Well this is certainly a surprise, and from Honda of all companies! It was only a couple of weeks ago that Honda announced that were finally giving the CRF250L and CRF250L Rally its first major update. Now, they’ve gone and pulled a swifty on us and released the CRF300L and 300 Rally! It is only in Thailand so far (surely everyone else will get it), but it looks like Honda has beaten Kawasaki to the punch in upsizing their 250cc dual sport.
The bike appears to have all the updates the 2021 CRF250L is going to get, but with the 286cc engine from the CBR300R. The new motor gives the CRF an extra 36% horsepower, bumping it up to about 31hp. Torque has been given a boost too, it’s now 26.2nm instead of 22nm. While they were at it, Honda has added in a slipper clutch and tweaked the gear ratios. All the ratios have been changed, but most noticeably, sixth gear has been lengthened, no doubt because the new engine can pull the taller ratio.
There are a few other fantastic (and not so fantastic) updates too. Weight has been reduced by 5kgs (11lbs). They’ve done this by using led lights, a redesigned exhaust, changes to the frame and air box. The CRF250L was definitely a porker, so while not a lot of weight, this is a great upgrade.
The suspension has been updated too. The front has 10mm more travel and the rear 20mm. From what I can see, while the suspension travel has been increased, I don’t think it has been upgraded. Early videos I’ve seen from Thailand show the bike still has really soft, non-adjustable suspension. This is a big shame, as the KLX250S and WR250R are currently better suspended. Let’s hope the CRF300L gets heavier springs for us bigger units around the world.
Other noticeable upgrades are more ground clearance, a bigger tank and a styling update. I think it looks great now. They’ve pretty much taken the styling from the CRF450L and plonked it on the new bike, I really dig it. The headlight on the 250L always looked pretty dated to me; the new LED headlight on the 2021 models looks fantastic. There’s a new, fancy dash too.
The tank on the Rally model has been bumped up to 12.8litres and ground clearance has been increased by mounting the engine higher in the frame. It looks to me, they’ve tried to make the newer model a bit more off road orientated, and I’m down with that.
One update I don’t like is they’ve welded the sub frame to the main frame, essentially making it one piece. From what I can gather, they’ve done this to save weight and because it would save on build costs. I’m not sold on this. Why? A relatively heavy crash can bend your sub frame. I’m not sure what will happen here, but you could end up bending more than your sub frame. Hey, it could make it more rigid, but it’s something that definitely caught my eye.
Honestly, I’m pretty excited by this bike. Sure, it’s not going to be a powerhouse, but 31hp is a great amount of power for a dirt bike. The 250L was pretty anaemic, so this is a great boost. If you chuck on an exhaust, tune and open the air box, you could be getting near enough 35hp! With the reliability of these engines, this is going to make this bike a very tasty prospect. Now, we just need it to release worldwide…and see what Kawasaki’s response is.