Last year we picked up a CRF250L and did a full build on it to fit our needs. We liked the bike, but we really felt like Honda could do better to fulfill riders’ needs in the mid-sized adventure market. So, when we heard about the CRF450L, we truly felt this just might be the bike we were looking for from Honda.

The CRF450L is the first performance dual sport from the Japanese manufacturers that is street legal and can be plated straight from the showroom floor. Once we got our hands on one, we immediately started planning out a build to make the CRF450L a top-of-the-line adventure bike. With the right additions, it became even more versatile: a gritty performer on the trails, a smooth runner on the pavement, and a comfortable ride for long excursions. Watch the video below to checkout all of the mods we made to this bike and keep on reading to get an even more in-depth look at the parts and accessories in this build.

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Luggage

Our first addition to the bike was luggage. We wanted to keep the bike light, but adventure trips require gear. To carry it, we started with the Tusk Pannier Rack system and top rack. This system fits the bike particularly well because of Honda’s strong extended sub-frame, which also provides the perfect foundation for a solid luggage setup.

Our choice of bags was the light and durable Wolfman Rocky Mountain saddle bags, and the Wolfman 303 Duffel bag. They have plenty of room to hold what you need without adding too much more weight. Wolfman offers a wide range of luggage making selecting just the right bags for your adventure easy. The Wolfman Enduro tank bag, for example, is an excellent choice for all of those items you need quick access to when out on the trail. Our bags are secured to the pannier system with the Tusk Soft Baggage mounts to make adding and removing them a snap.

Protection

The first addition in this category was the Tusk D-Flex Pro hand guards. Small, effective, and sturdy, these were our first choice, and a necessity for any off-road riding.

To protect the underside of the bike, we installed the Flatland aluminum skid plate. While the stock plastic skid plate was adequate, it can’t compare to the tough, thick, welded metal that Flatland offers. We took the worry out of any bumps and scrapes by installing the Flatland.

Comfort

An important aspect of longer rides or rougher trails is your comfort level. The first and most important addition for comfort was the Seat Concepts Comfort XL. The CRF450L’s stock seat is the same one used on the CRF450R, and is completely inadequate for longer adventure rides. The design of the Comfort XL provides a soft, wide section at the back for sitting flat on long, smooth roads, but narrows at the front for squeezing the bike when you work through trails. For a little luxury, we added the Tusk seat heater.

The next addition was the Tusk Accessory Dash Panel. It provides three spots for switches to control things such as the seat heater, lights, and anything else you might need. It also comes with a cut-out for a 12-volt power source to keep electronics charged while out on the trails.

Next, we swapped out the handlebars for some over-sized Tusk Chub Big Bars and Big Bar Clamp Kit. We liked the stronger feel and more ergonomic bend of the bigger bars. We also added Tusk grips and grip heaters. Warm hands are a must when the air gets cool at higher altitudes, and will make all the difference in cold-weather riding. We added another favorite, the Double-Take Adventure mirrors, to finish off the handlebars. These mirrors fold in to clear tight trails, but can be extended again for more open spaces.

To finish our comfort category, we replaced the stock foot pegs with the wider shape and better grip of the Tusk Billet Race pegs. The Tusk Folding shifter offers a more forgiving (and longer lasting) option to the rigid stock shifter.

Performance

The next category to cover is performance. The stock engine works perfectly for us: it powers us through all types of riding conditions, so we left it as is. Fuel range, on the other hand, was far too short to enjoy an extended adventure ride. We replaced the stock tank with the IMS 3 Gallon Fuel Tank (not available in California) to increase our range to over 100 miles.

The Dunlop D606 tires are the standard for our adventure bikes. These DOT-rated tires offer an aggressive tread and outstanding grip on-road and off. Filling the tires out are Bridgestone Ultra-Heavy Duty tubes. Ultra-tough and ultra-thick, these tubes are far less likely to pinch than their competitors, and are another staple for our adventure bikes.

Despite a nice-looking and effective stock headlight, we installed the Baja Designs Headlight, Squadron Pro/S2 Kit. To take our illumination to the next level, we use the S2 light for normal lighting, and Squadron Pro (mounted just below the S2) as the high-beam. The Baja Designs lets us push the bike even on the darkest trails.

We added the Tusk Radiator Cap with Temperature Gauge to monitor engine temperature during the more aggressive parts of our ride.

Like the engine, the suspension was excellent, and we chose not to change it. We adjusted the preload and the clickers to compensate for our luggage, but the components are all still stock.

Cosmetics

You have to look good while going fast. To enhance the bike’s cosmetics, we ordered a set of Attack Graphics to complement this already good-looking bike.

Just for fun, we also included a Tusk Billet Bling Kit to give this performer some added sparkle.

End Result

We’re very impressed with the versatility of this bike, and are pleased with the ease in which it became an extended adventurer. If you’d like to watch this motorcycle perform stock, watch our VERSUS video in which we match the CRF450L with the Husqvarna FE 501 to see how the bike stacks up against one of the top contenders in its class. If that still isn’t enough, check out our newest VERSUS video comparing the CRF450L to the KTM 500 EXC-F.

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Parts Available at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC

Tusk Pannier Rack System Tusk Soft Luggage Mounts Wolfman Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags
Tusk Pannier Rack System Tusk Soft Luggage Mounts Wolfman Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags
Wolfman 303 Duffel Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag Tusk D-flex Pro Hand Guards
Wolfman 303 Duffel Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag Tusk D-flex Pro Hand Guards
Flatland Racing Skid Plate Seat Concepts XL Comfort Seat Tusk Seat Heater
Flatland Racing Skid Plate Seat Concepts XL Comfort Seat Tusk Seat Heater
Tusk Accessory Dash Panel Tusk Chub Bars and Big Bar Adaptor Clamps Tusk Grips
Tusk Accessory Dash Panel Tusk Chub Bars and Big Bar Adaptor Clamps Tusk Grips
Tusk Grip Heaters Double-Take Adventure Mirrors Tusk Billet Race Pegs
Tusk Grip Heaters Double-Take Adventure Mirrors Tusk Billet Race Pegs
IMS 3 Gallon Tank Dunlop D606 Dual Sport Tires Bridgestone Ultra-Heavy Tubes
IMS 3 Gallon Tank Dunlop D606 Dual Sport Tires Bridgestone Ultra-Heavy Tubes
Baja Designs Headlight Kit Tusk Shifter Tusk Radiator Cap with Temperature Gauge
Baja Designs Headlight Kit Tusk Shifter Tusk Radiator Cap with Temperature Gauge
Attack Graphics Kit Tusk Billet Bling Kit
Attack Graphics Kit Tusk Billet Bling Kit