2022 Honda CRF250F
A Trail Bike Everyone Can Enjoy
- Easy to ride power
- Suspension holds up more than most conventional forks
- Ergonomics make this a comfortable ride
- Heavy on the scale
- The replacement for a reliable trail bike many are familiar with.
For years, the 230cc air cooled four stroke engine was a staple for those looking for a reliable, easy-to-ride dirt bike. On a personal note, my second ever dirt bike was a 230 and I loved riding it all over the Nevada desert. So I get a sense of nostalgia when I see a CRF230 on the trail or in the back of someone’s truck. When I found out that Honda had replaced their CRF230F with a 250cc four-stroke in 2019, I felt a little sad that the engine package that meant so much to me had finally been replaced. That is until I found out it was fuel injected, received suspension updates, and styling that made it look more like its motocross focused cousin. With these changes from the old 230s, Dirt Bike Test knew we had to find out if it was still the reliable trail bike that we all knew the 230s to be.
- No changes
There are no changes to the 2022 CRF250F from its 2021 model, but if you are looking to compare it to the old 230’s just know that everything is different except for the wheel sizes.
- Easy to ride
- Enough power for more advanced skill levels
- Smooth enough for new riders
When it comes to the power characteristics of this air cooled 250F engine, don’t expect it to tear your arms out when you twist the throttle. It is a very easy-to-ride package that makes most of its power in the bottom end of the powerband. The CRF250F has a smooth, yet surprisingly torquey feeling off the bottom, which we attribute to the fuel injected 34mm throttle body’s tuning being spot on. Riding in the bottom end is where this bike feels most at home and where you’ll find most of its power. There is enough here that if the rider is smooth with rolling on the throttle, they would find no problem getting up any hill or obstacle within reason.
Once you’ve left the bottom and start climbing into the mid range, you won’t find much of a pulling sensation when compared to a competition bike of the same displacement. Then torque flattens out and the power does not build progressively as a race bike would, but for this bike’s intended purpose, it doesn’t need to and we view this as a positive. But compared to the 230 the new engine is peppier all the time and revs out quicker and much farther. Another positive is how easy and smooth the shifting is, the 5 speed transmission is forgiving for those who may be learning how to shift. There is a low first gear that will tractor up or over anything and second through fifth gear are spaced nicely. It is easy to be in the “right gear” for the right situation as you can lug this bike in 2nd and 3rd without much issues, and 4th and 5th allow you to get as fast as you’d like on a trail bike.
Overall, this smooth power in the bottom followed by a gentle mid-range and usable top end makes for a very easy and fun bike to ride. We had many beginner and novice riders hop on this bike and not a single one complained about the power being too much or too little. We also had more advanced riders say there was enough there to get the bike anywhere they wanted to. The CRF250F does an incredible job at having enough power for most trail riders, but not too much to intimidate newer riders.
- The conventional forks are improved
- Shock compliments the forks well
Similar to the 230’s of old, this bike features conventional forks rather than the inverted ones you see on most full sized dirt bikes. However, these forks feature a wider diameter than previous 230’s, coming in at 41 mm compared to the 37 mm forks of old. These wider diameter forks hold up higher in the stroke for our lighter riders and allow the bike to be ridden more aggressively than you would expect. They are plush and still are on the soft side for our heavier or faster riders who can still bottom them easily. They have better damping characteristics than conventional forks do on other bikes in this category. While those who like to make adjustments via compression and rebound clickers will be missing those, how they come out of the box seem to satisfy a wide range of riders.
The Pro-Link Showa shock compliments the forks well in providing a comfy ride while not blowing through its stroke when riding over bumps. Heavier riders may want to consider going up on the spring rate but for most of our test riders, it struck that balance of plushness but not too soft. Like the forks, it lacks compression and rebound clickers so you don’t get the most adjustment out of it, but you don’t really need to make any. We found that you’ll be happy with setting the sag and enjoy the ride from there.
Chassis - Handling
- Heavy on the scale, not when riding
- Comfortable ergonomics
- Low seat height was appreciated by many test riders
In regards to the chassis, the first order of business is the weight. The CRF250F is around 260 pounds and you can feel it if you have to pick it up from a tip over. However, when both wheels are on the ground like they’re supposed to be you would never guess the weight. This bike feels more nimble than others in its class and especially compared to the older 230. It was easy to control on tighter trails with no complaint from our test riders. The narrow feeling from the plastics and fuel tank, combined with the engine’s bottom end pull, does a good job of hiding what the scale will tell you.
While it feels nice and nimble, the physical weight seems to help keep the bike in line when turning or going in a straight line. Never did this motorcycle slide out or wash the front when trail riding, unless we wanted it to. It was very predictable in every situation we rode in and that added another level of comfort for all who rode this bike.
In regards to the ergonomics, the rider triangle was comfortable for sitting or standing for just about all who rode this bike. The seat wasn’t any worse or better than you would find on a typical dirt bike and the shape made it easy for the rider to adjust their body position when sitting down. The brakes were strong both in the front and rear without being too strong for those who may be new to riding off-road. The clutch pull was smooth and consistent, and all our test riders agreed that the setup of the CRF250F was comfortable and easy to ride for long periods of time. The seat height is only 34.8 inches which is a huge plus for our shorter riders or newer riders who feel confident when they can touch the ground easily. While the ground clearance is on the shorter side, the 18 and 21 inch wheels will still get you over any obstacle that may get in the way of your ride.
- Great entry bike or play bike
- Wide range of riders can enjoy this bike
This author may feel nostalgic for the 230’s of old, but when riding this bike, that nostalgia is quickly replaced with a sense of joy that this is what has replaced it. Honda has done a great job of ensuring that the CRF250F is still easy to ride while providing just enough power to appeal to a wider range of trail riders. The suspension follows that same theme of working for a wide range of riders and skill levels. The chassis setup and ergonomics is right on point for most riders and it is really hard to find something to complain about regarding those topics. Not to mention, we’ll never have to pull apart and clean a carburetor that’s all gummed up from sitting and there’s no need to kickstart the bike with a button onboard.
Overall, Honda has made a great trail bike that is both a great first bike for new riders, and a great bike for those who just want something easy to ride on, practice on, or plain have fun on. If I had a CRF230F in my garage, I would trade it in for this new CRF250F without blinking an eye.