The off-road motorcycle market is primarily dominated by six major manufacturers reigning from Austria and Japan. Every year these six brands battle it out in Supercross and Pro Motocross, and some of them also support riders and teams in off-road racing such as the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series, Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series, National Grand Prix Championship, and World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS). However, with all of the effort put toward performance, racing, winning, and the models that coincide with it, Honda has given a revamped focus to the weekend warriors who are less concerned with peak performance and are more interested in hitting the trail with the family, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

The 2019 Honda CRF250F in front of a mountain.
The all-new 2019 Honda CRF250F in all its glory for $4,599.Jeff Allen

Honda announced details about its 2019 trailbikes at the 2018 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy, which included the CRF110F, CRF125F, CRF125F Big Wheel, and CRF250F. The CRF250F is the flagship of the CRF Recreational Line and was granted a complete update for 2019 including a 22cc displacement increase, which bumps the engine up to a quarter liter from the previous generation’s 230cc powerplant. Another significant update is that the SOHC, air-cooled engine is fed by a Keihin electronic fuel-injection system, which in comparison to the outgoing carbureted motor is designed to reduce emissions and enhance performance and fuel efficiency. Switching to fuel injection also helped enable the CRF250F to be deemed 50-state off-road legal.

Left profile of the 2019 Honda CRF250F in front of a mountain.
For 2019, Honda grants the CRF a 22cc larger displacement over its predecessor—the CRF230F.Jeff Allen


Right profile of the 2019 Honda CRF250F engine.
Also new for 2019, the entire CRF Recreational Line receives electric start as well as Keihin electronic fuel injection.Jeff Allen

The CRF250F’s new engine was designed with the goal of producing more power and torque than its predecessor—the CRF230F—and therefore increase the bike’s capabilities on the trail. The engine is equipped with a five-speed gearbox, which offers a short and torquey first gear capable of tackling tight single-track and technical uphills. Clicking through the gearbox is when it becomes more apparent the CRF250F is not designed to be a racebike, as it offers a broad powerband and gets up to speed in a very controllable and predictable manner. This type of power delivery instills confidence in newer riders with less experience. Although the CRF250F engine can be limiting for a more experienced rider, the power delivery enhances the more relaxed nature of trail riding due to the slower speeds and different approach to the terrain ahead. Less concerned about speed, jumps, and berm blasting, the CRF250F encourages the rider to discover the possibilities of where a motorcycle can take you.


Riding the 2019 Honda CRF250F speeds down slope.
Despite limited suspension travel, the CRF250F never shies away from a challenge.Jeff Allen

With a motocross or competition off-road bike, the suspension components can make a difference in a buyer’s choice on the showroom floor. While suspension is still an important factor for a trail rider to consider, it’s less of a concern. The CRF250F comes with a Showa 41mm fork and Showa shock. The fork is nonadjustable, while the shock’s one tuning capability is spring preload. The components are set up ideally for the beginner to intermediate level trail rider, offering a plush ride on average-speed trails. With a limited amount of travel in the front and rear—8.5 inches for the fork and 9 inches for the shock—the CRF250F can be susceptible to bottoming when the limits of the bike are exceeded, such as when the speeds increase and the terrain gets rougher. However, the target rider for the CRF250F won’t easily find the limits of the suspension and will appreciate the comfort it offers.


2019 Honda CRF250F crawling over rocks.
Rock crawling is made easy with the Honda’s smooth bottom-end power delivery.Jeff Allen

Built around a tubular steel, twin-spar frame, the CRF250F offers a good balance between chassis rigidity and suspension plushness. When I first hopped on the bike, the Honda’s ergonomics are easy to get comfortable with right away. The shorter seat height instills confidence in the rider when stopping trail-side or when getting stuck in an inconvenient area such as a technical uphill. Honda’s motocross bikes are sharp-handling motorcycles, and the CRF250F carries that tradition as it’s very responsive to rider input. Maneuvering from one side of the trail to the other takes little effort, and the Honda trailbike seems to go exactly where you want it to. Honda spec’d the all-new CRF250F with a 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel, which allows for a wide selection of tires for the rider to choose from depending on the conditions and preference. In stock form, the bike comes with a set of very capable Pirelli Scorpion XC tires, which offered good traction and feedback on the desert terrain we tested on in everything from sand to granite rocks.


2019 Honda CRF250F doing wheelie in desert.
Although the Honda doesn’t have a big hit off the bottom, it’s nothing a little clutch work can’t fix.Jeff Allen

As I finished the day of riding and loaded the bike into the back of the van, I thought about how versatile the CRF250F really is. It offers a great package for a wide range of riders due to its manageable power delivery, electric start, plush suspension, and comfortable ergonomics. This bike bridges the gap for a lot of riders who aren’t looking to ride or race motocross and may be moving up from a 110 or 125 four-stroke but aren’t quite ready for a full-size trailbike like the CRF250X or CRF450X.

2019 Honda CRF250F rides through desert.
With its extremely manageable power delivery, the CRF250F finds traction even in the driest desert conditions.Jeff Allen


PRICE $4,599
ENGINE 249cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
FRAME Steel tubular twin-spar
FRONT SUSPENSION Showa 41mm coil-spring telescopic fork; 8.5-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Showa shock adjustable for spring preload; 9.0-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Nissin 2-piston caliper, 240mm disc
REAR BRAKE Nissin 1-piston caliper, 220mm disc
WHEELBASE 55.9 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 34.8 in.
2019 Honda CRF250F sand surfing in the desert.
The CRF250F makes for a good sand surfing sled.Jeff Allen