Honda CRF250L Longtermer: The first outing and plans

 

We haven’t introduced it on CMG yet, but we got ourselves a Honda CRF250L dual sport as a long termer to go with the BMW R1200GS. It’s been a huge seller for Honda and for good reason – affordably priced, Honda reliability and a very capable on and off-road machine – what more could you ask for?

That’s what we’ll find out (if anything)

Since the Editor is running the big GS, I’ll be in charge of the little Honda for the summer and we’re making plans to boost its off-road capacity as she’ll be doing some scouting duties for the Fundy Adventure Rally too.

The First Real Ride

“Meet me in Sussex for lunch at 1”, Editor ‘Arris garbled over the phone, so I grabbed my backpack, threw in a laptop, notebook, camera so I could shoot the bike along the way, and headed for the ferry that takes me over to the Kingston Peninsula’s Rt. 845 – my favourite road in New Brunswick.

The quarter-litre duallie is almost the perfect bike for this road. The long-travel suspension is a necessity for the potholes you meet along the way, and its light weight lets you sweep through the corners. You can keep up with many bigger bikes, if you know what you’re doing.

Honda CRF250L Photo Zac Kurylyk
Pretty, isn’t it? CMG is looking forward to their summer with Honda’s CRF250L.

Unless, of course, you get stuck in traffic, and that’s what happened to me. The ferrywoman made me wait to disembark, and I was stuck behind a car that loved to open it up on the straights, but park it in the corners.

But, the woods of Rt. 845 eventually turn into the open farms of Rt. 121, and once there I was able to get past all traffic and amazed myself by getting into Sussex 20 minutes before I expected. Who says small bikes aren’t fast enough?

After a lunch meeting with ‘Arris (“Does anyone make a supercharger for the CRF?”. “No”. Shame”), I decided to take the long way home on Rt. 111, through St. Martins so I would get to see a lot of beautiful coastline.

It was a good decision. People don’t think New Brunswick has hilly, curvy roads, but 111 proves them wrong. We took this route in the 2014 Dawn to Dusk Rally; I’d been on a Big Ruckus then, but I was enjoying the CRF250L a lot more. A gearbox is a great blessing if you’re in hill country.

Thankfully, I had a beautiful day - much nicer than the last time I came through here with the 2014 Dawn to Dusk. Photo: Ron Kierstead
Thankfully, I had a beautiful day – much nicer than the last time I came through here with the 2014 Dawn to Dusk. Photo: Ron Kierstead

Despite the raw beauty of this area, with the asphalt kissing the beach at many points as it winds through the wooded hills, few people live here. This corner of New Brunswick is some of the last undeveloped shoreline on the eastern coast of North America. Long may it stay that way!

A few kms later, and Rt. 111 spit me out near the Saint John airport, where I headed towards the highway, stuck in the city’s rush hour traffic. A 250 isn’t an ideal highway bike, but I managed to hold my own, despite one grey-haired granny’s near-disastrous merging attempt at the foot of the Harbour Bridge.

Shaking my head, I entered the bumper-to-bumper slog across the bridge. At the end, where two lanes turn to four, I laid flat down on the tank, clicked down two gears, and was gone. Rollie Free, eat your heart out. A few minutes later, I was home in the driveway, unslinging my camera bag, then remembering why I’d brought it -and that I’d forgotten to take any photos along the way.


The mods

We’ve teamed up with Honda CRF specialists CRFSOnly, who have agreed to help us outfit the bike. We’re not looking to build it into a rocket at this point, only a solid, reliable dual sport that can be run without worries of damage in the inevitable off-road wipeouts. We’re also keen to try out some suspension mods as well as increase the bikes paltry fuel range and add some luggage capacity (though we’re erring towards soft luggage ultimately).

To date, these are the parts we’ve requested:

CRFS Only is going to help us kit out the Honda this summer.
CRFS Only is going to help us kit out the Honda this summer.

Suspension:

  • Race Tech Shock
  • Race Tech Fork Spring Kit
  • Race Tech Fork Valve Kit

Protection:

  • Double Take Mirrors – Two
  • Acerbis X-Factor Handguards
  • CRF’s Only Open-ended Throttle Tube
  • Flatland Skid Plate
  • Flatland Radiator Guards

Other:

  • CRF’s Only Rack
  • IMS Fuel Tank

We’ll keep you posted as that build runs. For now, though, we’d like to thank Honda Canada for letting us use their bike for the summer. If today is any indication, it’ll be a season-long love affair.

12 thoughts on “Honda CRF250L Longtermer: The first outing and plans”

  1. LOL. What an amazingly insane coincidence. Recently, I was thinking about the seemingly sudden love affair the CMG staff has with dual purpose bikes. I wondered if this idiotic obsession with throwing ridiculous sums of money at supposedly capable bikes may have something to do with the habitat of it’s staff.

    Well, the following day, I had the eye-splitting displeasure of driving through that wee slice of hell you lot call ‘New Brunswick’. As I rattled the fillings out of my teeth on the Trans Canada!, I wondered if Hannibal and his pachyderms had similar issues making their way to Canada’s Ocean Playground.

    I quietly chuckled to myself whenever I looked down from the overpasses to the secondary roads, to see they were all dirt, gravel or corduroy. Knowingly thinking “ahh … horses for courses’.

    However, thought I, it must get better further south; closer to all of the population. That was when I pogo-ed past “Bruise-Your-Sackville”. In an Oldsmobile. On the province’s most important highway.

    Well, when the spinal bruising subsided, the testicular swelling went down, and the blood in the urine abated, I decided to head home. Sadly, the trip was like putting a dash-cam on re-wind.

    So, here I sit in an Edmunston hotel room, commiserating with your poor life-decisions, and fully understanding the desire for a Willys Jeep-type of motorcycle.

    However, the rest of us live in prosperity and reality the rest of us live in reality! And Quebec. Please focus some attention on proper motorcycles.

    1. gpfan, I spent a couple weeks last summer hooning around the backroads on a Honda CBR500. It was miserable, and it wasn’t the bike’s fault – as long as the roads were smooth, it was fantastic. But sadly, that only accounts for about three miles’ worth of tarmac in this province. Otherwise, you need long-travel suspension here. It’s the name of the game.

  2. I have a 2013 CRF250L and absolutely love it. It gets ridden mostly as regular commuter transportation in and around Winnipeg (probably 90% on-road) and to me is a perfect bike for that type of riding – light, nimble, upright riding position and good on gas. I’ve swapped out the rear sprocket for a 42-tooth, put more street oriented tires on and added handguards, a windshield and a larger fuel tank (the Acerbis one, slightly larger than the IMS). Now I’m taking my mini adventure bike on the Cannonball 500 this Sunday. 830km in 12 hours or less!

    Not sure if we can embed pictures, so copy/paste for a photo of my CRF — https://goo.gl/photos/6DqK4vdtVpicejWFA

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