The Honda CRF450L Rally Is Too Good to Just Be a Concept

The CRF450L Rally, inspired by the Dakar race bike, would be easier to live with day-to-day but Honda will need to make a few changes.

When the CRF450L launched earlier this year, it was immediately clear that Honda (correctly) believed the popularity of two-wheeled overlanding and dual sport riding was and is on the rise. The 450L, after all, is a toned-down, road-legal version of the 450R trail bike; it’s a vessel capable of transport from one trail to another on paved public roads. The 450L’s most glaring problem is its range. Earlier this month, at EICMA, Honda rolled out the CRF450L Rally concept — a bike which should address all of the standard 450L’s problems, a bike too good to just be a concept.

The CRF450L Rally, as a whole, is inspired by the Dakar race bike and is in the same spirit as the already-in-production CRF250L Rally, but to be more rideable and comfortable to live with day-to-day Honda will need to make a few changes. The biggest issue Honda will have to tackle is the engine. Honda set service intervals for the 450L at every 600 miles. For a day-tripping trail bike that makes sense, seeing as how you can get a handful of off-road rides out of in between any major work. Sitting on the stand at EICMA the 450L Rally sported a five-ish gallon tank, more than double the standard bike’s fuel capacity. If Honda were to leave the engine as is, it would mean you’d have to service your bike about every third time the tank runs dry.

The rest of the 450L Rally Concept covers what’s needed for long distance riding, and does it well — a larger skid plate, toolbox and storage compartment, handguards, taller windscreen and an additional larger LCD readout for more detailed information on the bike. This isn’t some wild-eyed baseless concept; all it really needs is a more durable, reinforced motor. And if Honda is as smart as it seems they’ve already been hard at work solving that equation. Company execs and engineers are tight-lipped about prospects of the concept going into production, but we all know how that usually goes.

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