By Simon Cudby

By Simon Cudby

When we first saw the new Honda 250L Rally bike, we fell in love with its styling immediately. Inspired by the factory CRF450 Rally machine that is raced in the Dakar rally by the Team Monster Energy Honda team, the new little bike is ready to hit the local trails in style.

The Honda intro for this bike was based out of the Johnny Campbell JCR race shop in the hills above Murrieta, California, so the local trails were going to give us a good chance to test the 250L Rally on some fire roads and twisty asphalt roads.

According to Honda, the target audience for this new bike is the 35-plus rider who wants to head to the hills on a bike that is easy to ride, has ample power, and doesn’t weigh as much as a big adventure bike. With updated 30mm longer travel suspension than the standard 250L model, the Rally is aimed more at the off-road market and the bike comes stock with a skid-plate, handguards, and a larger 2.7 gallon fuel tank for extended range riding.

The throttle body has been increased in size by 2mm to 38mm to improve the engine response and give better low- and mid-range power. Other upgrades in the motor include a revised airbox, larger diameter headpipe, new muffler, and a new ECU.

On the trail you are quickly reminded that the 250L Rally is not a race machine. If you want to just go on a fun cruise on the trail, then this is the perfect bike. At 24.4hp there is not a lot of power on hand, so your riding style has to be changed somewhat to keep up your momentum in the turns, and you absolutely have to be in the right gear to get the most out of the motor. The longer suspension worked well on some of the more technical downhill sections as long as you were going at a moderate pace.

On the tarmac, the cool Rally-type windshield worked great at helping protect from the wind, and the new style radiator shrouds helped with the aerodynamics also. Again, once the Rally got up to speed on the street, it was all about keeping your momentum up and being in the correct gear and the right part of the power.

The new headlights are asymetric to match the 450 factory bike, with LED bulbs that are really bright at full beam even in the daytime. The cockpit of the Rally features a fairly large digital display with a speedo, tachometer, fuel gauge, and a clock.

The black aluminum wheel set in 21” front and 18” rear really make the bike look tough, and with the wave-design 296mm front brake rotor, stopping on this bike is not an issue. The rear suspension has a new link and connecting rod that helps with ground clearance, and keeps the Rally balanced with its longer front forks.

The Honda 250L Rally is available in two versions- Standard at $5,899 and ABS at $6,199. Curb weight ready to ride for the Standard is 341.7 lbs, and the ABS model is 346.1 lbs.

Rally styling
Longer travel suspension
Skid plate and hand guards
Honda quality
Rally windshield

Power to weight ratio is not great
Freeway riding is a challenge


  • Compact and sophisticated liquid-cooled DOHC 249cc single-cylinder four-stroke powerplant produces smooth and consistent torque at low rpm, plus
  • excellent high-rpm performance.
  • A 38mm throttle body (up 2mm from the 2016 CRF250L) combines with a revised airbox, reshaped air boot, new muffler design and a larger-diameter exhaust head pipe to provide improved response and better power in the low and midranges.
  • Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI).
  • Extremely compact roller rocker arm
  • design for the low-friction valve train allows the use of a smaller cylinder head.
  • Gear-driven counterbalancer shaft helps reduce vibrations for rider comfort.
  • Electric start for easy starting.
  • Lightweight aluminum crankcase.
  • Maintenance-free CD ignition.
  • Heavy-duty clutch offers smooth,
  • progressive engagement.
  • Smooth-shifting, versatile six-speed transmission.
  • Heavy-duty O-ring–sealed chain for durability and reduced maintenance.
  • Quiet, USDA-qualified muffler.
  • Maintenance-free sealed battery.
  • Rally-type “floating” screen, fairing and radiator shrouds provide wind protection, with the rest of the machine showing off minimal MX style.
  • LED asymmetric headlights, as are the
  • turn signals.
  • Large fuel tank allows extensive range.
  • Chassis developed specifically for the CRF250L provides excellent handling
  • and agility.
  • Lightweight semi-double-cradle high-tensile steel frame.
  • Strong 43mm inverted fork provides
  • 11 inches of travel.
  • Pro-Link single-shock rear suspension delivers 10.3 inches of rear-wheel travel.
  • Tapered aluminum swingarm.
  • Powerful wave-design 256mm front
  • disc brake, and 220mm rear disc
  • brake provide strong and consistent stopping power.
  • Meter assembly, taillight and license-plate holder have all been updated for 2017.
  • Large floating front disc, plus ABS that can be switched off for the rear brake.
  • Front 21-inch wheel and 18-inch rear wheel with lightweight aluminum rims.
  • New digital dash includes a fuel gauge and tachometer.
  • Durable front and rear steel sprockets.
  • High-quality handlebar with comfortable grips.
  • Transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
  • Meets current CARB and EPA standards.
  • Models sold in California meet current CARB standards and may differ slightly due to emissions equipment.

Chris Glaspell

The success of any online publication depends on the quality of execution, and
in this respect UpShift Online’s success is virtually assured.  It was founded by veteran motorcycle industry professionals: English-born photographer Simon Cudby, the premier photographer in the world of motocross, and Chris Glaspell, creative director with firms serving clients that include Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Cycle World and Yoshimura. This, plus Upshift’s veteran editorial staff and unrivaled journalism, will gives readers unparalleled views of adventure motorcycling.