Hogs in the Hills: Honda CRF250L

This Honda CRF230L looks to be a neat little package of dual-sport fun. After a pretty challenging ride a couple weekends ago on the back roads of Central Vermont, I have been thinking a ton about the weight of motorcycles. Although the Husqvarna TE610 is 100lbs lighter than any other bike I own, in the woods, the 310lbs really added stress to my ride…

The photo above is a gorgeous marketing shot of the 2013 model – which has actually been bumped up to 250cc, but much about the two bikes are similar.

Launched in 2008, the Honda CRF230L was a single-cylinder dual-sport, equipped with a 21″ front wheel, making it capable of real dirt riding. Putting out 14.3HP, its a little engine that is obviously not meant for much highway time. But if you’ve just finished a harrowing trip on trails that included wet rocks, fallen trees and a few crashes, the small stature becomes appealing.

The thing I notice about the specs is the 260lb weight. Although it has a fairly tall saddle, at 31 inches, it is not unreasonable to think that my personal weight would squish down the rear shock, giving me flat-foot advantage over the Husky. Despite being something that all dirt riders avoid, I definitely needed to put my feet down during my off-road adventure. When I did, it was a circus, with me trying to reach over sticks and debris, to safely land my foot on steady ground. With a bike this small, I think those issue would be mitigated.

The other extreme difference between the Husky and the Honda CRF230L would be the top speed. Although reviews say it gets up to speed easily through the 6-gear transmission, that top speed is only about 70mph. Winding out a thumper at the top of its range for very long, for trips on the highway between trails, would leave me a bit worried.

Reviews were positive for the original version, and seem to be on the favorable side for the newer, more powerful model. As exotic as the Husqvarna TE610 is, and I really do love it, maybe something a bit more manageable is in order?

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