I now have over 4500 KM’s on my CRF250L. This is the third in an ongoing commentary on the little red Honda 250L.
I don’t have a ton of experience with dual sport motorcycles, so I’m just sayin’ straight up from a learner’s perspective, how this little dirt and city/highway commuter has performed for me. Maybe you’ll relate to this. Maybe not.
Riding this bike has been a barrel of fun for me. I live in British Columbia, Canada, in a city of about 120,000 people. The population doubles in the summer with tourist traffic; the price of beauty! I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else though. It’s the perfect place to ride a motorcycle, and the CRF250L is an ideal bike in an area like this. We have high grassy areas overlooking deep blue lakes, lush forests and mountains, and bare bones desert areas. Cutting through all of this are thousands of trails and FSR’s deep into the wilderness.
Some review notes on the CRF250L after several months of riding:
- Odometer reading: 4560 KM’s
- Modifications: None. The bike is completely stock except for the windscreen, rack, and tail bag.
- Tire wear: 30% -40% worn. That’s just a guess. Wear is even. Tires are still nicely rounded
- MPG: Accurately tested on several day trips combining city, fast paved highway, and Forest Service Roads (FSR’s). The average is 85-90 MPG (imperial)
- Maintenance done: First service was by the Honda dealer after break in period. It included oil change, valve clearance check and adjustment, chain lube and adjust, etc. Since then I have cleaned and lubed the chain a few times. The chain has not required any adjustment since first service. I’ve lubed the cables and adjusted the throttle and clutch free-play. The air cleaner is still good. I emptied the crankcase breather tube. I have not needed to add engine oil, coolant, or brake fluid
- Paved/dirt riding percentages: 60% paved city and highway roads, and 40% FSR’s with some hard (for me) trails thrown in for a good challenge
- Surfaces encountered: Smooth fast asphalt, potholed asphalt, gravel strewn asphalt, hard packed dirt, loose gravel, sand, surface mud over hard packed dirt, deep mud, extremely rocky terrain combining deep gullies with fixed rock outcroppings and large rocks in deep loose gravel
- Gradient: The province I ride in is mountainous. Level roads are rare. We have 20 mile long steady inclines, tight steep switchbacks (hairpins), and roads that undulate and curve over and around the powerful geography
- Gearing, revs, and speed: My fastest speed on a level road has been 129 KPH (80 MPH) in 6th gear. Hard to factor in wind resistance but that seems pretty reasonable (with windscreen installed). The fastest I’ve taken it in 5th gear has been 110 KPH (68 MPH) with more left in reserve. I can easily take it past 80 KPH (50 MPH) in 4rth gear when the situation demands. First gear is the shortest. 2nd to 6th have quite the range
- Problems or performance issues: None
- Handling Characteristics: Highway handling has greatly improved after the tires were worn in a bit. In a previous review I was concerned about the handling of this bike at high speed. I am now satisfied those problems were caused by the stock IRC tires when new. Highway handling is excellent now. City handling is super-nimble, and dirt handling is awesome for a dual sport bike
- Engine noise: The chatter (a clicking or clacking sound at certain revs) that I noticed from the get-go has lessened. It’s still audible, but it is less of a concern. The more I push the bike to higher revs, the less I notice that noise at all revs and loads
Considering the local terrain and the type of riding I enjoy, you can see why I chose the Honda CRF250L when I decided to get back into motorcycling. I can do pretty-well anything I want with this bike. It is real nice to ride around town, though a bit more power would be better for accelerating from stop lights. 1rst gear is so short, you often have to shift to 2nd before you’ve cleared the intersection. That said, I can accelerate as quick as most cars, so no worries, but a bit more power and a taller 1rst gear would offer more options in traffic.
On steep dirt trails, you get used to the shift points, but there again, 1rst gear winds out too quickly IMO, and I often find 2nd a bit too tall when entering it on a steep uphill. Still, it is manageable by using the gears wisely. I can understand though, why many riders are switching the front and rear sprockets out to obtain higher gear ratios.
So after many months of varied riding on all sorts of terrain and surfaces, I am very happy with this little red 250cc Honda CRF250L. It is a pleasure to ride. The more I push it, the better it performs. You gotta love that. And you have to love the 90 MPG fuel economy. All is good then. Down the line I may look into changing the sprockets out, but for now, the stock bike is performing well enough for my needs.
Please ad your thoughts and experiences on the CRF250L in the comments below. If I have missed covering something, please let me know and I’ll respond with info.
Over to you now…