Welcome to the Adventure Motorcycle Traveller Reviews. Here’s a 20,000-mile review of the Honda CRF 250Rally by round-the-world motorcycle traveller James Clark.
- Bike: 2018 Honda CRF250 Rally
- Purchased for: £3,800 (including shock upgrades)
- Miles covered: 22,000
- Years owned: since 2019
Honda CRF 250 Rally specs
- Engine: Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 249cc, FI
- Power: 24.4 bhp
- Torque: 16.6 ft-lbs
- Kerb weight: 154kg
- Seat height: 895mm
- Tank capacity: 10.1 litres
- Tyres: 21 and 18
- Front suspension: USD 43mm telescopic forks
- Rear suspension: Pro-Link, adjustable preload
Why this bike?
My first choice for a round-the-world motorcycle was a Suzuki DR-Z400, but unfortunately I had too many issues with it. My bike criteria was to be as light as possible, reliable, able to go off-road with ease, under £4,000, good availability of parts, close to stock and unmolested and low mileage.
The CRF250 Rally was the best fit I could find. I would have gone for the CRF250L but I wanted a larger fuel tank and preferred factory rather than aftermarket as there was less of a chance of problems like leaking seals.
Modifications before leaving the UK
- Progressive front fork spring (added before I bought the bike)
- Hagon rear shock (added before I bought the bike)
- Heated grips
- Hand guards
- Geared down to 13/40 (with stock gearing, sixth gear was for cruising only with little power)
- Speedo healer to correct the speed since I changed the sprockets
- 2 x charging points
- Rotopax 3.8L fuel canister
- Hard waterproof camera box
- Custom made tool box (110mm drain pipe)
- Crash bars and skid plate combo
Modifications after leaving the UK
- Stronger clutch springs
- Reinforced subframe
- Removed the Honda tool box
- Fork socks to protect the seals
The CRF250 Rally has proved very reliable in general. I’ve only had one issue, which was the headstock bearing. The other issues were caused by myself or general consumables.
The headstock bearing failed after 8,000 miles. It’s a known issue as there’s too little grease from the factory which caused it to rust.
I did snap my rear subframe because I was carrying too much weight on the back and then proceeded to go off-road in India. You can have a read of the ordeal here…
Servicing, maintenance and parts
The service intervals are really good! The Rally needs a service every 8,000 miles! Maintenance is also very easy to do. As for parts, I can only comment on the headstock bearings and fork seals. I managed to get them both when I needed them. The headstock was sourced in Kathmandu, Nepal and the fork seals in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Long distance comfort
There are certainly more comfortable bikes out there for long distances. I haven’t struggled on the CRF for comfort, but I believe a custom seat would make a big difference. For longer days (600km through China) I used “sweet cheeks” throw-over canvas with two water bottles in them to make the seat wider. (Also if you get in a tight spot for water or fuel it can be a great asset!)
But in general there are no issues. It’s all about your riding style. If you’re an off-road rider then the seat doesn’t matter. And if you’re not in a rush then again, the seat doesn’t matter because it gives you an excuse to stop.
READ MORE: How to Ride Long Distance in Comfort
Good and Bad
The Honda CRF250 Rally is reliable, easy to maintain and service, has decent off-road ability and comes in at an affordable price.
It’s heavy for its power delivery and on-road ability is limited. I’d like to see it shed 20kg and a dose more torque!
I wouldn’t say it is perfect. I could list you a number of things I would change (power, weight, road ability), but if I had the chance to choose again I’d probably still end up picking the CRF250 Rally again.
I only test rode one to rule it out, but here I am 22,000 miles later sitting on it in Thailand !
A round the world motorcycle is always a compromise. The road and conditions change, but sadly your bike can’t change with them. So, choose something that will allow you to enjoy your trip as much as possible. In my opinion your mindset is more important than the bike itself.
About the author
James is from the UK and currently on a round the world motorcycle trip. His objective is to ride round the world by motorcycle with as little to no flying if possible.
He’s currently trapped in Thailand due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but as soon as it clears up he’ll be making his way to Australia.
Follow his awesome adventures here:
Read more about his trip here: Trapped by Coronavirus
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