You’ve been wishing, hoping, praying, and hollering for the Japanese to come out with a modern 450 dual sport bike. You swore that if they would just make it, you would buy it. Your wish has been answered – today Honda announced the CRF450L street legal dual sport bike. 289 pounds wet weight. Wide ratio six speed transmission. Basically a modern, street legal dirt bike that appears designed to compete with the great stuff the Euro manufacturers have been producing for years now.
A lot of you have refused to buy a modern dual sport bike from the European manufacturers. Too unreliable you said. A too sparse dealer network. And the big complaint – the Euro bikes were just so expensive compared to the old dual sport bikes from Japan Inc. Japan has heard you and Honda has (finally) responded. On paper, the CRF450L looks like a great dual sport bike. It appears to hit all the right notes.
However, there is one potential issue with the new Honda. Modern dual sport bike costs more to design and build than old school dual sport bikes. The Euro manufacturers have been making and selling modern dual sport bikes in the $10,000 range compared with $6500 or so for old Japanese dual sports like the DRZ and XR650L. The new CRF450L is priced at $10,300 – similar to the Euro bikes.
It will be interesting to see if the primary reason the majority of riders have continued to choose to buy old school dual sport bikes is actual due to the cheap price. Will riders, in mass, pay $10,300 for a modern dual sport from Honda? Or will they say something to the effect of, “The Honda isn’t as good as the KTM and if I have to pay KTM prices I want KTM performance.” Or might they say, “That’s too much for a modern dual sport bike. I want a modern dual sport Japanese bike but I only want to pay the same price as the old bikes are sold for.”
If there is any justice in this world, this bike will sell like hot cakes. Time will tell.