In 2016 when Honda unveiled the production CRF250L Rally at the EICMA show, we got the "I want it" feeling, bad. Fast forward a little over 2-years and we've finally put a Rally into our garage permanently, but we're not going to leave it stock...
Words and Photos: Mathieu Day-Gillett
As we've already mentioned in our Honda CRF250L Rally Review, the Rally isn't the perfect motorcycle out of the crate, and that's why we've put together a plan to try and make this little adventure steed more capable for our unique New Zealand conditions.
So what are the points of the CRF250L Rally which we'll be looking at fixing?
For starters let's talk about protection - or the lack thereof. Starting up front the handlebar guards are flimsy plastic and are about only good for protecting your fingers from the wind. The seat, while not horrific, has the pillion strap running straight through where you want to place your butt while linking gravel roads, and then we have the suspension. Woeful is one way to put it, spongy and way too soft for your typical Kiwi rider is another.
These are just the major points that we will be looking to address in the short term, but there are of course other aspects to the Rally that we'll also be looking at in the long term such as luggage, navigation, fuel capacity and of course the rider - who's skills in the rough are admittedly average at best.
First we'll be tackling some of the easy stuff, working our way up to the big ticket items which will be giving our bank account a proper hammering.
First on the list is removing the pillion strap from the seat. This is quite literally a pain in the ass and since we're not going to be taking a pillion at all is excess to requirements. We'll also be looking at removing the pillion pegs, as again, we're not going to be using the Rally for two-up travel.
Next up we've made a plan for new hand guards to replace the flimsy plastic units the bike was bestowed with from the factory. Kiwi online superstore Bits4bikes.co.nz has a great selection of Barkbusters gear to suit a wide range of models, and the Jet kit we've ordered will do the job for not a lot of coin. Knowing that replacing levers can add up this should be a good investment.
Once we've got a bit of protection sorted we'll probably be in need of a new set of rubber, as the factory equipped IRC tyres are 2-years/4500km old and starting to square off at the rear. There are plenty of options available, with the Dunlop D605 or D606 appearing to be popular choices for Rally owners elsewhere in the world. We'll see what suits our own unique needs first before committing to any one set of rubber, however.
With the basics of the bike sorted, our attention will then turn to the rider. There is is no point in having an adventure bike if you don't know how to make the most of it, and with plenty of outlets offering adventure riding coaching we'll be heading along to one to make sure that we can handle anything the road throws at us and our Rally. We'll also be attending the popular ACC sponsored Ride Forever coaching to make sure our road riding skills are as sharp as possible for the sealed roads connecting the fun stuff.
Our final short term goal is to get the suspension sorted. As we've already mentioned, the suspension on the Rally is woeful for the average Kiwi rider. Weighing in at a little over 100kgs, we need to stiffen up the shock and forks significantly. Thankfully, New Zealand is home to some top-notch suspension specialists, and we've already been in touch with MotoSR in Taupo to learn more about what can be done to rework the stock suspension to a more appropriate level. It won't be cheap however, which is why this is the last item on our short-term list of improvements for 'Rosie the Rally' as the bike has come to be known.