This review presents one of the most accomplished off-road play bikes that the market has to offer. The electric-start CRF230F is the perfect match for recreational riders discovering the world of off-road adventure.
A certified hit with anyone who’s ever thrown a leg over it, the CRF230F with its six-speed transmission is, hands down, a blast to ride, packing all the four-stroke performance for which Honda is legendary. Having the adequate seat height, the bike is perfectly sized for adults and teenagers alike and thanks to the electric starter and plush together with the long-travel suspension it’s also as easy to ride as it is fun.
The CRF series is a line of four-stroke motocross motorcycles manufactured and marketed by Honda who launched the line in 2002, both as a successor to the Honda XR series and a replacement for the two-stroke Honda CR series. The full sized motocross bikes are equipped with liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke engines that are available from 249cc to 449cc. But I am not referring now to that part of the line. I am talking about the entry level CRF’s which have simple air-cooled engines and which are available from 50cc to 230cc. The high end of the entry level CRF line makes the subject of this review, a motorcycle considered among the best motocrossers of its class, and has been a leading seller since its Introduction.
Since it was launched, the CRF230F has dominated every light motocrosser out there and we all know that it has had some stiff competition coming from Yamaha ’s TT-R230, a motorcycle which performs almost as good as the CRF230F but we all now the king of the segment.
Honda tried to make this bike look much alike the CRF-R so one of the additional features is the CRF-R inspired bodywork and graphics which really give the bike a racy touch and complete the look given by the high-impact plastic skidplate which protect the lower engine cases.
The bike also features a motocross-style seat positioned low and by being comfortable it allows maximum rider movement, a very important aspect at this kind of motorcycles as we know that the rider often changes its position depending on its riding style, speed and the terrain that it covers. Increased rider comfort is especially given by the 2008 new features which include narrower seat, fuel tank and new handlebar, elements that play an important role in those long comfortable journeys.
My test drive in the saddle on the CRF230F could be described with a single word: fun! But that’s not what this review is about so I would retail every bump I’ve jumped with this enjoyable bike.
Honda created the CRF230F as family bike which will satisfy every member’s needs and most likely those of teenager’s who need a reliable, maneuverable, and powerful machine which wouldn’t bring any surprises on the trail or in the forest as it addresses to any kind of rider and most likely to beginners.
The bike pulls great in the first gear and it is capable to do some real nice wheelies right off the start but if you are a bit low in experience will not scare you as it can be very gentle when needed. I’ve heard some rumors about how this bike doesn’t reach a reasonable top speed and my goal was to put it to the test so I took it out a country road and proved myself that +-70mph could make a CBR look lazy, not the subject of my review. After slowing down I started looking for a few bumps in order to remember this ride through the pain in my back but I have to tell you that although it was not created for jumps or big bumps, this motorcycle doesn’t loose its qualities and it gets you out of difficult terrain back pain excluded.
The thing that amazed me was the way that it handles. I have to recognize that I wasn’t expecting to encounter a sharp-handling machine but I am proud to recognize I did and ashamed of my expectancy from a Honda.
Ok, it has its nice amount of power, six-speed transmission and it goes like a high-speed train through corners but is it comfortable? The answer is yes. I have to tell you that the suspensions are great (a bit harder than at the previous models but probably this is the reason it goes nice through corners) and combined with the comfy saddle the ride with the CRF230F is memorable.
The front disc brake is enough powerful and combined with the rear drum brake makes stopping no problem. The bike is supposed to be safe as it is destined to any kinds of riders, most likely beginners, who need a steady hand and an emergency option.
Ask the countless riders, of all skill and experience levels, who’ve ever twisted its throttle and made easy work of the toughest trails and you’ll find out that the CRF230F is a certified blast to ride offered for a MSRP of only $3,649.
No matter how tough the ride, Honda has what it takes to meet almost any off-road challenge. With its seamless balance of power, handling and weight, there’s a reason it’s one of America’s most popular Off Road Motorcycle.
Engine and Transmission
Engine Type: 223cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 65.5mm x 66.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC, two-valve
Induction: 26mm piston-valve carburetor
Final Drive: #520 0-ring-sealed chain; 13T/50T
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension: 37mm leading-axle Showa fork; 9.5-inch travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link Showa single-shock with spring preload adjustability; 9.0-inch travel
Front Brake: Single 240mm disc
Rear Brake: Drum
Front Tire: 80/100-21
Rear Tire: 100/100-18
Rake: 27.3 degrees
Trail: 112.0mm (4.4 inches)
Wheelbase: 54.1 inches
Seat Height: 34.1 inches
Ground Clearance: 11.7 inches
Dry Weight: TBD
Fuel Capacity: 1.9 gallons, including 0.4 gallon reserve
Emissions: Meets current CARB and EPA standards. California version differs slightly due to emissions equipment.
Available Colors: Red
Engine and Drivetrain Features
Dependable 223cc single-cylinder air-cooled four-stroke engine offers plenty of user-friendly power and torque spread over a wide-rpm range.
26mm carburetor providing the engine’s crisp throttle response.
Electric start for ease of starting.
Lightweight aluminum crankcase.
Maintenance-free CD ignition.
Heavy-duty clutch offers smooth, progressive engagement.
Smooth-shifting, versatile six-speed transmission.
Heavy-duty 0-ring-sealed chain for durability and reduced maintenance.
Chassis and Suspension
Box-section aluminum swingarm first in its class.
Lightweight semi-double-cradle, high-tensile steel frame.
37mm leading-axle Showa front fork offers 9.5 inches of suspension travel.
Fork boots keep dirt and moisture away from fork seals.
Heavy-duty Showa rear shock offers 9.0 inches of travel.
Pro-Link Rear Suspension.
Snail-type chain adjusters for easy maintenance.
Powerful 240mm front disc brake.
Lightweight rear drum brake.
Strong, lightweight rims with straight-pull spokes.
CRF-R inspired bodywork and graphics.
Engine design produces low emissions that meet both EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) off road standards.
Motocross-style seat is low and comfortable, and allows maximum rider movement.
Easy detachable number plate.
High-impact plastic skidplate protects lower engine cases.
Folding shift lever.
Reusable, foam air filter for reduced maintenance costs.
Front and rear steel sprockets for durability.
High-quality handlebar with comfortable grips.
Extra-wide-cleated, folding, self-cleaning footpegs and brake pedal for secure footing.
Quiet, USDA-qualified spark arrester/muffler.
Maintenance-free sealed battery.
Keyed ignition switch.
Transferable six-month limited warranty.