Sometime around August of 2015, a buddy was following me through my favorite stretch of twisties around Oregonia. At the next stop he told me, “I’m pretty sure you’re getting every last ounce of capability out of that Speedmaster.” Shortly thereafter, I brought home Rosie the Scrambler and Lola left the building.
Just a few weeks back, something like Thursday at The Dragon Raid, my buddy Tom and I were ripping down the Cherohala Skyway; over the intercom he mentions something about me approaching maximum performance of the Scrambler. I laughed and said “Don’t say that man… Last time someone told me that, I bought a new bike…”
So I bought a new bike…
Don’t worry, Rosie isn’t going anywhere. A few months ago I had some back and forth with a friend about riding her CRF250L. Considering some of the messes I get myself into on the Scrambler, I didn’t feel comfortable taking her bike into the bush, regardless of its capability. Life happens as we all know, and she decided it was time to let it go. Folks in recent days were asking me when I was going to bring home another bike. I admit, I was looking to make a deal on a second bike come spring of 2019; specifically, something more “sport touring” as I am working toward doing some more long-distance riding, like Colorado and finally doing that Bun Burner Gold. My answer to those folks was basically that, I was looking at something like an FJR or the Tiger 1050, but I wouldn’t turn down a small dual-sport if the right deal crossed my path. So there it was, an offer I couldn’t refuse, a new to me, 2014 Honda CRF250L.
Why the Honda?
Compared to the competition, the Honda’s engine is lackadaisical, its suspension is unimpressive, but it goes 80 mph, can pick up the front wheel (with a little coaxing), and only needs an oil change every 8,000 miles. It’s almost 200 pounds lighter than the Scrambler, has double the suspension travel, and has traditional 21 and 18-inch dirt bike wheels. It’s not the performance machine that the WR250R would be, but typical of my taste in motorcycles, it’s a stone ax, the jack of all trades and master of none. That and well, a Honda.
The Journey Begins
A 250 dual-sport is not something I would consider a project bike; out of the box, the CRF250L is a great commuter and a decent lightweight adventure machine. “Jerri”, the new bike, however came with a few extras, including hand guards, luggage rack, replacement plastics with Flying Tiger graphics (I know what you’re thinking, pretty legit selling point on her part wasn’t it?), and seat concepts seat. The Shinko 705s (which I’ve discussed at length) are great commuter tires, but I’m anxious to get this bike into the Kentucky backwoods, so a more aggressive set of skins was the first order of business. That and a folding shift lever; why Honda sells a 250 dual-sport with a non-folding shift lever is completely beyond me.
With the arrival of a bike that can take me to work, the same as it can carry me to the Bluegrass, I can finally split miles between two bikes and focus on some overdue maintenance items on the Scrambler. Per my recent comments, I have my eyes on the Kentucky Adventure Tour (KAT) as my top priority next year. While I know it’s completely doable on the Scrambler, I don’t want to turn down the opportunity to attack some of the hard sections, and there’s no doubt I’ll be more rested and cover more miles on the Honda than I would on the Scrambler. From here I can set up the Scrambler for the faster “adventure” rides like Shawnee State Forest and the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route, while at the same time gear up to finally ride to Key West and in the hopes of finishing a BBG on a Scrambler (Rosie would be the first).
If Jerri is going to take on the daily commute, especially through the Ohio winter, heated grips will be a requirement. I’ve always said I won’t own a motorcycle without heated grips, I don’t suspect that’s going to change anytime soon. Bar risers are going to be a must for aggressive off-road riding; it’s doable in stock form, but it’s definitely more comfortable for putting around from the seat, versus standing at the moment. The two-gallon tank is pretty reasonable considering the CRF250L easily gets fuel mileage in the upper 50s if you’re not running flat out (which you will on the highway), but I also see a 3-gallon Acerbis tank in her future (about $250 for an extra gallon of gas). From there’s it’s mostly just a skid plate, and the right luggage setup so I can live off the bike for 6 days in the Kentucky wilderness.
Unfortunately, “life” has taken the front seat quite a bit since Jerri’s arrival. I’ve done a little “urban off-roading” around the neighborhood, but I’ve yet to test the new Honda in anything serious. I had big dreams of hitting the DBBB one last time before the
first snow fell deep freeze sets in; the sun is rapidly setting on that idea. 70-degree days are not unheard of in December, so we’ll see if things settle down long enough for Jerri to show off her skills in 2018.
When are you going to the Keys? I’ll be there the first week of December.
If you decide to do the MABDR, you had better take Rosie for that trip. But a Honda?? I feel like I don’t know who you are anymore. HAHA
The “trip” to the Keys I have in mind is a 1500 miles ride I want to finish in less than 24 hours. Because of that, I have eyes on June or July for the most daylight.
The KAT has highly technical options, hence the 250. I’m under the impression the MABDR is more tame, and will likely mean the Scrambler. That said, you may be surprised by how much fun you have in a 250. On the highway… no way, but when the asphalt gets twisty, a 250 can be quite the hooligan machine. Which reminds me… I need to recap the Dragon Raid…
Congrats. Even before you go off-road, a 250 dual-sport is a great thing to have in the moto lineup, especially in winter. Only reason I don’t still have a cheap one sitting around is that I’m out of space in the garage.
Thanks Lance. I’m really looking forward to thrashing the new whip in the snow! The Honda could always use more horsepower on the highway, but for twisty bits, the kind of riding I like most, a 250 is so much fun.
Congrats on the new bike. Can’t beat a Honda for reliability, an asset you’ll need in the backcountry.
I’m hoping that’s exactly how it plays out