As off-road riding enjoys a renaissance under the new normal, motorcycle companies have been enjoying unprecedented sales figures for their bikes that are specifically designed for such sport. Like their entry into the big bike scene in the country, Honda is also the last among the Japanese “Big 4” to officially field a production bike for off-road use.

This new bike is the 2022 CRF250RX.

250cc production bike

In a broad sense, when someone says “production bike”, it is a purpose-built motorcycle that is usually for off-road use only, such as motocross (MX) and enduro bikes. At the heart of the new CRF250RX is a 249cc, liquid-cooled EFI thumper with double overhead cams (titanium valves) mated to a 5-speed, transmission.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

As far as MotoPinas.com is concerned, the new CRF250RX is the first-ever off-road bike that we tested which is equipped with electronic aids such as riding and launch control modes – both have a 3 system level selection.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

The battery housing (black) of the CRF250RX

 

Additionally, according to Honda, the CRF250RX is also equipped with a Gear Position Engine Mapping, which means each of the 5 gears has its own unique throttle and engine response on top of the 3 engine mappings that were discussed above, ensuring optimal power delivery with each gear shift.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

Other features include an 8-liter composite fuel tank, slim frame design, lightweight exhaust, Showa suspension system, handguards, and many more. The 2022 Honda CRF250RX tips the scales at 108 kilograms fully fueled and ready to hit the trails.

Riding the 2022 CRF250RX: it’s a tall bike (for me)

As expected of a bonafide dirtbike like the CRF250RX, it is a tall bike (at least for me), with its seat height towering at 965mm (38 inches) against my 5’6 height. The seat alone is already above my waistline, unladen.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

No qualms there, as these bikes are supposed to stand tall to enable a long-travel suspension, plus, high ground clearance to tackle any obstacle one can encounter off-road.

Speaking of high ground clearance, the CRF250RX also boasts a 335mm ground clearance – that’s more than a foot of ground clearance!

Riding the 2022 CRF250RX: engine and mapping

The raw power of the 2022 CRF250RX is delivered by a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 249cc single-cylinder engine (with titanium valves) producing an astonishing 47 Ps of power at only 6,500 rpm. That’s actually a whole 20% increase of power vs the 2021 model year CRF250RX.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

This was achieved by reworking the engine intake and exhaust, as well as the fuel injector aim and a larger airbox.

Being an endurocross bike, the first and second engine mapping options were not at home with the slow and technical trails of Magallanes, Cavite, where we took the bike for a spin. The first two engine maps preferred a more flowing or high-speed trail as power delivery starts at the middle of the rev range. For this, I got a few stalls on the first few kilometers of the trail.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

The third engine mapping option, however, felt at home, as it allowed for lower rev range grunt and "gapang" (crawl) on steep and often slippery single tracks of Magallanes. As with the gearing, the new CRF250RX shifts smoothly with its 5-speed close-ratio transmission.

Riding the 2022 CRF250RX: suspension

One of the important things in riding off-road is how the suspension system is set up, which typically leans on the softer side so that it could chew all the rocks, boulders, and ruts along the trail.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

Now being an endurocross bike, the suspension of the 2022 CRF250RX is too hard for my liking, even after setting it to “soft”. I was constantly fighting the bike not to bounce too hard on boulders and to not wheelie when it bounces off a small rock during an incline.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

Nonetheless, a visit to an off-road bike suspension specialist should fix that, tailor-fitting the suspension play based on the rider’s specifications.

Riding the 2022 CRF250RX: slim profile

Another thing that I noticed with the new CRF250RX is its significantly slim profile, making it easier to grip the bike with my legs, especially when stand-up riding. This was achieved by Honda by reworking the bike’s frame, thus also saving 680 grams in the process.

First ride: 2022 Honda CRF250RX image

I wish I had more time riding the new CRF250RX at the enduro Disneyland we call Magallanes. Unfortunately, Honda PH doesn’t have a CRF250RX demo bike yet and is also having issues with stocks availability. Good thing is that I have a friend who happens to be one of the owners of the first few units to arrive here in the country and he was happy to lend his personal bike to me with one condition: don’t drop the bike.