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Honda has been building dual-purpose four-stroke singles since the XL series of the early 1970s, typified by the remarkably versatile XL250S.
Now that XL has a new-century successor in the newly-released CRF250L - designed, say the Hondas R&D guys at Asaka, “to make 'On' (daily life) more convenient and 'Off' (weekends) more enjoyable”.
It’s built around a liquid-cooled, 249cc, short-stroke (76 x 55mm) single with an electric foot for easy starting (kick-starting four-stroke singles is so last century!) and a balance shaft for smooth running.
A new, very compact roller/rocker set-up makes the twin-cam, four-valve cylinder head more compact and PGM-FI fuel-injection with a 36mm throttle body keeps things clean.
Honda quotes a somewhat pedestrian 17kW at 8500rpm and a much more respectable 22Nm at 7000.
This neat little prime mover lives in an oval-section steel (for durability) frame with a bolt-on rear subframe (also steel) and a tapered aluminium swing-arm.
Suspension is by 43mm Showa upside-downies in front and Pro-link rear with a 40mm Showa damper, braking by petal disks with floating callipers at both ends and the bike runs on classic 21” front and 18” rear spoked aluminium rims.
The styling of the 250L is, of course, derived from Honda's CRF-series motocrossers - not, interestingly, from the super-successful XR650 Baja enduro winner, which gives you an indication of Honda's target market - and follows the competition bikes' design language of mass centralisation and triangular proportion.
Seat height is 875mm and the fuel tank holds just 7.7 litres, while the long slim seat and wide, braced 'bars give you plenty of room to move around on tight trails - or in the Friday-night gridlock.
A compact all-digital display tucked out of harm's way behind the enduro-style fly-screen shows speed, time, distance (with two trip meters) and fuel level on a neat bar graph on the right.
The CRF250L is available now from Honda dealers at R39 900.
Engine: 249cc liquid-cooled four-stroke single.
Bore x stroke: 76 x 55mm.
Compression ratio: 10.7:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 17.0kW at 8500rpm.
Torque: 22.0Nm at 7000rpm.
Induction: Programmed electronic fuel-injection with 36mm throttle body.
Ignition: Full-transistor battery ignition.
Clutch: Hydraulically-actuated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: 43mm Showa inverted cartridge forks.
Rear Suspension: Pro-link with Showa 40mm monoshock adjustable for preload.
Front brakes: 256mm petal disc with dual-piston floating calliper.
Rear brake: 220mm disc with single-piston floating calliper.
Front tyre: 3.00-21 tube type.
Rear tyre: 120/80 - 18 tube type.
Seat height: 875mm.
Kerb weight: 144kg.
Fuel tank: 7.7 litres.
Price: R39 900.