From the song “Little Honda” by the Beach Boys:

I’m gonna wake you up early cause I’m gonna take a ride with you.
We’re goin’ down to the Honda shop, I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do.
Put on a ragged sweatshirt, I’ll take you anywhere you want me to.
First gear, it’s all right (Honda, Honda, go faster, faster)
Second gear, I’ll lean right (Honda, Honda, go faster, faster)
Third gear, hang on tight (Honda, Honda, go faster, faster)
Faster, it’s all right.

There’s no denying that Honda’s CRF250L dual-sport machine is a hit.

The CRF250L’s high-winding engine doesn’t pack a lot of punch, but that hasn’t stopped it from putting a whoopin’ on the competition in the dual-sport market. The entry-level CRF250L has been a true overachiever, leading the category, says Honda, with 20% of the market share. Around 4000 customers ponied up for a CRF250L in 2016, and we haven’t heard of too many complaints from ’em. The CRF250L isn’t the quickest or fastest machine in the quarter-liter class, but it was never designed to be a massive off-roader as much as an off-roader for the masses.

It’s not a big motorcycle,
Just a groovy little motorbike.
It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys,
That two-wheeled bike.
We’ll ride on out of the town
To anyplace I know you like.

Going anyplace has been the strong suit of the CRF250L since its inception, and for 2017 Honda has not only updated the standard CRF250L to give it a little more zest, it has also added a second, eye-catching model: Joining the standard CRF250L this year is the CRF250L Rally, which boasts Dakar Rally styling lifted from Honda’s CRF450 Rally machine, slightly taller suspension and more fuel capacity than the CRF250L so you can have even more fun between filling stations. For 2017, the CRF250L costs $5,149 while the CRF250L Rally retails for $5,899.

2017 Honda CRF250L Rally

Although the CRF250L Rally weighs more than the Honda CRF250L, the extra poundage doesn’t hurt it in the handling department. The Rally is a capable corner carver on asphalt.

Honda recently invited us to sample both machines in Southern California, using the California headquarters of Johnny Campbell Racing as its base station. If you don’t know who Johnny Campbell is, then you must not know off-road racing, because the San Clemente-born Campbell is a legend in the discipline with a plethora of SCORE Baja 500 and 1000 wins as well as two finishes in the Dakar Rally. Now retired from racing, Campbell fields Honda factory-backed teams in the AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series, where team rider Trevor Bollinger is the reigning champion in the XC2 Pro class. Our band of journalists got the chance to sample the CRF250L and CRF250L Rally equally while embarking on a self-guided tour using the Rever navigational app on a route that mixed a good portion of off-road riding in with two-lane blacktop as we rode to and from the Robert Renzoni Winery for lunch before swapping models and heading back to JCR in the afternoon.

While the CRF250L Rally is technically an all-new model, it shares the updates made to the CRF250L, which include a 2mm larger throttle body (now 38mm rather than 36mm) and a revised airbox with a 100mm longer connecting tube for improved throttle response. The airboot has also been reshaped to give the CRF250L a better “pulse feeling” when riding. Its two-chamber structure is also more compact and thus a little lighter than the previous component. In search of a little more peak horsepower while reducing emissions, Honda also fitted a new ECU and increased the exhaust headpipe size by 10mm, to 38mm.

2017 Honda CRF250L

The Honda CRF250L retains the same character that made it the best-selling dual-sport model in America, but it (and the Rally) received updates for 2017 to enhance power while meeting emissions standards.

Chassis-wise the CRF250L receives a few more upgrades for 2017, including updated instrumentation that features a bar-graph tachometer to keep track of revs, LED bulbs in the taillight for improved reliability and brighter lighting, an updated license-plate holder, and a new wave-style 256mm front rotor (the CRF250L Rally’s is bigger still, 296mm). Even better, both 2017 CRF250Ls are available with optional two-channel ABS that can be deactivated for dirt riding.

Where the CRF250L boasts new CRF motocross-style graphics, the CRF250L Rally offers an entirely different look. In addition to the engine upgrades, the Rally model’s Showa fork travel is stretched 1.18 inches while its Showa shock rides on a different linkage than the CRF250L. Its Dakar-influenced styling also incorporates a 2.7-gallon fuel cell, 0.6 gallon more than the CRF250L.

Our day began with the CRF250L Rally, and it included some rather technical fire-road terrain with plenty of rocks and huge washouts, courtesy of last winter’s torrential rains. It made for an excellent test of the Rally’s capability.

2017 Honda CRF250L

It may not feel any stronger than the previous model, but the CRF250L still delivers a delightful ride thanks to its responsive, fuel-injected engine and its weight-defying handling character.

It climbs the hills like a Matchless,
Cause my Honda’ built really light.
When I go into the turns
Better hang on tight.
I’d better turn on the lights
So we can ride my Honda tonight.

Sorry, uh, Boys, but as we expected, the Rally’s Thailand-built, CBR250R-based 249.6cc four-stroke Single is no power monger even with the larger 38mm throttle body and other performance updates incorporated by Honda, and yet it’s still a delight. Its 76mm bore and 55mm stroke, DOHC four-valve favors rpm over torque, and there’s plenty of breath to keep the Rally rolling down the road or along the trail. The 250L motor is truly electric in feel despite its lack of grunt, and its smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox and linear-feeling cable-operated clutch facilitate the multiple gear changes needed to keep the engine in the meat of its powerband. The CRF250L’s ratios are identical to the CBR’s, but the CRF transmission boasts wider gears and strengthened shift dogs. The clutch is also fitted with a judder spring in its hub to absorb shock loads through the driveline if the rear wheel should snag a rock or a tree root on the trail.

The engine’s smooth and precise fuel-injection is a real plus, delivering clean throttle response, though you still need to rev it up and snap the clutch in order to pop over rocks, ruts and other obstacles on the trail. When the going gets slick, the L motor has just enough flywheel inertia to maintain sure-footed traction through most of the off-road terrain you’re likely to attempt on the Rally. The real beauty of the Honda motor is that it instills confidence to allow a rider to grow his or her off-road capabilities without getting into trouble. Previous CRF250L testing has shown us that the engine’s fuel economy is around 73 mpg, so the CRF250L and the Rally should be as user-friendly at the gas pump as it is on- or off-road.

2017 Honda CRF250L Rally

Both the CRF250L Rally and the CRF250L deliver all-day riding comfort, although we prefer the Rally for its extra wind protection.

Neither the CRF250L Rally nor the CRF250L are lightweights. Honda claims curb weights of 341.7 lbs. for the CRF250L Rally and 317.5 lbs. for the CRF250L in non-ABS trim, but weight isn’t really a shortcoming when you’re knocking about on either machine. The shared chassis features a combination of twin oval-section main spars, a semi-double cradle bottom connected to a round steel, bolt-on subframe. Thanks to its greater fork travel, the CRF250L Rally’s wheelbase measures 57.3 inches, with the front-end geometry checking-in at 28.1° of rake and 4.5 inches of trail while the CRF250L rides on a 56.9-inch wheelbase with a 27.6° rake and 4.4 inches of trail.

Both machines deliver reasonably precise steering thanks to wide handlebars that afford the rider plenty of leverage when transitioning from left to right and back again. The chassis on both machines delivers a stable feel, allowing you to push either machine harder than you’d think you could. Experienced off-roaders might be wanting more performance in a few key areas, but not so much that the CRF250L or the Rally are a big letdown to ride in stock trim.

2017 Honda CRF250L Rally

Although the CRF250L Rally boasts about 1.2 inches more travel than the CRF250L, its extra weight and soft suspension settings require that you pick your flights carefully. The CRF250L delivers a tauter ride that is more conducive to off-road tomfoolery.

If there’s one area where the CRF250L Rally does come up a little short – and that’s ironic – it’s in the suspension department. Despite its 1.18-inch longer, 11.3-inch travel, 43mm coil spring Showa inverted fork up front, the added weight of the Rally’s bodywork and heavier fuel load tend to make the front suspension action feel mushy when reasonable hits are encountered. While the shock is mounted to a Honda Pro-Link rear suspension system with a tapered aluminum swingarm to yield 10.6 inches of rear suspension travel, both ends are on the cushy side once the pace goes beyond casual trail-riding speeds.

That isn’t the case on the lighter CRF250L, which features essentially the same fork and shock but with 9.8 inches and 9.4 inches of travel respectively. The standard model doesn’t reach its off-road speed limit quite as quickly as the Rally. We found out during our return leg to Johnny Campbell Racing that it is surprising just how silly you can get on the CRF250L before common sense prevails and keeps you from going on your head. The sensation is that the CRF250L’s suspenders simply have more spring tension, which delivers a tauter and more controlled feel that helps when you find yourself going a little too quickly in the rough stuff, and the CRF250L’s smaller and slimmer overall feel encourages such shenanigans in the first place.

But if you should find yourself needing to get on the binders, at least Honda didn’t scrimp on their performance. The 296mm wave-style front rotor on the CRF250L Rally and the 256mm wave-style rotor on the standard CRF250L, which are both clamped by Nissin twin-piston calipers, deliver a smooth and controllable feel when applied. The action is more akin to dirtbike brakes than streetbike brakes, which is to say more linear than downright powerful, but the front brake on either machine works well with the 220mm rear disc and single-piston caliper out back to provide plenty of stopping power, and with the optional ABS there’s even less reason to worry about locking up either wheel during a panic stop. Adding the ABS option will set the customer back an additional $300 more than the base MSRP on either machine.

2017 Honda CRF250L

The CRF250L and the CRF250L Rally are an absolute blast on two-lane roads, yet despite their gear-driven counterbalancers, the engine buzz at 65 mph can become a nuisance on long freeway jaunts.

But whether you do or don’t opt for ABS, plan on spending a lot of time enjoying either of these machines. If you’re more of a long-distance guy or gal, then the Rally’s larger fuel tank, slightly larger feel and excellent wind protection will be to your liking. If you’re going to spend more time experiencing tight single-track trails, the CRF250L is a better choice for its more dirtbike-like ergonomics for riders who really want to test their mettle on technical trails. Neither machine feels cramped or otherwise uncomfortable in the cockpit.

Either way, know that both machines boast the same top speed – about 81 mph. However, riding them that fast for any length of time isn’t all that pleasant. Despite their smooth-revving performance and vibration-quelling, gear-driven counterbalancers, our experience on the super slabs was that 6000 rpm was about the limit before secondary vibration began to creep through the bars, pegs and seat, making the ride less pleasant. Unfortunately, the bar-graph tachometers on both showed that indicated 65 mph comes at a buzzy 6800 rpm. Keeping the revs to 6000 produces an indicated 58 mph, not really enough for Southern California freeway use but more than enough for two-lane, backroad exploration.

Even so, aside from the few shortcomings that are obvious concessions to their economy-bike status, the 2017 Honda CRF250L and CRF250L Rally are very capable machines for the entry-level or casual dual-sport rider. Both deliver just enough engine performance, comfort, handling and braking to justify their existence, something to which the CRF250L’s sales figures already bear witness. More experienced riders might wish for more power or better suspension performance in the dirt, but that wouldn’t stop us from sticking either one of these little Hondas in our garage.

They’re all right.

2017 Honda CRF250L Rally

Lofting the front wheel on either the CRF250L Rally or its standard sibling requires a liberal doses of revs and a snap of the clutch. It’s still fun no matter which way you do it!

2017 Honda CRF250L
+ Highs

  • Excellent all-around performer at a bargain price
  • Great handling
  • Good suspension despite its economy price
– Sighs

  • Too much buzz at freeway speeds
  • Feels heavy next to a proper dirtbike
  • If it’s making more power, darned if we can feel it
2017 Honda CRF250L Rally
+ Highs

  • A new on/off-road model with awesome Adventure-bike styling
  • Smooth and responsive, if not powerful, engine performance
  • All-day comfy ergonomics
– Sighs

  • Mushy suspension action compared to the CRF250L
  • Not quite enough gearing to run 65 mph buzz-free
  • The CRF250L is already heavy enough
Specifications 2017 Honda CRF250L 2017 Honda CRF250L Rally
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, single-cylinder, four-stroke Liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, single-cylinder, four-stroke
Bore x Stroke 76.0mm x 55.0mm 76.0mm x 55.0mm
Compression Ratio 10.7:1 10.7:1
Valve Train DOHC; four valves DOHC; four valves
Fueling PGM-FI; 38mm throttle body PGM-FI; 38mm throttle body
Ignition Full transistorized ignition Full transistorized ignition
Transmission Six-speed Six-speed
Final Drive Chain Chain
Front Suspension 43mm Showa telescopic inverted fork; 9.6 in. travel 43mm Showa telescopic inverted fork; 11.6 in. travel
Rear Suspension Pro-Link, Showa single shock; 9.4 in. travel Pro-Link, Showa single shock; 10.3 in. travel
Front Brake Single 256mm disc w/Nissin twin-piston caliper (ABS optional) Single 296mm disc w/Nissin twin-piston caliper (ABS optional)
Rear Brake Single 220mm disc w/Nissin single-piston caliper (ABS optional) Single 220mm disc w/Nissin single-piston caliper (ABS optional)
Front Tire IRC Trails GP 3.00 x 21-inch IRC Trails GP 3.00 x 21-inch
Rear Tire IRC Trails GP 120/80-18-inch IRC Trails GP 120/80-18-inch
Rake 27.° 28.1°
Trail 113mm (4.4 inches) 114mm (4.5 inches)
Seat Height 34.4 inches 35.2 inches
Ground Clearance 10 inches 10.6 inches
Wheelbase 56.9 inches 57.3 inches
Fuel Capacity 2.1 gal. 2.7 gal.
Claimed Curb Weight 317.5 lbs. 341.7 lbs.
Color Red Black/Red/White
MSRP $5,149 (add $300 for ABS model) $5,899 (add $300 for ABS model)

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Honda Communities

  • JMDGT

    Another bike I would have bought in high school. It can definitely be improved upon. I still like it. I’d like it a lot better at $2999.00.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Not intended for fat guys

  • R. Casimir

    Hey kids! Lookee: a 350lb 250cc four stroke for off-road use! Actually, it sounds ridiculous as a concept.

    This entire segment, light weight dual purpose bikes, is going backwards.

    For riding from my garage to the nearby mountains and doing some fire-roads and some trails I need enough power to dodge cars on the road on the way there, loft the front wheel in 2nd and 3rd gear, and enough lightness to make riding trails fun. SImple.

    According to the online spec sheet Google offers up the circa 1988 Yamaha XT-350 had a dry weight of 264 lbs and put out 31.5 HP.

    A few years later Suzuki came out with the DR-350. Wikipedia lists it’s weight as 286 lbs and it’s power as 33.5 HP. Six speed box.

    Either of these bikes, built 30 years ago, are more on-target for real-world dual-sport use than these Hondas.

    Hundreds of forum participants on ThumperTalk, AdvRider, Motorcycle.com have been hoping for a bike that advances the 1990 state of the art in mid-sized dual sports. KTM has heard the call, and answered it. Albeit at a premium price.

    The Japanese have decided to focus on over-sized and under-powered 250cc bikes, possibly because of weird Japanese and 3rd world licensing regulations.

    Every year the army of owners of 80s and 90s dual sports gaze with hope upon the new product offerings hoping for the Unicorn – a Kawayamasakida 350cc to 450cc dual sport, under 300 lbs ready to ride.

    Instead useless 250cc adventure bikes. Whatever. They will probably sell a million what do I know.

    • TheSeaward

      I’ve owned an WR250R for a few years now and I can do everything you listed on it. That being said if you told me Yamaha was going to make a WR400R I’d put my kidneys on Craigslist.

      • R. Casimir

        Yes, WR250R is the best of the current Japanese dual-sports.

        Like you say it’s just so obvious that a 350cc to 450cc version would be the category killer.

    • Travis Donald

      What is the alternative to this bike if someone wants switchable rear ABS and enough HORSEPOWER to function on the Interstate, and still be less than 350lbs wet with a 200 mile range, and have a MSRP thousands less than a 690 Enduro R? This is an ADV bike, not a weekend warrior bike, so it is about compromise. Granted a used well farkled WR250R at $6,100 would offer more value, and make a lot of folks never think twice about giving up Switchable ABS.

      • R. Casimir

        Alternative to this bike:

        * Suzuki DR’400 – better power, similar weight, old-tech, more power
        * KTM / Husky 690/701- large!, switchable ABS, expensive, great power, weight
        * KTM/Husky 350/500 – low weight, d/k about ABS, high $, high maint.
        * Beat / Gas-Gas / TM – similar attributes to KTM 350/500, parts?

        * WR-250 – underpowered but otherwise competent, good $, ok weight

    • Born to Ride

      I remember reading an article (maybe it was here on MO?) where a Yamaha engineer was pissing and moaning about emissions on the 450 bike, and that every time they try and tune a motor for street use, it will pass the initial emissions test. However, they require a second test at a EPA mandated mileage that I don’t recall, and the 450 fails it every time. He even went so far as to insinuate that it was questionable whether “certain European brands” were meeting the standard under normal conditions. Read: “I think KTM is cheating those sons of bitches”

      • Jason

        Suzuki passes emissions tests with a carbureted DRZ-400S so I doubt emissions is what is keeping the Japanese out of the class. More likely they aren’t willing to spend the time and money to introduce a bike for such a niche market.

        • Born to Ride

          I think the point of the article was that the off-road engine cannot be tuned to meet emissions and putting a bike on the road would require a clean sheet design. I haven’t studied ICE design enough to validate the claim, but I agree that it is a matter of desire to invest in a new model. They can’t do it cheaply so they aren’t going to do it at all.

    • Jason

      “According to the online spec sheet Google offers up the circa 1988 Yamaha XT-350 had a dry weight of 264 lbs and put out 31.5 HP.”

      The 2017 Yamaha XT-250 is essentially the same machine and weights 291 lbs weight. Dry weights are essentially useless as manufacturers removed all fluids from the bike, even things like fork oil and battery acid.

  • R. Casimir
  • BDan75

    What’s with the bizarro headlight on the Rally? That alone would be enough to push me to the standard machine, and I even like BMW-style asymmetry.

    Not that I’d buy one anyway, it being a 250 and me being a 225. Isn’t this the same basic engine that’s in the CB300R? Seems like that would have been pretty simple to port over. Or at least give us something in a higher state of tune, like the WR250R. Or how ’bout the twin from the CB500 series? I mean, jeez, some dude on ADV Rider did that swap himself.

    • sgray44444

      I agree completely. They need something that is a lighter and more modern version of the 650L at a sane price. A modern 450 in a light package with good suspension for the price of this 250 would be perfect. It wasn’t that long ago that I payed about the price of this rally out the door for a new V-strom 650. The idea of a dual sport like this applies, but at 6’4″ and 250 lbs. and knowing that I like torque, this just isn’t going to get it.

    • SerSamsquamsh

      That is easily the ugliest headlight in the biz. It looks like a mistake!

    • Travis Donald

      Hopefully in a year or so, Honda will put in the 286cc engine. The NC700X only lasted two years before they went from 670cc to 745cc. This time all of the Asian countries will keep the lower cc engine and the USA will get the larger cc… I hope.

      • R. Casimir

        How about just designing a bike with adequate displacement to start with? (Which will be more than 282cc)

        Historically, even back in the air-cooled days, bikes from 350cc to 600cc were the ones people rode for dual-sports. There were tons of great bikes, start with the 1975 XT-500 (possibly the first true dual sport) which evolved into the Yamaha’s XT-350 and XT-600 of the 1980s.

        A couple comments back someone wrote about how great his XR-600 was. Honda made XR’s in 125cc, 200cc, 250cc, 350cc, 400cc, 500cc, 600cc and the 650cc XR-650L which is the only one left in the catalog. Some were factory dualsports, mostly the bigger ones, some others were favorite dual-sport conversions.

        The 650s were (are) arguably a bit too big for real trail use. With today’s fancy motors you don’t need that many CCs anyway. I ride with a guy with a KTM 690, it make 67 hp. So quite a few more than you need in a dual sport, and as you’d expect it’s oversized for trail duty, but still a great all around bike. It is pretty svelt at only a bit over 300lbs.

        The KLR 650 is a cult low-cost, low-tech adventure bike. But it’s also the poster child for how adventure bikes killed dual sports. Nobody buys one to ride trails on. Like an old retired football player it keeps getting fatter and slower every year, like the entire segment.
        The current Kawasaki site lists “Curb Weight” as 432 lbs. Fun in the mud and sand, I’m sure.

        It’s not like the Japanese have to invent some new materials science to do this, just sharpen their pencils. Maybe pull an old XR or XT out of their corporate museum and put it on the test track with the prototype.

        • Travis Donald

          I think you are totally right about how a modern 450-500cc thumper can make plenty of torque and HP. They will come. Honda replaced the 230 with the 250 in 2012, right? They make loads and loads of sales revenue in Asia due to the legal requirements on displacement size. You are right again how the 286cc bike is still not good enough. I think Honda is just going with making a profit. The want potintial travelers to think the new AT is the answer, so no mid size bike for us for a while. Kawaski or Yamaha will need to make a 375-400lbs dual sport thumper to upset the balance. There will be a lot of folks who will pick the Rally ABS as their touring Vic over the XR, DR DRZ, and KLR. I would have went Rally in 2014 instead of a MIGHTY DR, but they were not around. The big reason is folks will buy and ride, just like with the KLR.

    • Jason

      According to Cycle World the Rally has the engine from the CBR250R.

      Quote: “I love almost everything about this bike, except the 250L motor that is. It’s the same motor Honda created for the CBR250R, save for the throttle body and ECM”

  • Craig Hoffman

    I have a plated ’10 Husaberg FE450. In theory, it is the most awesome “dual sport” known to man. Smooth engine, 50 plus hp, sub 300 pound weight and it is a real dirt bike. The problem with that is the seat is a narrow weapon of ass destruction and the rider is a human sail at speeds over 60 mph, although the bike will pull nearly 100 if the rider tucks in. With it’s smooth engine and balanced wheels, it can easily cruise at 70, beating the crap out of it’s rider the entire time. Unfortunately, real dirt bikes suck on the street, no way around it. They are too tall, too light, too flighty and too uncomfortable.

    The best dual sport I have owned was an ’83 XL600. It was kinda heavy and that made it work better on the street. I was kinda tall (with suspension grafted onto it from a blown up XR500) and it did sick 5 gear wheelies. It was fun to ride off road in reasonable pace, but it still could kick some ass.

    The current XR650L is almost there, but a little to cantankerous. It is not that hard to build a decent dual sport, but Honda sure makes it look hard. Give it decent suspension, give it some displacement. They sure have the road hugging weight part of the equation figured out. Build a damn 450 version already…

    A pics of that old XL from my way back archive, doing what it did best. Rode it out there to the trails, ripped around and got muddy, rode it home on the freeway. That 600 really could do it all 🙂

    [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v32/duken4evr/Motorcycke%20shots/XL_Wheelie.jpg[/IMG]

    • R. Casimir

      Great pic. Great testimonial, too. Yet another rider pointing out that the segment is going backwards with under-powered and overweight bikes.

      “The current XR650L is almost there, but a little to cantankerous. It is not that hard to build a decent dual sport, but Honda sure makes it look hard.”

      Exactly. Their (potential) customers have been writing the general specs for them for years on boards like this. Instead we get a 350 lb 250cc bike that buzzes at 65 mph and is barely adequate on a trail.

  • SRMark

    There are just fun little bikes. I prefer the 250L over the 650L and I am far from a little guy. I prefer to ride by my self. No pissing contests. Just fun. if that is you, get you one of these. Either one.

    • R. Casimir

      I ride in areas that are too remote to ride alone. If something happened it would at best be a very very long walk out, and at worst I’d be bear food.

      • SRMark

        And you are wise to ride with others in remote areas. And it’s another good reason to own a Honda

  • Vrooom

    It’s too bad, I could use a small dual sport, my 650 isn’t great on trails, but 341 lbs. for a 250, not chance. Even the L’s 318 seems absurd. 260 seems reasonable for a 250 dual sport. How about a shootout with the Kawasaki and anyone else who comes with a small ds?

    • R. Casimir

      Kawasaki dropped their small displacement dual-sport about three years ago. It was a pretty nice bike, but wasn’t fuel injected and the mags all rated it below the Yamaha and Honda with FI.

      There are lots of shootouts between the Honda (the original DS version) and the Yamaha WR-250R. The R wins on everything except price, it’s by all accounts a great bike, for it’s size. Amazingly back when both bikes were pretty new the Honda was $4500 and the Yamaha $7000. Honda bought market share (the entire Honda 250 jihad was designed to get new riders: there was a sport bike, a naked bike, a dual sport bike…).

      That probably gave Yamaha the wrong idea. It’s not that people won’t pay $7000 for a dual-sport, it’s just that the people who can are full sized experienced adult men and they want something with a bit more power than a quarter-liter four stroke single, even a tricky high revving one like the Yamaha.

      http://www.cycleworld.com/2013/02/27/dual-sport-motorcycle-comparison-test

    • TC

      years ago, with the two stroke 250’s, the wet weight was about 290 lbs in road legal configuration (Yamaha DT250). With today’s modern manufacturing, there’s no reason they can’t be around 275.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Im pretty positive that the big bore kit will solve the power issues.

    • R. Casimir

      I’m pretty sure it won’t. Come on man how can you even call it a “big bore” kit when the end result is 282cc’s or something. Plus, the whole point of a dual sport is getting something that is stone-cold reliable and built to run and run.

      Might as well get the Honda CRF-450X trail bike and plate it. I’d rather be worrying about my lighting mods than my engine mods when I’m 4 hours from pavement.

      Of course I know in lots of places getting a traiil bike plated these days is no longer possible. (In Oregon a few weeks ago I saw a late model Beta 300 two-stroke dual-sported and licensed. How’d he do that?)

  • TC

    I wonder what the actual cost is to a motorcycle manufacturer to go to a 350 compared to a 250? My guess is that it would not be any more money for them to bump up the size 100cc. We riders are conditioned to believe that more cc’s = more $$. I have a Suzuki DR650 with a corbin seat, short windshield, and an IMS 5 gallon fuel tank. Not too heavy for forest service roads or some easy single track, but able to cruise at 70mph without breaking a sweat.

    • Jason

      In many parts of the world (that buy MILLIONS of motorcycles) motorcycles are restricted to 250cc before they become insanely expensive. That is why this bike is 250cc. There isn’t enough volume in the USA for 350cc dual sports to make a specific version just for us.

      • TC

        350cc used to be a very common and popular size, in singles, twins, triples, and even the four cylinder Honda CB350 four cylinder. There’s plenty of precedent to support the sale of 350 cc bikes here.

        • Jason

          It isn’t the 1960’s anymore. When Honda was making a CB350 four it was a middle weight not a entry level bike. Today 650cc is a middleweight ADV bike and an entry level street bike in the USA.

          The USA buys about 350K motorcycles per year. All dual sports combined are only 35K per year and most of those are 650cc and over (BMW sold 5,000 R1200GS models alone)

          That compares to India and China which each buy 17 million motorcycles per year with almost all of them less than 250cc.

          Honda is not going to make a 350cc version of the CRF250 just for the USA. Honda makes a bike for the global market and Honda USA can take it or leave it.

          • TC

            How much is that same 250cc being sold for in China?

          • Jason

            Short answer – I don’t know, I don’t read Chinese. It is interesting to me that anything over 190cc is classified as “Large Displacement”.

            The price in China is irrelevant to whether Honda will make a USA specific CRF350L for the USA. That decision comes from the cost to make that specific model and certify it for use in the USA vs. the projected profits from that model. Since we are getting the global model it seems that Honda has determined that making a CRF350L for the USA does not make sense. Either that or that their limited resources can be better used on other projects that will make more money.

            How many CBF350L’s do you think Honda would sell per year in the USA if they decided to sell one.

  • Travis Donald

    Hopefully the MOrons will do a four bike shootout this Fall. They can add the KLR650 as the fifth bike for the control (most sold ADV Bike in that price range). RX3 Cyclone 250, Versys X 300 non ABS, G310GS, CRF250L Rally ABS. Maybe next year the Duke 390 ADV, and MT-03 ADV can be in the shoot out, and we can drop the Cyclone and KLR.

  • Scott Silvers

    I’d be buying the Rally if it were at LEAST a 350. These 250’s just don’t put out enough HP to make the occasional freeway ride a safe experience. What’s the point if you can’t take a freeway to your ‘drop off point’…..? And, big fail on the mush suspension springs….
    Come on Honda…do it right.