The Honda CRF250F stands as an emblem of trail biking brilliance. Many venture into off-roading adventures and seek a machine that promises power, efficiency, and longevity. Through this Honda CRF250F review, we’ll shed light on the aspects that elevate this motorcycle and the few that might need reconsideration.
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Honda CRF250F Review: A Balanced Insight
- Engine: A basic air-cooled engine with satisfactory power is combined with fuel injection, making it efficient.
- Maintenance & Usability: It stands out due to its ease of service, posing significantly lower maintenance demands than many high-performance dirt bikes. This motorcycle is user-friendly and easy to handle.
- Braking: Equipped with disc brakes at the front and the rear, enhancing safety and control.
- Weight and Price: When evaluated alongside some competitors, the Honda CRF250F is slightly heavier, and its Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is steeper.
- Suspension Features: There is a limitation with suspension adjustments, offering only the rear preload. Over time and with continued use, the fork, which initially feels a tad rigid, shows signs of becoming more flexible.
Upon collecting the new 2022 CRF250F, it was observed to have a layer of packing grease, a protective measure by Honda to safeguard against rust during its shipping and storage phase. While the dealer intended to wash this off, the decision was to self-clean, even if it required effort. On inspecting closely, certain welds on the bike’s frame seemed uneven, and the front skid plate mounting tabs appeared misaligned.
The frame’s paint is notably thin and is susceptible to wear, especially where the rider’s boots come in contact. As a proactive move, white electrical tape was wrapped around specific sections of the frame before the maiden ride. This may not augment its aesthetic appeal but is a protective barrier against potential rust. It’s essential to note that this paint quality differs from older models like the Honda XR200R.
The overall experience with the CRF250F has been enjoyable. Its engine delivers a commendable power output without always needing full throttle. The motorcycle’s braking mechanism is reliable, gear transitions are seamless, and its trail-handling abilities are impressive. However, there’s a slight abruptness in fueling at slower speeds and gears, a common trait in many fuel-injected bikes. This may require a period of adjustment.
The bike is commendably efficient with its startup. Yet, its fork system has room for improvement, especially when encountering terrains with protruding rocks. As of now, the front suspension has evolved to be slightly softer, and hopes are that this trend continues, similar to previous experiences with models like the KLX250S. The motorcycle has traversed diverse terrains, from rocky paths and muddy tracks to smoother trails, performing admirably.
In 2022, certain personal injuries hindered the frequency of rides. As recovery ensued towards the latter part of the year, the Honda CRF250F saw more action. 2023 has been relatively quiet for this bike for various reasons, but optimism remains for more rigorous rides in the upcoming months. With adequate break-in time, the bike’s performance, when pushed harder, has been commendable, especially during leisurely trail rides. A lingering observation remains regarding the slight abruptness in fueling during throttle transitions, hinting at carburetors possibly offering a smoother experience.
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Honda CRF250F Review: Maintenance Insights
Initial Maintenance Guidance
The Honda CRF250F’s owner’s manual provides clear directives about its maintenance. Specifically, the initial upkeep is slated for 150 km or after one month of usage. During this first check:
- Valve clearances were assessed and found to be in the prescribed range.
- Routine activities like oil and filter replacement were executed.
- Additionally, they undertook inspections of certain components like chassis bolts, which revealed that the upper fork clamp bolts and the front rim lock demanded some tightening.
- A glance at the air filter showed it to be in optimal condition.
- The chain’s adjustment, too, was deemed adequate.
Comprehensive Service Manual
For a more exhaustive understanding, they procured the official Honda service manual for the motorcycle. However, there was a delay of four weeks after ordering it from Helm (US) before it was dispatched, even though it was listed as available. The delivery spanned roughly a week, and FedEx levied an unexpected extra charge of $30 plus applicable sales tax.
Specific Valve Clearances:
As per the Honda Service Manual:
- Intake: 0.10 (+/- 0.03) mm
- Exhaust: 0.15 (+/- 0.03) mm
Upon measuring the valve clearances after about 10 hours of operation, the following readings were obtained:
- Intake (right side): 0.10 mm
- Input (left side): 0.11 mm
- Exhaust (right side): 0.13 mm
- Exhaust (left side): 0.14 mm
All the measurements were within the acceptable range, eliminating the need for adjustments.
An unfortunate incident occurred where the rear tire was pierced by a nail, possibly discarded negligently from a construction vehicle. Although the puncture was only detected upon returning home, and the tire did not lose air until the nail’s removal, the decision was to supplant the compromised tube. The next step was to opt for a Michelin Offroad tube, believed to be sturdier than the original Pirelli tube.
However, installing this tire proved more challenging than previous experiences. The stiffness of the tire, combined with overcast weather preventing the usual practice of warming up the tire under the sun, compounded the issue. Even with the aid of a Motion Pro Bead Buddy and personal effort to ensure the bead remained centered on the rim, difficulties persisted. The rim lock’s position might have contributed, but there will be future chances to refine this process.
Tire Pressure Preferences:
For the Honda CRF250F, they have been maintaining tire pressures of 14-15 psi, with 15 psi being the recommendation in the owner’s manual. Such a setting minimizes the odds of pinch flats. Despite the traction benefits of lower pressures, the terrains they traverse – characterized by rocky patches, minimal sand, and occasional mud – don’t necessitate it. Most of their rides span more expansive two tracks with intermittent challenging terrains. As for extreme single ways, they are rarely ventured into. An added perk of this tire pressure is that it potentially eases the stiffness the forks feel.
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Honda CRF250F Review: A Deep Dive into Accessories
Initial Accessory Installation
Before venturing on their first ride, they had installed a Motion Pro oil filter magnet measuring 23.8 mm. Upon the inaugural oil change, there was an anticipated discovery of steel remnants resembling a gray paste on the interest and the external metallic area of the oil filter.
The Stock Protection
The Honda CRF250F arrives with a lightweight plastic skid plate. While this default accessory offers some shield, it’s notably limited. Recognizing this, they opted for an Emperor Racing aluminum skid plate designed specifically for this model, acquired from a local Honda distributor.
Challenges with the Emperor Racing Skid Plate
This skid plate could have been a better fit despite its model-specific labeling. There were several misalignments:
- The curvature of the scale didn’t mirror the bike’s frame tubes, resulting in an evident gap.
- The furnished top mounting bolts lacked the necessary length to interact with the skid plate’s full-frame mounting tabs.
- The upper portion of the plate and the frame tab surfaces didn’t run parallel.
- The accompanying spacers for mounting didn’t meet the required thickness, falling short by about half.
- The rear mounting holes were mispositioned.
Merely adjusting the holes would have been a straightforward task. They tried various installation techniques without altering the skid plate itself.
They initiated a conversation with Emperor Racing, providing measurements and photographs for clarity. Despite being informed that prior fitment issues were almost unheard of, the skid plate wasn’t aligning with the bike. Emperor Racing was willing to tailor-fit the skid plate, but personal constraints made this solution unfeasible. The dealer’s reluctance to accept a return was countered by Emperor Racing’s offer of a full refund, which was eventually taken up.
Switching to the Anker Plastic Skid Plate
Their next pick was the Anker plastic skid plate sourced from Hyperlite Moto, US-based. Priced at approximately $130, including shipping charges, it was more budget-friendly than the previously evaluated aluminum counterparts.
Two weeks later, the skid plate arrived. It was advertised to have a thickness of 5 mm. On closer inspection, it was slightly less: 4 mm at the sides and roughly 4.5 mm at the bottom, compared to the 3 mm thick OEM skid plate. But, given their riding style, this seemed adequate.
While it was intended to be fitted using the stock bolts, they had to buy extended bolts and spacers, specifically for the top front mounting points. Utilizing 5 mm flat plumbing washers as spacers and an additional 1 mm regular washer for the left side upper mounting tab did the trick.
Fortunately, this skid plate had alignment perfection with the bike’s frame, unlike its predecessor. One notable downside was removing the skid plate for oil and filter changes and accessing the oil dipstick that needed to be fixed.
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Honda CRF250F Review: A Comparative Insight
A Class Apart
When diving into the world of trail bikes, several motorcycles rise to the forefront. Among these contenders, the CRF250F has made its mark alongside other notable names such as the CRF230F, Yamaha TTR230, Kawasaki KLX230R/KLX230RS, and the upscale Kawasaki KLX300R. Before dissecting these bikes further, it’s essential to note that while the observer has examined each of these machines up close, only the legacy of the Honda XR200R has been personally experienced.
Deep Dive into the CRF250F
The 2022 edition of the CRF250F boasts a 249 cc, fuel-injected, air-cooled engine paired with an electric start and a 5-speed transmission. A significant point of differentiation is its transmission, with the other bikes in this category all equipped with a 6-speed setup. At a height of 883 mm (34.8 in), it weighs around 120 kg (265 lbs) and comes with a 6.0-liter fuel capacity. This model also offers front and rear disc brakes, a non-adjustable suspension, and a key ignition feature, save for the rear spring preload. Priced at $5799 for 2023, it’s seen a slight increase from the previous year, with the 2024 edition priced at $5949, excluding additional fees and taxes. Plus, it’s backed by a 6-month warranty.
The Rivals: CRF230F and TTR230
In many respects, the CRF230F and TTR230 closely mirror each other. The former had its run till 2019, with the latter still in the race for 2023. Both bikes demonstrate reliability and simplicity in their construction. Air-cooled, carburetor-fed engines, non-adjustable suspensions, and front disc brakes are standard. The TTR230, however, does have the edge with an oil strainer and oil filter, suggesting more frequent oil changes for its Honda counterpart. While they both are lighter than the CRF250F, the TTR230 feels noticeably smaller. The TTR230 is priced at $5399 for 2023, subsequently rising to $5699 for 2024. The only downside? It’s a short 90-day warranty period.
The Kawasaki Offerings: KLX230R/RS & KLX300R
The KLX230R/RS mirrors the CRF250F in many areas, such as fuel injection, air-cooling, and the inclusion of front and rear disc brakes. However, the Kawasaki model boasts a two-valve head, unlike the CRF250F’s four-valve configuration. One unique feature of the KLX is its variable idle speed, designed to prevent stalling. This feature, however, has received mixed reviews. Seat heights for the KLX230R and KLX230RS stand at 925 mm (36.4 in) and 900 mm (35.4 in), respectively. Both bikes are priced at $5399 for 2023, with additional costs for fees and taxes.
As for the KLX300R, it’s truly a beast of its own. This model offers adjustable suspension, liquid cooling, and superior engine performance. Weighing around 128 kg (282 lbs) and holding a 7.9-liter fuel capacity, its seat height measures 925 mm (36.4 in). Priced at $6499 for 2022, this Kawasaki model is undeniably in a league of its own.
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Final Thoughts on Honda CRF250F Review
Is the CRF250F the right bike for everyone? That depends on individual performance needs. For those looking for a recreational trail bike that combines fun, low maintenance, and reliability, the CRF250F might be the perfect match. In a head-to-head comparison, it offers better value than the TTR230 and possibly a superior build than the KLX230R. However, the key is to explore different options and find the best fit.
The Honda CRF250F has largely met expectations, and as more time is spent with it, the appreciation for its features grows. While some areas could benefit from tweaks, it is a commendable choice for enthusiasts and offers good value.