A 250cc dual-purpose motorcycle covers many bases: it slips easily through congested city streets thanks to lightweight and slim proportions matched with superb manoeuvrability, while its suspension, ground reach and seat height deliver a fun and comfortable ride onrough tarmac and trails. It opens up a whole new range of two-wheeled opportunities, whatever the rider’s experience level.
The Honda CRF250L, launched worldwide in Europe in 2012, is just such a machine. It’s found popularity with older riders – who often keep it as a second bike – while also connecting a younger demographic to Honda, many of whom use it as a cool, stylish alternative to a scooter. And for every owner, it offers the chance to head off the tarmac and on to the dirt.
With styling cues taken directly from Honda’s CRF250R and CRF450R MX machines, the CRF250L is ready for anything a rider can throw at it: it’s tough, practical and equally at home around a city block or out on the trail.
Well proven, the CRF250L’s tough steel frame and long travel Showa suspension remain unchanged, but new bodywork draws its influence from the minimalism for the CRF450R MX for a sharper, slimmed-down look. The digital dash displays the tachometer and fuel gauge and ABS is fitted as standard, with the option ofdisengaging it for the rearbrake.
Although unchanged for 2019, the 249cc engine boasts strong bottom-end torque and peak power, after upgrades in 2017 to PGM-FI, throttle body and air box.
The CRF250L is a true small capacity all-rounder, and as such is built so form and function seamlessly intertwine. Its slim width not only helps it in traffic, but also off-road where the smooth seat/tank interface also allows the rider to transfer their weight freely.
Cohesively laid out, the digital dash features a speedometer, tachometer plus fuel gauge and clock. The rear light, indicators and number plate bracket are compact and tuck neatly out of harm’s way.
The 7.8L (including 1.8L reserve) fuel tank delivers class-leading range: with fuel consumption from the engine of 33.3km/l (WMTC mode), over 250km is possible. The flat filler cap is hinged for convenience.
For 2019, the CRF250L comes finished in new ‘stealth’ black in addition to Honda’s Extreme Red racing colour with graphical accents drawn directly from HRC’s factory machines.
The CRF250L’s frame is constructed from steel, with twin oval-section main spars and a semi-double cradle. A wheelbase of 1,445mm is matched to a 27.6°’ rake with 113mm trail and ground clearance of 255mm. Seat height is 875mm with wet weight of 146kg.
A 43mm Showa inverted fork has 250mm of stroke: light weight and rigid, one side houses the spring while the other provides damping control. A 17mm front wheel spindle (2mm larger in diameter) improves rigidity and handling feel. Pro-Link rear suspension features a 240mm axle stroke; the Showa shock absorber is a single tube design with 40mm diameter cylinder.
The tapered aluminium swing arm incorporates a monoblock casting that provides the correct rigidity balance and reduces un-sprung mass. Extruded aluminium is used for the chain adjustment collar.
Up front, a 256mm floating wave-style disc is worked by a two-piston calliper. Two channel ABS is fitted as standard and gives the rider the option to switch it off for the rear calliper. Aluminium rims (21-inch front/18 rear) wear block pattern tyres (front: 3.00- 21 51P, rear: 120/80-18M/C 62P). A small detail – but a useful one off-road – is that the gear lever features a folding tip.
The CRF250L’s 249cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder DOHC engine delivers strong bottom-end torque and high rpm power, with a linear delivery. Peak power of 18.2kW is delivered @ 8,500rpm with peak torque of 22.6Nm arriving @ 6,750rpm.
PGM-FI feeds fuel/air mixture through a 38mm throttle body and draws air from the air box via a direct connecting tube. The exhaust muffler has a diameter of 115mm, houses the
catalyser and uses two chambers. A large bore downpipe helps the engine breathe and make more power.
The engine uses a compact roller/rocker arm valve train and cylinder head, with bore and stroke of 76 x 55mm. An offset cylinder reduces frictional losses while the piston itself incorporates a special surface material, plus a molybdenum coating. The oil pump features an internal relief structure that prevents aeration of relieved oil.
The crank journal employs a half-split, press-fit metal bearing while the crank bearing uses a cast-iron bush, reducing weight, smoothing the engine and strengthening the rigidity of the case housing, minimizing the internal diameter change due to thermal expansion.
A primary balance shaft further reduces vibration and the six-speed gearbox and clutch are manufactured to cope with the extra stress of riding off-road. The 10.7 kW heat- release radiator features a thin guide-ring cooling fan to maintain even temperatures at low speeds.