Riding Impression of the CRF Honda 250L:
I purchased this bike a week or so and have just completed the 1000K break in period.
This is the first bike I have owned with dual purpose tires leaning towards off road travel. Back in the 60’s & 70’s riding on the street with knobby tires usually meant certain death, but it seems times and tires have changed for the best.
Having put 25,000 K’s on my 250 D-Tracker in a very short time, I have grown to love 250 Singles for Thai roads here in the Northeast. During the rainy season, it was difficult to travel on the slippery/ muddy dirt roads, in fact, almost impossible going up and down steep muddy inclines. The D-Tracker tires and suspension were certainly suited for smooth road racing though and I love it for that!
I guess I could have gone with the KLX, but the Honda just came out and I wanted a different bike and I have enjoyed many Hondas. The bike looks nice to me and the engine sounds a bit more refined than the KLX. Of course it sounds much like a sewing machine....so probably soon I will have to purchase a louder slip on. The engine seemed very tight during the break in period so I took it easy....today, it felt more peppy.
The first thing I noticed that with the larger wheels and taller suspension it doesn’t take much of a lean to get the bike into a sharp curve. It took a little getting used to, but now it seems perfectly normal. I am very impressed how well the tires grip on pavement, in fact, the grip is much better on paved roads with gravel and dirt than the road tires and I notice very little difference on smooth paved roads... On dry sandy roads you can get the front tire to slide of course, but it does so without urgency...on wet ones I just slow down! Of course, on dirt paths the new Honda really shines over a road machine!
Today, I went on wet muddy inclines that were very slippery. I am not an experienced off road rider and make every mistake a novice can make, but at least I didn’t fall down like I did with the D-Tracker. When going up steep hills it seems to me second gear doesn’t have enough power as it should and I suspect this new Honda is restricted just like the D-Tracker was, although the Honda seems faster than the stock Kawasaki before the new CPU was installed. It has quite a bit of power and must to carry my 95+ Kilos around!
My back has been trashed for years and riding this bike is a dream come true over bumps. The bars are a little to low for me to stand up when traversing bad terrain, but I have a set of risers that should make that much easier. The D-Tracker suspension was killing me riding these bumps, holes and dips...but now...I am a happier guy.
Like Kawasaki, the speedometer is very optimistic. My GPS shows 74K’s at 80 and 83K’s at 90 and it gets progressively worse. I find the 6 speed transmission to be smooth and the engine has some torque...I think it will get better in time and many options will be available very soon including more power options.
I guess for me, the bottom line is that I should have purchased a bike like this in Thailand a long time ago. Overall, the handling is superior on all types of roads, the suspension is smoother and I can go more places. Some of the most dynamic scenery here is away from the main highways and the “crazy's”.....you can go into the farmland and right up close and into the mountains as well. Do not let the knobby dual purpose type tires fool you......try them and be pleasantly surprised!
I do not think the Honda L is a professional off road bike by any means, but to us “Farangs” and “Thai’s” who want to enjoy all types of terrain, for a budget price, with a “BOOK,” with less expensive acessories and the ability to get parts in country.....one might consider this new Honda 250L.
I have read most of the forums including the criticisms and the ravings of which bikes are best. The bottom line is to me....what bike is the most fun for you? I have owned big bikes since I was a kid and also have a 650 Versys here in Thailand (which I like very much) for my long treks....I will say this... “ I have had the most fun on both these Single 250’s than at anytime over my 50 plus years riding motorcycles” and I think this type of machine is particularly suited for Thailand.....they will sell thousands of them! I have toured with these bikes and have seen many folks touring all of Thailand with them.....if you have any questions, I will try to answer them and I will know more soon.....