse for wear other than some rash on plastic. Cheap speed!

  3. Tim says:

    We usually ride a lot of the roads around Grand Lake and Steamboat, and then go down to Carbondale and take 133 south, and eventually work out way to the roads around Telluride and Ouray. I probably see more in SW Colorado than the northern parts. By the way, 133 south out of Carbondale is the most underrated road I’ve ridden. I probably shouldn’t be saying that on a public forum. I would hate for it to get crowded like some of the popular bike roads in America.

  4. Tim says:

    We usually ride a lot of the roads around Grand Lake and Steamboat, and then go down to Carbondale and take 133 south, and eventually work out way to the roads around Telluride and Ouray. I probably see more in SW Colorado than the northern parts. By the way, 133 south out of Carbondale is the most underrated road I’ve ridden. I probably shouldn’t be saying that on a public forum. I would hate for it to get crowded like some of the popular bike roads in America.

  5. Provologna says:

    I disapprove of “reckless” riding. A story that happened to um, “someone I know,” whom I’ll call X.

    X is riding an ’83 Yamaha 500 Vision w/full fairing, N bound on Petaluma Hill Road between Nicasio Reservoir (Marin County) and The Cheese Factory (Sonoma County), on a long up hill slightly off camber left turn, doing his usual 75-80 mph in this 45 mph zone.

    Just past the apex, X crosses paths with CHP Officer Bonano in a cruiser (since retired thank God). Run or just cruise below the speed limit, and wait? X chooses the latter, and soon signs his ticket radar speed confirmation.

    X revisits the scene of the alleged infraction, this time in the passenger seat of a cage going the speed limit or just under, and video tapes the turn. X submits an image of the subject bike with said video tape (when this happened some readers were not born) to the judge, testifying it’s impossible for the accused on the subject vehicle to reach the alleged speed in the subject turn.

    3-4 weeks later, case dismissed, yeah!

    The above defense is fail on a race replica. If it happened on the SuperMotard subject of this article, toss on the dirt wheels and tires, preferably the same day as the incident, and shoot the image, w/close up of the tire tread knobs, and as X’s dear departed aunt Celia used to say, “And there we are…”

  6. CrazyJoe says:

    I have to admit this type of bike is great for visibility. But will someone enlighten me? Being that high up how does that effect handling and stability on the road?

    • Ralph W. says:

      “Being that high up how does that effect handling and stability on the road?”

      Handling and stability are affected by many things and little things make a big difference. It would be difficult to get an accurate comparison. The closest you could get would be if you lowered the suspension on an identical bike to get a conventional road bike seat height. But that would most likely change the wheelbase and weight distribution, which affects handling and stability.

      Your comment suggests you have no experience in riding motards, dirt bikes or trail bikes on road. If you tried a bike like this you would probably feel awkward at first. They feel very different and it takes awhile to get accustomed to it. It also requires a big adjustment to your riding technique to get the best from them and that can take some time to learn. These bikes respond to being ridden very aggressively. If you ride them in a conventional road bike style you won’t understand their advantages. Watch supermoto racing and you will see how it is done. Also, the long-travel suspension and ground clearance allow you to do things (like jumps) and go places you wouldn’t on a conventional road bike.

    • todd says:

      Easy. Because the bike is so light it doesn’t need to lean as much for a given speed in a corner. Because it is so tall, the pegs or exhaust won’t touch the ground any time soon and amazingly high corner speeds can be taken. Since the rider does not need to hang off the bike to gain cornering/ground clearance and can lean farther, the steering angle is lower. On a motorcycle, turning the front wheel pulls the front and rear wheels out of alignment and that introduces a bending moment and a torsional (twist) into the frame and into the forks adding instability in the chassis and friction in the suspension. The more you lean into a turn, the less you need to turn the wheel into the turn, the better the bike handles.

      • jon says:

        ‘Because the bike is so light it doesn’t need to lean as much for a given speed in a corner.’

        This is not true dude. Unless physics is taking a sh*t every time it gets taken out of the garage.

        • todd says:

          The SAE and Newton suggest that the sum of the forces in the lateral direction are equal to the mass multiplied by the lateral acceleration.
          http://kineticorp.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2015-01-1422-validation-of-equations-for-motorcycle-and-rider-lean-on-a-curve.pdf

          • jon says:

            Right, but that is cancelled out by the effect of the gravity acting on the motorcycle’s mass, and providing the opposing force to cancel out the overturning moment.
            Even the formula for lean angle in that article does not include motorcycle mass.

            The only point in the article supporting what you are saying is the empiricial data points from the cruiser vs the supermoto, and there are far too many other factors to take into account to draw anything meaningful from that. Even the authors admit that none of their theories were consistent with the test riders reports of hard parts on the cruiser dragging.

      • CrazyJoe says:

        I can understand what your saying. In let’s say a right hand turn you put foot pressure on your left peg and lean to the right. You don’t actually lean as much into a turn. Physics be damned. I don’t know why but it feels more stable to me. More vertical in a turn is a good thing?

        Big lean angles and jumps (Ralphie) are not my thing. Knowing my limits is. The last time I made a jump was in a turn and it was not fun at all. I still can’t figure if the chirp came from my tire or my butt hole.

  7. azicat says:

    Crap bike. What’s with the beak, and fuel range is terrible. How does Honda expect me to tour, especially without cruise control? Seems like there’s a tank seam under there somewhere too. Deal breaker.

  8. Ralph W. says:

    Anonymous (using my name again) keeps proving that he really is an idiot.

  9. TomatoMike says:

    Nice bike and all but not really practical in the real world due to the 600 mile oil change & 1800 valve adjustment interval. Geez, I’d be changing the oil 3x per month and checking valves 1x per month. Either that or maybe these things are not meant to be ridden much. Maybe needs a total engine overhaul at 20k too, who knows?

    • Stuki Moi says:

      For people already accustomed to, and accepting of, the maintenance intensity of this class of off road bikes, it’s just more of the same. For someone used to driving 100K miles/year as a trucker or Uber driver, tire change intervals of motorcycles seem onerous as well. Heck, enough so that some put up with riding around with car tires on their bikes….

      Once you’ve done 20 oil changes and 10 valve adjustments, it also becomes a second nature routine. Like tire changes on an enduro mountain bike. Or lubing the chain on a touring bike. Sucks in the beginning, but after awhile, it just fades into the background. Which is not to say shaft drive isn’t superior for some use cases, but if you’re used to light and fast from your dirt bikes, plodding around on a more streetified ‘tardette most likely won’t be quite the same.

    • roma258 says:

      I would just keep in mind that these maintenance intervals are intended for offroad use, which is much harder on the bike than street riding. For regular putting around town, or even hard canyon riding, I bet 1000 mile oil changes and 3000 mile valve checks would be fine. And for a bike that’s not really intended to do big distances, that’s really not that bad.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        Aside from air filters, the paved sections are at least as hard on Sumo engines as the dirt ones. Better grip and higher speeds, equals more opportunity to deploy more power more often. Higher speeds help with cooling, compared to roosting around in a low gear in the dirt, but it’s by no means a given that Sumo used dirt bikes won’t be taxed just as hard as dirt used ones.

        As for putting around, that will definitely lessen engine wear compared to balls out racing. But people (ahem, me….) will do that just as reliably, or in my case much more so, in the dirt as on pavement…

    • Ralph W. says:

      They are designed to be extreme fun, not practical transport.

    • Jordi says:

      Only the break in oil change is at 600 miles like most new bikes.

  10. roma258 says:

    Man that is clean. Does Honda have the balls to mass produce something like this?

  11. Tommy D says:

    Honda should come out with an OEM SuperMoto kit and partner with Warp9. The east coast isn’t really doing well with moving the CRF450L out of the showrooms. Yet 701 and 690 Supermoto’s are sold as soon as they hit the floor.

    I hear that the biggest issue with this bike is fueling from the factory is not the best. I know that some are going with a Vortex CDI to unlock their true potential with more linear power and a truer throttle connection to the engine.

  12. Ralph W. says:

    Awesome fun. Absolutely, awesome fun!

  13. Cozi says:

    Shut up and take my money!!

  14. Stuki Moi says:

    For what it’s worth, out of all things, I saw a sumo converted Africa Twin in Spain this summer….. No idea if anything more than a wheelswap was involved, but judging by how it was ridden, the small wheels sure didn’t seem to cause any handling issues…

  15. Mick says:

    I wonder about the power and weight compared to my lightened, and otherwise heavily modified, XR650R supermoto.

    I’ve had it for 15 years now guys and no tickets. But I have raced supermoto and dirt bikes all my life. I can resist the urge to hoon the thing at inappropriate moments.

    • Jeremy says:

      “I can resist the urge to hoon the thing at inappropriate moments.”

      You, sir, are a better man than I.

  16. Michael says:

    Now if Husaberg would come back and re release the FS570 or Aprilia with their SXV550, those bikes will slam your eyeballs back in your head, of course if they did, they’d probably neuter them with a bunch of BS electronics.

    • Dave says:

      When Roland Sands was making the road course conversion kits for 450cc MX bikes (fairing, wheels, suspension adjustments..), I immediately thought the SVX550 would be a perfect donor bike for a project like that.

  17. Gary says:

    The day I read about the off-road version I knew a street legal supermoto version was just a wheel swap behind.

  18. MacSpoone says:

    Welp…
    So much for THAT license…

  19. Jeremy says:

    I’ve seen a sumo-ed CRF450L running around these parts, though it looks like the suspension is still stock. He likely changes out the wheels to alternate between commuting and off-road duty if I were to wager.

    This should be a fun test.

  20. Provologna says:

    Just looking at the image, you want to buy a police ticket book and write your own citation, just get it over with…might as well burn your license before you don your helmet.

    • TimC says:

      Actually, here in CO where the speed limits are disgustingly low (they just make entire stretches 30 MPH instead of 45 with suggestions for the corners, a la CA) this is probably just the non-ticket for having a lot of fun without being totally unreasonable about it.

      Nah, 30 MPH is balls slow. F CO. (Other than I can afford a house here, so…grrr).

      • Tim says:

        The other trick they use in Colorado is move the end of the construction zone a half mile or a mile beyond where the actual construction ends. They succeeded in entrapping me to the tune of $300 (and the Cop felt bad and went easy on me, not doubling it for the construction zone.) They also have more police per square mile than any place I’ve ever been (I understand with the tax collected on legal weed they can afford all of the additional law enforcement). If the roads weren’t so great, I wouldn’t be back.

        • mickey says:

          Shoot, I bet SW Ohio has more police enforcement. I can’t take a 50 mile ride here without seeing 3 or 4..Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s, local municipalities, plus speed cameras are sprouting up around here like daisys. Summer before last I went out to Colorado and rode canyons and passes for a week around Denver and don’t think I ever saw a Colorado leo.

          • Ralph W. says:

            That is one of the reasons I became interested in this type of bike. It is illegal to ride fast (high speed), but it is still legal to ride quickly.

          • Tim says:

            Mickey, last time I was in Colorado, we ran into one every few miles. I occasionally travel to Ohio on business, but usually fly in, rent a car, and drive around the Cincy area. I’ll know to be careful on my next trip there.

            I’m riding to Colorado tomorrow, I hope they’ve eased up a bit. Better yet, I hope all of the Highway Patrolmen are on vacation while I’m there.

          • mickey says:

            Strange how that happens. Have fun on your next trip to our fair city and keep an eye out for those smokeys.

          • Jeremy says:

            I actually live in Colorado, and frankly I almost never see highway patrol or local LEO’s along the vast majority of the preferred motorcycle routes.

        • Jeremy says:

          That’s better than when I lived in Illinois where they used to (still do?) set up fake construction zones for the sole purpose of entrapmentwhere they would lower the speed limit and double the fines. I remember reading some articles on court cases about that practice some time after I had moved away from there, but the state prevailed if I remembered correctly.