Test and previews Wed 04 July 2018

Test REDMOTO Enduro 2018 Honda range

Imagine having 300 hectares of land at your full disposal, with dirt track and enduro track as well as 3 brand new motorcycles to test. A dream? Not really, this is what we organized to test the new Honda range REDMOTO enduro 2018 and tell you about it. So here are the models and the important developments compared to the previous ones.

CRF 250R
It’s the most revolutionary model because it’s totally new; it has the same 7th generation aluminum frame as the 450 and for the first time the engine isn’t the glorious Unicam - mounted on the CFR from the beginning - but a DOHC that considerably increases overall performance. Equipped only with an electric starter, it develops 9% more power with the limiter threshold increased by 900 rpm granting performances unthinkable before. The output of the engine can be changed by mapping it for the terrain and rider’s preferences: Mode 1 (standard), Mode 2 (Smooth), Mode 3 (Aggressive).
Obsessive care has been put in centralizing masses, which increases driving harmony and results in a general reference balance.
The fork goes back to be a conventional Showa, with a 49 mm dia. spring instead of the SFF-TAC Air. The 5-speed transmission, the full led headlights and the titanium tank complete the list of innovations.

CRF 450RX
Even if the bike was significantly modified in 2017, it now presents significant touch ups that definitely change its character. The extreme reliability of the starter combined with a new lithium ion battery retires the kickstart lever, reducing the overall weight by over 600 gr. Even if the suspensions are the same as the cross versions, thanks to the experience gained with the enduro team in the EGP world championship, it has a dedicated setting; the control unit offers 3 different mappings that soften the engine explosiveness without compromising usability, making it more suitable for a mainly heuristic use. The third map is even programmed for extreme off-road situations. The 7.3-liter plastic tank, the radiator guards and the cooling fan enrich the standard equipment.

CFR400RX
Another new entry is the 400 RX, that originates from the 450, and that replaces last year’s 300 model, born based on the 250 R. This motorcycle has been developed to optimize the requirements of the enthusiast or the amateur, that is looking for engine usability, stability and traction.
It shares all the improvements originating from the enduro team experience in the EGP world championship, with its bigger sister, but uses a special cylinder made by Athena that dramatically increases torque, offering a usability never found before on a CRF.
As for the other models, the suspensions have a setting addressed to a heuristic use. The 3 mappings can be set using the button on the handlebar.

Riding test
For a more comprehensive report we involved 3 riders with different backgrounds, who rode all the motorcycles on the same tracks. Each rider shared his opinion with the others. Many times, this exchange resulted in useful advice to facilitate overcoming an particular obstacle or section, other times the personal riding preference made us appreciate a different setting or mapping for the same section.
Everybody agreed on some characteristics that these models share: the big evolutive step on output, the attention paid to details that for the first time makes them truly efficient even for “European” enduro, the perfectly calibrated suspensions, the never faltering electric starter. Moreover, the finishes and plastics are a notch above the best competition!

Pietro Bartolomei (enduro rider forever)

The riding position is so ergonomic that it’s like riding a bike tailored on me. The electric starter on all the range lures the nostalgic tired of having to kickstart their bikes in the worst positions. The 250 is so slim it looks like a 125 cc, the bigger sisters are slightly larger but remain very lean even where the tank is. The new DOHC of the 250 is fun, it pushes hard even at low rpm and, insisting on the limiter, the bike doesn’t lose power but keeps pushing. It certainly needs an aggressive riding style to make the most of it, but if you are able to “squeeze” it, it really rewards you! The 3 mappings grant a wide and focused range of use depending on where you are riding, track, woods or mule trail. I was greatly surprised when I rode the bigger bikes. Up to the previous model (2017) I always found the 450 to be too demanding, too tiring to tame even on track, never mind in the woods on loose and slippery rocks. This year things changed, it’s the displacement I appreciate the most, it pushes hard without being difficult, it is versatile and easy to ride, but when needed and by simply changing the mapping it becomes a peppy racing bike. The 400 is the right mix for amateurs, output is more manageable, it seems to have more traction, and this becomes an essential help in difficult situations typical of this sport, such as mule trails. Brakes are excellent on all the motorcycles.

Enrico Severi (ex motocross rider, started riding enduro a few years ago)

The small brand-new Honda 250 requires force riding similar to that needed for the 125 2-Stroke, the clutch is often used at low rpm or in lower gears, to obtain boost, after which the bike springs forward and its DOHC sings pleasantly. The 400 represents the hybrid displacement of the hole range, with a pasty torque that really helps in the most arduous and technical tracks, but you only need to open the gas to go a long way. The 450 even if it shares everything with the 400, including the overall weight, is more aggressive which will be appreciated by racers. It is a real bullet from one curve to the other, luckily the setting of the 3 mappings gives you the best output for your preferences. Which to choose? I certainly choose the 450, fast, maneuverable, stable and even light, engine management electronics and electric starter that have been missing for too long, complete this wonderful Honda range of enduro motorcycles. Even aesthetically, the motorcycles are eye-catchers.

Paolo Trippi (his passion is split between trial riding - he won the Italian championship - and enduro riding)

I was very impressed by the new generation 250 4-stroke. Extreme maneuverability with a DOHC, “very rounded” lows and excellent output at high rpm, good traction and stability even on fast tracks; with all of this, natural channels can be easily taken on. Weight and riding style are very similar to a 2-stroke. The 400 cc is the real “bomb” of the RedMoto threesome, a motorcycle with a frame and weights that ensure absolute stability both in the woods and on tracks, but the real novelty is the engine that, with the soft mapping, grants fun even on extreme trails without a lot of trouble. The medium mapping is perfect for the woods, even when wet, maintaining direction as well as traction. The hard mapping offers excellent power but also progressivity good for tracks. Great bike, even for Sunday enduro! The 450 cc is the true Honda character, with a wonderful riding position that stretches your arms when you open the gas. It seems to me that the three mappings are programmed for an output different from that of the 400. I must say I really had fun testing these motorcycles, both amateurs and true “maniacs” will enjoy it. What they have in common are the great maneuverability, stability and braking, the 400 and 450 have a similar output while the 250 cc is different from the Unicam previously tested. It seems to lose at low rpms, gaining at medium-high rpms, granting considerable speed and riding satisfaction. With the addition of the electric starter, dedicated mappings and the return to the spring fork, Honda is on the market with a beautiful and true enduro motorcycle.

Text: Pietro Bartolomei
Photo: MBfotopress