CRF230L Owners Check In

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by racknack83, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. ObiJohn

    ObiJohn Screaming Banshee

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    692
    Location:
    Seattle suburbia
    I spent considerable time researching the various 250cc +/- dual sports out there, and the one constant I kept hearing was how the CRF230L was underpowered. Yes, it's underpowered for heavily-loaded long-distance touring on highways, but for day or weekend trips, trail riding, or commuting it has more than enough power.

    Now, I am not very experienced on motorcycles but I've been driving for more than 30 years, have been a pilot for 15 years, and have owned and driven/flown some pretty high performance vehicles including several sports cars that could pull 0-60 in less than 4 seconds, and airplanes that could climb at better than 3000' per minute and cruise at over 300 knots... and while the CRF230L isn't in that class it is certainly quicker than the majority of cars. I think it would give a stock RX-8 a run for it's money; it's as quick or quicker than my wife's Volvo S80 Turbo. If this bike is considered 'slow', I can't imagine how scary fast a 600cc or 1000cc sportbike is... but I have more sense than to want to run one of those wide-open.

    It handles well for a dual sport; the tires are certainly sure-footed on dry pavement and the bike is easy to flick into a corner. Low-speed maneuverability is also excellent. The bike is extremely 'rideable' especially for a novice. The suspension soaks up bumps including speed bumps.

    I'm pretty durn happy with my purchase. The only thing wrong with the bike is the lack of a tachometer; I may figure out how to put an aftermarket tach on it. I also wish Honda had kept the concept of putting gear-specific RPM ranges on the speedo like they used to on the CT90/CT110.

    This is not the bike to buy if you want to ride across the country on the interstate. It would be a fantastic bike if you wanted to ride across the country on back roads and dirt roads and wanted to tour lightly-loaded... especially if the roads were bad.

    It was exactly what I was looking for, and I couldn't be happier.
    #61
  2. JerryH

    JerryH Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    6,060
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ
    A comment from a non CFR230L owner. I rode one around my local dealers parking lot. I own 2 XT225s, one of them highly modified for off road riding, but even in stock form, IMO it is a much better bike than the Honda, especially if you are an experienced rider and know what is important on a bike over the long run. It's really two bad Yamaha chose to quit making the XT instead of improving it's minor flaws. The new XT250 is nowhere near the bike the 225 is.

    I suspect overall engine performance of both bikes is similar, neither is a cross country touring bike, and never will be. IMO, the XT has better suspension, it also has slightly more travel. It has a lot of real world benefits. It has grease fittings on the rear suspension linkage, snail cam chain adjusters, and aside from several rack choices (I have the Bryanswens rack), you can also get a 4 gal. aftermarket tank from Clarke, and there is a guy on this forum (Cigar Mike) that makes great centerstands for them.


    Of all the mods I have made to my trail bike, I consider the centerstand to be by far the most important. I simply will not ride a bike with tube type tires and no centerstand, unless it is a pure dirt bike, and I have a truck nearby. I have ridden the XT hundreds of miles from home. Flats DO happen, and if you have no way to get the wheels off when they do, you are just plain SOL.


    The CRF does look better to me, but when you are a hundred miles from home, 50 miles out into the desert with a flat tire, or out of gas, looks will not get you home.


    All of the above are just my feelings, I'm not putting down anyones bike. But I am so sold on the XT that I bought a second one, an 05 with 3,000 miles, basically to replace my '94, with 19,000 miles and counting, IF it ever breaks. I'll just transfer all my accessories over to the other bike, and use the '94 as a parts bike. Jerry.
    #62
  3. grubbie

    grubbie Been here awhile

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    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
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    NE Wyoming
    That is what is important. My wife is wanting more power than her 230L offers. (She doesn't like the fact that I can out run her). But I love her bike. It is so easy to ride, and I can't help it,....I love the looks of it too.
    #63
  4. AviatorTroy

    AviatorTroy Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
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    Cincinnati OH/Stuart FL
    Well I'm really glad to read all this. We are looking hard at the CRF for my wife, as someone else mentioned, she's 40 and it would be her first motorcycle. She's done a little street riding on my 550 but she really likes the CRF and feels that the size and weight fit her perfectly.

    I'm a little worried about power. She is only 110# and I know some 200# guys ride these things around, but still, I consider my KLR to be barely powerful enough to ride on the street, you want to be able to pass someone on a country road or pull away from someone at a light. I'm hoping that with her tiny butt on it, it would be more or less capable of keeping up with me on the KLR on twisty back roads and the occasional 70 mph highway stint just for a few miles here and there. You know, if it can't at least do that it's not real practical for us. The biggest thing is, can it comfortably do a 2 hour ride on twisty back roads to get to the trails? That's where my KLR shines, and I hope this is going to be as good for her...
    #64
  5. bm3moose

    bm3moose Been here awhile

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    Madison, IN
    I think it would fit her perfectly. I'm 6'3 175lb and I still fit on it and it still goes. I've done several dual sport rides with everything from WR250's on up to big BMW and KTM adventure bikes, yes they beat me on the road but it's still quick enough in the twisties. It's definitely not a barn burner, but when it flips over or you go off the trail it's super easy to man handle.
    #65
  6. ObiJohn

    ObiJohn Screaming Banshee

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    692
    Location:
    Seattle suburbia
    I weigh a lot more than 110#, and the CRF230L is pretty quick up to 60 mph... and it will readily go 70 mph. Do you really see your wife passing people who are going 55 or 60 on a twisty backroad? And, does she want to be hanging on to the handlebars for dear life while the wind at 60 mph-plus is trying to push her back off the bike?

    The reason I picked up my 230L is so I can go trail riding with my young son, on his new-to-him XR70R. I know and accept that I'm going to have to ride at his pace, in a style that is enjoyable to him, when we ride together. The same thing is true for anyone who rides with someone else who is less-skilled; if you want to ride together you're going to have to ride at their pace, and if you want to ride together a lot you're going to have to make sure it's fun for them.

    If you're looking for a high speed road bike, or something you can win the Baja 1000 on against all comers, then don't look at the CRF230L. If you're looking for a bike that works reasonably well on everything except the superslab, is great for cruising (not bombing) down dirt roads and all but the most extreme single-track, especially for those of us who are height-challenged, then the CRF230L is a very good choice.
    #66
  7. frog13

    frog13 Long timer

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    SW Ohio
    Sounds like someone is giving credit where credit is due....the 230L sounds like a great machine!.
    #67
  8. Cloud9

    Cloud9 I was HERE?

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Grand Junction, CO., USA
    What Obi is saying here you really need to take to heart. You need to get into your wife's head and what she wants out of the deal. If you keep pushing her to try and keep up she'll feel she's slowing you down and taking risks she doesn't really want to take and she won't enjoy riding as much. Then you'll feel like she is slowing you down and will complain to her about it... not what either of you want. Or worse yet, she'll try keeping up and make a big mistake... NOT WORTH IT!

    As she gets comfortable with her skills (not your skills) she may want to go faster, get a bigger bike or whatever. But it's at HER pace, not yours. Slow down, enjoy the scenery and that you're out riding with your wife... that my friend is a big deal! Enjoy it.

    If her skills and desire is to ride at your pace I do not recommend the 230. I have one and few believe what I make it do. I've ridden Five Miles of Hell in Utah on it and had good riders on CRF450Xs and Rs try to keep up with me on brutally tight trails and fail to the point where they ask for the escape route. I'm 5'7" at 200+lbs and I have a great time on this bike in the brutal stuff. I also have an modified XR650L for the faster, longer rides. The 230 is a very capable bike for what it's made for... but it is in no way made for high speed peg scraping. Sure, you can do it, but that's not what it's made for.... IMHO!

    :thumb

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #68
  9. grubbie

    grubbie Been here awhile

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    Jun 17, 2008
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    Location:
    NE Wyoming
    Cloud9, isn't that a crf230F? If so, it is a way different animal than a L. Not disagreeing with you, but the F has quite a bit more power than the L. Nice pictures!
    #69
  10. Cloud9

    Cloud9 I was HERE?

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    Location:
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    Thanks!

    Ah, right. This thread is discussing the L model. Sorry.

    But if the L has even less power then I would be even more cautious about trying to pass cars on the highway at 70 mph... :huh
    #70
  11. grubbie

    grubbie Been here awhile

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    NE Wyoming
    It can be done, my wife does it on hers, but you better have some room! It's a great bike, it will cruise down the highway at 65. Hills will slow you down, wind will slow you down. If you are in a hurry, buy a bigger bike. We like the smaller bikes for the trails we ride. We ride the highway too. I wouldn't mind having a bigger bike on the highway, but definitely not as fun on the trails.
    #71
  12. BBeck

    BBeck Adventurer to be

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    One thought I have had is to get the 230L to start and then pass it on to my teenager and get something bigger. Then we could ride together. My dream bike is the BMW F800GS, but at over $15k out the door, it is too much right now.

    I'd like to ride up to Alaska as a dream ride as well as ride the Washington Backcountry Route.

    When I talk to sales at the local dealers, they all say it is too underpowered.

    I certainly appreciate the perspective and views provided so far. I have ridden the Yamaha wr250F, but it is too tall (31 inch inseam).

    I just need to demo ride it to know for sure.
    #72
  13. bm3moose

    bm3moose Been here awhile

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    Aug 26, 2010
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    Location:
    Madison, IN
    Underpowered seems to be the main complaint, but my question is, how fast do I really need to go. I bought a dual sport bike to go to places my jeep couldn't quite get to. Places where the road runs out and all you are left with is solitude and scenery that few else have come across, and I think it is counter productive to just blast through it as fast as a can. Maybe I'm coming to the realization that I'm not 16 any more. My 230 only goes as fast as I want to wreck, and frankly the last times I've ridden with guys on BMW's, they were tipped over begging for help to get up while I was enjoying the scenery. All these debates seem relative and I think the answer of which is better can only be determined by what you the rider desire. I do have my eye on a WR250R though, but after watching my Dad ride my 230 and seeing the smile on his face I don't think I can get rid of it, maybe we will just have two. My two cents, hopefully not rambling.
    #73
  14. blue dog

    blue dog Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
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    54
    Even tho a DR350 is not considerd big I was thinking about down sizing to something smaller for the same reason. Im going to keep my dr untill this fall then Im going to be looking for something smaller hopefuly I will be able to get a better deal in the fall.

    this is the terrain I ride on. a smaller bike would be easier for me to handle
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #74
  15. BBeck

    BBeck Adventurer to be

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    For me it isn't about the speed, but about being able to get out of situations on the road on the way to the places you mention. I also live in the foothills of the Cascade mountain range, which means going up and over a mountain pass.

    I have also been looking very closely at the WR250R and think that is probably the best route to start if my son isn't interested in the 230L.

    I have a hard time paying $5-6k for a DR650 with 20yo technology compared to the WR250R.

    Used DRs are not much less than new ones in my area.

    I could see the 230L as being fun and a great bike to practice honing my offroad skills on.

    I have a dealer that is 11 miles away, which is also in a valley before the foothills. A simple demo ride from there to my home would be a good test of this so called "underpowered" motorcycle. The speed limit is 70mph as well, so a good test for high speed riding too.
    #75
  16. tilliejacques

    tilliejacques Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
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    470
    Location:
    northern New Mexico
    I've had both the 230F and 230L and prefer the L due to its lower center of gravity. Well, and genuine street legality rather than a Baja kit and a peeled-off off-road-only sticker:augie. I'm 5'7" 32" inseam and while I could flat foot either one, the LCG on the L lets me move it around aLOT easier. Yeah, I do miss the clearance of the F but not as often as I enjoy the easier handling of the L.

    Very fun on forest roads, trails, and (not too adventurous for me, thank you) single track.

    A fun ride a couple years ago on a local, one might say the real deal, road. :D
    [​IMG]

    I use my GS as a road bike, since alot of our roads around here are dirt and gravel, and like it much more at the higher speeds than the 230 but that's due to the taller wind screen on the GS. When we go on our cross country trips this spring/summer (by toy hauler, sorry, not by bike!), I'm taking the 230 as it's the most versatile for me.

    Haven't really done much in the way of mods other than a bending shifter and handguards. Oh, and after trying to get at the battery for trickle charging this winter:becca, DH added pigtails before reassembling everything :lol3.

    cheers!
    #76
  17. ObiJohn

    ObiJohn Screaming Banshee

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    692
    Location:
    Seattle suburbia
    BBeck, you live in my neck of the woods (I live in Bellevue just north of 520). My 230L is great for riding over to I-90 and heading east to the forest roads east of Issaquah, and it's great for riding on those forest roads and exploring. I also plan to head over to eastern Washington this summer; I'll make a long weekend out of it, and load up the 230L in the back of my Dodge Dakota quad-cab and throw my son's XR70 in next to it so we can go riding together. The advantage of the lighter bike is that I can single-handedly load and unload it. (I have two ramps... a regular ramp and a step-ramp, and I walk up one while I push the bike up the other.) Not that the 230L couldn't make it over a Cascade pass, but if I wanted to go riding for several days I'd take a two-lane and know that I could easily do at least 50 mph at the top... and that's fast enough. On most of those roads the RVs limit the speed anyway.

    I've also lusted after the BMWs, but they really are a pavement and dirt road bike, and not as well-suited for difficult terrain... not that you can't do that (see 'Long Way Round') but I don't have the luxury of a 3rd hand who can help me push the bike out of mud or over obstacles, or a support crew in multiple vehicles.

    As an aside, I'd like to see a pair of riders take 250cc or under dual sports and duplicate the LWR ride. I think it'd be a much easier ride... and they could leave all of the extra junk home, the stuff that Ewan and Charley abandoned in the Far East. A tent, sleeping bag, stove, minimal tools and spares (shared between the bikes), a couple pairs of camping trousers and t-shirts, underwear, and socks... maybe a netbook, small digicam, SPOT or APRS/ham HT, and a GPS. 25 lbs worth of gear, inside plastic bags in soft luggage. When you have a bigger bike with all of the hard cases, you'll load it up... nature abhors a vacuum.
    #77
  18. no1gtkid

    no1gtkid Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    Mods I have on my bike
    A dyno jet kit - Why? kept stalling out at the top of Mt Charleston and took 10-15 mins to warm up. Dogged slow going up hill I could only hit 45 MPH. After I got it installed I wait maybe a min to warm up, does not stall at altitude and I am able to do 70 MPH up the same hill.
    However, with that said I also added an FMF Q4 exhaust
    Kenda K761 Tires
    TCI Products for protection (windscreen comes off when i plan to play in the dirt)
    Zeta Hand guards
    Cycleracks rack
    CRFs Only Red Anodized Aluminum Sprocket cover
    Cortech bag to carry extra gloves, goggles, wallet, ect.
    Koplin gas cans for longer days on the trails
    Ram GPS Rhino mount
    Ram Mount for camera

    I am not a hard core rider I use it commuting around town and light off-road.

    This pic is of me in Death Valley early this year.

    Attached Files:

    #78
  19. no1gtkid

    no1gtkid Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    This is me with the bike at Griffith peak at My Charleston Las Vegas and about 30 mins from my house. Yes, I pulled the side plates off for this ride to see the difference on wind at 75 MPH on the paved road home. This peak I believe is the third highest in Southern Nevada and 43 highest in state.

    I do like the bike and have been going over in my mind Keep and add for about 1k a Big bore kit. I was also thinking of just adding two more bikes to my little stable a DRZ400 for the long road trips with dirt trails in the end and a BMWF650GS for long road trips and light dirt trails.

    Clark Manufacturer is coming out with a bigger tank for the CRF.

    I was also toying with the idea of changing sprockets. A 14t up front and a 51 out back with a 102 link. This will give me a a 5% drop in Torque but raise my speed 5%. Again mainly a commuter and not a hard core dirt runner.

    By the way these tires work well on hard dirt trails and on pavement. Not so great in lose stuff. So speeds need to be balanced between 25-30 MPH to stay up and if slips twist the throttle just a bit.

    Attached Files:

    #79
  20. grubbie

    grubbie Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    NE Wyoming
    You would be very happy with the drz 400 or the wr250r. Of course, Im still not putting down the 230l,...I steal my wifes any time she forgets to pull the key!
    #80