We’ve already told you about the Honda CRF250 Rally’s imminent appearance a couple of times; now, it seems that bike is likely to be officially unveiled very soon.
For a while now, Canadian ex-Dakar racer Patrick Trahan has been racing a CRF250-based rally bike at international events, recently winning a medal at the FIM-sanctioned Merzouga Rally. We’ve also seen concept drawings of what the new bike would look like as far back as last March. This is something Big Red’s been working on for a while.
Now, Honda has applied for trademarks for the CRF250 Rally name in Europe and the US. That’s generally a step that indicates the motorcycle behind the application is forthcoming. With EICMA just around the corner, it would be surprising if we didn’t see the quarter-litre world-crosser at the Milan show.
There’s enough of a demand for a bike like this that the Chinese have been producing the Zongshen RX3 for a while now, and they seem to be popular enough. However, no Big Four manufacturer has built anything like this since Honda’s NX250.
This bike would give Honda the strongest lineup of any manufacturer in the adventure/dual sport segment. With the standard CRF250L as well as the new Rally variant, the XR650L, the NC750X, the CB500X, the Crosstourer, the Crossrunner, and the Africa Twin, Honda really has most of the bases covered. The only hole is in the 400 cc segment, which is basically owned by Suzuki’s DR-Z400.
This bike won’t be in the same class as Honda’s 450 cc models used by Joan Barreda and their other top Dakar riders. It’s powered by a relatively placid motor. But, don’t be shocked if it does pop up in competition; while it might be a tad unrealistic to see a privateer-piloted model at Dakar, it’s not impossible, and the bike will certainly have some appeal to riders at other events like Merzouga or the Asia Cross Country Rally, where teams are typically far more limited in their budgets.