LEARNING THE BASICS
Here’s an adventure bike that proves you don’t need a large-capacity steed to enjoy the outdoors
THERE is something enticing about venturing offroad, seeing places you’ve not seen before and knowing that, unless you have an off-road vehicle, you can’t reach these landscapes. I can think of no better way to relax and unwind than to see our beautiful country from roads less travelled.
These are just some of the reasons that make adventure motorcycles so popular. No doubt, there are many more who would love the same experience as you get on a largecapacity, dual-purpose bike, but cannot afford the latter. It’s an expensive hobby that may just have been made more accessible thanks to Honda’s new CRF250 Rally.
At just R85 000 (R10 000 more than the base CRF200 L), it allows adventure biking for what is, in biking terms, pocket change. It looks the part, too, with full bodywork, an engine protector, a small windscreen, basic hand protectors, a 21-inch front wheel, ABS brakes and ground clearance of 270 mm (15 mm up on the L).
With a light mass of just 155 kg, it is clear this bike means business. The fact that it’s lithe helps the engine’s 18 kw and 23 N.m to feel sufficiently strong to quickly propel the bike to 100 km/h with ease.
Leaving the city behind, the moment that large front wheel hits gravel, you know the little Rally is game. There is no traction control, which means you need to know your (and the bike’s) limits, but press the offroad ABS button and the system allows you to lock the rear wheel with the front ABS brake remaining active.
I drove over ruts and ditches that I would definitely not have tackled if I were on a larger and heavier bike and the lightweight CRF took them in its stride. Being so light and nimble, it is easy to have total control over the bike and, if it falls over, it should be a cinch to lift back up, climb on and continue riding.
There’s lots of fun to be had. Grip levels on gravel surfaces are so low that, despite the modest power outputs, the CRF’S rear wheel easily spins when pinning the throttle in first, second or third gears.
Our test unit was equipped with a sturdy rear luggage rack (a R2 500 option) that is perfect for attaching some basic camping gear. That, naturally, curbs the CRF’S performance, but it gives you the opportunity to absorb your surroundings which, on such an adventure, is surely the aim as opposed to hurrying to reach your destination.
On our test strip, the Honda hit 100 km/h in exactly 10,0 seconds, while it achieved an average fuel consumption of 4,2 L/100 km during our test period. The result is that you are able to ride for up to 240 km before the tank is empty.
The CRF250 Rally is best suited to riders who live close to great gravel roads, or have the means to load the bike onto the back of a bakkie to transport it there. Sitting in traffic or at the national speed limit on the little Honda will bore you, especially if you are used to motorcycles that can ride away from traffic at higher speeds.
Once you hit the dusty bits, though, the modest power becomes inconsequential and the CRF suddenly proves its worth as an addictive introduction to dirt-road detouring. Special thanks to Honda Tygerberg (021 910 8300) for supplying this test unit. This demo is now for sale at R76 900.
A perfect introduction to adventure riding Wilhelm Lutjeharms
clockwise from left The soft, long-travel suspension expertly soaks up bumps; single front braking disc with ABS; it sips fuel at around 4,0 L/100 km; engine protector underneath the engine; basic instrument cluster.