Honda’s CRF250L Rally has just been superseded by the new CRF300 Rally for 2021 and beyond. That means prices for the 2017-2020 model Rally are going to be more affordable than ever.
But what do you need to know if your in the market for one of these bikes? Here are five things you need to know about the Honda CRF250L Rally.
It’s heavy for its class
This is the elephant in the room whenever hard-core dual sport riders talk about the Rally. Tipping the scales at 157kg fully fuelled, the CRF250L Rally is rather heavy in the 250cc dual-sport category. That’s 19kg heavier than a Suzuki DR-Z400 and 23kgs heavier than the Yamaha WR250R. While it is heavy in the class, it’s not particularly difficult to pick up if you drop it and the extra kilos make for a stable bike on highway journeys.
The 2017-2020 CRF250L Rally was fitted with option ABS in most markets, and the system definitely has its benefits. With the Rally being an off-road leaning motorcycle, Honda fitted it with a switch to turn the ABS off at the rear wheel, allowing you to slide when necessary. The only fiddly thing about the system is you have to be at a stop and hold the ABS button down for three seconds to turn off the rear wheel ABS which can be annoying. This is par for the course, however, and only one bike that competes with the Honda can switch its ABS on and off on the fly, and that’s BMW’s G310GS.
Equipped with a 10.2-litre fuel tank, the Rally boasts an extra 2-litres of fuel than the base CRF250L. While this is ample for trail rides, for exploring the backcountry it can be limiting. Fuel range is between 200-250km depending on how aggressive you ride, which means you’re worrying about your next fuel stop often. On the flip side, it gives you a chance to get off the uncomfortable dirt bike style seat on longer highway journeys.
While the engine’s 24hp is nothing to write home about if there is one area the Rally truly struggles it's in the suspension department. With a Showa separate function fork in front and a preload-adjustable monoshock out back on paper, it sounds like a good system. It probably is if you weight 60-70kg. If you weigh more, however, you quickly find it is under sprung and wallowy. This can be remedied with a new shock and a spring kit for the forks, but it can be a pricey undertaking.
Styling and Plastics
If there is one reason many choose the Rally over the CRF250L, it’s because of the styling of the Rally.
Inspired by the CRF450 Rally bikes Honda campaigns in cross country rallies like the infamous Dakar, the 250L Rally has a strong and purposeful look to it. The windscreen offers a decent amount of wind protection m, although for touring trips it could be bigger to prevent buffeting.
Despite the fragile appearance of plastic, the cowlings are surprisingly sturdy with the plastic bash plate doing a tremendous job considering what it’s made out of. They can break if dropped hard like any other plastics, but don’t let the amount of plastic put you off.
To wrap up
The Honda CRF250L Rally is a great beginner adventure bike despite its flaws. It’s more affordable than ever and provides a great base for skill-building and can be easily modified to improve its weak points as you gain confidence. In saying that, don’t write off the Rally as a noobs bike. It is surprisingly capable both on and off-road. Just don’t expect it to keep with high power bikes and just enjoy the ride and it’ll get you wherever you want to go.