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Looks sweet, a reasonable alternative for those unwilling to drop £8k on a CCM.
Are the twin silencers really necessary? I'll concede they look better than trying to fit something the size of a CBR250R silencer under the seat, so maybe they are the best way?
 

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Now I really like that. That thing with some street usable rubber could be an ultra versatile, and incredibly fun, machine for just about anything. Obviously the knobbies would be awesome for going out to find the end of the road, and beyond.
 

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And, it still has the same "massive" 2 gallon gas tank?
 

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I wonder how they will handle the then mandatory ABS in Europe from 2016 on. So far I haven't seen such a small bike with one that could be switched on and off like on some bigger models but I really can't imagine that they'll use one that's permanently on like on the CBR.

The bike itself looks sexy but seems to have a very narrow saddle so it might not be that much fun for touring.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
And, it still has the same "massive" 2 gallon gas tank?
Hard to tell with the larger side panels, but it's possible that this Rally version may have a little more fuel capacity than that of the CRF250L model. If not, there is always the possibility of a larger aftermarket tank becoming available at some point. I know there are now larger tanks for the L on the market.

I wonder how they will handle the then mandatory ABS in Europe from 2016 on. So far I haven't seen such a small bike with one that could be switched on and off like on some bigger models but I really can't imagine that they'll use one that's permanently on like on the CBR.

The bike itself looks sexy but seems to have a very narrow saddle so it might not be that much fun for touring.
I don't see this bike as being looked at by many buyers (at least knowledgeable buyers) as a 'touring bike'... this is a Dual Sport/ADV bike that is clearly intended for off road as it's primary use.

The tires alone say off road, or at least off of paved roads. I've been running those same Michelin T-63 DOT knobby tires on my XR650L, and I can say from first hand experience that while they work pretty well on hard to intermediate terrain trails and gravel road use, they wear far too quickly for primary use on paved roads. I consider the intended use for the Michelin T-63's to be about 15% on-road and 85% off-road.
 

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I don't see this bike as being looked at by many buyers (at least knowledgeable buyers) as a 'touring bike'... this is a Dual Sport/ADV bike that is clearly intended for off road as it's primary use.
While I tend to agree I thought the windshield and "Rally" designation meant for it to be ridden at higher speeds for longer time. That would be pretty much impossible here in Germany without sticking to paved roads but it might be a completely different thing in other parts of the world.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I wonder how they will handle the then mandatory ABS in Europe from 2016 on. So far I haven't seen such a small bike with one that could be switched on and off like on some bigger models but I really can't imagine that they'll use one that's permanently on like on the CBR...
That's a good question... maybe Honda doesn't intend to fit an ABS system on a bike like this, and just not bring it into the EU. After all, Honda has the ABS equipped CRF1000L Africa Twin coming out this spring, and that is the bike that the core ADV riders are waiting and drooling over.

Also brings up the question of what will happen to the CRF250L & M models when the mandatory ABS takes effect in the EU? Will Honda fit ABS in order to continue those models in Europe, or will the CRF250's be dropped in that market.

I know that the CRF250L has been a very successful bike for Honda in the U.S., so perhaps the CRF250 Rally will only be available in those markets where ABS is not mandated.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Now I really like that. That thing with some street usable rubber could be an ultra versatile, and incredibly fun, machine for just about anything. Obviously the knobbies would be awesome for going out to find the end of the road, and beyond.
You could certainly do that, as there are plenty of pavement oriented tires available in 21" and 18" sizes. Of course then you're compromising the off road capability of the bike in favor of street use.

As for these Michelin T-63 DOT street legal tires (which are fairly inexpensive as compared to other DOT legal knobbies, like the Metzeler's and Dunlop's) they've fitted on this CRF250 Rally, they do perform pretty well in terms of grip on pavement due to the shorter lug height, which also helps to make them fairly smooth in terms of felt vibrations. As I said in my previous post, the downside is that they just won't last very long for everyday use on pavement, due to their soft rubber compound.
 

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It looks to me like the bike in the pictures is a pre-production prototype on show and deliberately fitted with serious kit to be eye-catching and gauge interest. I'd expect the version that hits the streets to have tamer tyres, longer rear mudguard, maybe ABS and cheaper to produce silencers.
I suppose it would be too much to ask for a CRF450 version?
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
It looks to me like the bike in the pictures is a pre-production prototype on show and deliberately fitted with serious kit to be eye-catching and gauge interest. I'd expect the version that hits the streets to have tamer tyres, longer rear mudguard, maybe ABS and cheaper to produce silencers.
As was stated, the bike shown in the opening post is a concept bike. But I don't think Honda would "dumb down" a production version, at least not much from what we see in these photos, in an effort to make it more street friendly. Underneath all the cool Rally 'kit', DOT knobbies, it's a CRF250L. If someone wants a tamer street friendly D/S bike to say commute with, that bike is available at Honda dealers right now in the CRF250L.

I don't think you'll find a 'tamer tire' that can do the job off road, these Michelin T-63 DOT tires are nothing unusual to see on this type of bike... KTM EXC 350's & 500's come fitted with similar looking Metzeler DOT knobby tires. These tires are street legal in the U.S. (not sure about other countries).

As for the mufflers, they too are not particularly exotic or expensive to produce.


I suppose it would be too much to ask for a CRF450 version?
Yeah, I doubt that's likely to happen. One reason... because the CRF450R & X models are full on competition bikes, and as such have no factory warranty. So while it sounds like it would be an awesome Dual Sport bike, a CRF450X with street legal lighting, etc., would be tough for Honda to sell with a warranty... those high maintenance 450 motors would not hold up very well to constant high RPM use like you'd have running down a freeway at 80 MPH for hours on end.
Also, the 450 motor as it sits would not meet EPA emissions standards for street use.
 

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[QUOTE} If someone wants a tamer street friendly D/S bike to say commute with, that bike is available at Honda dealers right now in the CRF250L.

I don't think you'll find a 'tamer tire' that can do the job off road, these Michelin T-63 DOT tires are nothing unusual to see on this type of bike... KTM EXC 350's & 500's come fitted with similar looking Metzeler DOT knobby tires. These tires are street legal in the U.S. (not sure about other countries).

[/QUOTE]

I don't think Honda would intend that bike for serious off road use. If it's CRF250L based and fitted with indicators as in the pictures I'd expect Honda to spec it with a competitive price point and volume sales in mind i,e, as a styling exercise primarily for road use like they have done with the CB500X.
It does look a particularly attractive styling exercise though and if Honda can keep the price within 10-15% more than the CRF250L I think they'll sell plenty.

Of course time will tell which of us is right.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I don't think Honda would intend that bike for serious off road use. If it's CRF250L based and fitted with indicators as in the pictures I'd expect Honda to spec it with a competitive price point and volume sales in mind i,e, as a styling exercise primarily for road use like they have done with the CB500X.
It does look a particularly attractive styling exercise though and if Honda can keep the price within 10-15% more than the CRF250L I think they'll sell plenty.

Of course time will tell which of us is right.
"Serious off road use" is a relative term... if you mean actual off road competition, such as Baja 1000 desert racing, of course that's not what this CRF250 Rally would be intended for.

But on the other hand, just like the CRF250L that it is based on, it is clearly designed to be ridden off road at least as much as on road... hence the term "Dual Sport". In other words, bikes like the CRF250L (or this proposed Rally version), just like all of the Honda XR's with DOT lighting that have preceded them, were not designed or intended to be on-road bikes as they're primary use. Going back nearly five decades, the Dual Sport category has it's roots clearly planted in the off-road world. And that hasn't changed... the main thing modern D/S bikes have in common with street bikes is DOT legal lighting and mirrors. Beyond that they are as different as apples & oranges.

So no, the CRF250 Rally is not "a styling exercise primarily for road use". If it was, Honda would not have fitted it with 10% on-road/90% off-road knobby tires, would they?


As for the CB500X, that bike is not in any way shape or form considered to be a Dual Sport bike. The so-called "Adventure" category is more of a marketing gimmick than anything else. For starters, the CB500X has only half the amount of rear suspension travel, and only 2/3 as much front suspension travel as compared to the CRF250L. I won't even go into the huge differences in frame geometry between the CRF and CBR/CB series... again it's apples & oranges.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So Keith, would you think that Honda designed the XR650L primarily for on-road use?... Hint: the XR650L is based on Honda's Baja 1000 winning XR600R. And the two bikes have about 80% of their off the shelf parts in common.

This pic is of a showroom stock XR650L...




This is a pic of my '94 XR650L... note the same Michelin T-63 tires as fitted on the CRF250 Rally.
 

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If we are going to talk about enduros (that is what dual sports used to be called) and riding dirt, I'd like to start with this thought:



Having met a few nurses, I'd like to show an old enduro that had less capable tires (TW39 &40) in it's natural habitat:



Recently, there are two classes: (a) competitive bikes that can be raced with a slight prayer of winning; and, (b) bikes suitable for use on trails and poorly maintained dirt roads, but not meant to be raced.

The "new" Honda CRF250 Rally is one of the latter group. I ride a precursor of that bike and had to modify it a bit, just to take it on rugged double track trails. This picture is before the 48-tooth rear sprocket:



Sorry for derailing this thread a small bit, but, those old enduros were working bikes.
 

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Mike. The 250 and 650 markets are quite different. 250s account for a far higher volume of sales, particularly to less experienced riders, and I would wager at least a couple of beers that more CRF250s are bought as short journey run-abouts than are purchased with the intention of being taken off road, despite their obvious suitability for it. I see the CRF250 Rally as a successor to the XR250 Baja pictured below which was a Japanese Domestic Market model for a decade or more. I personally imported a dozen or more of these when I was in the trade and only a small minority of them showed any signs of off road use, far less than the portion of 'basic' XLR250s that had.

I stand by my original point that the tyres fitted to the bike in the pictures you posted are in my opinion there as a teaser and I believe that Honda are not daft enough to ignore the mass market appeal of such a pretty bike and reduce sales by pitching it at a niche market.

It's a disappointment to enthusiasts like yourself and many others on this forum but unless there is some class of rally competition that I am unaware of that demands a 250cc capacity limit I can't see that Honda would put that bike in showrooms in the spec shown.



 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
... and, (b) bikes suitable for use on trails and poorly maintained dirt roads, but not meant to be raced.

The "new" Honda CRF250 Rally is one of the latter group...

... Sorry for derailing this thread a small bit, but, those old enduros were working bikes.
John, you didn't derail the thread... to the contrary, your post illustrates the idea and intended use of Dual Sport motorcycles.

... 250s account for a far higher volume of sales, particularly to less experienced riders, and I would wager at least a couple of beers that more CRF250s are bought as short journey run-abouts than are purchased with the intention of being taken off road, despite their obvious suitability for it...
I agree... no doubt many people buy Dual Sports and rarely (if ever) take them off of the paved roads. I see lots of Dual Sport bikes in my area, mostly being ridden in town. Ironically, I never encounter any of these local D/S bikes out on the trails in the S.F. National Forest where I ride my XR's. But that doesn't mean that the manufacturers design and build these D/S bikes as 'primarily for street use'.

Conversely, if someone rides their CBR250R down a few gravel forest roads, that doesn't somehow suddenly make the CBR250R a capable 'off road' bike. That idea is nothing short of laughable.

I'm always amazed at how often new riders buy a particular bike, then complain that it doesn't do this thing or that thing very well. So often, the truth of the matter is that many simply bought the wrong bike for what their expectations are, and what they really want to do with it.
 

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I'm always amazed at how often new riders buy a particular bike, then complain that it doesn't do this thing or that thing very well. So often, the truth of the matter is that many simply bought the wrong bike for what their expectations are, and what they really want to do with it.
I would extend that observation to experienced riders as well. Over on the forum for my F800GT, there are a number of people complaining that the bike can't do this or that, or that it has this or that deficiency in some aspect of what they are trying to do with it.

Primarily they are people who A) couldn't afford a full touring bike and bought the GT in hopes that it would be close enough to what they wanted, or B) want a full touring bike but can't physically handle it and so bought the GT in hopes that it would be close enough to a full touring bike.

Those who are satisfied (like me), bought the GT with the full understanding of it as a jack-of-all-trades middleweight sport touring motorcycle that makes numerous compromises to fulfill its all-rounder mission superbly.
 
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