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2017 CRF250L, CRF250L Rally: Press Launch/Review

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Honda gave me the chance to come ride their new CRF250L and CRF250L Rally bikes recently out at JCRHonda HQ in Murrieta, CA.  If you ever get a chance to meet the legend (11X Baja winner) Johnny Campbell and ride what is arguable the best trail bike in the world on about 120 miles of dirt and paved backroads then you'd best take it!  This was truly a LOT of fun.

That's right, I said trail bike but don't let that fool you.  It is important to understand what these bikes are and what they're not.  The CRF250L is the best selling dual sport bike in the US with about a 20% share (according Honda Powersports US) but at 250cc's one is not likely to be roosting, jumping water bars or scrubbing doubles/triples on an mx track.  I liken it to their CRV SUV; definitely not a Baja 1000 contender but a capable and popular vehicle nonetheless.

I have some experience with the Yamaha XT250 and had a ton of fun on that one as well.  I'm also interested to see how this CRF250L and Rally replica versions do against the new Versys-X 300 and BMW's new Mini-GS.  Interesting article here on those.

CRF250L: $5,149

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Description from Honda's press kit: Already popular with new riders for its great street performance and willingness to explore dirt roads, Honda’s 250cc class dual-sport motorcycle gets a number of important upgrades for the 2017 model year. The compact liquid-cooled DOHC 249cc single-cylinder powerplant produces smooth and consistent torque at low rpm to aid off-road work, yet the short-stroke engine also spins up excellent high-rpm performance for the street. Its chassis, which includes a long-travel 43mm inverted fork and single-shock Pro-Link® rear suspension, makes it equally at home on city streets or country trails. And with styling cues carried over from Honda’s incredible 2017 CRF450R motocross bike, the CRF250L offers the full package, whether the day calls for low-cost transportation, a weekday commute or genuine dual-sport adventure.

Some key improvements over last year's model:

38mm throttle body (+2mm vs last year), 100mm longer airboot (better throttle response), two-chamber aluminum muffler (lighter, improved feeling), larger header pipe (+10mm to 38mm), new ECU, now with tachometer, LED bulb, available ABS, updated graphics, updated license plate holder and taillight, aluminum rims (less unsprung mass, better suspension handling)..  I noticed the ample sized pegs and was told these are actually larger than what come on the CRF1000L Africa Twin.

My Impressions

All I really have to compare this bike to is the '16 Yamaha XT250.  I can say that the CRF250L is a step above in design as well as performance; better suspension, smoother power, more attractive design and better ergonomics.  On slight inclines (pavement) I topped out at 55 mph; flat pavement 65 mph was easy and downhill got it maxed at 79 mph! That pretty much met my expectations for a 250cc trail bike and my size (6'3" 240 lbs).  Lighter riders at the press launch were reporting a lot more "fun factor" than I was.

Seat was plenty comfortable with virtually no vibration.

We had the pleasure of riding some pretty basic dirt but in the few challenging sections the CRF250L handled them with ease.  I'm more an adventure or trail rider and a bike like this, and maybe more with the Rally version, seems like a popular option for a round the world traveler.  I would seriously consider riding this bike all throughout Mexico and beyond given its simplicity, capability and rock solid reliability.  

On Instagram check out CRF250L riders: bybdk, gizmoinstas, sodem1990, patriot_usmc, sir.braaaps.alot

Honda set us up with the REVER app (REVER.co) which I've used for two years now but up to now only to record my rides.  We followed gps tracks via the REVER app and it was cool!  I'm totally going to do that again with my gps tracks.  Much easier and readable than my Garmin 60Csx!

CRF250L Rally: $5,899

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Description from Honda's press kit:  Inspired by the factory CRF450 Rally machine raced in the Dakar by Team Monster Energy Honda, and based on the standard CRF250L, the CRF250L Rally is ready for weekend adventure or the daily commute. Featuring styling that evokes images of adventure and travel, the bike has long-travel suspension, large disk brakes (with available ABS), excellent weather protection and an impressive cruising range. Engine performance combines solid bottom-end torque with substantial top-end power.

Some key distinguishing features (performance features identical to the CRF250L):

30mm longer fork travel (taller, 11" front; 10.3" rear), updated radiator shrouds (vertical split like 450 Rally), 2.7 gallon tank (vs 2.1), asymmetric LED headlights (matches look of 450 Rally), fuel gauge/tachometer, larger 296mm front rotor (for added weight),

My Impressions

This isn't obviously a true rally bike but a rally replica.  It's certainly high on style but the protection the fairing provides from wind pressure and the larger tank (fuel range) are very attractive as well as functional features for me and my style of riding (more trail and adventure).  This is NOT a Starbucks poser bike.  It can get the job done even though I was feeling the extra ~30 lbs (ABS, fuel tank, etc...).  You'll see later in the video that this bike was able to handle some tricky trail situations easily.  This test was in the daytime but I know these lights will throw out a ton of lumens at night and really light up the trail (no need for aux lights).

If I had anything negative to mention they're really small things... I'm not sure if it's the larger tank or how it's mounted but I did feel more vibration at higher RPM's than the base CRF250L.  The brake and ABS lines loop up in front of the display and if you want to push the buttons on the display you kind of have to either reach over these or they're in the way of your hand coming directly at the buttons.  The bike is +30lbs over the base model and when I consider adding panniers and gear then I anticipate even less oomph.

Photo Gallery

(check back soon)

Video

 

Details:

Helmet: Icon Raiden Variant Deployed

Com's: Sena 10C

Gloves: RacerGloves Mickey Glove

Boot: Alpinestars Tech 10

Pants: IconRaiden Arakis

Jacket: FirstGear USA (prototype)

Tires: IRC

Tracking: SPOT Gen3

Navigation: REVER app

Edited by fudgypup
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On 4/28/2017 at 4:01 PM, dkappelm said:

Did you tell the folks at Honda it was time to make a CRF450L.? .I am still waiting for them to come out or for Honda to release a CRF650L

I did and was told that's one of the most common requests they get.  I asked why it's never happened and was told something about the millions of R&D dollars it takes combined with being consistent with global markets.  Not the best answer but that's all I got ;)

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On 4/30/2017 at 3:15 PM, fudgypup said:

I did and was told that's one of the most common requests they get.  I asked why it's never happened and was told something about the millions of R&D dollars it takes combined with being consistent with global markets.  Not the best answer but that's all I got ;)

 

Uhhh, pull cluster off crf250l

Weld tang to frame

Install cluster on crf450l

 

What's the issue again ?

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6 hours ago, ohgood said:

 

Uhhh, pull cluster off crf250l

Weld tang to frame

Install cluster on crf450l

 

What's the issue again ?

Install cluster on a crf450r you mean?

 

If it is, it would need an upgraded stator, electronics, electric start.  Also, the engine just really isn't made for road riding, as well as the suspension.  

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44 minutes ago, Neilly said:

Am sure it wouldn't take much to make the CRF450X road legal...it's got an electric foot and lights already fitted...

It would not suprise me at all if a guy here in the states just put some graphics on a CRF450X with CRF250L dispayed very large that he could not just use his CRF250L plate and registration and get away with riding the 450 on the streets. That guy would need to also own a CRF250L tho ....   :goofy:

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Wow had no idea crf450x had electric start, awesome.  Could probably totally get away for years by putting some crf250l decals on one and making it DOT legal.  Unless they check the VIN they would never know.  I've never had one (police) check at least.  Unless you get in a crash or something and there is an insurance issue.

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9 hours ago, gnath9 said:

It would not suprise me at all if a guy here in the states just put some graphics on a CRF450X with CRF250L dispayed very large that he could not just use his CRF250L plate and registration and get away with riding the 450 on the streets. That guy would need to also own a CRF250L tho ....   :goofy:

I know a few people who badged up their Yam RD350's as RD250...the law back then was you could ride a 250 once you turned 17 :ride:

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Too bad the CRF-Xs all still run carbs. Here in Washington state, you can plate just about any 2 wheeler, if you jump through the hoops. Not too hard if done right. Local parts salesman stop by the shop once in awhile on his plated CRF450X.

Shit, if I was gonna go to that hassle, I'd do the new CRF450RX, it's got electric start and it's Fuel Injected. No lights, but there are a ton of kits out there. Do it right and get one of the better LED kits.

But to be honest, they're all more than I'd want to spend on a bike that would get used just like my current CRF250L. If Honda came up with a 350ish L at the price point an L should be at I might jump.

Until then, I ride my CRF250L around town, to and from work, and out in the woods. Then when I want to hit the open road I'll throw my leg over the Yamaha Bolt sitting right next to it. Giving the choice I'd probably add the CRF1000L before any other sized DS.

 

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7 hours ago, RudeJeepin said:

If Honda came up with a 350ish L at the price point an L should be at I might jump.

Yep .... :thumbsup:  

It just seems so simple to me .... all they gotta do is put the 300 in there and then we can take it from there ... should be able to get 32hp out of it.  The way my bike is setup I honestly do not think there is a better "TRUE" Dual Sport out there.  

What I think would be cool is the new CRF250L Rally with an updated fuel injected CRF450X engine built and tuned for long hauls ... it would be the perfect lightweight mini adventure bike ... :ride: 

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On 5/23/2017 at 6:49 PM, Neilly said:

I know a few people who badged up their Yam RD350's as RD250...the law back then was you could ride a 250 once you turned 17 :ride:

My first bike was road legal at 14 - get a learners license for a car and it allowed a motorcycle up to 100cc

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8 minutes ago, seedy said:

My first bike was road legal at 14 - get a learners license for a car and it allowed a motorcycle up to 100cc

I had to do a year on a 50cc Gilera until I turned 17

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My 1st street legal motorcycle ... and some of my fondest memorries were made on that bike. 

I had it bored,ported,milled and jetted and also added an expansion chamber exhaust .... :thumbsup: 

1978 KE125 

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Edited by gnath9
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The first one I owned myself was a 1974 Can-Am 175 TNT, awesome dirt bike for it's time. Stripped down it was competitive in the 250 class.

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10 hours ago, dezracerE said:

First road bike at 15. Suzuki 125 twin

You had to be 17 before you could ride anything over 50cc in UK...the day I turned 17 in 1977 I was off up the road on a Suzuki GT250A

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My 1st street legal motorcycle ... and some of my fondest memorries were made on that bike. 
I had it bored,ported,milled and jetted and also added an expansion chamber exhaust .... :thumbsup: 
1978 KE125 
11385864593_c220ae4cd5_b.jpg


Yes, the same for me. I didn't have the Ke175 budget. The Ke100 did the job.

Funny enough I bought the wife a new XT250 last week and had to lower it to fit her. I put about 50 miles on it terrorizing the neighbourhood full pin.

That bike reminded me of the KE. Low and not fast but a total riot to ride.

Cheers
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