Honda CRF250L test


Single cylinder 4-T, 25 hp at 8,500 rpm, 22.6 Nm at 6,750 Nm, 146 kilos fully loaded

The Knacki Herta spirit of the motorcycle for 4999 €

You have noticed ? With Euro-4 standards and the A2 license for all, the small-displacement offer is becoming wider than ever. We won’t complain, because it allows us to reconnect with the simple pleasures of motorcycling and to thumb our nose down at current trends.. In fact, Honda has updated its CRF250L which was introduced on our market in 2012: by clicking on the link opposite, you will find the test on Le Repaire of the Honda CRF250L Euro 3, carried out by our extremely excellent collaborator the good Doctor Robert.

What’s new with Euro-4, then? Some changes in color and style, a re-parameterization of the injection going hand in hand with a new exhaust and a new air box, which make it possible to gain 2 horsepower (and therefore go from 23 to 25) as well as a chouia over torque, concomitantly with an intake diameter increased from 36 to 38 mm, going hand in hand with a different path of the airbox. ABS is of course present and it can be disconnected, on the rear only. On the chassis side, there is a front wheel axle 2 millimeters thicker. Finally, the dashboard is new.

Only bikers with graying horses remember the impact of the trail 250 in the training of young bikers. Because imagine that there was a time when young people did not hesitate to cross France (even Europe, even part of Africa) in duo with luggage on a poor 125 MZ and in this context, a 250 trail, such as a Honda XLS or a Yamaha XT was already a great road. It made a good twenty horses, it made it possible to double the 4L and 2CV on the secondary network, it cost nothing in maintenance, it went everywhere and it was almost comfortable. In short, it was happiness. But the happiness of before…

Moreover, one can ask the question: with its sharp lines and its surname which refers to the real TT machines of the Honda range, who is really this little CRF20L? A nice little trail or a soft enduro bike? The paragraphs below will take care of answering them..

Honda CRF250L test: the Euro4 version on the right side


CRF, we just said: no doubt, this 250 really refers to the strictly TT values ​​of the world’s leading manufacturer. High, thin and narrow, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it without a license plate or indicators at the start of an enduro special. The chassis elements are both solid (so check out this frame and swingarm) and minimalist. We feel that functionality has taken precedence over the desire for opulence. Even the tires (IRC Trail Winner) are very sculpted TT and they are also very noisy.

Note that, despite its low mileage during our test (600 km), this machine had already been used for reports probably more TT oriented and already bore the marks of wear on the frame and engine casings..

Honda CRF250L test: static Euro4 left side

Among the elements that make it homologated, we note of course the fine indicators (which remain on in the pilot position), fairly complete commodos (but why Honda decided to reverse the indicators and the horn, against all logic?) And a control panel. board which is just as important since the time, the fuel gauge and a tachometer are part of the game. Not bad for a basic motorcycle, no ?

Honda CRF250L test: digital dashboard

In the saddle

Impossible to miss it. For two reasons: first, it is red. Farting. And also, it is high. Very high: at 875 mm, it is perched and garden gnomes will be victims of a form of natural selection. Well done for them, all they had to do was eat soup in the canteen. What we realize later, although (alas!), Is how firm this saddle is..

Honda CRF250L test: a real TT bike?

But before that, we will have started the small mono. The ignition key is a bit hard to enter its hole and the little mono comes to life instantly, in a discreet sound, without the dry and frankly unpleasant clicks of the 4-T from TT. Readable dashboard, soft controls, progressive clutch, voluntary engine, there’s more to !

In the city

It looks super wide, this CRF250L and we tell ourselves that we are not going to pass between the cars. But in fact, it’s an optical illusion: it looks super wide at the handlebars because the saddle / tank assembly is all the more slim and compact. Suddenly, as the mirrors pass over those of the cars, we are not really embarrassed and again, when two vans are a little too close to each other.

Once this first observation is made, we quickly discover two outstanding qualities of the bike: its agility as a moped and its turning radius, just excellent. Here are two more reasons to enjoy this bike in the city. Especially since there is now ABS and in addition, warnings, to be better spotted between the lines.

Honda CRF250L test in town

The small mono is relatively flexible, but it’s still a 4-T mono: at 50 km / h, we are at the edge of the flexibility threshold on the last report. That said, we will probably prefer to go down in 5th to be 1000 rpm higher and not to suffer the crankshaft..

During this test, I had the joy of going for a race in the northern districts of Paris, between Gare du Nord, Porte de la Chapelle and the start of 9-3. One observation: this little CRF250L attracts attention and its potential for seduction is truly astonishing; at least with a wesh-claquette-socks-cap-Tmax population, at least defined as such by contemporary sociologists. No political analysis here but one observation: the "cross-bitumen" being fashionable in the cities, this CRF250L by its resemblance to a real cross-country machine, could arouse vocations.

One last point: the high-travel suspensions (250 mm at the rear) and their quality make it possible to pass speed bumps to the max. Very cool ! (if not being a citizen, but hey …).

On motorways and main roads

With 25 horses, one should not expect miracles. Quite simply because they will not come … The small mono has two facets: flexible, but moderately supplied under 6000 rpm (but in the context of urban commuting, that’s already enough), so it starts to wake up at 6000 rpm (logic: the maximum torque is at 6750 rpm). And since the red zone is at 10,500 rpm, we say to ourselves that despite everything, the speed range is quite interesting. Unfortunately, in fact, the engine gave everything around 8500 (25 hp are delivered at this speed) and the extension is limited. At 130 km / h, therefore, we are in 6th at this speed and therefore almost fully, even if with a little momentum, we can hope to have the joy of being flashed on the motorway and contribute to the payment of the debt. At 90 km / h on the last report, we are (the tachometer is imprecise) at around 5,700 rpm and it is still a little slack in recovery. In fact, cruising at 100/110 km / h seems right for this engine.

Honda CRF250L road test

But if you don’t have the IQ of lettuce (which, moreover, the entire Le Repaire team wishes you with the greatest fervor and sincerity), you will have understood that this type of environment is not which best suits this machine. First, because the saddle is, let’s say it, an ordeal. Hard and narrow, it really hurts the ass and that’s a shame, because it reduces the versatility of this nice little machine. Then, the fitting of very typical TT tires quickly generates a blur in the feeling of the chassis..

On departmental

Ah, this is the natural environment of this bike. With her, you want to get lost in the depths of the Morvan or the Ardennes, to forget all notion of time, to stop whenever you want to chat with an old philosopher who sins at the edge of a course. ‘water and come back with a nice bowl of morels in the yellow vest (like that, it’s useful).

Except that the CRF250L blows a little hot and cold. Among the positive points, there is this incredible lightness, linked to the geometry and narrow tires, a lightness that almost all modern motorcycles have forgotten and which is so essential to the joys of motorcycling. The CRF250L doesn’t give a damn about everything: at least on departmental roads, bumps, potholes, gravel, bends that close, cow dung, she doesn’t give a damn about it, the little one. Finally, it is an expression. And its engine is ultimately quite voluntary, given the limited power and its 25 horsepower. Quite lively between 6 and 8,500 rpm, it allows you to have fun, to overtake a Kangoo, especially if you choose a route where to drive at 100 km / h, it is already fast enough.

Honda CRF250L cornering test

On the other hand, there is this saddle, just hellish. What a pity, when Honda could have gone down to the cellar and asked the engineers to do a little viron on the handlebars of 250 XLS and 250 XLR. These motorcycles had saddles that could have been made into pillows. And this especially with 4 small tie-down hooks, you can easily put a bag on the saddle and have travel desires.

For the rest: top suspensions, correct braking. On the other hand, the tires have a fairly average grip in the dry (we cannot comment on their grip in the wet, but it should not be extraordinary) and they also have a rather poor feedback when put on the tire. angle.


Honda CRF250L test: disconnectable ABS

Large suspensions, good ground clearance (255 mm), the CRF250L, as its name suggests, is also made for that. Admittedly, the 25 horses will not be enough to swallow you jumps of phew ‘, but they tow with constancy and progressiveness. This is the essential. The standing position is natural, with a handlebar that does not break the wrists. In short, for an initiation machine, it does, but we still have the double feeling that the chassis is a bit oversized compared to the engine and that the assiduous user will quickly want something that sends more, like CRF 450 enduro … The ABS can be disconnected at the rear, which is perfect for this type of use. In addition, it is by a simple button on the dashboard, which does not require to have bac +12 and to enter into complicated menus….

Honda CRF250L off-road test


Beautiful and solid: it is the feeling that prevails at the sight of this bike. Solid inverted fork 43 mm in diameter and large rear shock absorber adjustable in preload. Given the TT vocation of the machine, a real engine guard would have been welcome for shocks..

Honda CRF250L test: chassis


With 146 kilos fully packed, two small discs are enough. Their diameter is 256 mm at the front, clamped by a simple 2-piston caliper. The modest performance makes this device sufficient, in any case, during the test, braking never appeared to be a weak point. We appreciate the good dosage and the good progressiveness of the system. On the other hand, we have to deal with large movements of suspension, especially with a fork that sinks a lot. Like on old-fashioned trails, what.

Honda CRF250L test: brakes

Comfort and duo

Ouch. Weak point of the bike, while it was precisely the strong point of the small trails of yesteryear. Hard saddle for the rider, who will quickly get bored of it. Hard seat, high-pitched footrest, limited space for the passenger who shouldn’t take long to lodge a complaint. Pity.

Honda CRF250L test: a firm saddle

Consumption / autonomy

With 7.8 l of tank capacity and consumption that Honda estimates at 3 l / 100, the CRF is frugal. In fact and at the end of a fairly mixed test, we got by with a consumption of 3.3 l / 100, which is very reasonable. The reserve lights up at 180 km, when 6 liters of fuel have been used up. But wouldn’t 2 or 3 more liters increase the radius of action without straining the weight and the agility? ?

Honda CRF250L test: lockable tank

The fuel cap locks with a key, it’s cool, even if its appearance (a bit like a low-end 125) contrasts with the neat appearance of the rest of the bike..


Sympathetic and essential, it certainly is, this little CRF250L. But one wonders why Honda has not managed to pronounce more clearly on its positioning. What is intended for practitioners of soft enduro, very well, but they will quickly want to go upmarket in view of the limited performance of the engine. Engine that officiates in an oversized chassis.

So, were we in the wrong (or was it the subconscious and the desire to rediscover the joys of an old-fashioned trail), to imagine this CRF250L as a simple and versatile little machine? Because, paradoxically, it lacks a little, by its spartan comfort and its autonomy which, although served by a real frugality, would deserve a few extra small liters..

It’s a shame, because the overall approval, at the level of the engine, of the vibrations (apart from the selector, sometimes a little rough), is very Japanese and out of proportion with the very agricultural feeling that comes from a Mash 400 Adventure, for example.

In fact, the Rally version of the CRF250 promises to be more versatile. Are the 1200 euros that separate them from the price list justified? We will find out soon. Especially since in 5 years, since its launch, the CRF250L has gone from 4,099 euros (mid-2012) to 4,999 euros (mid-2107).

Honda CRF250L TT test, from behind

Strong points

  • Ease of driving
  • Obvious chassis
  • True versatility in the countryside
  • Voluntary engine given the power
  • Excellent suspensions & comfort
  • The return to the essential values ​​of motorcycles

Weak points

  • Reverse blinkers / horn switches (but why?)
  • Seat height for some
  • Hyper hard saddle for everyone (and the duo !!!)
  • Positioning not clear: small trail / soft enduro? (but in this case the tires are too TT for road use). And the autonomy a little tight for a real trail use…
  • Watch out for curd shopping
  • Sometimes selection of a rough coat


Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 300 km in 10 days of testing, daily use around Paris and a short trip to the Vallee de Chevreuse
  • Motorcycle mileage: 600 km
  • Problem encountered: none (a little sore ass, anyway …)

The competition: well in fact, there is none in the Euro 4 nomes … Otherwise, a used Kawasaki KLX 250…

  • All Honda tests
  • All trail tests

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