Crf250l vs crf250f

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Honda CRF250F Review | Bike Reviews

29 May 2019 / Text Size (-)(+) / Print

Honda has been very busy updating its enduro line-up, unveiling a plethora of new models such as the CRF250F and tweaks to existing ones that include fuel injection.

Being a market leader, Honda doesn’t want to fall fowl of the industry regulators, so it has tried to stay well ahead of emission standards around the world, even for its non-road legal trail and fun bikes. The new CRF250F is one of those and makes an excellent beginners’ mount, but you’ll need recreational registration or private property to ride it. People might think it’s a bored out CRF230F but that’s not the case. Having started as a 100cc bike, it’s a stretch to make the 230 go any bigger and the 230F will remain in production, with a MY20 version to be revealed soon.

Honda CRF250F

The $6120 CRF250F features a new 250cc single-overhead camshaft engine with Keihin fuel injection. Honda told ADB the CRF250F has 16% more power (2kW) and 21.7% more torque (3.9Nm) than the existing $5999 CRF230F.

A new tubular steel frame works with a 41mm conventional fork (up from 37mm on the 230F) and Honda’s proven Pro-Link monoshock has been completely revised and has 230mm of travel with preload spring adjustment (I had one in my first XR back in the early ’90s) to deliver a great trailbike feel. Honda has gone with quality running gear as well, including a set of hydraulic brakes front and rear (the 230F only has a disc on the front), a five-speed gearbox (as opposed to the 230Fs six-speeder) and electric start. The bike has also been given similar styling to the CRF motocross range and a handy low fuel light (no petrol tap) and “key on” indicator light.


The CRF250F looks, to the untrained eye, like a CRF230F with fuel injection. It’s a similar size (about three-quarters of full-size) with a low seat of 883mm and conventional suspension. However, after a quick squirt up the driveway, it was obvious the CRF250F is significantly different.

It has more power than the 230F right through the rev range and the EFI makes it more responsive. Having EFI also means starting is a breeze. There’s no long waits to go riding on those cold mornings or if you’ve had a tip-over. It sports a smaller fuel tank than the 230F (down to 6L from 7L) but Honda claims the EFI system actually gives it more range than a 230 (there is no speedo so testing this is difficult) while also reducing weight up top.

Honda CRF250F

At 105kg in my gear it seemed unfair for me to test this bike so I employed the services of my sister in-law, Bec. Bec has been keen to get into riding ever since she stumbled across my brother at a B&S and found out he was related to the Editor of ADB magazine.

She had her first crack on a dirtbike a few years ago at our farm and was bitten by the bug. She’s been eager to learn how to ride a dirtbike properly but we don’t usually have beginner bikes floating around at the magazine. That was until Honda revealed the CRF250F.

So I kitted Bec out in some fresh threads, handed her the reigns of the CRF250F and sent her off into the paddocks to get acquainted with the user-friendly trailbike.

ADB: When you sat on the bike, did it feel comfortable? Was the seat too tall and could you reach the ground? Did the bike feel too heavy?
Bec: This was only my second time on a bike, but I felt in control and very comfortable. When I went over bumps the seat was well padded and provided a soft landing. The seat was at a perfect height because, at 170cm tall, I could still get both feet on the ground, which made it easy to balance the bike. It didn’t feel top heavy when stopped or when riding but, after my little stack, it was harder to pick up than a 110 or 150. It actually felt really heavy but after a few goes at it Mitch showed me the right way to pick a bike up (by the bottom grip) which made all the difference! Turns out it wasn’t that heavy after all (120kg wet, up 7kg on the CRF230F).

Honda CRF250F

ADB: Was the power manageable? Did you ever feel out of control?
Bec: When twisting the throttle, the power came on straight away, making it easy to manage the speed because there was no lag. At times I would accidently twist the throttle over bumps and speed up, but I slowly got used to controlling my hand over bumps. The gears were easy to change and helped with managing the speed.

ADB: Did the power allow the bike to rev really low without stalling? Was the throttle too touchy?
Bec: Going around all of the corners for the first time I went really slow and the bike was able to rev really low without stalling, which is great for a beginner. I also went really slowly over my first rock pass with my feet on the ground, using the clutch and throttle to move slowly. This was easier than I thought, I didn’t stall the bike or loop out because the throttle was easy to control. The throttle on the bike was easy to get the hang of and the power delivery was really linear but strong.

ADB: Did your hands or arms ever get tired from pulling on the clutch? Were the brakes too sensitive or did they feel just right?
Bec: When starting and stopping the bike, I only ever used the front brake as this felt more comfortable to me. It was easy to slow down and to come to a smooth stop using the brake and clutch. I had to use two fingers for the clutch to get a good grip on it and, despite using it all the time, my hands and fingers never got sore. As a beginner, the bike was easy to manoeuvre and get the hang of quickly. Everything was comfortable, and it was so much fun, I can’t wait to do it again.

Honda CRF250F

Honda CRF250F Suspension

ADB: How did the suspension feel? Was it comfortable and/or was it too stiff? Was it too soft or spongey?
Bec: On the bike track, there were bumpier sections and small inclines. At first, I was hesitant as I didn’t know how I would go on the bike but every lap I got faster and more confident as I knew the bike would provide a soft ride. After a few laps on the track we did some riding in the paddocks and over a few rock passes. I went slowly over these and thought I’d fall off and that it would be really bumpy. The bike went straight through and I felt very sturdy on it, the suspension was good, and I hardly felt any of the rocks.

Farmer’s whip

While on a gap year many moons ago, my brother (Bec’s husband) went and worked on a farm in Mt Surprise, Qld. When the station hands found out that he knew someone on ADB they bombarded him with questions about when the XR was coming back and why had Honda got rid of it.

These farmers used XRs to chase scrub bulls through the bush on hot summer days as, being air-cooled, they wouldn’t overheat. They would ride up alongside the bull and grab its tail to slow it down or corner it between trees using the bike as a shield, so they needed durable dirtbikes that could be stomped on, charged at and cartwheeled as well.

While the Honda CRF250F doesn’t have the power of an XR400 it has similar, if not more, power than the XR250. It’s air-cooled, reliable and bullet-proof with an electric leg that looks like it could survive a nuclear blast. It’s certainly better equipped for chasing scrub bulls than the CRF230F or $6099 CRF250L. So if you’re looking for a reliable ride that can take a beating but still gets up and motors then, maybe, the Honda CRF250F could fill that XR-shaped hole in our farmer’s hearts.

Words and Pix: Mitch Lees

Honda CRF250F Specs

TYPE Air-cooled SOHC
FUEL METERING Keihin PGM-FI injection
Fuel TANK 6L
TRANSMISSION Five-speed, constant mesh
CLUTCH Wet, multiplate

WEIGHT 114kg dry

FRONT Telescopic fork, 240mm travel
REAR Monoshock with pre-load adj., 230mm travel

FRONT Twin-piston caliper, 240mm wave
REAR Single-piston caliper, 220mm wave

HANDLEBAR Non-tapered alloy
FRONT TYRE Pirelli Scorpion XC 80/100-21
REAR TYRE Pirelli Scorpion XC 100/100-18

PRICE $6120
PHONE 1300 559 846
WARRANTY Six months parts and labour


The 2017 Honda CRF250L vs. CRF250L Rally

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Browse InventoryHonda CRF250L Rally and Honda CRF250L


Video source: Each Adventure YouTube

Honda, a company whose reputation is consistent with top brands in the industry, set out to design an adventure seeker that could handle the trails as effortlessly as it could the pavement; thus, the CRF performance lineup was born. These street-legal dirt bikes empower riders with on-road and off-road capabilities, making the transition between day job and weekend jaunt a seamless one. 

Whether you fancy a journey through the urban jungle or a rendezvous in the dirt, the 2017 CRF250L and CRF250L Rally offer sufficient thrills. In fact, these dual-sport bikes have a great deal in common, so you really can’t go wrong with either. 

Still, in the spirit of competition, I set out to determine which bike is the better off-roading companion, which Honda CRF250 price lists the best benefit, and which can handle pavement with equal parts prudence and prowess. Here’s what I found:


Honda CRF250L Rally vs. CRF250L Standard

The heart and soul of these CRFs lie in their fuel-injected, single-cylinder engines, complete with electric starters, counterbalance, and double-overhead cams. Both bikes provide smooth, consistent 24.4 horsepower, plenty of low- and mid-range torque, as well as improved throttle response compared to earlier CRF models. Not to mention, they bring bursts of excitement and admirable fuel economy to the daily commute. 

To determine the difference between CRF250L and Rally rides, however, we have a few more details to consider. For instance, while both bikes feature the same upgraded 250cc engine and ABS option, the Rally’s increased seat height (+0.8 in.), suspension, and ground clearance make it a more suitable off-road choice, and the longer wheelbase (slight but still existent) makes it a bit more directionally stable.  

Video source: Hali Moto YouTube

Additionally, the Rally has a larger fuel tank, updated Dakar-style bodywork, better wind protection and visibility with its rally-style windscreen, hand guards, and a full wrap-around skid plate that defends against trail debris. It also boasts blended, frame-mounted fairings and asymmetric LED headlights, in addition to a larger front brake for more stopping power on pavement and a set of wide serrated dirt bike pegs for traction and leverage during stand-up riding. This bike is a born thrill-seeker, for sure. 


The Takeaway


2017 Honda CRF250L


Photo source: Honda 

  • 249 cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
  • A dirt bike that's street-legal


2017 Honda CRF250L Rally


Photo source: Twisted Throttle

  • 249cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
  • Rally-style bodywork and windscreen

Spec Comparisons

Honda CF250L and Honda CF250L Rally Comparisons

Drive Train    

Honda CF250L and Honda CF250L Rally Drive Train Comparisons

Chassis / Suspension / Brakes

Honda CF250L and Honda CF250L Rally Chassis Suspension Brakes Comparison


Honda CF250L and Honda CF250L Rally Dimension Comparisons

Brass tacks, I’d say the CRF250L Rally is the better off-roading option considering the upgrades Honda made to its frame and suspension (though I wouldn’t recommend taking this puppy out for aggressive trail rides because the ABS can be meddlesome and the suspension isn’t quite where it needs to be). The standard CRF250L, on the other hand, performs better on pavement and is the more affordable adventure bike of the two. Sure, it may be 24 pounds lighter than its Rally brethren, but this bodes well for the standard in terms of ‘zippiness’ and passing power.


Honda CRF250L Rally and Honda CRF250L

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I just bought a Honda CRF250L. It defies logic. I’m not a retiree looking to revisit motorcycle riding, nor am I 21, and swinging a leg over a bike for the first time.

 I’m 36 years old, married and, with regards to motorcycles, I would consider myself experienced. I’ve owned a slew of different bikes and though I’m not sure Honda knows who they’re marketing this bike to, I’m probably not the target market.

How did I get here?

I haven’t owned a bike in the last 24 months, so my desire to be on one had recently been overwhelming. The hardest part was figuring out what it was that I wanted to buy. Money is relatively tight, and this purchase would be the only one for 24 months or longer, so be smart I told myself, be smart.

So running down the list, I’ve owned the following: F4i, RC51, Brutale, Monster, Hypermotard, and real motards, lots of motards. I’ve owned a KTM LC4, 650R, SMR450 and a DRZ SM. Once you ride a dual sport or a motard in The Bay, it changes everything. Near death experiences happen less often. Even better, you arrive at your destination with a smile on your face, and more often than not you get there faster than you would on xyz sportbike.

So once again I had narrowed down possibilities of ownership to something dual sport or motard in nature. I also knew I wanted to buy new. In California, you can’t plate anything with a headlight, like the rest of the country seems to be able to do. There would be no WR/CRF/RMZ with a plate for me. Someone pointed me to KTM, but the Freeride is MIA and the other KTM models seem nearer to $10,000. Unbeknownst to me, Husqvarna had killed off the SM610 and SMR range, all of which would have been contenders in my search, so I was left wondering what to do. I could buy an older XR650L/R but it struck me as crazy to pay a premium for a 10-year old bike, just because it had a plate. For example, a dealer near me was selling a 2005 WR450 with a plate but they wanted $5,500. Additionally, an older bike concerned me because we share a garage, and space is limited, so wrenching at home isn’t really that easy or fun.

I had read Wes’ articles on the CRF250L and it seemed really interesting to me. The bike has a low MSRP, awesome fuel range, and all in a reportedly competent package. The threads on ADVRider and Thumpertalk seemed to reaffirm the competence of the package. So I hit the local dealer. It took me 5 visits to see one, as his stock was revolving on a daily basis. Bike came in, bike went out, repeat, repeat, repeat. When I finally got check one out, I was incredibly excited, lined up next the 250 and 450 'R' models the 250L didn't look like some weak beginners bike, or bad marketing idea. I wasn't embarrassed to push it outside and start it up. Even better was that it looked like, felt like, and rode just like a Honda, even one made in Japan. There was no "I'm made in Thailand" look or feel to be found. I don't even know if that is a stigma, but none the less. Again, I was blown away, standing in the dealers parking lot, clicking through the 6-speed transmission, in California, on a dirt bike with a plate. Done deal, paper work signed, the bike was mine.

The 250 Experience

I just bought a Honda CRF250L

In short, the bike is awesome. If you’re ok with knowing you’ve got the throttle open to the stop, and you can enjoy what that means, then there is no reason not to buy this bike. The build quality is Honda-perfect. The DRZ always felt kind of sub-par, I don’t know how else to say that. The Honda doesn’t, it feels a lot like the $8,500 dollar CRF450R. The dash is a favorite of mine with its pale white luminescence. You leave the line in first and quickly find yourself in 6th doing 60+mph. The weight and stance of the bike are what saves it from being mundane. In the city, or out in the hills, you change your line with the most subtle of gestures, and you do it with the throttle open, feeling like a Moto2 rider as you carry corner speed.

I remember a friend’s BMW 450X he had just bought, and when I asked him what it was like to ride and he just pointed to the motor and said, “that thing screws.” I instantly imagined a WW2 torpedo rocketing out of a U-Boat towards its target, no drag, all thrust. I rode the bike a few moments later and he was right, it was like zero to g-force in an instant, it even shamed by SMR 450. The 250L doesn’t screw, it kind of winds up, hits its sweet spot, and then everything afterwards is noise.

On the SMR you could downshift to second, take a right hand turn in the city and, as you exited the apex, just open the throttle and pick the front end up. That hasn't happened on the 250, I'm not sure that it will. Instead, you down shift, and make the right hand turn foot down, motor spinning, covering the brakes but not on them, and carrying speed. I feel like I’m riding a power assisted downhill mountain bike. In San Francisco your bike is too slow if you leave the line at a green light and the pink vespas and clapped-out Elite 80s drop you. The CRF doesn’t get dropped, the torque is strong, and the stop light to stop light drag races are good—its capable enough. On the highway I’ve done an indicated 75 so far, and the motor is still tight. Riding my SMR on the highway I was afraid to ever go over 70 and even then I would ride it to 70 and hold it, then back it off to 55 and throttle it back up to 70 and repeat, it was hellish.

And The Future Brings

I just bought a Honda CRF250L

I find myself incredibly appreciative of the bike, and want to change little. I plan on getting the suspension sorted, cleaning up the rear plate/light monstrosity, and otherwise just riding the heck out of it. The front fender catches wind at speed and in turn it makes the front end a little twitchy, so I’ll probably change it out for an Acerbis supermoto fender. I come from a Dunlop family and the stock tires say IRC so I’m not sure what that means but they’re going on Craigslist once I make it to the first service at 500 miles. I think I’ll try a Dunlop D606 on the front and a D803 Trials tire on the rear. The seat strap is ridiculous and positioned perfectly so that I’m always sitting on it, so that’s coming off too. I think the vibe for any accessories added to this bike will be OEM plus. I want to make sure that this isn’t my personal Range Rover Evoque, that rather than just play at adventure, I actually get out there and ride the bike. So next week I’m going to hit a OHV park local to me, and later this fall find some backroads into Yosemite.

Maybe by the time I’m bored of the 250, Honda will have released a 400 or 500 version.

You'll be able to follow my experiences with the 250L on Tumblr.

2020 CRF250R and CRF250F Riding / Wheelies


Vs crf250f crf250l


Honda CRF250F vs Honda CRF250L Drag Race


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