The recent launch of Honda’s back to basics CRF250L has brought back fond memories in the MCN office.
It’s not often that a sub 25hp motorbike gets us excited, but this is a real world machine, that will give anyone with the slightest inclination for off-road a bike that will deliver performance and classic days out for years.
In comparison to the glory years of lightweight trailies where all the major manufacturers produced comparable bikes (see panel) the current 250 trail bike sector is a limited one.
Kawasaki produce the proven KLX 250 which is on our test. Yamaha’s WR250R is a great bike but is more off road focussed than its rivals and the £6000+ RRP has actually meant that Yamaha have stopped importing the bike into the UK. With no Suzuki model in production we added the Reiju Tango into the mix.
Honda CRF250L, £3950
The CRF uses the same engine as the CBR250 but is detuned with better bottom end power and more torque. And in the real world of off-road riding it works. The power delivery is smooth and predictable.
There is no power band, just smooth linear power and torque which enhances the easy to use character of the CRF. To an experienced off road rider used to competition Enduro bikes the CRF would be considered gutless.
It’s slower revving engine doesn’t have anything like the power of Honda’s CRF250X Enduro bike. But this is a trail bike aimed at green-lining so the balance of power and handling fits the bill perfectly.
Kawasaki KLX250, £4549
Off road the Kawasaki is a bike you could ride all day. The suspension is soft enough to absorb bumps whilst maintaining good support and a look at the rear shock and large external gas cartridge highlights its off road credentials.
A lot of thought has clearly gone into how this bike performs off-road and there are some nice touches in terms of features and protection.
There is no aftermarket bash plate needed as there are loops added to the bottom of the frame itself to protect crucial engine components. The rear brake calliper also receives protection as standard. The KLX also comes with a good tool kit located in a neat pouch attached to the rear mudguard.
Reiju Tango, £3199
In many ways this bike is the odd one out in the test. Whilst it has some off-road pretence it is clearly lacking the dirt focus of the Honda or Kawasaki which is apparent from the styling, overly soft suspension and low front mudguard.
Physically it’s smaller than its rivals. It feels seriously light and manoeuvrable and the low seat height means that even short riders will easily be able to place both feet on the ground.
To read the full test, pick up a copy of the September 26 issue of MCN.