Dual Sport motorcycles are fantastic choices for new riders. Having a bike that is comfortable on the street, and will go off onto the dirt trails without hesitation, is such a perfect mix.
The CRF250L has been a sales success for Honda since its introduction. Few bikes instill such a feeling of correctness from the moment you first park your butt in the saddle. Just as a swiss army knife is great because it can do so many things, that’s the CRF250L.
Our Take: Why You Should Buy a CRF250L
The CRF250L has long been a popular choice. Renowned for comfort, smoothness, reliability, and value, this bike does it all “good.” It is not the most powerful in its segment, but it has really good power over a wide rpm range. It isn’t the “best” on pavement, or ”best” on dirt, it is not a bike that takes any single “top” place in individual performance rankings, yet it is consistently near the top. It is balanced in all areas, at a great price.
Being that good, and being Honda reliable, helps this bike hold value year after year, and a bike you should strongly consider.
I love how this bike looks! In the Rally package, you can fully see the Africa Twin heritage coming through. It looks much more expensive than it actually is. You never feel like you are on a budget ride when you show up beside more expensive machines.
Bottom line: The CRF250L is a good-looking and affordable bike that is hard to find on the used market. Owners either never sell, or when listed they sell very quickly. The massive respect this bike has in the dual-sport community is well earned.
Reasons to buy the CRF250L:
Honda comfort and reliability
The suspension is a great balance both on and off-road
The 249cc engine is great on gas
The lower seat height promotes flat-footed stops. Great confidence builder for new riders
Parts are easy to find, making repairs quick and affordable
Endless aftermarket upgrades to keep you happy for years
Reasons not to buy the CRF250L:
Some feel the slightly heavier than the competition aspect is a downfall
It has good power, not the most power in its class
Production Run & Notable Model-Year Changes
Production Run & Model Generations
Honda introduced the CRF250L was first released in 2013, using a detuned version of the engine from the CBR250R sportbike. The sharing of parts from many corners of the Honda lineup provided significant cost savings without cutting corners on performance and durability.
The CRF250L is a dual-sport bike engineered for the widest range of riders.
First Generation (2013-2016)
With a 249 cc single-cylinder four-stroke, making 22.8 hp, the first-gen CRF250L was offered excellent value for money. Fuel-injected, with Showa suspension, Honda built a well-balanced package.
With the 2.0-gallon fuel tank and lower seat height (34.7 in) compared to competitor bikes, the CRF250L shined as a commuter bike. The long-travel suspension made this a perfect companion for weekend trips off-road.
Known to be extremely smooth and vibration-free, with an easy shifting transmission.
Second Generation (2017-2020)
For the 2017 model year, the CRF250L expanded the options with the addition of ABS and the Rally model.
Revisions to the engine included a new throttle body, exhaust header, muffler, and revised fuel injection mapping. Horsepower improved by 2 at the peak
The CRF250L Rally gets the same updated engine as the standard 250L, but it also gets a larger fuel tank, new Dakar-style bodywork, handguards, a windscreen, skid plate, and more suspension travel.
A new 286cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke bumped the power output to 27.3 hp–a 2.5 hp gain. Now Euro 5 compliant.
The CRF300L sheds 8.8 lbs from the previous CRF250L
Owner Reviews of the Honda CRF250L / CRF250L Rally
Press & Magazines
Honda CRF250L and CRF250L Rally first ride review
“Get a Honda CRF250L (or a Rally if you want that ADV look and feel without the massive powerplant). It’s economical (starting at $5,149). It won’t win any bike night awards, but it will turn anyone (except, perhaps, those who are short) into a confident and comfortable rider, whether that’s a first-time bike owner or someone returning after a long time away from two wheels.”
“First glance confirms the CRF250F is no parts-bin bike or a “slap some signals on it and call it a dual-sport” bike. The CRF250L is Honda’s salvo shot across the bow of its competition, letting the world know that this Honda is a serious contender.”
The price – You can easily find a good condition CRF250L for around $3,000, and at that price, it’s a no-brainer.
What Owners Complain About
Suspension just not as good as Yamaha WR250R
Heavy. On the road, it is not such an issue but you feel it off-road.
The Bottom Line
The CRF250L and CRF250L Rally sit solidly in the middle of the 250 Dual-Sport group. You will find this Honda to be a great overall bike, especially for a new rider or someone coming back after a long stint away from two-wheel fun.
Careful searching the used market will likely yield examples that have benefitted from some aftermarket upgrades, such as suspension improvements and power adders.
If you are thinking new, the 2021 CRF300L addresses many of the complaints of the older 250’s. Check out the 2021 Honda CRF300L here.
Honda CRF250L Competitors
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