IN THE RED
I’ve ridden a couple of different bikes of late, neither of which would have been my first choice for what I was doing, not because of anything other than the fact I’m both spoiled and have been a little focused on end games. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by both. We’ll start with the longer term one here. I’ve finally managed to prize the little Honda CRF250RX off JB. In a sea of white and orange (all of which are really orange deep down), anything that is neither is quite a departure.
Back in my nightclubbing days, which was before it should have been obviously, so was mostly restricted to Cleethorpes, the place to be alternated every few months (usually when the carpet got so bad you’d wear your old shoes). An unwritten changing of the guard. The enduro scene feels a bit like it’s ready for a new carpet, but can anyone pull the rug from the Austrian might? The Hondas did okay at Dakar this year…
My first look over the Honda properly and I was surprised how different I found it. Not big things, or major departures, but I’ve become somewhat accustomed to euro fodder. I can prep a KTM/Husky blind and I know exactly what I want from the set up. But we’re back to square one here! I’ve done a quick video of it in the workshop, we’ll see if it’s good enough to make the website, but in brief it very much reminded me of my early forays into MX, which I’m frankly rubbish at, and we were all Japanese mounted. But I was keen. It’s only little things, but when you’ve been on one brand, mostly, for ten years they seem bigger. Seats off for air filters, clutch in to start (even in neutral – foxed a few people that one), cable clutch and different axle nut sizes. I re-check the van tool box.
My first ride has been at Caistor, Lincolnshire’s finest MX track which is now more set up for enduro, but the sort of enduro where MX riders ride. It’s either up or down, so you’re either on the gas or on the brakes, not much finesse, a little woods loop but otherwise you’re riding MX. The bike drew a bit of a crowd – for Lincolnshire this is three or four people. Everyone was interested to know what it was. All four. I joke a little, but there’s definitely appetite for something different. And obviously there’s that Honda reputation.
On the track I spent almost all of my time making little adjustments, one at a time in order to get the bike how I like them. A change is as good as a rest though, so I try a few clicks and bits I’d not normally. It’s impressive how nice the ride can be from just adjusting the clickers. I’m not immediately going to do anything other than this here. After about an hour’s twiddling and riding, it feels right.
For me the cockpit feels a little cramped. I’ve gangly arms though, and as a cyclist I do prefer a more stretched stance, but it does feel short, so I’ve moved the bars to the forward slot. They clash a little with the clocks there (but so does the Husky…). As said, I also do this on the Husky, but I feel like I’ve more room on that. The Honda feels a little low also, but I’m sticking with that for now.
I spend the rest of my laps pulling wheelies, pulling up too short and tweaking the suspension. My initial impressions are that the brakes, handling – specifically the turn in when seated and the noise are all fabulous. I don’t like the ‘feel’ of the cable clutch and there’s a LOT of understeer when I’m stood up, but I counter this in the sweepers by keeping the front wheel up and using it as an air rudder. I have bags of fun. This thing screams. It’s high on power, especially for a ‘little’ 250 – 38.2hp @ 11,900, but isn’t too keen on riding the torque. It’s about 17/18lb/ft so if you’re not revving it, it’s not loving life.
I’m keeping it for a bit for sure. The plan is to get it very dirty and put some hours on it, and not always things you’d immediately reach for a 250 Honda for. Should be fun.