What? Honda has another new model? Yes, that’s right, the 2019 CRF250RX is Honda’s latest off-road addition to their growing stable. We had a chance to let our “Electric Diesel” test rider Tod Sciacqua ride it at Cahuilla Creek in Anza, California for a full day of ripping. This is just a quick first impression, but we will be re-visiting this machine for a long term test soon so don’t fret your pretty little dirt bike faces. If you want to hear more about this red machine, click on the “Podcast” tab and listen to Tod and I talk about what this bike is like to ride.
This all-new CRF250RX is specially designed for closed-course off-road competition only, so just know that this machine will not be OHV legal until you get a spark arrestor. Some of the CRF250RX key features that Honda would like you to know are:
Large-capacity, 2.2 gallon resin fuel tank
18-inch rear wheel
Forged aluminum sidestand
Sealed drive chain
Suspension with settings dedicated to closed-course off-road use
High-performance, 249cc single-cylinder engine with dual-overhead-cam design and high rev limit.
Finger rocker arm with Diamond Like Coating (DLC) maximizes valve lift while retaining a low engine height
Downdraft intake layout improvies air-charging efficiency
Dual exhaust ports enable ideal air-charging efficiency
Cam profile, which is based on feedback on the CRF250R used by the Team HRC factory MX2 race team
Intake- and exhaust-port geometry provides strong low-rpm engine power while also maintaining stellar top-end performance
44mm throttle body offers ideal low-rpm intake airflow for strong corner-exit performance
Honda’s piston oil jet with five nozzle holes provides superior piston-cooling efficiency and reduced knocking, enabling a precise ignition-timing setting for optimum power delivery
Lightweight AC generator keeps weight to a minimum and minimizes friction losses
Electric-start standard for easy, fast engine startup
Easily selectable Standard, Smooth, and Aggressive riding modes enable easy tuning depending on rider preference or course conditions
Selectable HRC launch control provides a steady stream of torque for excellent performance on race starts
Exclusive ECU settings for ideal engine performance and rideability in off-road situations
Lightweight aluminum frame with tapered main spars provides great rider feedback
Low center of gravity reduces front-end lift for strong acceleration
Renthal Fatbar® handlebar reduces steering-system weight, and flexes for comfort
Top triple clamp features two handlebar-holder locations for moving the handlebar rearward and forward by 26mm, ensuring rider comfort. When holder is turned 180 degrees, the handlebar can be moved an additional 10mm from the base position, resulting in four total unique handlebar positions
Newly shaped footpegs are 20% lighter and shed mud more easily, giving the rider great feel and confidence in all riding conditions
Engine guard allows excellent airflow, boosting engine-cooling performance
49mm Showa SPG coil-spring fork with dedicated settings for ideal handling and comfort in technical conditions experienced in off-road racing
Fork protectors have outstanding coverage for protection in off-road conditions
Black rims offer strong presence parked in the pits or out on the trail
Lightweight front-brake caliper uses pistons of different diameters (30mm and 27mm) for strong braking performance
Front-brake hose resists expansion for precise braking
Smooth bodywork layout eases rider movement
In-mold graphics are durable and resistant to peeling caused by washing or abrasion
Dunlop Geomax AT81 tires provide optimum feel and traction in challenging riding conditions
So now that you have some idea about what Honda did to this sucker, what did Tod think about the 2019 CRF250RX:
Going into the test day I was thinking this would be a corked up slow trail bike, not really expecting the awesomeness of the power potential this race bike truly really had. One of the first things I noticed was the oversized tank and the 18” rear wheel with the sweet looking racing black rims. Yes, I am sucker for black rims because it just makes the red plastic pop that much more. Throwing your leg over the Honda for the first time, you will notice the large fuel tank and by appearance you may think this tank will affect your riding while on the trail, but once you take off you forget all about it.
I want get this out of the way right now because I feel no one talks about this enough. There are three different power settings on the handlebar, which to me is always great for different riding conditions you may ride on any given day. I may be in the mood for different conditions, on any given ride I go on, so having the aggressive, smooth, or standard “mood” settings is perfect for the many different riding moods that I have. The engine delivery is snappy and responsive enough to pop me up over rocks, logs and the occasional rain ruts that we encounter here on the west coast from time to time. I only weigh in at 155 pounds so having too much power is a concern to me at times when looking to purchase a bike. With this CRF250RX I feel like I can manhandle this machine more because the power delivery is fun, yet never gets me in trouble when riding. The mid range to top end pulling power feels just like the 2019 CRF250R to me and that means it pulls far and likes to be revved. If there is anything I could complain about the engine, it would be lack of some torque down on very low RPM. The throttle response is crisp and instant, but the bottom end delivery can feel empty if I was on a tight trail that was somewhat sandy.
The Showa suspension feels like it was tailor valved for my riding style and weight. Again I am not a heavy guy and this Showa CRF250RX suspension was plush for me out on the closed course trails of Cahuilla Creek. On the occasion I hit the moto track on the way into the pits, the suspension had enough hold up for the jumps that Cahuilla provided. Overall, I can’t sit here and type any real negative on the suspension side (as I love me some spring forks) and Showa knocked it out of the park with this fork setting. We set the sag at 106mm for my weight and I was happy right away with the balance that the HondaI had. I am sure Keefer will nitpick the crap out of this thing more at a later time, but for now lets just say the Showa suspension was great for my smaller stature.
While riding the diverse terrain I noticed how nimble and easy this CRF250RX is in the tight stuff (and through corners). Although the nature of the chassis is agile and quick handling, the straight line stability feels planted and not as twitchy as the 250R. On tighter switchbacks the CRF250RX feels light and very playful and that makes me want push harder through the tighter terrain. One thing is for certain about the evolution of dirt bikes these past few years; it’s that the brakes have improved dramatically. A lot of media testers don’t talk about how important good brakes are and the new Honda provides some great stopping ability. The front brake on past Honda’s felt somewhat spongey and soft to me, but this 2019 CRF250RX has a strong front brake that lets me charge into corners much harder than I can remember.
Did I mention I love electric start? Well, I do! You might think you don’t need an electric start on a 250, but after a full day of riding, kickstarting your bike gets tiring. Us older guys love this feature as it just makes riding a dirt bike more enjoyable to me. The biggest bummer to me on the day was that they didn't let me take the bike home. I will have to say that I am also mystified that Honda doesn't put handguards on this machine. The seven mile loop that Honda laid out for us was filled with blood sucking demon branches that will attack you any chance they can. Just ask my right forearm! The Honda CRF250RX comes with a skid plate, which is mandatory for any off road bike, so why aren’t handguards mandatory on this sucker as well? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Great job to Honda on making a hybrid machine that is easy to manage and fun to ride. Look for more 2019 Honda CRF250RX updates at keeferinctesting.com soon or check out the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Keefer Tested Podcast on this site right now! -Big Air Tod