Honda CRF250 Rally review (2017-on): A great lightweight adventure bike

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Building on the growing appetite for adventure, Honda have launched the funky CRF 250 Rally. Capitalising on the overwhelming success of the Africa Twin and the kudos gained from becoming front runners, once again, in the prestigious Dakar Rally, the Honda CRF250 Rally is designed to be a small-capacity adventure bike for the masses.

And it certainly looks the part, taking its styling inspiration from the factory Rally bike with clear screen, engine shrouded in bodywork and even a left-hand side tool kit that mimics the secondary fuel tanks of the race bike.

Under the shiny and stylish plastic is essentially the CRF250L, which is a good fun, last-for-ever, trail bike. But the protection the extra bodywork gives the Rally model is significant, giving the rider much improved wind protection which in turn makes it much more capable of bigger mileage.

The 250cc single cylinder, four-stroke engine is adequate when it comes to road use, with enough power to sit between 60 and 70mph. Off road it is ample, with soft, but progressive power that makes it ideal for a day green laning; just don’t expect to cover ground like a Dakar rider.

While most of the bike, including the engine, is identical to the CRF250L, the Rally gets a larger 10.1l fuel tank that Honda say will get you over 200 miles from full before it splutters to a halt, thanks to managing 94.1mpg.

Extra long-travel suspension and high ground clearance enhance its long-distance off-road ability, but do mean a clamber up to 895mm to park your posterior. The L’s fork is replaced with a 43mm Showa unit boasting longer legs and rally-tweaked settings, and black Alumite aluminium rims replace plain for the Rally, while they’ve grown to a 21-inch front and 18” rear combination, allowing for more focused off-road tyre choices.

The front-end gets a larger floating front disc – while ABS is present, but can be switched off for the rear wheel. A skid plate protects the machine’s underside and the gear lever features a folding tip to give it a little more chance of surviving tumbles, or tangles with the scenery. Whether you’re in Peru or Putney, it’s a great looking beast to be seen on.

VERDICT

The Rally is a great addition to the Honda range that fills a niche by providing a lightweight adventure bike that's happy on road or off. It's just a shame it doesn’t go as well as it looks.

Price: £5299
Engine: 250cc single-cylinder four-stroke DOHC
Power: 24bhp@8500rpm
Torque: 16.6ftlb
Weight: 157kg

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider