2022 Honda CRF250F Owner Review

Review Last Updated: Oct 21, 2023
Vehicle Type: Off-road recreational trail bike
Evaluation Period: 33 hours riding time

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Pros

simple air-cooled motor with decent power, fuel injection; easy to service, low maintenance compared to high performance dirt bikes; easy to ride; front and rear disc brakes;

Cons

a bit heavier and more expensive (MSRP) than some of the direct competition; no suspension adjustments other than rear preload; fork feels harsh when new, but it softens up

Overview

I purchased my 2022 CRF250F new in 2022. I’ve owned a few dual sports (DR350S, KLX250S, DR650SE), a number of street bikes, as well as a few dirt bikes decades ago (XR200R, …).

The bike was covered in a film of packing grease when I picked it up. That would have been applied by Honda to prevent corrosion during transport and storage. That's fine with me. The dealer was going to power wash the bike, but I asked them not to. I'd rather clean it myself (it took some time). Some of the welds on the frame are a bit messy. The two front skid plate mounting tabs are not quite aligned with each other.

The paint on the frame is quite thin (as is the case on our KLX140L) and will wear through within a ride or two where it makes contact with your boots if you don't have some kind of frame protection. As a preventative measure, I applied white electrical tape to the sides and front of the frame before I rode the bike. It may not look pretty, but it will add some protection. You might say "so what, it's a dirt bike", but the added protection will help prevent rust. Also, I just like to keep my bikes in good condition. The paint, or maybe it was powder coating, on my old Honda XR200R was far superior than the paint on this bike. Honda really cheapened-out here.

Riding Impression

I've had fun riding the CRF250F. The motor makes a decent amount of power (even without full throttle), the brakes are fine, the tires are good, gear changes are smooth and easy, handling on the trail is fine. The fueling is a bit abrupt at low speed / low gears when transitioning on and off the throttle; I've found that to be the case with a lot of fuel injected bikes. I've gotten used to the fueling, and it doesn't bother me as it first did. The bike usually starts easily (I had a bit of trouble one day, but it was likely the gas). The only criticism I have is that the forks seem a bit harsh over some surfaces, like when riding over rockier sections of trails. The front suspension has softened-up over time. I've ridden the bike over a lot of rocky sections, over roots, loose rocks/gravel, mud, through some whoops and ditches and smooth, flowing sections. I don't do jumps except small ones in the trail; I've never bottomed the suspension; I'm about 73 kg (160 lbs) in gear.

I had a few, non-motorcycling related injuries in 2022, so I wasn't been able to ride the bike as much as I would have liked or planned. I pretty much recovered from those injuries later in 2022, and I was able to get out on the bike a bit more later in the season. I haven't ridden it much in 2023 due to a number of factors (I ride my DR650SE much more).

The bike is pretty much broken-in now, and I've ridden it a harder, but not real aggressive as I just trail ride with my kid. I'm liking the bike much more than I did at first. On my first ride, I was thinking that maybe I had made a mistake buying the bike. I don't feel that way now, and I'm mostly satisfied with the bike and have fun riding it. My kid likes it to, and asks to ride it when we're out on the trails which means that I have to ride the KLX140L sometimes (it's fun too, but it's a little cramped for me). For reference, my kid started riding in 2020, is about 165 cm and 53 kg.

Fuel range is okay. After three hours of trail riding (actual running time), the fuel indicator light still had not come on. I haven't measured the amount of gas that I've used on any of my rides, but afterwards when filling up the tank again, it never seems to take much gas (likely less than 4 litres).

Maintenance

Service Info

According to the owner's manual, the initial maintenance is due at 150 km or 1 month of riding. It was pretty straight forward. The valve clearances need to be checked (done, and all in spec) and the oil and filter need to be changed (done); there were some other things that need to be checked as well such as the chassis bolts (upper fork clamp bolts and front rim lock needed tightening), air filter (good) and chain adjustment (good), etc.

I purchased the Honda service manual for the bike (it wasn't shipped until 4 weeks after I ordered it from Helm (US) even though it was supposedly in stock; shipment time was about a week, and I got charged an additional $30 plus sales tax by FedEx).

Valve Clearances (per Honda Service Manual)
Intake: 0.10 (+/- 0.03) mm
Exhaust: 0.15 (+/- 0.03) mm

Measured valve clearances after approximately 10 hours of run time
Intake, right side: 0.10 mm
Intake, left side: 0.11 mm
Exhaust, right side: 0.13 mm
Exhaust, left side: 0.14 mm
All good, no adjustment was required!

I've already managed to puncture the rear tire with a nail (probably fell out of the back of a pickup that had been used for hauling construction waste previously); some people are so bloody stupid and/or inconsiderate. I didn't even notice until I got home and saw the nail in the tire; it didn't completely deflate until I pulled the nail out. I could have patched the tube, but I decided to just replace it with a standard Michelin Offroad tube (heavier than the stock Pirelli tube) for more confidence. I must say, I struggled levering this tire over the rim, more so than any other tire (I've fixed about 4 flats, and replaced 8 tires in the last 5 years). The tire did feel quite stiff; usually I let the tires warm up in the sun, but it was cooler and overcast that day. I was using a Motion Pro Bead Buddy and kneeling on the tire to keep the bead in the centre of the rim. I had loosened the nut off of the rim lock almost completely and pushed it in. I think the problem was just that the tire was cold and stiff and that the bead of the tire on the underside wasn't in the rim centre. I'll have to pay more attention next time and maybe put a spacer between the tire and the rim on the underside to keep the bead in the centre of the rim.

I've been running my tires at 14 to 15 psi (15 psi is recommended in the owner's manual), so the chance of getting pinch flats is small. I generally don't need the increased traction offered by running lower pressures. There are a lot of rocks (all relative) on some stretches of the trails I ride, almost no sand, and sometimes a lot of mud and puddles. Most of these trails are more open two-track although there are some tighter, rougher and moderately challenging sections (intermediate). I don't ride much single track and nothing extreme. Running lower tire pressures may make the forks feels less harsh, though.

Accessories

I installed a Motion Pro oil filter magnet (23.8 mm) before I even rode the bike. There was a fair amount of steel filings (like grey paste) stuck to the magnet and the outside metal of the oil filter it was stuck on at the first change, but that was expected.

The bike comes with a small plastic skid plate, but it provides only minimal protection. I purchased a model-specific Emperor Racing aluminum skid plate from a local Honda dealer, but it didn't fit properly: the bend didn't conform to the frame tubes resulting in a large gap between the front top edge of the skid plate and the frame; the supplied top mounting bolts were too short to engage the threads of the top frame skid plate mounting tabs. The top portion of the skid plate was not parallel to the frame tab faces, and the supplied spacers for the top mounting points were also about half of the required thickness. The rear mounting holes were off a bit too. If it was just the holes being a bit off, that wouldn't have been a big deal; I could have just enlarged the holes a bit. I tried mounting the skid plate a few times, varying the process each time (but not modifying the skid plate).

I contacted Emperor Racing, and they had me make some measurements of the skid plate and of the bike. I also sent them some photos. I was told that no one else had reported fitment issues with their CRF250F skid plate (except one person had to enlarge the top front mounting holes a bit). Emperor Racing offered to custom-fit the skid plate if I could bring my bike to them, but that wasn't practical for me. The dealer that I bought the skid plate from wouldn't take it back even though Emperor Racing offered to refund them for the cost. The skid plate looked well made, but it did not fit my bike most likely due to a manufacturing variation in the skid plate. Although the upper skid plate mounting tabs welded to the bike frame appeared to be a bit off, I seriously doubt that the main frame of the bike itself was the problem. The skid plate has multiple bends in the front portion; I think some of those bends were a bit off (lower one(s) bent too much, and higher one(s) not quite enough). In the end, Emperor Racing offered to fully refund me for the skid plate, and I accepted.

I ordered an Anker plastic skid plate from HyperLite Moto in the US. It cost about $130 CAD with shipping (USPS); it's quite a bit less than the aluminum skid plates that I priced out. It took about 2 weeks to arrive (I didn't have to pay provincial sales tax or brokerage fees). The skid plate is advertised as being 5 mm thick, but it's a bit less (4 mm on the sides, about 4.5 mm on the bottom). The OEM skid plate is 3 mm thick. The Anker skid plate should offer adequate protection for the riding I do. It's supposed to install with the stock bolts, but I had to purchase longer bolts and spacers for the top front mounting locations. I used 5 mm flat plumbing washers for the spacers. For the left side upper mounting tab, I also had to add a 1 mm thick regular washer. All the holes lined up, and the curve of the skid plate matched that of the frame unlike the Emperor Racing skid plate (on both counts). The skid plate needs to be removed to change the oil and filter. Access to the oil dipstick is limited; you either have to bend out the side of the skid plate (it returns to normal position) or remove it.

Comparing the CRF250F to other bikes

Bikes in this class include the Honda CRF230F (replaced by the CRF250F), Yamaha TTR230, Kawasaki KLX230R/KLX230RS and maybe the Kawasaki KLX300R (at the upper end). I've looked at, and have sat on, all of these motorcycles, but I have not ridden any of them. I have owned a Honda XR200R, the predecessor of the CRF230F. I'll point out some of the features and specifications.

The 2022 CRF250F has a 249 cc, fuel-injected, air-cooled, electric-start, four-valve motor with a 5-speed transmission. The other bikes listed here have a 6-speed transmission and also electric start (only). The seat height is 883 mm (34.8 in) and the curb mass is 120 kg (265 lbs) with a 6.0 l fuel capacity. The suspension is non-adjustable except for the rear spring preload. It has front and rear disc brakes. There is a keyed ignition and a low-fuel indicator light. The CRF250F lists for $5799 CAD in 2023 (up $100 over 2022) and $5949 CAD for 2024 + fees + taxes and comes with a 6-month warranty.

The CRF230F and the TTR230 are very similar to each other. 2019 was the last year for the CRF230F, so you would be looking for a used one. The TTR230 is still available new as a 2023 model. The CRF230F only has an oil screen (no oil filter), but the TTR230 has an oil strainer and oil filter. You would likely need to change the oil more frequently on the Honda. Both of these bikes are lighter than the CRF250F. I recently sat on a new TTR230, and it felt smaller than the CRF250F. The CRF230F and the TTR230 both use carburetors, have a front disc brake, rear drum brake, are air-cooled and have non-adjustable suspension except for rear spring-preload. Both should be extremely reliable and simple to maintain. Both are about the most basic dirt bike you can buy.

The TTR230 has a seat height of 870 mm (34.3 in), curb mass is 114 kg (251 lbs) with a fuel capacity of 8 l). The TTR230 lists new for $5399 CAD for 2023 (up $300 over 2022) + fees (one local BC dealer wants $990 in fees; another wants $1588; both are outrageous amounts for this bike) + taxes and has only a 90-day warranty. For 2024, the price jumps to $5699 CAD + fees + taxes (= $8171 CAD at one dealer). This bike has become over-priced, especially with the outrageously high dealer fees. Unless you can find a deal somewhere, I would not recommend buying a new one; I don't think the value is there.

Like the CRF250F, the KLX230R/RS has fuel injection, front and rear disc brakes, air-cooling and non-adjustable suspension except for rear spring pre-load. The KLX has a two-valve head, whereas the CRF250F has a four-valve head. The KLX has a strange variable idle speed that supposedly is to help prevent stalling the motorcycle. I've never ridden a KLX230R, but the initial reports of the variable idle speed system were generally negative. There is now an after-market fix for it, though. The KLX230R seat height is 925 mm (36.4 in), which is quite high for this class, curb mass is 115 kg (254 lbs) with a fuel capacity of 6.6 l. The KLX230RS has a lower seat height at 900 mm (35.4 in), which is still taller than the CRF250F and TTR230. Both versions list for $5399 CAD for 2023 (up $300 over 2022) and $5499 CAD for 2024 + fees + taxes, and have a 6-month warranty.

The KLX300R is really in a class of its own here. It has fully adjustable suspension, liquid cooling, fuel injection, more engine performance, has front and rear disc brakes, and is heavier at 128 kg (282 lbs) with a 7.9 l fuel capacity. It's also tall with a seat height of 925 mm (36.4 in). It lists for $6499 CAD for the 2023 (up $300 over 2022) and $6799 CAD for the 2024 + fees + taxes, and has a 6-month warranty. I seriously considered the KLX300R over the CRF250F, but I decided against it, mainly because of the seat height. I prefer the lower seat height of the CRF250F, plus my kid is able to ride it (not the case with the KLX300R).

Last Words

Would I recommend the motorcycle to others? It depends on what your performance requirements are. If you're wanting a recreational trail bike that's easy and fun to ride, low maintenance and likely very reliable, then yes, I would highly recommend it. I think the CRF250F is better value than a TTR230, and the CRF250F quality is probably better than a KLX230R/RS. I personally would buy the bike again, but if I could find a new KLX230RS for a much lower price than a new CRF250F, then I might consider buying one for my kid, just for variety.


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Service Info
Source: 2019-2022 Honda CRF250F Service Manual, 2021
Download 2022 CRF250F Service Info
2022 Honda CRF250F Valve Clearance Inspection