For 2013, Honda replaced the dated CRF230L with the CRF250L. The CRF250L uses a 249cc Single borrowed from the CBR250R streetbike, tuned to provide improved low- and mid-range performance, making it more suitable to the lower-rpm demands of off-road riding. The 250 not only serves as a replacement for the outgoing CRF230L, the 250 will make you forget the 230 ever existed.

The CRF’s off-road footpegs are wide, providing adequate area to rest bulky motocross boots. Its seat is also wide with supple seat-foam density. Unfortunately, the passenger grab strap on the seat is positioned directly beneath the rider’s bum, which makes it an annoyance sooner than later.

With an estimated 73 mpg, the CRF250L gets better fuel mileage than the petrol-sipping 471cc Twins in the CBR500R, CB500F and CB500X.

With an estimated 73 mpg, the CRF250L gets better fuel mileage than the petrol-sipping 471cc Twins in the CBR500R, CB500F and CB500X.

The CRF’s non-adjustable suspension is nicely sorted for the intermediate off-road rider to which this bike will most likely be subjected. The 43mm Showa inverted fork provides 9.8 inches of travel, and Honda’s Pro-Link shock gives 9.4 inches; however, neither offers any means of adjustment. The CRF has a semi-double-cradle-type steel frame with a tapered aluminum swingarm, and a seat height of 34.7 inches.

The engine’s low-rev grunt is as noticeable on the street as it is off-road; and has considerable pep for a mild-mannered 250, easily climbing steep sections of trail. The CRF’s internal gear ratios remain unchanged from those in the CBR250R, but lower final gearing is achieved via a 40-tooth rear-wheel sprocket in lieu of the CBR’s 38-tooth sprocket.

The CRF250L has one of the smoothest-running small-displacement Singles on the market, thanks in part to the engine’s counterbalancer.

The CRF250L has one of the smoothest-running small-displacement Singles on the market, thanks in part to the engine’s counterbalancer.

The CRF250L is a well-rounded, competent package that represents one of the best values in Honda’s model lineup, as well as in the dual-sport category. Oftentimes, manufacturers will make performance claims that aren’t necessarily attainable, but when it comes to the strong low-end and mid-range power Honda boasts for this dual-purpose 250, you can believe the hype.

+ Highs

  • Engine performance
  • Easy to maintain
  • Goes off road too!
– Sighs

  • Seat might be high for short riders
  • Non-adjustable suspension
  • Chrome fuel cap on a dirtbike?
Honda CRF250L Specs
MSRP $4,999
Engine Capacity 249.6cc
Engine Type Liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke 76mm x 55mm
Compression 10.7:1
Fuel System PGM-FI, 36mm throttle body
Transmission Six-speed
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension 43mm inverted fork; 8.7 inches travel
Rear Suspension Pro-Link single shock with spring; 9.4 inches travel
Front Brakes Single 256mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear Brakes Single 220mm disc
Front Tire 3.00-21
Rear Tire 120/80-18
Seat Height 34.7 inches
Wheelbase 56.9 inches
Curb Weight (claimed) 320 pounds
Fuel Capacity 2.0 gallons
Colors Red
Warranty 1 Year
  • Craig Hoffman

    Yamaha is giving Honda good competition in some areas. The new FZ09 has a gem of an engine for 700X money and they are just coming out now with their twin. Hopefully Yamaha take a cue from Honda and offers their new bikes in a variety of formats. An FZ09 powered ADV variant with a roomier feel and more fuel capacity could be a big winner. Yamaha needs to get with it and produce a WR450R version of it’s excellent 250R already too.

    Good to see the manufacturers realizing we are not all made of money. The auto manufacturers seem to have completely lost the plot. Unlike cars, motorcycles are not vehicles to lease. There has to be an affordable value oriented option in the new market, or the used market becomes the whole market.

    • Jason

      The FZ-09 and FZ-07 are interesting bikes but they have one glaring omission: no ABS. This is 2014 and ABS should at least be offered as an option especially considering that ABS is standard on these models in Europe.

      • The People’s Champion

        i heard the FZ09 is limited to a 132mph… that’s N650 territory and the bike is shod with poor suspension for its engine.

        • Jason

          Limited to only double the speed limit? I think that should be adequate for public roads.

          • The People’s Champion

            by that logic we should all be riding those 80-90mph capable 250s no?

          • Jason

            Top speed, engine displacement, power, and acceleration are all very different things. I have no need to go more than 132 mph but that doesn’t mean that I want to ride a 250.

  • octodad

    purchased CTX700n w/ABS-DCT. having a blast on this scoot. pal w/ the street glide always wants to take mine for a spin. I enjoy riding his cycle, but prefer my little Honda. slow speed handling is superlative, and it can snap my head back as I roll on the throttle. get a lot of compliments on the cool look and ergonomic seating. big Red is dominant force w/awesome motorcycles. I am a fan…

    • Sarang Borude

      How does it do on freeway speeds, Is it easy enough to pass vehicles?

      • Michele Amason

        I have the CTX700D w/ABS-DCT and have no problems on the freeway. It is heavier than the Naked and is very stable when trucks fly by.

  • sgray44444

    Thinly veiled advertising? Not hardly- there’s no veil at all!

    • Steven Holmes

      Advertisement or not, it’s pretty nice to see that “Big Red” has so many cost effective options out there for me to try. Be nice if the other major manufacturers had similar lines to choose from. It’d make for good competition if the rest of ’em had comparably cost effective product lines.
      Something to be said about Honda’s reliability and longevity though… that’s pretty hard to beat.

    • You see many negative observations in advertisements? Like slow to accelerate, limitations of its suspension, etc? How about actual measured MPG instead of OEM claims? I see them in this set of short reviews, which also happen to echo the full reviews done previously on when Honda wasn’t an advertiser at all.

      • sgray44444

        That’s what is so distasteful about the whole article. It has the appearance of genuine journalism, but it really is just an advertisement for Honda.
        Of course you can find negatives for any motorcycle. They are all built to a price point and application, so saying a cheap motorcycle does not have good suspension is just stating the obvious. Everyone knows manufacturer’s MPG claims are done under more ideal conditions.
        Hey, I don’t care if Honda is a huge sponsor and you take this route. I still like to read about motorcycles of all kinds. It doesn’t speak well to your credibility though.
        Do I believe the reviews were biased? No, actually I don’t. But, I do think that the review being about a single manufacturer’s entire product line says something.
        Everyone knows that Honda makes a good reliable bike. It’s just odd for a magazine to focus completely on one manufacturer’s product line without the word “advertisement” being on the top of each page.
        The word disingenuous comes to mind as I read this thread and the article.

        • I have yet to obtain Honda’s specified fuel economy on either of my two Hondas. I always get much better! (no kidding)

    • JP

      Reading this again, part of me agrees with you. Honda is obviously advertising all over the website.

      Then again, I really haven’t heard anything bad about the new Honda bikes either. Everything I’m reading about the new 250, the 500’s, the NC700x, and the new VFR are very positive. I’m actually impressed by Honda being “all-in” with all of the new models they are selling here in the states.

      A good friend of mine has a CBR250 and a ZX6r and he still rides the 250 because of how well made it is.

      Creating the CBR650F and the VFR800 takes a lot of balls in my opinion. They are obviously not sportbikes, but they are also not cruisers. They are basically just well built motorcycles without a lot of the new gizmos like traction control.

      I tip my hat to them, but again, this is definitely a little brand friendly.

      • sgray44444

        Good points, JP. I agree with you. I’m not big on Honda’s non-sport models (ugly to the hilt), but the 250’s and the 500’s are really great bikes for reasonable money. I would seriously consider a VFR800 or CBR650F, but I don’t think the value is really there on those models, as good as they are. I’ve already said my peace about the apparent conflict of interest, so I’ll leave that alone.

  • Piglet2010

    Will a Rebel really go 80-mph – most reports I have seen put top speed at less than 75-mph?

  • fastfreddie

    Best value hondas were in the early ninties when you could get a honda nt 650 gt hawk ridicilouly cheap after it bombed in the sale room.Had one,and am kicking myself still for selling it.