A last hurrah.
The news broke about my forthcoming enforced riding break, and as ever, I wasn’t entirely prepared for it, even though we all knew it was coming. I don’t just mean #Lockdown2, no, Honda wanted their long term loan CRF250RX back. Booo.
Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking Honda could well have read these blogs and decided I didn’t actually like the little Honda, but they’d be very, very wrong. The truth is the little 250 is an absolute dream of a bike, and cranked into a berm or railing a rut it packs more fun into its small capacity than should be possible, it’s just that I’ve found myself trying to prove it’ll lend itself to ever tougher challenges.
I didn’t get the chance to race it. Events transpired such that each event I wanted to do either never went ahead or I was otherwise committed elsewhere. Still, I had two days pre lockdown to take the little Honda on a goodbye double date. We drank too much (four tanks of fuel…), ate too much (a set of pads front and rear) and we’ll probably be a bit embarrassed when we go back to the track (it was snotty, wet and boggy, with bike and bodies everywhere, and I might have made a literal splash as I lapped like a puppy at the beach).
If you’ve a delicate disposition, and a modicum of mechanical sympathy, the Honda may not reveal its best self to you, but if you let it off its lead this little puppy goes mental. The Honda is snappy, light and crisp, so at pace you need to be precise, yet at the same time you have to be skipping along, as it works best when it’s revving hard – these add up to a lot of fun. Once you forget you’re trying to go fast, or reviewing a bike, and just focus on enjoying yourself the Honda is a rewarding and capable ride. For comparison I hot lapped between the CRF and a Husky FE250. On a tight, twisty and rutted woods track in Lincolnshire, it’s a tough call. Horses for courses.
Sure, for it to be a winner in the slop, the technical or real slippery stuff, it needs some work, but you’d be one of very few riders on a four-stroke at an extreme event. It does love to stall if you’re sparing with the revs, so just let it go – it really loves to rev!
It’s had a hard innings at mine. Wales was brutal on it. It’s done a couple of RAW practice days, been first on scene of some broken bones and been thrown at most things I’d decided it would struggle to get up. It generally got up, just not always first time as I relearned Japanese.
With the Honda in the workshop I’ve been in no rush to buy a new bike of my own for winter fun. I wonder how much this one’s for sale for… unless there’s a 450RX that needs some miles on it of course.
JB’s FAREWELL TO THE RX
I really enjoyed the RX. In 2019 I competed on it at two ATRC rallies (finishing first 250 at the second one – does that count for anything?) and rode it locally at a couple of Actiontrax events here in Kent.
I loved the RX’s handling, that beam frame really works, it feels accurate, I felt I could really swing it about in the trees, but on full noise in top gear it remained stable too. And quite a few times the bike saved me when I hit some unseen bad stuff at speed (there’s always lots of speedy going at ATRCs) and so it made me feel safe when pushing on. Yes, given more time – after 20 months you have to ask just how much do we need?! – we’d revalve the suspension just to add a touch of plush to the first half of the stroke, but after that I’d not be doing anything else. Like Hondas I’ve known before, its got great ergos, and feels so easy to ride – and boy this one was great fun to let rip on – yeah, you just feel at home on them straight away.
As per Honda legend, it’s also been entirely reliable. Oil and filter changes is all it’s required, we’ve not gone inside the engine once. We’ve done regular air filter cleans, too – obviously. And I think we’re at three, going on four, tyre set swaps now. Craig’s a hound for consuming brake pads and so it’s taken his intervention to at last see the original set out. I obviously ride gentle, eh?
The addition of a complete Acerbis plastics kit, plus hand guards and frame protectors, at the outset was a good choice. They’ve lasted well, surviving Craig’s frequent attempts at breaking them (in Wales). They’re the equal to the OEM fitment for colour and quality. Of course we’ve got that original kit neatly packaged up to give back to Honda with the bike. It’ll look like new (almost) when Craig’s finished the end of term clean up (hint!). Alloy frames are good for that – they just don’t show age the way painted steel frames do.
Yep, between my lingering knee injury and Covid, 2020 has been a bit of a disappointment for me, although I got to ride out on two incredible Rally Moto adventures, but I do feel sad for having missed reuniting with the RX. For an all-round bike, where we’re talking club motocross, hare & hounds, enduro and even rally, it’s a great choice. It might not be a master of any one of them, but a jack of all trades bike should always have its place. And when it puts the biggest smile on your face the way this one does how can we not recommend it as a great clubman choice? Oh, and it’s road registered – so it’ll happily do a little gentle green lane riding too! After all, it would be rude not to.