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2021 Honda CRF250RX MC Commute Review

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In Southern California winter means one thing: dirt bikes. Enter Honda’s loveable 2021 CRF250RX ($8.399). Introduced a couple of years ago, the RX is a friendlier, but still competition-specification dirt bike for off-road riders who want one bike that can tackle a variety of terrain. It’s positioned above air-cooled trailbikes like the CRF250F ($4,699) and adjacent to Big Red’s CRF250R ($7,999) motocrosser.

Editor’s note: The CRF250RX is a non-street-legal motorcycle for use on closed courses or in legal off-road riding areas.

Honda offers a kinder and more gentle liquid-cooled 250cc dirt bike with the 2021 CRF250RX.

Honda offers a kinder and more gentle liquid-cooled 250cc dirt bike with the 2021 CRF250RX. (Adam Waheed/)
Dirt bikes are tall—and the CRF250RX is no different. But if you’re a 6-foot-tall rider, you’ll stand flat-footed at a stop. An aluminum kickstand supports the vehicle when not riding (motocross bikes don’t include a sidestand, so it’s a nice feature). The RX is slim between the rider’s legs, but is a tad broader up front versus other dirt bikes due to its larger 2.25-gallon plastic fuel tank. This affords greater range for off-road adventures that go past 45-minute motos at the track.

The 2021 CRF250RX uses a liquid-cooled 249cc single. Fuel-injection and electric start make it easy to get the engine lit.

The 2021 CRF250RX uses a liquid-cooled 249cc single. Fuel-injection and electric start make it easy to get the engine lit. (Adam Waheed/)
Push-button electric start and fuel injection make it easy to get the 249cc liquid-cooled single fired. Unlike other dirt bike models, the clutch lever must be squeezed for the engine to start. A handy yellow cold-start knob elevates engine idle and makes it easy to get it lit when the mercury drops.

In typical dirt bike form, the CRF250RX uses an upright Renthal handlebar that can be moved forward or rearward depending on rider preference.

In typical dirt bike form, the CRF250RX uses an upright Renthal handlebar that can be moved forward or rearward depending on rider preference. (Adam Waheed/)
Smooth power and a broad spread of torque make the RX a friendly dirt bike to ride on trail or on track. Lug the engine a gear high or rev it out toward its 14,000-plus rpm redline, and the Honda happily obliges. It cranks out just over 38 hp. Not bad for a 244-pound dirt bike. Riders can further tune throttle response in three increments (Standard, Smooth, and Aggressive) via a button on the left switch gear. Overall we preferred the Standard setting.

The CRF250RX uses Honda’s signature twin muffler setup. Big Red says it creates a more balanced motorcycle. We just think it looks (and sounds) cool.

The CRF250RX uses Honda’s signature twin muffler setup. Big Red says it creates a more balanced motorcycle. We just think it looks (and sounds) cool. (Adam Waheed/)
Squeezing the cable-actuated clutch isn’t too strenuous and it offers a responsive feel with a friendly engagement point. A precise-shifting five-speed gearbox puts power back to an 18-inch rear wheel shod with Dunlop’s gummy Geomax AT81 rubber. The tires grip well but wear quickly. There’s also an O-ring drivetrain to help boost durability. Up front it rolls on a standard 21-inch D.I.D DirtStar rim.

The CRF250RX rolls on a conventional 21-inch spoked rim shod with Dunlop’s versatile Geomax AT81 rubber.

The CRF250RX rolls on a conventional 21-inch spoked rim shod with Dunlop’s versatile Geomax AT81 rubber. (Adam Waheed/)
Like most dirt bikes, engine vibration is present through the controls but it isn’t excessive. The engine emits a nice bark through its signature twin mufflers (Honda says it fits dual mufflers for improved vehicle balance) which make it more fun to yank on the twist grip.

If you go beyond its 13-inches of ground clearance, a plastic skid plate provides some degree of engine protection against trail obstacles.

If you go beyond its 13-inches of ground clearance, a plastic skid plate provides some degree of engine protection against trail obstacles. (Adam Waheed/)
The CRF250RX employs a more forgiving 18-inch rear wheel versus the 19-inch found on a moto bike. This affords greater comfort on trail with an extra degree of tire sidewall cushion.

The CRF250RX employs a more forgiving 18-inch rear wheel versus the 19-inch found on a moto bike. This affords greater comfort on trail with an extra degree of tire sidewall cushion. (Adam Waheed/)
A sturdy set of footpegs provide good grip against the rider’s boots and we like the neutral bend of the Renthal handlebar. The top clamp integrates an alternative pair of mounting points so you can move the handlebar forward if desired. The position of the front brake lever and rear brake pedal can also be tweaked based on rider preference.

A sturdy set of footpegs provide good grip against the rider’s boots.

A sturdy set of footpegs provide good grip against the rider’s boots. (Adam Waheed/)
The CRF rolls on Showa suspension with more than 12 inches of suspension travel fore and aft. The components are more supple feeling than many moto bikes which help the RX find grip over slick dry terrain. Yet the suspenders offer enough damping support to withstand impacts from jumps and other obstacles encountered at speed even with a heavy 191-pound rider. Suspension damping can be tuned based on terrain or rider preference and has a wide range of adjustment. We also value its above-average stability especially over rough terrain in top gear and its nimbleness in low gear in the woods. Our only knock is the gearing is a tad tall for slow-speed riding over chunky and technical obstacles.

A pair of hydraulic disc brakes keep speed in check and offer strong and fade-free response from either end. Unlike a road bike there are no safety aids in the form of ABS or traction control. However, the RX does include three-position-adjustable electronic launch control which holds engine rpm at a certain threshold in launches at the start of a race.

Folks looking for a versatile dirt bike that can do a little bit of everything off-road will appreciate Honda’s CRF250RX.

Folks looking for a versatile dirt bike that can do a little bit of everything off-road will appreciate Honda’s CRF250RX. (Adam Waheed/)
Off-road riders looking for a capable do-it-all dirt bike that is easier to live with than its R-spec brother will do well with the ’21 CRF250RX. More capable than an air-cooled CRF with a forgiving engine and suspension package—you don’t need to be a pro-level racer to get the most out of the RX. Yet with its elevated performance envelope, it’s a fun dirt bike that provides more excitement than other dirt bikes.

Gear Box


2021 Honda CRF250RX Technical Specifications And Price

PRICE$8,399
ENGINE249cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled single; 4-valve
BORE x STROKE79.0 x 50.9mm
COMPRESSION RATIO13.9:1
FUEL DELIVERYFuel injection w/ 44mm throttle body
CLUTCHWet, multiplate clutch; cable actuated
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE5-speed/chain
FRAMEAluminum
FRONT SUSPENSION49mm inverted fork, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 12.0 in. travel
REAR SUSPENSIONGas-charged shock, spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 12.4 in. travel
FRONT BRAKEAxial-mount 2-piston caliper, 260mm disc
REAR BRAKE1-piston caliper, 240mm disc
WHEELS, FRONT/REARDie-cast aluminum; 21 x 1.6-in. / 18 x 2.15-in.
TIRES, FRONT/REARDunlop Geomax AT81; 80/100-21 / 110/100-18
RAKE/TRAIL27.4°/4.5 in.
WHEELBASE58.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT37.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY2.25 gal.
CLAIMED WET WEIGHT244 lb.
WARRANTY6-month
AVAILABLENow
CONTACTpowersports.honda.com
 
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