The Honda CRF 250 L / Kawasaki KLX 250 shoot out!

KTMphil

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#1
The Honda CRF 250 L / Kawasaki KLX 250 shoot out!


We'd been meaning to do this sooner, but 3 days of constant rained had hampered our schedule.

Managed to drag AlexUK out who's been riding KLX 250's for a number of years. His KLX 250 has some modifications, airbox, carb, ecu and exhaust, so we wern't comparing the bike this time to a stock KLX 250.





Before hitting the trails, we did a stationary push/ compression test on the suspension comparing the bikes.

The front suspension was noticeably harder on the Honda CRF 250 L than on the Kawasaki KLX 250.

The rebound on the rear shock absorber was faster on Honda CRF 250 L than that on the Kawasaki KLX 250 .


Off into the trails behind the 700 year stadium in Chiang Mai, a bit soggy everywhere but surprisingly puddle free considering all the constant rain.


One thing you immediately notice about the Honda CRF 250 L is how low it is compared to most enduro style bikes, it makes the bike very easy to handle through the tree roots and soft mud on gradients, where we were riding, it was not hindered in any way being slight lower.


We did a loop of the lower enduro trail area for Alex to get the feel of the KLX, then he took the Honda CRF 250 L for a test to compare.







Alex agreed that the lower seat and the bike generally being lower felt good and gave you confidence through the wet, slippy tree roots and soft mud, quite interesting that this had worked for the Honda.
 

KTMphil

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#2
Even with the standard rear sprocket (think its 42 tooth), there was plenty of power up the really steep stuff, engine torque seems fine for a 250cc bike. We had noted that the front suspension was harder than the KLX 250, but going fast through the tree roots, which is a great test for suspension, the Honda CRF 250 L held a great line, the suspension is great as standard, with mods. might be quite a bike.








We messed around in the enduro training area, the Honda CRF 250 L climbed fine up the steep inclines, the standard IRC dual sport tires on the Honda are excellent all round tires, more aggressive (off-road orientated) than the Dunlop 605 tires that come standard with the Kawasaki KLX 250












So to summarize, looks like it's a winner.

It is lower than the KLX, so has a lower center of gravity and you can feel it. It being lower wasn't a hindrance in any way although we didnt go over any larger logs etc....
Power seems good, Alex jumped straight on it after being on his KLX and said the power seemed about the same. One thing we did notice is the bike has a very noisy cooling fan and it did come on early. The Honda CRF 250 L only has a single radiator on the LHS whereas the KLX 250 has 2 radiators, in our hot climate in Asia, will be interesting to see if this bike has overheating problems in slow, hard terrain. No RPM counter doesn't really seem to be an issue, you'll get used to the engine noises. Rear brake was noticeably bad on the Honda CRF 250 L, with only 100km on the bike it probably hasn't bedded in yet and will be ok in the future.

I was worried that the bike being around 140kg that it would feel like a real mule, i didn't at all.

One thing Alex noticed was that the engine sump guard is only plastic, this will have to be changed if you're trail riding.
 

alexuk

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Jan 30, 2011
#3
The Honda looks higher than the klx but feels lower once you sit on it.
Front suspension is stiffer to begin with so it doesnt suffer from brake dive like the KLX.
Over some loose rocks I am quite happy on the klx but the Honda seemed more stable, I was surprised, .
Although we only did some gentle stuff, running it in still,It is fairly easy to move the bike about on singletrack, and the honda feels a bit smaller standing up,my knees fit better on the tank giving more grip than the Kawa.
The tyres seemed quite grippy in the dirt for a 50/50
There are at least a couple of plastic guards, like the bash plate, but I dont know what kind of plastic so would like to see how long they last.
 

alexuk

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Jan 30, 2011
#5


It was a shame it started raining so soon, we were only out about 20 minutes in the dry
I'd like to try again once it's run in and a bigger sprocket on the back, to see how it copes with some of the trails here.
 

KTMphil

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#6
These issues on the Honda CRF 250 L have been mentioned before, but i thought important to add here in case anyone missed them:


1. Foot gear lever end doesn't swivel in (does on the KLX) - aftermarket is available

2. Foot brake lever end doesn't swivel

3. Rear shock not adjustable

4. Rear shock travel less than the KLX, could be a problem with a big farrang on it bottoming out the suspension

5. Spokes are thinner than on the KLX, maybe ok though

6. Radiator only one side, both sides on the KLX, may cause overheating trail riding

7. Coolant expansion tank is on the rear RHS of the bike just under the plastic, looks very vulnerable in a fall

8.Plastic chain guard look like it will break trail riding

9. Kick stand spring look like it will get lost easily

10. No rpm counter

11. Rear foot pegs look like they may break off, they did on the XR 250's with the same design
 

2wheels

Blokes Who Can
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#7
WOW!

Well done Phil and Alex.
Not only the first CRF in Chiang Mai but the first on-road/track comparison as well; even if it was only a brief one.
Hope you can do an extended comparison once the rain clears.

But, to me, the CRF seems to be a worthy competitor to the KLX.
My main issue would be the cooling system, which needs to be extra good in our environment.

Summarizing?
The battle is leaning towards the KLX but I haven't been 'put off' by the CRF.
 

esspressolungo

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Honda XR 250
#8
Nice job guys, the future will tell us more I hope, the look of the CRF is great...Looking at the one picture I discovered this:


not very important, but there's always hidden messages where-ever we go...
 

KTMphil

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#9
It's in mine too





esspressolungo said:
Nice job guys, the future will tell us more I hope, the look of the CRF is great...Looking at the one picture I discovered this:


not very important, but there's always hidden messages where-ever we go...
 

crs

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#10
Good job lads. Have you had a look to see if anything could be stripped off or replaced to reduce weight? What does it weigh over the KLX - 5kg?
 

Captain_Slash

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#11
An interesting comparison, it looks like Honda have got it about right
 

Davevb

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#12
Well done and thanks for going to the trouble to post it up. It is really helping my decision making on which one to buy. The Honda came out better than I expected and right now it is very close.

The main points for me is the Hondas suspension is non adjustable (although seemed to have performed well enough) and one radiator seems like it could be a problem. It seems they are relying on a fan to help it out but two seem better to me.

With the KLX's adjustable suspension is it possible to stiffen it up to be like the CRF? Or are the springs softer? Did the KLX have many miles on it?

Looking forward to seeing it up against a stock KLX, someone must have one laying around? it seems the weather over there is wet right now.
 

alexuk

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Jan 30, 2011
#13
I could probably adjust my forks to be the same as the honda, I normally run them soft
My KLX is pretty much stock now, the only real difference is the 48t sprocket
 

Davevb

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#14
It's interesting as mentioned in the OP the KLX had modifications to the airbox, carb(?), ecu and exhaust yet when compared to the CRF you said the power was about the same? That bodes well for having the same mods done to the CRF it will be more powerful than the KLX. I'm really interested in seeing the CRF alongside a bog standard KLX.
 

barrygrussell

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#15
Great job guys and well done for getting the report up so fast. Interesting that the bog standard CRF came so close to the modified KLX. Cooling issues well worth keeping an eye on.
 

KTMphil

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#16
Thanks for the assist on getting the Honda CRF 250 L so quick Barry --- sounds like the Chiang Mai guys will have to wait a month before they get them. I was under the impression Alex's KLX was modified more than it was, it's actually quite standard apart from the 48T rear sprocket - It was the one he sold recently that was more modified... so a good test against an almost box standard KLX 250.


Quite interesting how well the Honda did, we were both quite impressed.


Then there's all the mods. that can be done that are being done to the CBR 250's that race (same engine as the Honda CRF 250 L), sounds like we might be able to ad 30% more power and lose a lot of weight.


barrygrussell said:
Great job guys and well done for getting the report up so fast. Interesting that the bog standard CRF came so close to the modified KLX. Cooling issues well worth keeping an eye on.
 

Davevb

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#17
Ok so they were both the same, thanks for clarifying that. I wonder, a few mods available already for the engine and maybe stump up for a good rear shock, increase the travel, set the suspension up for the rider weight (which I would need to do on either one of them anyway).....Not sure the cooling system will handle any mods....Are Kawasaki due to upgrade the KLX soon? Interesting stuff....I'm sure over the coming weeks and once run in we will be getting a good idea of it all. Cool.
 

KTMphil

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#18
Davevb said:
Ok so they were both the same, thanks for clarifying that. I wonder, a few mods available already for the engine and maybe stump up for a good rear shock, increase the travel, set the suspension up for the rider weight (which I would need to do on either one of them anyway).....Not sure the cooling system will handle any mods....Are Kawasaki due to upgrade the KLX soon? Interesting stuff....I'm sure over the coming weeks and once run in we will be getting a good idea of it all. Cool.

yep ---want to test this fan coming on in more detail to see if it is an issue for people
 

Steve Canyon

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#19
KTMphil said:
Davevb said:
Ok so they were both the same, thanks for clarifying that. I wonder, a few mods available already for the engine and maybe stump up for a good rear shock, increase the travel, set the suspension up for the rider weight (which I would need to do on either one of them anyway).....Not sure the cooling system will handle any mods....Are Kawasaki due to upgrade the KLX soon? Interesting stuff....I'm sure over the coming weeks and once run in we will be getting a good idea of it all. Cool.

yep ---want to test this fan coming on in more detail to see if it is an issue for people
I don't think you will have any problems.... :RO
 

nikster

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Jan 18, 2011
#20
Thx for the info guys. Might be the first comparison test of the two on the internet!

I am sold! Will get one once i actally have time to ride it, been too busy recently ...
 

KTMphil

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#21
I think you'll be happy with it Nick.


We wanted to do this comparison 3 days ago but it hasn't stopped raining! - 1st chance

nikster said:
Thx for the info guys. Might be the first comparison test of the two on the internet!

I am sold! Will get one once i actally have time to ride it, been too busy recently ...
 
Joined
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Crf 250
#22
Hi guys thought I'd join up here seems to have alot of info
Great comparison and pics had mine a week now got 250k had it showing 140 on the clock already
After looking at the sump guard on ap Honda site decided to wait for others to come available as it does not really protect the frame.
Have dropped mine 3 times so far and nothing broken or fallen off but as Phil says be wise to change the foot controls as well
Thanks again
 

KTMphil

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#24
Welcome Taninthai, have you figured out the range of one full gas tank yet on this bike yet?



Taninthai said:
Hi guys thought I'd join up here seems to have alot of info
Great comparison and pics had mine a week now got 250k had it showing 140 on the clock already
After looking at the sump guard on ap Honda site decided to wait for others to come available as it does not really protect the frame.
Have dropped mine 3 times so far and nothing broken or fallen off but as Phil says be wise to change the foot controls as well
Thanks again
 

rayman

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May 8, 2012
#25
Hi, i am new here and like to thank you for posting this comparism. I am likely to get the crf250l too. My use would be most on-road (which are in rather poor condition in my neigborhood) and light off-roads. I think it will be the perfect terrain for this bike? I have some question, what is the gps topspeed? Not looking for speeding on this kind of bike but i would want to take it out for a bit further so if it does like 130gps it would be great for me.

thank you, ray
 

KTMphil

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#26
Rayman - havn't checked the top speed as i'm running the bike in currently. Had it up to 90 km/h and it wasn't anywhere near screaming, but will find that out for you soon.


For road riding, the Honda CRF 250 L has a very comfortable riding position and the stock Honda seat feels pretty good.



rayman said:
Hi, i am new here and like to thank you for posting this comparism. I am likely to get the crf250l too. My use would be most on-road (which are in rather poor condition in my neigborhood) and light off-roads. I think it will be the perfect terrain for this bike? I have some question, what is the gps topspeed? Not looking for speeding on this kind of bike but i would want to take it out for a bit further so if it does like 130gps it would be great for me.

thank you, ray
 

rayman

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#27
Thank you Phil. I found the seat comfortable too and seating position. I had one crf250L seen at a dealer and sat on it (not for long though)... :-)
i am 5'9" and 225lbs so kinda "round" :-) you think this could be a problem for the shocks ?

thanks, Ray
 

KTMphil

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#28
rayman said:
Thank you Phil. I found the seat comfortable too and seating position. I had one crf250L seen at a dealer and sat on it (not for long though)... :-)
i am 5'9" and 225lbs so kinda "round" :-) you think this could be a problem for the shocks ?

thanks, Ray[/quote


When we did the shoot out yesterday, I made sure I was very aware of the rear shock, being worried about its travel and bottoming out, didn't happen once on the rough terrain. We didn't do any jumps which would have been a real test for the rear shock, but it seems fine.
 
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#29
Phil with regards to fuel range I have just been sticking 200 bht in whenever it gets to the last bar on gauge this brings it back up to full 200 bht is about just under 7litre,the first tankfull I think I got somewhere around 90 km from it , but I have been going for the hard break in method so pretty much been caning it up big hills off road in 1st and 2nd gear needles to say I find it uses quite a bit of fuel.
I've put 600 bht in total in so far clock is showing 252 km and tank is 1 bar from full I have also changed my oil at 100km due to the hard break in method
 

KTMphil

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#30
I think Colin told me he was getting 34km to 1 liter of benzine out of his new KLX 250, will check with him.


Taninthai said:
Phil with regards to fuel range I have just been sticking 200 bht in whenever it gets to the last bar on gauge this brings it back up to full 200 bht is about just under 7litre,the first tankfull I think I got somewhere around 90 km from it , but I have been going for the hard break in method so pretty much been caning it up big hills off road in 1st and 2nd gear needles to say I find it uses quite a bit of fuel.
I've put 600 bht in total in so far clock is showing 252 km and tank is 1 bar from full I have also changed my oil at 100km due to the hard break in method
 
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#31
Mines only had gasohol in so far think I'll try benzine in next fill up but at 44 bht a litre where I am it's not cheap lol
 

bill

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#32
Phil/others

Can you confirm what suspension adjustments the CRF250L has

Rear shock Spring preload ?
Rear shock high speed compression nut ?
Rear shock low speed compression screw ?
Rear shock rebound clicker ?

Front fork compression clicker ?
Front fork rebound clicker ?
 
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#33
Sorry wrong calculation was thinking of diesel prices 200 bht of gasohol is just under 6 litres so when Ive been filling up there has still been 2 litre left in tank
 

KTMphil

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#34
Bill -- as far as we can tell so far only the pre-load on the rear shock is adjustable


rear shock.jpg


front susp.jpg




bill said:
Phil/others

Can you confirm what suspension adjustments the CRF250L has

Rear shock Spring preload ?
Rear shock high speed compression nut ?
Rear shock low speed compression screw ?
Rear shock rebound clicker ?

Front fork compression clicker ?
Front fork rebound clicker ?
 

KTMphil

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#36
Just got a call from Con who's in Udonthani, he tells me the Udon Honda dealer has the Honda CRF 250 L on a special promotion offered for 130,000 Bht! Rumors around that the Chiang Mai price may soon be 145,000 Bht.
 

KTMphil

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#37
Got a flashlight out with Lan & he confirmed that there are no adjustments screws for dampening on the front or rear suspension on the Honda CRF 250 L.

Two more things:


The engine water pump looks very exposed on the lower RHS if trail riding, might be worth getting a custom cover made.


WATER PUMP EXPOSED.jpg



The cheapo 660 Bht handguards will fit with a couple of modifications, the RH handlebar, the throttle tube needed to be cut slightly as there was a friction hold on the throttle making it stick with the end of the handguard. The plastic on the handguard also need to be cut back to allow for the routing of the throttle cables, we tried adjusting their position on the handlebars but it didn't work.



HANDGUARDS.jpg
 

KTMphil

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#38
Looks like the rear suspension travel and bottoming out fears are over.

Bobs just gave the Honda CRF 250 L a try and bounced up and down a few times and it didn't bottom out - good news!



BobS.jpg
 

KTMphil

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#40
Quick video of the Honda CRF 250 L on the trails a couple of days ago, Alex had the GoPro on his back on his KLX


[VIDEO]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZd5alIQdFk[/VIDEO]


One more here

[VIDEO]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFs9YMNtkYk[/VIDEO]
 

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