HONDA CRF300 RALLY (2021 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Bigger capacity 286cc motor
  • Improved off-road focus
  • Updated styling and dash

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
Power: 27 bhp
Seat height: Tall (34.8 in / 885 mm)
Weight: Low (337 lbs / 153 kg)

Prices

New £6,039
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

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.

Riding the 2021 Honda CRF300 Rally

Head to head: Honda CRF300L vs 300 Rally

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...

The Honda CRF300 Rally is finished in a striking red paint job

Watch: Spending a year with the Honda CRF300 Rally

MCN Designer Simon Relph spent 2021 living with the CRF300 Rally. Find out what he thought in our round-up video below. 

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

A lower seat height than the CRF250 Rally makes the 300 easier to live with

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.

A button on the dash deactivates the rear ABS

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

New engine and gearing makes life easier on the road

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 quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

Many CRF owners add an aftermarket shock

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

Stock up on locks to protect your CRF300 Rally

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.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

The Honda CRF300 Rally gets an LCD dash

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.

Specs

Engine size 286cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled DOHC single
Frame type Steel semi-double cradle
Fuel capacity 12.8 litres
Seat height 885mm
Bike weight 153kg
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 £47
Annual service cost £120
New price £6,039
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 27 bhp
Max torque 26.6 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 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 Honda CRF300L and CRF300 Rally replace the CRF250L models in the range.


Video: 2012 Honda CRF250L vs its rivals

Other versions

Honda CRF300L specs

For a start capacity has increased to 286cc from 250cc, which has unlocked an extra 2.5bhp. More importantly peak torque is up to 19.6lb.ft, which is a near 20% increase. As well as the capacity change there’s a new intake cam with revised timing, which helps boost midrange. The result is that the engine should be strong both at peak but across the entire rev range.

To help liven things up even more, Honda have shortened the first five gears, while sixth gear is taller for high-speed cruising. Paired with this new engine is a new chassis, which is 2.15kg lighter than that of the old model, while also being more flexible for improved traction. To help tackle more challenging terrain the suspension stroke has been increased by 10mm at the front and 20mm at the rear.

Honda have also lifted the engine in the frame, so ground clearance is now 30mm higher with only a 5mm increase in seat height. The wheelbase is also 10mm longer than before while trail is increased by 4mm, both of which should help steady the ship at its new higher topspeed capabilities.

Meanwhile the Rally (pictured below) gets all these updates plus a few extras that should make it even more of a mini-adventurer. For a start the tank has grown 2.7 litres to 12.8 litres, giving a theoretical range of 254 miles. There are also weights in the bars and rubbers in the footrests to ease fatigue, while the seat is rubber mounted and 10mm lower. Prices are yet to be confirmed but both models are due into dealers in January.

Honda CRF300L: fast facts

  • The engine has grown by 36cc and it’s all in the increased stroke which is now 63mm, up from 55mm
  • As well as changes under the skin, the plastics and graphics of both models have been given an aggressive refresh for 2021
  • Honda CRF300L accessories now include a proper alloy bash guard as well as a topbox if you fancy taking the rough route to work
  • Honda have saved weight here and there: 90g, 110g, 300g savings all add up to a 4kg overall weight loss
  • 2021 Honda CRF300L Rally

Owners' reviews for the HONDA CRF300 RALLY (2021 - on)

3 owners have 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.

Review your HONDA CRF300 RALLY (2021 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
5 out of 5 Time for new adventures and learning new skills
28 July 2022 by Mark Dibley

Version: CRF300L

Year: 2022

Ordered the bike January 2022 and it arrived in June so plenty of time for buying those must have accessories. With the cost of fuel and the opportunity to learn some new off road skills it seemed like the best choice (did look at RE Himalayan) and ime not disappointed. Went for the L as £900 price difference between the L and Rally and thought I could make the L a better bike than the Rally for the same cost as a standard Rally and I’ve not been disappointed. Fitted Rally Raid rack and frame guards, Adventure Spec tower and fairing, Acerbis hand guards and skid plate, Renthal bars and heated grips. Still got Rally Raid rear shock on the shopping list which will take the spend up to just over £900. Money well spent!!!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

After years on road bikes the brakes feel ‘soft’ but this is as much me getting used to the bike as anything else. Rear shock is so so soft but on the road it seems to work adequately if a little vague. Budgeted for a new rear shock when I brought the bike but I will persevere with this one first until my off road skill improves.

Engine 5 out of 5

Proven power plant not exactly going to rip your arms off but surprisingly torquey which gives you a lot of confidence in attacking the hills.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Considering the price point it represents good value for money although they have recently increased prices. There are some small quality issues which are well documented on forums so just make sure you take any precautions (for example paint on the frame not the best so fit protectors/tape etc). I brought it as it’s going to be a keeper and it will be ridden across to Spain and other long distance adventures so it was important I brought the most reliable bike I could.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Cheap service costs (annually or 8000 miles) played a big part in my decision with the RE Himalayan costs being significantly higher and more regular.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Good dash including average mpg which indicates it’s possible to achieve 100mpg - now that’s impressive!!

Buying experience: Purchased from Hunts Manchester great guys and fantastic service including full tank of fuel.

5 out of 5 The perfect all rounder, there's a reason people choose these to go around the world.
04 December 2021 by The little red pig.

Version: CRF300L

Year: 2021

My bike is the regular 300L not the Rally. I wanted a more lane oriented bike rather than the more road based rally. Could this be the perfect real world bike? Cruise at 70mph all day and crawl up a steep rock strewn lane. Yes, it's built to a price and there's a few places where you can tell they've scrimped a little but overall this is a fabulous machine.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

The brakes are fine, I've locked up fronts and backs on wet roads (ABS kicked in) so there's plenty of braking. The suspension however is a different story. I'm quite light at 72kg and on sweeping road bends the bike wallows and bounces like a dinghy. I've got used to it but I will be upgrading the suspension!

Engine 5 out of 5

It's a cracker of a motor, quick enough in the real world. It'll not pull your arms out of their sockets with it's acceleration but it will keep you ahead of traffic and do a ridiculous mpg.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

No corrosion and nothing broken so far in the 1500 miles I've done. I've been using it through the bad weather and good and it's standing up well. A coat of acf50 and keeping it clean certainly helps.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I can get 100mpg if I'm not thrashing it or on the lanes but even with a heavy right hand and hitting the trails I'm still getting 85mpg. OE parts are dirt cheap from Thailand but you'll pay the usual dealer fees at a main dealer. Once out of warranty I plan to look after it myself and the running costs will be minimal.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The stock tyres are poor off road and have been replaced. Some of the plastics are brittle, I fell and broke the rear undertray, others have complained that a fall breaks the undertray at the indicators. The dash is clear and everything works like it should, the tool kit is poor, I've had to supplement it with other tools and the manual tells you to take it to a dealer to adjust the chain, ha ha! I've replaced a few things to fit me better, taller bars, heated grips, hand guards and a bash plate. It's cost a bit but is now close to being the perfect do it all bike.

Buying experience: I ordered it from Blackpool Honda, they were honest about not knowing when it would be delivered but it arrived fairly quickly. No deals to be had but at least I got in before the price rise.

4 out of 5 Great little Dual Sport
18 September 2021 by Pete

Version: CRF300L

Year: 2021

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.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Good but seat is a plank as with most Dual sports. Needs risers and wider pegs.

Engine 5 out of 5

More than enough power for what it is, will cruise at 70mph all day long and chug lower down.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

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.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Cheap as chips! Great in fuel and parts from Thailand are dirt cheap! £14 for a genuine Honda right hand case cover!

Equipment 4 out of 5

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.

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