Honda CRF230L Review

By: Buddha

Go where you want...

Honda CRF230L Review
Honda CRF230L

Now, we live in a millennium where women are as free and willing as men (well, at least in the bars I frequent they are!) and the time is ripe for bikes like the CRF230L. It's a good little ambassador for the dual-sport breed, bringing street lovers to dirt, dust lovers to street, and easily introducing the missus to the freedom of twisting a throttle.

Both of our testers mention that the CRF230L is nigh-on perfect for that adventure-seeking woman looking to get her own motorcycle. But it's not only a girl's bike, and for even experienced riders with the right mindset, the 230L fosters the essence of motorcycling in general - to discover and explore, not only the outside world but ourselves in the process (Very deep, Buddha, very deep! Dep.Ed).

Within the family line, the CRF230L is a more versatile step up from the off-road-only CRF230F. Both bikes share the same 65.5mm x 66.2mm bore and stroke 223cc air-cooled SOHC two-valve Thumper, but the street-legal L model breathes through a larger 30mm CV carb while the F boyo uses a smaller 26mm piston-valve carb. Both machines put power to the ground via a six-speed tranny. They also share the same 37mm leading-axle Showa fork.

Braking duties are pretty much the same on both bikes, with dual-piston, sliding-pin calipers pinching a 240mm disc up front, but the L ups the ante with a 220mm disc out back instead of its sister's drum brake. Each bike runs a 21-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear.

Sporting a mild grunt in the exhaust note and suspended enough to fly high without bottoming out the ride, (even with Buddha's behemoth butt bouncing off the seat!), Honda have just about got it spot on with the CRF3230L. Its dual-cradle frame and chassis dimensions offer a flickable ride without sacrificing the whole bike to the wind gods when they come knocking on the door.

The MX-style seat is perfect for the changing conditions of trail as well as the street, and handlebar height gives plenty of room for stand-up riding, although the footpegs could use a little beefing up as they are a bit narrow and puny for our tastes. Speaking of pegs, this little dual-sporter comes with rear pegs for a passenger, yet they fold out of the way to maintain the sleek, compact feel and look of the 230L. Pillion riders will also appreciate the discreet hand strap on the back of the seat, allowing for a more secure ride.

This street-legal 230L features the ever-popular CRF-R-inspired bodywork in the famous Honda red (the red ones go faster I hear), flex-mounted turn signals, steel folding pegs, slim-line retractable passenger pegs and feather-light steering. That extra streetable gear equates to a ready-to-ride weight of 121kgs, a 6kg gain over the F. There's got to be a trade-off somewhere, right? All told, the CRF230L is a perfect starter bike.



Engine Type: 223cc air-cooled single-cylinder, four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 65.5mm x 66.2mm
Valve Train: SOHC, two-valve


Starter: Electric
Gearbox: Six-speed


Suspension Front: 37mm leading-axle Showa fork; 229mm of travel
Suspension Rear: Pro-Link Showa single shock with spring preload adjustability; 160mm travel
Brakes Front: Single 240mm disc
Brakes Rear: 220mm disc
Tyres Front: 2.75-21
Tyres Rear: 120/80-18


Wheelbase: 1340mm
Trail: 103mm
Seat Height: 810mm
Ground Clearance: 241mm
Kerb Weight: 121kg (includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel-ready to ride)
Fuel Capacity: 8.7 litres, including 2.6 litres reserve