LEARN­ING THE BA­SICS

Here’s an ad­ven­ture bike that proves you don’t need a large-ca­pac­ity steed to en­joy the out­doors

Car (South Africa) - - TEST - BY: Wil­helm Lut­je­harms @Wil­helm­l_­car­mag

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.

TEST SUM­MARY

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.

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