Honda CRF250X opinions please

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by KV-KLR, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. KV-KLR

    KV-KLR Adventurer

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    I recently got my 6 year old daughter involved in riding on a CRF50. I have previously owned a KLR650 that I did everything from commute to single track riding with, but my off-road experience is still limited I would say.

    I have found a really good deal on 2004 CRF250X that will hopefully allow me to get out and ride some with her, take off on my own when I want and also use to commute occasionally on the nice days (after making street legal of course; not difficult in TX I'm told). Then maybe I can dream of setting up for partial TAT or Big Bend or Mexico... I'm not racer type so not too worried about power, more worried about reliability on longer, constant speed trips. If none of this works out I at least get to ride with her some and can sell it without losing much.

    Any good or bad I need to know before pulling the trigger?:ear
    #1
  2. Merle O'Broham

    Merle O'Broham too beaucoup

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    "Pulling the trigger" - apropos comparing the Honda to the KLR! I've ridden KLR's and the 250R which iirc is tuned slightly differently and lacks the e-start. Can you test ride the X? I would think that trail riding with your daughter while on the 250, you'd be itching to leave her behind! You'd need to plate the X for commuting and the TAT, right?. Don't get me wrong- I love the bike, but maybe a DR350/650 is the better tool for the job? (Do tell more of this really good deal!)
    #2
  3. arkangel

    arkangel Been here awhile

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    Never ridden one, but they look really good on paper! E-start, Wide ratio gearbox, really nice suspension, reliable motors.. I think the 250X will have PLENTY of power, but it may lack in the high end. I dont know how good it would be for a TAT bike considering some of the elevation/terrain on that type of ride. I would think the KLR would make more sense for TAT if you do buy the CRF. I am sure there are plenty of people who have done it on smaller bikes though!
    #3
  4. jnberr0

    jnberr0 Been here awhile

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    I recently "downsized" from a 950 Adventure to a CRF250X as I was getting in a little deep in terms of offroad riding with the 950. I too had some concerns about the X in terms of reliability and service, but you really shouldn't have anything to worry about.

    Yes, there have been lots of cases of valve problems on some of the early bikes, but if you really dig in to each of them, they mostly involve guys who are racing their bikes and/or guys who didn't check and adjust their valves enough (or at all). I'm a sloooow rider on the trails and never really ring the motor out, and i've never had any problems at all. I've flipped it, dunked it and just plain dropped it more times than I'd like to admit, and it just keeps going. Plenty of motor, light weight and great handling and feel.

    The valves are really the only major item to keep track of regularly, but that's a cinch, even for an admitted mechanical numbskull like me. Checking the valves is a 25 minute job, adjusting them (if needed) is maybe a 2 hour job. Keep an eye on your valves a couple of times a year, change the oil every few months (15 minutes), and you'll be good to go.

    There are some really basic mods (airbox opening, JD jet kit, new air filter/remove filter screen, remove exhaust baffle) that really wake up the bike and give you a ton of bang for the buck. Other than that and some handguards/skid plate, it's a fantastic do-it-all enduro out of the box.

    Now TAT riding obviously requires a bike that can be pinned for long periods of time. This may not be the best thing for the 250X (or any high-end 250, for that matter). Then again, geared a little taller and I'm sure it would do decent speeds for extended periods.

    One more thing: The 250X will DEFINITELY open up your offroad riding world a bit more. It's an absolutely addictive single-track bike. I had plans to legalize mine as well, but I've used it so much for tight trail riding, that I've just left it stock and ride the p*ss out of it!

    Just my 2 cents. YMMV.
    #4
  5. KV-KLR

    KV-KLR Adventurer

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    This is all good info. Thanks a bunch.

    I knew about the valves. I will keep close eye on them. Like I said, I'm not racer type so hopefully this won't be an issue. I also plan to add oil cooler which should add capacity to help some with service.

    I know the bike is overkill for following my daughter around but it will also allow me to take off at more adult pace when by myself or with friends. As for TAT dream I will gear it appropriately and most likely only do eastern portion thru NM. Some of the dual sport fall rides in AR also sound nice.
    #5
  6. sn1p3r

    sn1p3r Adventurer

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    I've recently picked up a new CRF450X (also had a CRF450R for a few years) and it's a brilliant bike. Seriously, you won't be dissapointed. Loads of aftermarket support available too. There are also a dedicated forum for CRF riders (CRF's Only - just search Google).

    It's great for short city rides even in off road gusie. Great off road too.

    Mine had a lighting harness fitted which gives all the legal requirements including a horn. Had mine registered and plated too. Running Bridgestone road legal enduro tyres which work surprisingly well on and off road.

    Go for it and :D
    #6
  7. ramz

    ramz Professional Trail Rider

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  8. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    :eek2If you don't ride much.

    Doesn't Honda recommend an oil basically after each ride and a top end every 15 hours of riding? I also seem to remember some people change the the ti valves out to steel to help with reliability. (I'm going off of memory)

    Don't get me wrong, they are really nice machines, but I don't think it the right tool for what you're looking at. You should look more in the direction of the KLX250S or WR250S. Not nearly as hyper and is designed for your intended mission. :lift
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  9. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Fantastic dirt bike, not made for street riding, I wouldn't commute on one at all. Valves will last forever with casual riding, they only become troublesome really when its raced hard and held against the rev limiter frequently and for extended periods of time (very common on the R model when racing MX). Even then they are good for a season or two.

    I change oil every ride on any race bike, but when I ride I ride hard and fast.
    #9
    tdogmason likes this.
  10. Django Loco

    Django Loco Banned

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    I agree the CRF250X is a great bike to ride. But i would not own one.
    Two friends (NOT racers) blew their X's up a couple times.
    The early ones especially are susceptible. Honda has redesigned the head and
    valve arrangement a few times. Newer ones seem much better.

    There are better bikes for a novice to start out on, IMO.
    The CRF is a race bike .... works best when ridden aggressively.

    I would also go with something like the KLX250S or WR250R. Both more versatile and more novice friendly and reliable as a rock.

    I own a WR250F and it's a hoot but also a race bike. Does not like to be loafed along.
    #10
  11. jnberr0

    jnberr0 Been here awhile

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    Doesn't Honda recommend an oil basically after each ride and a top end every 15 hours of riding? I also seem to remember some people change the the ti valves out to steel to help with reliability. (I'm going off of memory)

    Don't get me wrong, they are really nice machines, but I don't think it the right tool for what you're looking at. You should look more in the direction of the KLX250S or WR250S. Not nearly as hyper and is designed for your intended mission. :lift[/QUOTE]

    Not knocking you, Kawidad, because I heard the same things before I bought my X, but it's funny how there is so much misinformation going around about these bike's. Honda recommends checking/adjusting the valves every 15 riding hours if the bike is being raced. If being ridden at a normal pace, it recommends checking the valves every 500 miles, which for me is maybe twice a year. And when I did check my valves last, they were all perfectly within spec. On top of that, it's a very easy service job that anyone can do themselves. Based on my experience, the valves aren't nearly the problem area some rumors make them out to be.

    If the bike isn't being raced, an oil change every few months is perfectly fine. I ride mine a few hours every other weekend, and I just changed the oil in mine today for the first time in four months. Oil looked fine and the levels were all tip-top.

    And yes, some guys change out to the steel valves, but again, most are guys who race their bike and/or didn't maintain their bike well in the first place.

    All that being said, I agree with Kawidad that if you really don't want to get into anything too technical or demanding offroad, one the new 250 dual sports would be great. That Yamaha WR250S looks very cool.
    #11
  12. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

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    A few years ago a did a motorcycle industry ride that was attended by a few Honda brass. They were basically the highest level @ Honda that rode and had round eyes (that should give you an idea that these guys could ride anything they wanted)

    The ride was 75% off-road & 25% two lane pavement. These guys all rode new CRF250Xs with a Baja designs dual sport kit. I thought the bikes were some thing from Japan or Europe because all the baja designes parts looked shockingly O.E. Honda.

    I talked to these guys and a few others that had a chance to ride the CRFs and everyone said the bike was awesome. Pretty much a lightweight, 100% off-road dedicated machine, but it did the pavement sections amazingly well. I never got a chance to ride one, but I really wanted to put together a project like that for a while.

    The local dealer had some new 250Xs that were 2 years old and had them marked cheap, but I missed that deal.
    #12
  13. Django Loco

    Django Loco Banned

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    Not any more, true .... but there IS a history here.
    What year is your CRF?

    The failures of many early CRF250X/450X's (2003 to 2006) is well documented and number in the hundreds. Far from "RUMORS" or
    "misinformation". This was real and Honda have the records to prove it. In many cases they did "Good will" warranty work and replaced blown engines for free. Usually a one time deal. Not all were covered.
    My buddy got one rebuild on Honda, but when it blew again, it was on him.

    I visit a couple Honda dealers on a regular basis and a good friend is head mechanic at one. A few years ago his shop would be littered with CRF's waiting for parts. Some were moto racers, some trail rider bikes ... all had head/valve gear problems.

    On a ride in Nevada my buddies nearly new CRF250X refused to start. We bumped it and barely got it to camp, a valve check revealed valves were full tight .... they had just been set before our ride. We had gone about 40 miles before the starting prob began. This was an '04 IIRC.

    Another riding buddy had his '05 CRF450X top end explode (cam follower bearing) at Catavina, Baja, after four days of riding. I told him not to ignore those noises:lol3 He caught a ride back with Canadian tourists to the border... bike and all! Had a great four days anyway! :clap

    Many owners have gone to Stainless valves and Kibblewhite heads, along with a few other outfits who provide different head and parts.
    Yes, there are solutions for the early bikes. By 2006, Honda had done several re-designs of the head to make the motor reliable. Seems to have worked as more recent CRF's seem to be fine.

    Even Magazines like Dirt Rider and Dirt Bike brought up these early CRF Honda issues from time to time. But they never hammered Honda on this, which, IMO, they should have. The bike was never ready for prime time when first released. Racers had fewer problems because they rebuilt or checked motors every week or so.

    But your typical play rider or trail rider is the guy who took the bullet on this one. Sure, some guys thought they could treat the bike like an XR ... but the guys I know are experts and really good with maintenance. The buddy in Nevada has a son who has been on the ISDE team twice. Not slackers. Deeply experienced.

    After riding both the 250 and 450X I was ready to buy ..... but was waved off by trusted friends. I got the WR250F instead. I loved everything about the Honda: handling, power, suspension, but wouldn't ride a time bomb.

    I'm glad to hear you've apparently had great service from your Honda, but don't try to discredit the problematic history of this model. The Truth will always come out. Just ask the VP's at American Honda.

    Several of the rental companies in Baja tried the CRF's but most have gone back to XR400's (Chris Haines) or DRZ400's. A couple may still use CRF's. Good luck to them.

    I totally agree with what your saying about oil changes and non racing use. I'm sure a longer interval is fine. Same with rebuilds as long as the valves are checked frequently .... all good.
    #13
  14. justlookin

    justlookin Been here awhile

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    I bought one of the first CRF250X when they came out in 2004. I still have that bike and it has been my all time favorite. I have bought new CR Hondas every other year since 1993. I did keep my 97 CR until 2000 and that put me on even years purchases. I have decided I will keep this bike until fuel injection is released on the X. There have been almost nothing changed on the bike since 2004 - except for valve seat material and port shape - nothing that would make me jump to buy. I put in the James Dean jet kit (miserable lean stock) and installed my Pro Tapers - everything else stock. It is light, quiet will lift the front wheel in 3rd gear and has the button.
    I find the bike only slightly more difficult to work on than a 2 stroke. I have been through my valves twice and if you check the valve lash (super simple job) you will know when it is time to change - no suprizes. I have always replaced my valves with stock Honda parts - about half as much money and I get excellent service life out of them. I have no idea how many hours I have on this bike - we try to ride every weekend in the summer and every other in the winter - not working out this year, been 4 weeks. Guess you can tell that I love this bike!
    Now all of that said I too am going to run the TAT this year and I recently bought a new 2007 XR650R. I truely believe that a fresh CRF is capable of doing this trip - if it was entirely off road I am sure it would. The CRF was designed to bounce off trees all day. The XR650R was designed to run 100mph all day across the desert. I think i got the right hammer for this nail. Good luck with your decision
    #14
  15. Southest US Thumper

    Southest US Thumper Extreme n00b

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    Have you ever noticed how many Honda Adds there are in DR? Cars, Parts, Bikes? You don't bite the hand....

    I have two friends with 250Xs and three with 450Xs all 05's and the bikes have been solid, one buddy w/ a 450X is a complete maintenance ignorer and the damn thing still runs like a champ. I think not bouncing them off of the Rev Limiter all the time helps in valve longevity.

    That said, I'm on my second plated WR250F (swapped out for the aluminium frame last year) and am loving it!!! :clap :clap :clap
    #15
  16. ramz

    ramz Professional Trail Rider

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    Kibblewhite makes Honda valves, not heads. No other 'outfit' makes CRF250X heads. Many shops/tuners modify stock Honda heads and will sell you performance or reliability, sometimes both. Stainless intake valves are a common choice for reliability.

    In '06, Honda changed the intake valve seat material in the heads on both the X and R models. In addition, the R model got reshaped intake and exhaust ports. In '07 and '08, Honda did more port reshaping on the X and R heads; no changes for '09 to either model.

    Changing the valve seat material did improve the titanium intake valves reliability.

    Changing the ports improved performance.

    There have been no other changes to the heads to improve reliability.


    Other problems elsewhere in the 250 engine have been reported but nothing I would call chronic or systemic. Did I just use those words :lol3

    If you service the bike as Honda recommends, keep the air filter clean, and put filters on the carb vent hoses you'll probably not have any problems beyond normal wear-and-tear. But hey, I know a guy who blew one up on the first ride - he changed the oil because he didn't trust the dealer and then only filled the tranny and not the engine also. :baldy :baldy
    #16
  17. KV-KLR

    KV-KLR Adventurer

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    Good information and banter :clap . I find it funny when something like this can bring out such polarizing opinions.... from best bike to time bomb.

    A piece of the story that has me thinking so seriously about this bike is the price. I can get it for less than half of some of the bikes suggested... much less than half for the others. I think "value" makes things swing in favor of the 250X for me. It has very low hours/miles and has some upgrades already. Maybe not the best hammer for the nail, but I've been known to hit nails with the back of a stapler :D

    As for valves and heads, I wonder if so many of the reported problems and issues come from guys thinking they are smarter than Honda by putting in SS valves replacing the Ti. Putting in something of harder material and less prone to wear only transfers stress to other parts. Just my thoughts. In my experience with tinkering with internals of engines, replacing/upgrading one part quickly cascades into many problems and parts.
    #17
  18. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    No. Ti is harder than steel. That's part of the "problem". Ti is MUCH harder than the aluminum used in the heads. Plus, the spring tension has to be exact because of the difference in material hardness. Combine this with the extreme light weight of the Ti vs steel, it leads to issues.:1drink
    #18
  19. KV-KLR

    KV-KLR Adventurer

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    You're right. That's what I get for posting while also working late on a Saturday night. My point remains the same though. Start re-engineering internals and you are on the path of finding next weakest link.

    I will post back if it happens this week.
    #19
  20. kenaroo

    kenaroo I am because i ride

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    It always seems the rumors are started from non honda owners from hearsay from a buddy that rode one or a friend of a friend.

    Look.. I raced the 250 for 3 years. these are good bikes..

    most of these problems are from riders treating these bikes like they are XR hondas. they are not..

    after my stock valves went.. I replaced them with the kibblewhites. as well as having my valve seats and guides set up for the new valves. those valves went two years with no issues.. I had to reshim the intakes twice.

    I changed my air filter after every ride.. change the oil after every 10 hours or so.. used a carb vent filter which prevented dust and dirt getting sucked up the carb.

    This bike would be great to putt around with your daughter.. it can be ridden on the street for miles.. though the small bore is better off road than Highway.


    I have seen no difference in maintance with the honda 250 than with my Beta 525 with RFS ktm motor.. in fact.. the valves on the beta are looking to be adjusted more than the CRF...
    #20