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A day with Honda's 2008 CRF250X


Tuesday, 18th December, 2007

ID: 21 - Views: 128600


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Honda's CRF250X seems like it has only been around a few years but in fact the 2008 model is the fourth year of Honda's off-road 250 dynamo. To mark its release Honda invited a group of journalists up to the Watagans State Forest just north of Sydney for a couple of days to get close an intimate with the bike.

Click to enlarge.
The 2008 CRF250X certainly looks a lot racier than its predecessor. With the bike slimmed down due to a narrow tank and shrouds it feels much more comfortable to site on.
 
Honda has made a committed effort to regain enduro market leadership and has expressed this by going directly to the source, the customer, and seeking their feedback. As a result they were told that their styling was out dated, the bike was not user friendly when it came to set-up and that the ADR components were, as they put it, agricultural. To Honda's credit they have addressed these issues as well as moving forward with development. Since its launch in 2004 there have been small upgrades along the way as well as a fairly major one in 2006 when new valve seating was developed. In 2008 it all comes together for what has been labelled the 4th generation.

First off the 2008 model looks sleeker and sitting on the bike for the first time reveals that the ergonomics have been worked on, and for the better. Straight off the bat the most notable thing was the newly shaped tank and shrouds which certainly gave the bike a much slimmer feel than previous models. The tank now holds 7.3 litres and does have more of the a motocross bike feel than a chunky enduro feel. The 2008 model also gets some changes in the cockpit with a new multi functioning LCD speed and trip meter and a new sleeker headlight shroud that all combines to fresh and modern look and feel.

Our bike had the ADR throttle stop and exhaust end cap removed so apart from that the bike was exactly the same as it would be if you wheeled it off the show room floor, the only adjustments made were for riding position and comfort. The only thing we did here was to adjust the clutch perch and move the bars around a bit. Only one press of the electric starter was required to get things fired up for the ride.

The Watagans offers up a variety of trails from fast flowing single track to rocky trails and gnarly hills that can put any bike and rider to the test so with that ahead of us we headed out for a day's riding. At first we found the gear lever a bit uncomfortable but quickly adjusted to it and from there the bike simply became an extension with a very stable feel.

Click to enlarge.
Bark Buster hand guards now come standard.
 
SUSPENSION: Suspension wise this bike is right on the money. It handled everything from tree roots to fast square edged bumps quite comfortably. At 80 Kilos we found nothing negative at all in the way the bike handled itself in the suspension department, although if you were another 10 kilos heavier you may need to make some adjustments. If you are 20 kilos heavier you may need to look at heavier springs - or eat less. As it was we never even touched the clickers and they remained as standard - the way they come from the shop.

ENGINE: Engine wise this bike is all about bottom end. Not to say it doesn't have a top end but it certainly shines in the bottom end department. Power comes on strong and smooth with no lumps, bumps or snaps and revs right through the range. In the suicide test - stopping on a steep hill - we simply hit the starter button eased the clutch out and it clawed its way back to the top like a tractor, we should add that the bike was in gear when we performed this stunt. A lot of bikes we have ridden don't like to be started in gear. As far as the top end goes it is more than adequate but it's not the type of top end that will see you jumping on the bike and heading down the main road to Seven Eleven for midnight munchies.

Click to enlarge.
The CRF250X worked well across a variety of terrain's and didn't miss a beat all day.
 
THE RIDE: There was no unpredictability at all in the ride, in fact we didn't notice anything bad stand out all day. At the start of the day we were wondering why the bike missed the boat with the steering damper that the motocross bikes got but at the end of the day it was so stable it really didn't need one. The Dunlop D742FA rear and Dunlop D756 front have been changed by Honda (They are in the spares kit) to Dunlop D908F front tyre & D606 rear tyres and there were no complaints about them either. We found the new Adjustable front brake lever a handy addition, not that it needed any adjustment along the way. The bike also gets a new Front brake master cylinder but to be honest we couldn't tell any difference as we couldn't with the new wave style brake discs, although they are there to reduce un-sprung weight, which overall is bound to have a good effect.

LIVING WITH IT: Living with the CRF is as easy as it has ever been. Most of the bike is easily accessible and there are no special tools required from what we could see. Air Filter maintenance is a simple as it could get with easy no tool side access to the filter itself. And in these drought conditions makes it easy to throw a filter in your back pack and change it out on the trail with a minimum of fuss.

THE ODDS AND ENDS: The bike comes standard with a brake snake (Cable from the frame to the rear brake) and this is certainly something that will save you a lot of angst someday out on the trail. A new slimline Rear taillight set-up and slimline stop lamp give the bike a nice sleek look from behind and looks far less prone to damage. It also comes with TAG T2 Fat bars with a Honda branded bar pad and TAG grips. Topping all this of is a top pair of Barkbuster hand guards. All bikes also come with a Spares kit and parts, most of which were jettisoned from when they arrive in Australia for either ADR purposes or Honda's own improvements. The list includes:

Spares Kit
o Dunlop D742FA front tyre.
o Dunlop D756 rear tyre.
o Additional wiring harness for competition use.
o Exhaust deflector (for Competition Use).
o Factory headlight (Insert).
o Original odometer, Speedo drive & cable (Competition).
o Renthal handlebar (971 bend) and Honda bar pad.
o Factory handlebar grips.

Parts List
o Spoke spanner.
o Spark plug tool.
o Owners manual and Competition handbook
o Competition preparation guide.
o Battery charger.
o Speedo operating instructions.

CONCLUSION: The 4th generation CRF250X is top shelf. We thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with it and in reality that is what really counts. As this was a ride day and therefore a ride impression we can't report on what the mechanicals are like except the obvious from the day. In a tough market Honda have a bike that is designed for a market, a purpose and discipline and does it with style. As we are racers rather than trail riders we feel that not only is the bike an enjoyable and easy to live with trail bike but it also has all the essential ingredients there to make it a top class race bike. Honda has succeeded where it needed to and that was in making it a tighter package that is easier to live with day to day. Add that to its already impressive performance and handling and they are in with a shot of reclaiming that elusive Enduro Market Leadership they so desire.


The 2008 CRF250X features a much tidier rear end: Click to view larger image

The 2008 CRF250X features a much tidier rear end

The brake discs are lighter and wave shaped: Click to view larger image

The brake discs are lighter and wave shaped

The digital dash is full of features.: Click to view larger image

The digital dash is full of features.


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