I want to start this off by saying I’m pretty biased. I love Hondas. Old ones, new ones, all of them. In a nuclear apocalypse all that should remain are cockroaches and Hondas. So when Honda said they had a CRF250L Rally for us to borrow I was pretty excited. One of the kids in our building owned a 250F Street legal Honda. It was a mechanically sound and fun bike. The Rally appeared similar, but geared towards former track riders looking to slow down a little or dip their toes in the enduro scene.
I haven’t ridden dirt bikes my whole life…not street bikes either for that matter but I do love motorcycles of all shapes and cc’s. The Honda site lists all the pertinent particulars for this platform of enduro, so if you want to know the bore or stroke, check their site. I can tell you the stuff most riders will appreciate… First off, it has a magic button (electric start). Most dirt bikes do nowadays. Including a kickstart would’ve been a nice safety net but since it’s a Honda, you may never need it. E-starts are great when ya bonk on hill-climbs and they’re a lifesaver when temperatures are in the triple digits. This bike appears to be geared toward a more intermediate rider. Most of which have owned electric start bikes in the past so it’s something they’re familiar with already.
This bike from the Ride Red guys is street legal, and equipped with a six-speed gearbox. First gear is super low for hill climbs and sixth gear is good for buzzing around town and making miles on the freeway. Plated dirt bikes are nice because getting from dirt spot to dirt spot doesn’t require a trailer because you can ride them on the road. Most aren’t meant for long distance, on-road travels and this one’s no exception. With the floating windscreen, hand guards and radiator shrouds, it cuts through the wind pretty good. It isn’t so wide ya can’t split lanes easily, either. Good work, Honda. The aerodynamic stuff looks pretty cool too and the off-set LED lights in the front only add to the aesthetic. That digital speedo is pretty damn cool, too! Make no bones about it, this bike’s a head turner. Blacked out rims and cool enduro tires come stock and add to the race look. When that stuffy accountant rolls up at your stop light and see’s ya, he’s gonna wanna be ya. Again, a win for Honda MoCo. Reliability, check. Smooth and nimble, check. Draws a crowd at the local drip coffee spot, check and check. But hows the ride?
We tested a California legal, street version so inevitably it was choked down to pass emissions test’s, but the power was there… You just had to twist the wick a bit to get at it. I’m sure with a tune and a pipe, (usually done before most owners even take it off the lot), this bike will lift that front 21 off the tarmac effortlessly. (It’ll do it in stock garb too, trust me). Around town you’ll be in the front of the line at any light.
In the dirt it did well too considering it’s a 250cc bike weighing in at 341 pounds, (the price you pay for a bike with a plate and a windscreen). Getting up some of the bigger hills required some aggressive use of the throttle. I always made it up, though and when coming back down that ABS in the rear worked surprisingly well. (You can switch it off if you believe otherwise).
What’d I miss? Over a 2.5 gallon tank with a fuel injected, liquid-cooled motor should net you almost 200 miles per gas stop and few visits to the dealer for valve adjustments. The radiator has a cooling fan to help with dissipating the heat on hot days and in traffic. The Pro-Link rear shock and inverted Showa fork up front work together to make the ride responsive on the street while still cushy in the dirt.
The latest version of the CRF250 Rally started production in 2017 and is still the same bike in 2019, save for graphics changes. The base price is under six thousand bucks (a ton cheaper than the Euro bikes out there). You’re gonna log a lot of smiles per gallon for that price. PLUS if you’ve owned a Honda before, you know you’ll recoup most of that cash when you go to sell it. Loved Honda before I rode the Rally, love ‘em even more after. Good work, dudes.