Story by Michael Allen And Photos By Adam Booth and Chris Denison
Honda’s off-road line-up hasn’t changed much in several years, with the exception of new graphics and a white rear fender. The 450X and 250X are the same stout and proven machines they’ve been for years, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be hard to improve on a solid off-road platform without making it a closed-course machine. I got a chance to ride the 250X for an extended test, a 24-hour test, to be exact. I decided to Ironman the 24 Hours of Glen Helen and I became well acquainted with the X, finding all the strong and weak points of the almost bone-stock ride. I came away with a new respect for the small bore off-road bike that everyone seems to write off as a wife’s trail bike.
I received the X in completely stock form and that’s the way I raced it. I even ran stock jetting, though it had a very slight hesitation when the throttle was snapped open quickly from idle, yet it didn’t hesitate once the rpms were higher than idle. This can be worked out with jetting and the fuel screw and if we had put on an aftermarket exhaust the stock jetting would have been way too lean. In terms of power, it is no rocket ship, but makes enough power to get almost anywhere I needed to go. The only place this bike struggled was on long, power-robbing sandy hills, forcing me to get a long run and let the bike rev. The bike makes great power throughout the RPM range, but tapers off a bit on top. I was impressed with the bottom-to-mid power the X makes, especially for a 250 four stroke.
In the suspension department the X is a tad on the soft side for my six-foot tall, 170-pound frame. For normal trail chatter and light braking bumps the stock suspension does a great job, but once you find deep whoops, fast G-outs or sharp-edged braking bumps, it starts to show its softer side. After some pre race testing I stole a set of Pro Circuit 250X suspension from DR Senior Editor Adam Booth. It was sweet stuff that had amazing plushness but resisted bottoming better than the stock set up. The X is definitely a trail bike and has great straight-line stability at any speed. It turns very well in flat corners, but doesn’t seem to like rutted corners quite as much. Having an 18’’ rear wheel is a definite plus when it comes to trail/off road riding because it takes hard impacts like rocks and logs with less chance of a pinch flat.
The resettable analog odometer is quite outdated, considering I have the same one on my 1988 XR 600, but it is functional nonetheless. The headlight is terribly dim and the brightness fluctuates quite a bit with engine RPM. For the night session we had installed a rewound stator and rectifier by Baja Designs to power the older style Baja Designs double stack HID lights. It was a struggle for the little rewound stator on the X to keep up with powering both lights and I switched between running one and two depending on my speed. I also used the Baja Designs Strykr LED helmet light. Having a tool-less side access air filter is a plus, but it is a tight fit to get it seated correctly. At the end of my 24-hour test, I came to the realization that the 2013 CRF 250X does a great job doing what it was intended to do: be a rider-friendly, reliable, fun trail bike that with some tweaking could be a viable race contender.
24-Hours Behind Bars
For the first six hours of the race I felt really good, both mentally and physically. Around hour seven I left the pits leading my class and about two miles into the course I noticed the back of the bike swapping through a whoop section, then it almost came out from under me in the next corner. I took a brief second to check out the rear tire and sure enough, it was flat. This was the first mental challenge of the race for me. I went straight back to the pits. My dad and friends changed it out as fast as possible and had me back in action quickly. The reason this played mental games with me is because I lost my lead by one lap and tried for the next 10 hours to make up for my lost time.
At about ten o’clock at night, while trying to make up for lost time, I looked behind me and noticed a bright light closing in on me. I knew there was a technical downhill a half mile ahead and I didn’t want to navigate it in a fellow racers dust so I twisted my wrist just a little more. Next thing I knew I was picking myself up off the cold, hard ground trying to find my bike. Once I had my get-off I decided to take it easy and just race my race and go for a solid finish. I had hurt my wrist and didn’t want to push my luck or my body because I knew I had a big race the following weekend.
Throughout my 24 hours on the bike I only took one break at 5am. I stopped for an hour when I was informed that the leader of my class was just pacing me so I could never make up my down time from the flat tire. I was also informed that third place was about 15 laps down from me. What kept me energized for 24 hours was a lot of pasta salad. I ate at least 10 bites every time I stopped for fuel. I also ate a few sandwiches, some gel shots, and probably a gallon of Gatorade. In the middle of the night Boothy started mixing my water system with Gatorade and water 50/50. At the 22 hour mark is when I really started to get tired, I found myself stopping in the middle of the course for no reason, and was just delirious in general. The only thing that kept me going was when other members of the Dirt Rider crew would lap me and cheer me on. That kept me mentally focused and determined to finish.
The recovery from a 24 hour iron man race is rough, the worst part being that I had to go to work on Monday, and race round nine of the National Hare and Hound series the following weekend. Every day after work the week following I did a lot of sleeping and eating to try and get my body back to at least 80%. It took about two weeks for all the pains and aches to go away, and my wrist still hurts from my late-night get off, but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat just for a chance to win the Ironman class at the Glen Helen 24 hour!