Editors Note: I wanted a test rider that rides/races Hondas a lot, but not a Honda rider who gets help or paid from Honda, but a real world, blue collar, racer type of guy to see if the Works Edition is really that much of a benefit for the money. I have known Colton Aeck for a while and he has always come across to me as a young kid with his “shit together” so to speak. As someone who looks for test riders, this is a rare thing. Almost Unicorn like! He’s articulate, he's polite, he calls it how he sees it and can translate that into actual words on a computer screen. While I was in Colorado on a family vacation, I tasked Colton with the job of comparing the “WE” to the standard edition a little, so you consumers can read if the juice is worth the squeeze.
The 2019 Honda CRF450RWE… What is it and is it worth the extra $2,200 on the price tag?
For 2019 Honda released their first ever WE or “Works Edition” motorcycle. At first glance the 2019 CRF450RWE looks a lot like Ken Roczen’s factory race bike. The “WE” utilizes the 2019 CRF450R as a base, but features a handful of upgrades like the Ken Roczen replica graphic kit, a hand ported cylinder head with an engraved “CRF450R Works Edition” stamp, Yoshimura slip on exhaust and more aggressive ECU settings. Other upgrades include: Kashima and titanium nitride coated forks, “super finished” and titanium nitrate coated shock shaft, valving settings, DID LT-X rims, RK gold chain, black triple clamps and a Throttle Jockey gripper seat cover.
So does all the extra bling and goodies translate into improved performance on the track? In short, Yes it does for me, but let me dive a little deeper, starting with the engine.
The combination of the head porting, Yoshimura slip on mufflers and the new ECU settings really liven up the engine on the CRF450RWE. RPM response is improved through the mid/top end and the engine has an overall “free” or quick revving feeling throughout the rpm range. It really does feel like a race engine and I would know because I have a race engine in my own personal 2018 Honda CRF450R. The biggest power increase is through the mid to top end and the rev cut off limit (over-rev) feels like it’s a couple hundred RPM’s higher than the standard “R”. I didn’t have to shift the “WE” quite as early as the the standard model coming out of corners. Although I will say the "R" has much better pulling power than the 2018 model.
The chassis is virtually the same between the WE and the standard model, except for the DID LT-X rims. But don’t discount that small change, because I think it has a noticeable effect on the handling of the WE. There is more of a solid feel when landing hard off of jumps compared to the standard “R” rims and for my aggressive riding style, that suits me better, so I can really appreciate that small of a change. Some of you may not even notice this on the track. but I am picky when it comes to rims and their strength.
To be completely honest, I didn’t expect to feel the difference in the suspension coatings and valving on the “WE”. Once you’re on the track the difference is clear, the initial part of the fork’s stroke has a plush yet firmer feel and the bike as a whole seems to settle better into corners. I feel like there is some added hold up (fork) on de-cel and the balance of the bike is better to me once off the throttle. I get slightly less pitching (or diving sensation) when chopping the throttle hard into some braking bumps. Again, the “R” is a little soft for my aggressive riding style, but still has a lot of comfort. The “WE” may have slightly less comfort in the mid-stroke, but it what it lacks in comfort it makes up for in performance when I decide to lay some hot laps down. Between the more powerful and responsive mid to top end, the suspension coatings and the stronger DID rims, the “WE” feels a little more flickable feeling on the track. I notice this mostly in the air and leaning into corners.
So the big question..Is the 2019 Honda CRF450RWE worth the extra $2,200?
Well, If you have a few extra bucks to spend and you want to have a more unique bike, that is also really cool then YES! If you plan on doing some modifications to your existing “R” you would easily spend more than $2,200 to do all these upgrades yourself right? If you have the extra money, want something unique and actually get some real world on track benefits then having a “Works Edition” is pretty damn cool. -Colton Aeck
If you want more information and want to hear what the boss man has to say about both Honda machines you can click on the "Podcast" tab right here on keeferinctesting.com and listen to the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Keefer Tested Podcast.