Honda CRF250L: Best of both worlds

2012-08-15 12:13

Honda’s new CRF250L is billed as the motorcycle for all seasons. A dual-purpose motorcycle has long been a Honda hallmark, starting with the XLS250 of the 1970's which provided a true mix of on-road usability and off-road ability.

The XL range soon built up a strong following with its combination of an economical, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine and a competent chassis.

Fast-forward to 2012 and the latest Honda multi-use bike is also a tough, practical bike for weekday use that is effortlessly able to morph into an off-road dream at weekends.


The CRF250L’s dimensions, ergonomics, low weight, long-travel 43mm Showa USD forks and Pro-link rear suspension make it equally at home on city streets or country trails.

The compact, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, 249cc DOHC engine is said to produce useful power and torque from low revs across a wide rev range.

Honda claims a first in a single-cylinder off-road engine with the CRF’s crank journal that employs a half-split, press-fit metal bearing and a cast-iron bush for the crank bearing. This new design is said to reduce weight and to help make the engine run more smoothly.

A new six-speed gearbox and clutch were designed to cope with the extra stresses of off-road riding. Furthermore, given the demands of the CRF250L, a brand-new steel frame was developed to house the new engine. The structure uses twin oval-section main spars and semi-double cradle to provide the strength needed for off-road riding.

A wheelbase of 1445mm and a 27.6° rake provide stability and agility. The CRF250’s wet weight is a mere 144kg.


The front brake uses a single 256mm disc and a two-piston caliper, while the rear has a 220mm disc and single-piston caliper. The lightweight discs feature a wave design – taken directly from the CRF250R and CRF450R – and a said to allow for exceptional self-cleaning abilities in adverse conditions.

The overall styling of the CRF250L is heavily inspired by that of the CRF competition range although the braced handlebar provides an upright riding position.

As for convenience features, the CRF250L has a digital instrument cluster containing a fuel meter and twin trip functions.