MCN Fleet: Stepping back in time with the Honda CRF300 Rally

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From the moment I got on the new Honda CRF300 Rally I was transported back to my youth, albeit now with a digital dash, fuel injection, water cooling, disc brakes and monoshock suspension. The riding sensation is similar to the old Honda XL250 I had at 17, but very quickly I could feel this was a much more refined package.

The first thing to catch my eye as I rode along getting the feel for everything was a white button to the right of the LCD dash for 'ABS off road' - nice and simple. There's no scrolling through endless menus and the system deactivates it at the rear on rough terrain.

Digi display on the Honda CRF300 Rally

It was not long into the ride along an undulating country lane, that I also discovered the rear shock felt like it would have been more at home on a motocross bike and the moment I got home, it was bike gear off and tools out.

It's not an easy task to adjust the unit without removing it from the bike, though. That said, it is possible with the machine lifted off the ground and the rear wheel hanging down and I could tap the shock’s top ring round anti-clockwise using a long punch/drift. This allowed me to tap the bottom ring round 2½ turns to pre-load the spring before spinning down the top ring to lock it in place.

More long-term tests

This did make a difference, but not as much as I would have liked, so I think I am going to look into a replacement item to soak up the bumps. I have also lined up a pair of Dunlop D606 tyres to go on, which are a bit more aggressive than the standard ones that come with bike. The OE hoops have a habit of giving the back end a little wiggle when passing over white lines.

I have a few trips planned for the CRF, so in anticipation I have fitted a Garmin Zumo XT. I like to do things properly, so I ordered an auxiliary 12v power connector, as the Honda CRF300 Rally comes with a connector built into the loom inside the front left-hand panel.

I then soldered the power Garmin power lead onto the terminals. This means I can simply plug in my lead to power the sat nav, which is switched on and off with the ignition - meaning there’s no chance of leaving the satnav on and flattening the CRF’s battery.

For the mount itself I used the SW-Motech 1" Ball Kit handlebar clamp which fits bars from 22-28mm (£25.66). On the CRF Rally there is a frame that the screen and instrument panel are mounted to, with the perfect place for the ball mount and Garmin to go with a perfect view of the screen, spot on! Now we need to get out there and enjoy some freedom.

Light and nimble, the Honda CRF300 Rally has fun written all over it

Honda CRF300 Rally

I’m looking forward to having some mini adventures on the new Honda CRF300 Rally. Light and nimble – it has fun written all over it. Going from 250 to 300cc the 2021 model a little more power and torque, it’s time to head for the hills.

The rider Simon Relph, Senior Designer, 56, 6ft 1in. Daily rider, 47 years of experience, owns 30 bikes.

Bike specs 286cc | 27bhp | 153kg | 885mm seat height

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Simon Relph

By Simon Relph

Senior Designer, also known as 'Power Wolf'