HONDA CRF300 RALLY (2021 - on) Review
- Bigger capacity 286cc motor
- Improved off-road focus
- Updated styling and dash
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£120|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
You just have to look at the prices of used Honda CRF250L models to see how popular this bike is with trail riders thanks to its rugged nature, unquestionable reliability and ease of use.
With this in mind, messing with it was quite a risk for Honda, however it is a risk that has certainly paid off. With the new CRF300 models, Honda have taken all the good bits of the 250 and made them better without ruining the overall balance of the bike that is at the heart of its appeal.
- Latest news: Honda CRF300 Rally - the story
- Related: Honda CRF300 Rally long-term test
- Related: Honda CRF250 Rally review
The bigger capacity motor now means that the road miles between green lanes aren’t such a chore (and are covered with far less vibrations...) while the look is fresh and the updated dash a pleasant touch.
Although the Rally version is noticeably more trail-targeted than the stock CRF300L, once again Honda haven’t overstepped the mark and it makes for a good road bike that doesn’t feel like it is struggling on tarmac. Not only that, its firm seat is also surprisingly comfortable!
Obviously there are a few compromises that have been made to ensure that it can handle the ruts and bumps when taken off the beaten track, so the suspension is soft and the front brake’s performance somewhat limited, but that has to be expected from a machine such as this.
Which brings us to its price tag. The stock CRF300L is £4999 where the Rally is £6039, however finance packages mean this works out to £79 a month on a three-year PCP deal (£1073.47 deposit, £2929.64 final payment) or £149 a month for a three-year HP deal (£1191.32 deposit).
Considering how well the 250 holds its value, and if you are taking it off-road and therefore risking a few spills as Rally owners will, the HP deal makes far more sense and £149 a month is a justifiable 'hobby fund' if you reason hard enough with yourself...
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The Rally is the off-road focused version of the CRF300 and as a result its suspension has more travel in it than the CRF300L’s. On the road it is set quite softly and the front has 10mm more travel than before, however oddly this doesn’t ruin the ride quality.
On bumpy B-roads the movement is well damped, meaning it doesn’t pitch around or rock back and forth on its suspension too badly, and at a gentle pace it is delivers a nice smooth ride. Traditionally the shock has always been the CRF’s weak link and it seems improved on the 300 yet, as before, you only get pre-load adjustability on the shock and the forks are non-adjustable, which is a bit of a shame.
Honda have altered the steering geometry for 2021 and given the CRF a new frame but in all honesty, the tyres on the Rally (which are very chunky IRC Trail GPs) are the limiting factor and you don’t really spot the 4kg weight loss or the chassis’ altered lateral flex.
What some riders will notice is the seat height, which has shrunk by 10mm to 885mm, however while still tall the narrow seat, slimmer tank and soft shock means that once you get a leg over (which can be a struggle) the bike sits far lower so it isn’t too much of an issue on the go.
The Rally features a firmer and wider seat than the stock CRF300L, which is surprisingly not uncomfortable until about 100 miles, and the riding position has been revised too. The pegs are lower but further back and the bars are also closer to the rider while the Rally gets a bigger screen for improved weather protection.
Pleasingly, the tank has also grown by 2.7L to 12.8L, which gives a real-world range of almost 200 miles! Less pleasing, on the road at least, are the brakes, which are very weak in their performance. It’s a tough balancing act for Honda as off-road users will want this lack of instant bite but road riders may find it disconcerting.
The ABS system is good but only the rear can be deactivated (via a button on the dash) for off-road use.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Now 286cc thanks to a longer stroke, Honda claim the water-cooled DOHC 4-valve single has a peak power of 27bhp and peak torque of 19.6ftlb. While the power is a slight increase on before, Honda claim the torque is up an impressive 18% and when combined with the altered cam timing it certainly shows.
Despite being Euro5-compliant, which can sap power, the single is really peppy and fast, easily powering the CRF up to 80mph before the rev-warning light starts to flash. Cleverly, Honda have altered the CRF’s gear ratios, shortening 1-5 while making 6th far more of an overdrive, which is a great move as it appeases both the on and off-road camps’ demands.
On the road you can now sit happily at 70mph and thanks to internal weights in the bars, vibrations (although noticeable) aren’t too intrusive.
The Rally gets removable rubber peg inserts, which also help damp out vibes. In town the new slip/assist clutch is feather light in its action and the throttle response near perfect. It’s a fun, quick-revving and spirited motor that is also very frugal. What’s not to like?
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The bare bones of the CRF remain the same as before and owners report the 250 is absolutely bulletproof so there should be nothing to worry about.
Very few CRFs suffer any major issues and aside from the poor suspension (most owners fit an aftermarket shock) MCN’s online owners' reviews are glowing. If you want to go around the world and not worry about mechanical issues, this is a great choice of bike.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The stock CRF300L is £4999 where the Rally is £6039, which gains you a taller screen, longer travel suspension, bigger tank and a bit more style in the paintwork with the 'extreme red' colour.
Anyone considering off-road use should go for the Rally, however the slight issue is that it does stand out due to its paint and theft is a very real concern so we recommend you stock up on locks.
In terms of running costs, even when thrashed on the road the CRF returns over 70mpg, which makes it cheap to run in terms of fuel, and service intervals are every 4000 miles with the valve-clearance check at 16,000 miles, which is nice and long.
Most owners will do the basics themselves to save money, which is easy enough on a single cylinder. The great thing about the CRF is that depreciation remains quite low as it is such a popular model, so longterm it should prove a frugal buy.
In terms of the bike’s equipment level as standard, it’s nice to see a gear indicator appear on the dash alongside the fuel gauge.
The Rally’s cubby hole (located under the subframe by the rider’s left thigh) is handy but not very secure and the ABS can only be disengaged at the rear.
Honda sell a very limited range of accessories for the CRF300 models with a 36-litre top box (and inner liner) and bash plate about all there is, however aftermarket firms are all geared up for the CRF and that’s where you need to look.
If the 250 is anything to go by, the first thing on most owner’s shopping lists will be a new shock, followed by uprated fork springs and then stacks of crash protection, harder brush guards, new tyres etc.
Probably also fresh bodywork if they are considering serious off-road, mainly to keep the pricey OE Honda stuff looking nice and pretty.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled DOHC single|
|Frame type||Steel semi-double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||12.8 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm USD forks. non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Mono shock, pre-load adjustable|
|Front brake||296mm disc, with two-piston caliper. ABS|
|Rear brake||220mm disc, with single piston caliper. ABS|
|Front tyre size||80/100 x 21|
|Rear tyre size||120/80 x 18|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£45|
|Annual service cost||£120|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||27 bhp|
|Max torque||26.6 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
- 2012: The CRF250L is launched. A friendly and lightweight trail bike, it proves an instant hit with green lane riders and commuters alike.
- 2016: The CRF250L gains a new look, updated engine, ABS and revised fuel injection.
- 2017: The CRF250L Rally joins the model range. A beefed-up CRF250L the Rally has a bigger fuel tank, longer travel suspension, a larger front disc and enhanced bodywork.
- 2019: The CRF250L and CRF250 Rally receive updates to their chassis and engine.
- 2021: The CRF300L and CRF300 Rally replace the CRF250L models in the range.
Video: 2012 Honda CRF250L vs its rivals
Only one version of the Honda CRF300 Rally is available.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CRF300 RALLY (2021 - on)
1 owner has reviewed their HONDA CRF300 RALLY (2021 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£120|
Annual servicing cost: £125
Great, great bike but needs a bit of fettling to make it a perfect small dual sport.Don’t agree with the MCN review tbh, for a start the rally is the more road biased of the two by far, the CRF300L is a much better dirt/trails machine, lighter and with less plastic to break when you come off it. Suspension travel is identical for both bikes too. I’ve set my CRF300l up as a lightweight adventure bike and put on a small fairing from adventure spec, renthals, risers, heated grips, rack /and protection and with new rubber on it it’s a brilliant tourer and for less £££ than a rally.
Good but seat is a plank as with most Dual sports. Needs risers and wider pegs.
More than enough power for what it is, will cruise at 70mph all day long and chug lower down.
Had a drop on the right side and the gearshift spindle bracket bent meaning the bike wouldn’t go into gear properly, not hard to fix but I’ve since heard of a few other bikes having the same issue. Otherwise very good. Stock handlebars are made from soft cheese.
Cheap as chips! Great in fuel and parts from Thailand are dirt cheap! £14 for a genuine Honda right hand case cover!
Dash is great and well equipped, the wiring socket for the 12v socket is handy, the engine is a peach once run in and smooths out after the first service, 8000 mile oil changes are a big plus too, stock tyres need changing, d606’s work well so does a MT21 front. Nitron rear shock is a good Investment too.
Buying experience: Paid around 5K dealer was good at first but when I had an issue they messed me about so wont be back again. Will service myself from now on.