new to high end bikes: CRF450R maintenance


Sep 15, 2006
I am in the process of buying a '07 CRF450R (when they're available in Canada in 2 weeks). I have ridden a XR400 '96 for the past 6 years. While by no means am I a competitive racer, I am 21 and fairly aggressive. I ride mostly on steep, rocky hills (Canadian shield). With the XR400 there was really nothing I touched except for oil change, filter at the beginning and midway through the summer. I get a local mechanic to look at the bike for the beginning and end of the season.

With the CRF450R I’ve heard it is fairly high maintenance compared to the XR Looking at these forums I have learned that the CRF450R valves need to be checked every 15 hours or so, and oil and oil filter must be changed more frequently than on an XR. Just wondering for my style of riding what other things will have to be watched, how much it will typically cost per x hrs of riding to run, and how hard it is do these changes (i.e. check valves, etc) since I have little background in small motor repair.

Thanks for help, and sorry for being long winded!



May 7, 2000
I have five buddy's with CRF's and they all have had valve issues! IT IS NOT like a XR!
They all have had to replace the valves,springs,guides & have the seats recut.
Two of the guy's are looking at going back to 2 strokes. Only 1 bike was used for MX
the other were used in the woods.
Good Luck!


Sep 15, 2006
Did they have early CRF's (02). I have heard earlier bikes, even up to Y05 had issues with their intake valves. Apparently Kibblewhite stainless steel valves can solve the problem?

I don't think a 2-stroke is in my best option, because of all the steep hills I regularly climb. I am hoping this valve problem isn't a deal breaker. XRs have been fun, but I am looking forward to the performance of a CRF.

Rich Rohrich

Moderator / BioHazard
Jul 27, 1999
Overall the CRF450 engine has proven to be very reliable. The major weak points are the intake valves, valve springs, cam chain tensioner, and the water pump shaft, bearing & seals. The titanium intake valves tend to wear and get cupped from bouncing off the valve seat as the springs wear and lose seat pressure. The exhaust valves are made of an inexpensive grade of steel and get corroded from the deposits present in pump gas. The quality of the stock Honda head is good. The valve guides and seats are very hard and wear resistant , but the exhaust guides need to be checked for wear when you get a lot of hours on the engine.

The exhaust rocker arm tends to wear the roller over time, and the cam bearings are also prone to wear if oil changes aren't done frequently. Both are easily replaceable and can be checked by simply turning the bearing or roller and feeling for notchy movement. If the fixed bearing on the cam is bad, then you have to replace the camshaft. Hot Cams makes both a Stage 1 & 2 cam which feature powerband changes with more low to mid-range (Stage 1) and more mid-range to top end (Stage 2) (about $150).

Installing the 2004 and later Honda cam chain tensioner (about $45) is the standard fix for the tensioner and Kibblewhite Black Diamond valve train kit (about $325 for the parts) is the standard valve fix. The Kibblewhite kits include 4 stainless steel valves, 2-stage racing valve spring kit with titanium retainers. A fresh valve job along with the Kibblewhite kit gives you a pretty bulletproof valvetrain.

With these minor changes the CRFs can last a very long time. My 2002 CRF is still going strong.

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