Manufacturers would have you believe that you need a big adventure bike to venture down dirt tracks, but if you’re serious about greenlaning and off-road leisure riding, there are plenty more manageable bikes on the market.
Full on enduro bikes like the Yamaha WR450 are thinly veiled racers with lights, but beyond those aggressive pure competition models lie machines like the KTM Freeride series and this, the Honda CRF250X.
We rode the little CRF at Honda’s off-road centre in Exmoor, where motocross legend Dave Thorpe takes groups on stunning Devon trails on these rugged little bikes.
While the CRF250X can be specified in road legal trim, it’s not the sort of bike you’d ride on a day to day basis. The 249cc single makes under 30bhp but that’s plenty for our mostly slow-speed route that mixes gravel trails with single-track paths through the forest, and even a short section splashing along a stream. In many ways the rider-friendly CRF is ideal for the job, especially with Dave’s team of youthful and enthusiastic experts on hand to give advice and encouragement.
What makes the CRF250X such a friendly off-roader is its simplicity and a lack of weight. At just 115kg with fuel in it, the CRF is a cinch to pick up when you inevitably drop it on a trail (just try doing that when your fully loaded GS or Tiger topples over) and the lightweight plastic bodywork has been designed for the rough and tumble of off-road riding.
The result is an extremely manoeuvrable mountain goat of a motorcycle. Joining us on our day at Dave’s school was none other than Freddie Spencer, who grew up dirt-track racing before embarking on his stellar road-race career (which included three world titles in the Eighties when, like Thorpe, he was a factory Honda rider), but rarely rides off-road. “I never stood up on a bike so it’s not something I’m used to doing, and I can always learn things,” says Freddie, who ran a road-race school in Las Vegas for 11 years after quitting racing. “It’s a different discipline with different techniques, so I listen to Dave like everyone else.”
The CRF250X costs £6233 but for £225 you can try one out for yourself, with an excellent day out at Dave’s school. The course can be fine-tuned for all abilities and includes use of riding gear if required. More details can be found at: www.davethorpehondaoffroad.com/events/enduro.
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