The CRF250L, launched across Europe in 2012 has quietly and consistently proved the all-round value and appeal of the lightweight, dual-purpose formula. In 2017 it was joined by the CRF250 RALLY, featuring a straight-from-the-Dakar look and a focus on longer range adventures. Model year 2021 sees major upgrades for both motorcycles, underpinned by a new, larger-capacity powerplant, now mounted in a considerably lighter chassis, delivering a significant 13% improvement in power-to-weight ratio.
Now 286cc, the EURO5-compliant, liquid-cooled DOHC 4-valve single-cylinder engine produces peak power of 20.1kW @ 8,500rpm, and, thanks to a longer stroke, fully 18% more maximum torque of 26.6Nm @ 6,500rpm (up from 18.2kW @ 8.500rpm/22.6Nm @ 6,750rpm). Engine ‘breathing’ has been improved thanks to new inlet cam timing, and revised air intake and exhaust systems. Shorter ratios for the first five gears amplify the benefits of the increased torque and power, while 6th is taller for more relaxed high-speed cruising. An assist/slipper clutch now manages the rear wheel and offers 20% less load at the lever.
A redesigned steel semi-double cradle frame, aluminium swingarm and bottom yoke are major contributors to a 4kg overall weight loss and feature revised rigidity balance - with more lateral flex - for increased feedback and feel. Steering geometry has been adjusted in detail to match, alongside longer travel suspension (10mm front/20mm rear for the CRF300L and 10mm front for the CRF300 RALLY) and increased ground clearance.
The CRF300L’s fresh, sharp-edged bodywork features a slimmer 7.8L fuel tank and seat, and new, easy-to-read positive LCD instrument display. The riding position, too, has been improved to encourage light-steering manoeuvrability – the handlebars are pulled back slightly, the foot pegs lowered and moved rearwards. Seat height grows 5mm to 880mm.
At 885mm the CRF300 RALLY’s broader, rubber-mounted seat is now 10mm lower; the fuel tank grows 2.7L to 12.8L. Its handlebars feature internal weights to minimise vibration and the foot pegs are topped with rubber inserts, while LED indicators are now flexibly mounted for durability.
Altogether, the CRF300L and CRF300 RALLY remain supremely useful, do-it-all, dual-purpose motorcycles as per the original formula. And, with all of their 2021 improvements, they are more ready than ever to tackle any challenge – from around the block to around the world.