The new Honda CRF300L could be the dual-sport you've been waiting for
Small capacity dual-sport motorcycles make a lot of sense at the moment. Affordable to buy or finance and cheap to run, these veritable multitools of the two-wheel world can also gobble up anything their owners choose to steer them down. From lumpy urban asphalt to dirt roads and unexplored single track, the humble dual-sport can do it all.
And the latest to join the fray is the new Honda CRF300L that replaces the Japanese firm's popular CRF250L that was first unveiled back in 2012. Now while the latter certainly found favour with riders across the world, many criticised its lack of oomph when compared to more well-endowed rivals. So Honda listened and added an extra 50cc of engine capacity.
Indeed, Big Red's new CRF300L produces 10% more peak power (20.1kW at 8,500rpm) and 18% more peak torque (26.6Nm at 6,500rpm) than its predecessor ever did. Revised inlet cam timing and a fresh new air intake and exhaust system also offer up stronger mid-range tractability. Other modifications can be found in the gearbox where Honda's engineers shorted the first five ratios for improved response and fitted a taller sixth for more relaxed highway cruising. Finally, an assist/slipper clutch has been installed to help manage the rear wheel under hard down changes and offer 20% less load at the lever.
An increase in displacement is usually accompanied by an increase in weight but here the CRF300L tips the scales at 142kg (wet) — 4kg lighter than the outgoing CRF250L. This is mostly thanks to a redesigned steel frame, aluminium swing-arm and bottom yoke.
Honda has also readjusted the bike's steering geometry, increased ground clearance (255 to 285mm) and boosted suspension travel both front and rear. The 43mm Showa inverted fork gains 10mm of stroke to 260mm, with spring weight and damping settings revised for precise control over a wide range of terrain. Pro-Link rear suspension now features a 260mm axle stroke, from 240mm and the Showa shock absorber is a single tube design. Reliable stopping power comes courtesy a two-channel ABS brake system as standard.
Riders can also look forward to new sharp-edged bodywork that's home to a slimmer fuel tank and seat plus a revised LCD instrument display with bigger, easier-to-read digits. Readouts include a tachometer, gear position indicator, average speed, stopwatch, fuel mileage and consumption. The riding position, too, has been altered to encourage the light steering manoeuvrability needed off-road and — just as usefully — around town.
So how much will the new Honda CRF300L set you back? You're looking at R84,999 including VAT — pretty competitive for an attainable machine that can tick so many boxes.