Canada Getting Honda CRF300L and CRF300 Rally

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Honda actually announced these bikes for other markets months ago. It's good to see them come to Canada, as these machines are the building blocks of the dual sport scene.

Honda Canada has confirmed the CRF300L and CRF300 Rally will be available this year as 2021 models. The CRF300L is being offered at an MSRP of $6,499. We expected the CRF300L to be within spitting distance of the KLX’s $6,499 sticker, but it appears Honda opted to match the price down to the penny. Opting for the CRF300LA (featuring ABS) will run you an extra $200. The CRF300LRA (Rally model with ABS) will be available for $7,499.

The CRF300L and CRF300 Rally are the logical updates to the CRF250L and CRF250 Rally; they use the same basic engine, stroked to 286cc. It’s the same liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine that Honda used in the CBR300 for several years, although it’s got a few updates for 2021 (shorter gears 1-5, taller sixth gear, assist/slipper clutch, and probably emissions tweaking). It should make somewhere around 27 hp at 8,500 rpm, with 19.6 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. That’s a big improvement over the wimpy rubber-band engine we had in the old CRF250L project bike at CMG.

Honda fans have been asking for this no-brainer upgrade for years; indeed, many fans home-brewed their own CRF250L machines into 300s, by mixing and matching OEM parts off Honda’s CBR300.

The CRF300L and CRF300 Rally also get new suspension, with more travel and more ground clearance. The frame is new, and the CRF300 Rally has a larger fuel tank now (12.8 L capacity should be good for around 400 km range!).

Combine that larger fuel tank with new rubber-mounted handlebars and seat, and that CRF300 Rally might just be the world’s first great Small Touring Bike. The 250 version was surprisingly competent on back roads, and able to keep up with the slow lane on the highway. Adding a few extra horsepower could make the Rally a very decent bike indeed.

Both bikes drop weight for 2021 (a much-needed improvement, as Honda’s duallies have been getting a tad too porky). Both bikes also get a visual makeover, with new plastics that are supposed to make you think of Ricky Brabec’s Dakar-winning CRF450 Rally, the CRF450L and other much faster Hondas.

We’ll provided additional details and availability once information is made available.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I currently have a newer DR650 and really like it. I’ve been exploring dirt and gravel back roads, forestry roads and a few easier trails. I am newish to the offroad riding and find maybe the DR is not the best for me or maybe I need more experience.
    I like the sound of the Rally version here, fuel yank size similar to the DR. Would you experienced people think I may have a bit easier time with it? Especially on steeper hills, up and down, and the lumpier sections of forest road and trails. Maybe it’s the gearing, or me, but I find I often have to go faster than I want on the trickier sections in order to keep the revs up.
    Thanks for any information or advice.

    • “Maybe it’s the gearing”

      It sounds like it. If you’d be happier going slower for a given RPM/gear combo, you might consider going up 1-2 teeth on the rear sprocket. The gotcha is that it also will be spinning faster in top gear for a given speed, so it’s always a compromise.

    • I do not think the Rally is easier to ride off-road than the DR650. The DR was the second dual sport I owned, and I still have it. It has loads of torque, and that makes a lot of things much easier for a newbie. And when you drop it, there’s nowhere near the same amount of damage as the Rally, which is *covered* in easy-to-scratch (or break!) plastic. On those uphills, you’ll have to spin the 250 (or 300) engine up much more than a 650, which will just chug along through anything, as long as there’s traction.

      We had a previous-gen CRF250L at CMG as a long-term tester. It was an excellent bike, although it was too heavy for what it was (still lighter than the Rally!), and gutless, and crap suspension. The 300 version has less weight, more power, and probably better suspension. The 250L has become a popular bike with UK-based Overlanders, and honestly, is what I’d recommend to most people start out now–either that, or the Kawasaki. Yamaha’s XT250 is fine, nothing wrong with it, but it’s very limited in every aspect of its design, same as the DR200.

      The 250L has limited fuel range, but it is barely worse than a DR650 with a stock tank. Very easy to buy an MSR fuel bottle and carry it along, or swap to a larger plastic tank (which is what we did with the CMG test bike).

      The Rally is an excellent street motorcycle with limited offroad capability; the standard Honda L model is better in the dirt, less fun on the street.

      I hope this all helps. I suspect you’d find a gearing change would help you with the 650.

      • Thank you both for your reply. Sounds like your saying there is little if any gain going to the 300 Rally if I’m already on the DR. And maybe consider the sprocket change.
        I thought the Rally would be better off-road but maybe I’ll just give myself a little more time to master the DR.
        I was thinking of a larger tank or maybe just strapping on a Rotopax. And then I’d like to… sorry.
        Thanks again.

        • You’re welcome.

          I’ve excessively modified my DR650 (some of those stories are in the CMG archives). Most of the current dual sport bikes on the market aren’t much lighter anymore, and they certainly lack the torque.

          If you can find a good deal on a Yamaha WR250R, I found mine to be a much better dirt bike than the DR, but it lacks the tractor-like power that makes the 650 so much easier for beginners. My DR350 had that same tractor power, but I wouldn’t recommend you buy one now, they’re getting pretty long in the tooth unless you find a lightly-used 98 or 99 model (good luck with that).

          DRZ400 is a good compromise with some of the good attributes of the 250s and some of the 650s. But also a very tall bike and buzzy on highway.

  2. In the last six years I have learned a lot about dual sport/adventure bikes. Having owned a 2014 CB500x, 2016 KLR 650, 2017 Rally, 2018 Versys 300x and now a Tenere 700. I found everything is a trade-off. If highway travel is in the cards the lighter bikes are a handfull on windy days – which seem more than ever lately. A mid size dualsport / adventure bike does everything just about perfect.

    • Which one would you recommend for 85/15 highway/fireroad and a less experienced, smaller rider? I’ve done the reading but I don’t know anyone who’s owned so many sizes and variations.

      • Looking back I should have kept the CB500X it was a great all around bike. Fitted with TKC 80’s it ripped down gravel steady as a rock, I put 30,000 kms on it. The KLR is top heavy and has a annoying zibe at 100kph enough to totally blur the mirrors. The Rally and the Versys 300x are to light on the highway on windy days. The T7 is the all around perfect bike so far.

        • Thanks much! I’ve been looking at the 500X. The Tenere is probably a little big for me and my experience, and, atm, my wallet 😉 . The BMWs seem great but maintenance is likely pricey (might be a misconception) and their price is top tier.

          Thanks again!

          • You can’t go wrong with a CB500X – not to tall, not to pricey and bullet proof. But it needs TKC 80’s for gravel right off the bat. Good luck and have fun! Brent

  3. That Rally is quite tempting. I was worried about all that plastic down low but a quick check of the forums shows that there are easy solutions. I really need to talk myself out of this one!😄

  4. Hmmm. The CB300R advertises 31 hp (at the crank). Yet the CFR300L and Rally are all being quoted as having around 27 hp (which must be at the crank because nobody quotes rear-wheel hp). I want this missing power. Granted, this isn’t much different from when the CBR250R was originally released with 26 hp, and then the CRF250L was subsequently introduced with a few less ponies (22.8 hp). All at the crank. I wonder why? Please don’t say “because it’s tuned for broader torque delivery”….

  5. Nice bikes! Minor note, but it’s great seeing a colour other than black or grey. Suzuki please don’t be so miserly with the yellow, love the triton blue. Kawasaki spread the green further across the range. Hope the price when announced doesn’t blow up the bike.

  6. The Canadian 2021 Rally does come with standard 2-channel ABS (rear ABS can be turned off) which Honda Canada mentioned and can be seen on their website while it is optional on the US market and the Canadian 300L.

    Previous US models didn’t have LED turn signals and same thing with the 2021 bikes as well as the new EU version, for what I’ve heard it would be due to regulations for the NA market but i would like to see an official answer on this subject

  7. I have the 2017 CRF250 Rally and was disappointed that the Canadian version did NOT have available ABS – I suspect for price-point reasons. It was more expensive than competitors. Can anyone confirm ABS on the 2021 CRF300 Rally for Canada? I’ve noticed also that subsequent years, US and European models had sleek LCD turn signals, while the leftover/excess incandescent bulbous signals were fobbed off on the Canadian markets.

    • The Canadian 2021 Rally does come with standard 2-channel ABS (rear ABS can be turned off) which Honda Canada mentioned and can be seen on their website while it is optional on the US market and the Canadian 300L.

      Previous US models didn’t have LED turn signals and same thing with the 2021 bikes as well as the new EU version, for what I’ve heard it would be due to regulations for the NA market but i would like to see an official answer on this subject

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