MCN Fleet: Honda CRF300 Rally has suspension fully updated at K-tech

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Right from the very first ride on the Honda CRF300 Rally I felt it suffered with its suspension… Before we go any further, I will also be the first to put my hand up and say I am not the lightest person in the world at 95kg.

I did take the CRF for a bit of a blast round a mate’s field which features a cheeky little jump in the middle. I wasn’t even going very fast, but managed to get both wheels off the ground, this was fine, it was the landing that was the problem and I managed to completely bottom out both front and rear suspension. Definitely time to see what mods are out there.

Since I have had the CRF I have found there is very little in the way of aftermarket products available, partly due to the late arrival of bikes in this country and others, allowing little time for companies to design and manufacture their products. Covid will have played a part too.

In my first report on the CRF300 Rally, MCN reader Gordon Blackley (who owns the little brother Honda CRF250) said he had improved his suspension with the help of K-tech (www.ktechsuspension.com) .

When I contacted the company, they had just taken delivery of a new Honda CRF300 L and were busy working out what was needed to make the suspension work better. After a couple of weeks, I popped up to K-tech headquarters to see for myself what they had achieved on their test mule.

Their CRF300L obviously looks a bit leaner than my Rally, but the basic bike underneath is the same. It was only when I climbed on the K-tech bike, and I do mean climbed on as the seat height is 885mm, that I could straight away feel the difference without even going anywhere. When I took my weight off my feet, the bike only settled down a little. But the key difference was it went down the evenly front to back, as opposed the rear feeling like it had fallen down a crater.

The plan was for me to take K-tech’s CRF300L for a spin round the local Derbyshire countryside and see how I got on with the suspension set up. My initial impression was ‘boy this is firm’ and it felt like I was riding a very flashy supermoto. The first thing I came too was a roundabout and the bike felt positive and well balanced, I spent the rest of the ride searching for bumpy undulating roads which were easily soaked up by the new suspension.

Suspension loving from KTech

I arrived back beaming. I needed this setup on my bike, so K-tech set about doing the same to my Rally – fitting a Razor R light shock (£456.49). This is available in four different specifications depending on the rider’s weight from any K-tech dealer or from their store site (store.ktechsuspension.com) .

More long-term tests

 

The fork internals were replaced with K-tech’s SSK piston kit and uprated fork spring, again selected to suit the rider’s weight. If you wanted to do the same, you just need to drop your forks out and take them along to a K-tech dealer and they can install everything for you.

The SSK piston kit is £180.19 and the HPFS fork springs are £63. This does not include the charge of around £90 for labour (this is a must as a K-tech approved installer has the tools and training needed to fit the piston kit) .

All done and finished it was time to go. OMG, this can’t be the same bike! The ride back was so different to the ride there. I am really looking forward to going out and having some proper fun now that the Rally’s potential has been unlocked.

Honda CRF300 Rally previous updates:

 

 


 

Update three: Honda CRF300 Rally loses its wheels in search of more capable off-road rubber

Published: 15.07.2021

The small but tall Honda CRF300 Rally is starting to settle in nicely, I have got a few miles under my belt, and I am feeling the bike is becoming part of me, and no – not because it has a narrow saddle, which in fact is very comfortable, even on a long run!

My first change to the CRF is the tyres, I can’t say I was particularly keen on the stock IRC Trails GP tyres. They didn’t fill me with confidence, either on road or off, this was probably not helped by the very soft suspension, so feel is not particularly consistent.

I had done a bit of tyre research for the CRF, and came up with a tyre I have not used before, the Dunlop D606. As I am planning more off-road excursions than road, I felt they were one of the best choices in the adventure trail range, with a 90% trail bias over road.

Knobbly treaded tyres

With a well-spaced and very chunky block tread pattern for all types of off-road riding, not only are their credentials good, they look the mutts nuts, and they’re are not even on the bike yet.

I had arranged to supply the tyre fitter with loose wheels, so all I had to do was whiz the wheels out, easy peasy! Or so I thought. There was one oversight on my behalf, all the motorcycle stands I own are for road bikes with cotton reels fitted. Even the front-end fork stands were no good, as the front wheel is 21”, they didn’t even come close to giving me the clearance I needed. So there was only one thing for it, get the box and blocks out!

More long-term tests

The CRF Rally has a very flat plastic sump guard that would offer very little protection against rocks and stones but is an ideal base to rest the bike on while I removed the wheels. The bike is pretty evenly balanced, so it doesn’t try to tip itself off.

While I was getting the tyres changed, I took the opportunity to fit a tyre stop to the rear wheel, as the rims come predrilled, but don’t have them fitted. Tyre pressures checked and the wheels reinstalled, which by the way are very easy to remove and refit, the only thing I had difficulty with was the front wheel spindle, which needed a 14mm Allen key to undo it, so I bought a 14mm drain plug key, which can now live in the tool kit should I get a puncture and need to remove the wheel. Right all done, we are ready to hit the dirt! Well almost, just the suspension to sort out now.

Honda CRF300 Rally previous updates:


Update two: Stepping back in time with the Honda CRF300 Rally

Published: 11.06.2021

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.


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

Published: 11.05.2021

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. Simon.relph@motorcyclenews.com

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

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Simon Relph

By Simon Relph

Senior Designer, also known as 'Power Wolf'