Honda’s sportbike lineup has a new member starting with 2009, the CRF230M. WHAT? Not only the name, but the motorcycle itself has troubles resonating with what customers expect from a product in this category. Last time I checked, CRF was for the Japanese manufacturer’s off-road bikes and quite frankly this looks like a Motard. Wait a second...that’s exactly what the 2009 Honda CRF230M stands for.

  • 2009 Honda CRF230M
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke;SOHC, two-valve
  • Transmission:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    14.3 hp @ 6650 rpm
  • Torque @ RPM:
    11.7 ft.-lb. @ 5630 rpm
  • Energy:
    Carburetor 30mm CV
  • Displacement:
    223 L
  • Top Speed:
    70 mph
  • Price:



Honda spotted an unexploited niche in fuel-efficient supermoto-like motorcycles that stand for cheap commuting, user-friendliness and fun so their immediate response is the entirely-new CRF230M model. Because this isn’t quite the machine that would require a whole new category, they’ve added it to the sport lineup only because it goes on the road and not off it.

Created both for urban and backroad adventure riding, the new model packs the CRF230L engine, tranny and frame. So while the electrically started 223cc air-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke motor translates onto the CRF230M with no change whatsoever (it still features the 30mm CV carburetor), the chassis features new rake (23.90 degrees) in order to go around corners sharply.

With only a pair of new, 17-inch standard spoked wheels with street rubber and a shiny new Black color scheme, the new bike is ready to hit the streets in style.


Being brand new, the Honda CRF230M couldn’t possibly have a reputation, but the CRF230L has a pretty good one and we like to think that this kind of thing transmits together with powerplans and frames. Still, riders would have to see for themselves what the new bike is up to, but until then check out the Honda Dual-Sport Timeline.


2009 Honda CRF230M
- image 275172
2009 Yamaha WR250X

But no matter if old or new, a bike would has to face the competition and, preferably, get out with a clean face. The thing with the 2009 Honda CRF230M is that the base idea recommends it for the battle with the 2009 Yamaha WR250X, but the two bikes are fairly different and implicit address to different riders. For starters, the 31.7 inches of seat height on the Honda are almost incomparable to Yamaha’s 35.2 inches. This determines middle-sized and even short riders to go for the Honda while taller ones will most likely opt for Yamaha.

Clearly a step up bike, the Yamaha WR250X is being powered by a potent fuel-injected, 250cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke; DOHC, four-valves engine which almost makes us get it off the list as it makes the CRF230M look too bad. Yet with an MSRP of $6,190, the difference is made in the marketing departments of both these Japanese manufacturers.

2009 Honda CRF230M
- image 275173
2009 Kawasaki KLX250SF

Suzuki offers the 2009 DR-Z400SM, but that’s too big to be compared even with the Yamaha, not to mention the small Honda. This makes us head to Kawasaki where the closest competitor for this bike is easily found. By its name, the KLX250SF is new for 2009 and it features a 33.9 inches of seat height, which is fairly closer to the one of the CRF. Also, although liquid-cooled, the 249cc four-stroke; DOHC, four-valve single is carbureted so it delivers comparable grunt while being user-friendly. Kawasaki prices this model at $5,299.


2009 Honda CRF230M
- image 275099
2009 Honda CRF230M

Different from its competitors in what concerns the overall appearance mostly due to the lowest seat height in the class, the all-new 2009 Honda CRF230M is courageously considered by us a Super Motard despite the fact Honda introduced it as a sports bike. Apart from the 17 inches wheels with road tires and the handlebars, there isn’t much thing sport about it, but we won’t argue and take the bike as it is.

The off-road inspirations are present all around this model, starting from that front fender (there’s nothing sharp about that) and finishing with the rear one. Everything in between is just a Black CRF230L with Gray and Red graphics. As seen in the picture, the headlight is nicely contoured while the side panels blend perfectly in with the 2.4 gallons tank. Narrow and very low, the 31.7 inches seat positions the biker in the ideal riding position which is right on the middle, close to the handlebars. This also allows for proper handling as the center of gravity is calculated with the rider in its place.

There is also what I like to call a number plate imitation. That is because motocross bikes (which actually need number plates) stand as source of inspiration for off-road ones (which could live without), from which models such as the CRF230M end up being created (you guess the rest). All in all, at least they add extra protection from the exhaust to the passenger already accommodated in some pretty harsh conditions.


The 2009 Honda CRF230M is not only a bike featuring the lowest seat compared to the alternatives we tried to find for it, but also the cheapest. With a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of just $4,749 you can almost consider it a starter model.


What Honda attempts in 2009 is to offer versatility (checked) and affordability (checked) in a powerful and attractive package (well, they worked with what they got in this case) in order to get their fair share of the market. Did they succeed? Partly, they did, but we would have to let time say its word, but most importantly get a feel of it in the near future.



Engine and Transmission


Displacement: 223cc
Engine Type: air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 65.5mm x 66.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC; two-valve
Induction: Carburetor 30mm CV
Ignition: CD
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: #520 O-ring - sealed chain; 13T/38T

Chassis and Dimensions


Suspension Front: 37mm leading-axle Showa fork; 9.0 inches of travel
Rear: Pro-Link Showa single shock with spring preload adjustability; 6.6 inches of travel
Brakes Front: Single 240mm disc
Rear: 220mm disc
Tires Front: 110/70-17 Dunlop GT401 Arrowmax
Rear: 130/70-17 Dunlop GT401 Arrowmax
Wheelbase: 52.6 inches (1336mm)
Rake (Caster Angle): 23.9o
Trail: 3.58 inches (91mm)
Seat Height: 31.7 inches (805mm)
Ground Clearance: 9.3 inches (235mm)
Fuel Capacity: 2.3 gallons, including 0.7 gallon reserve
Curb Weight: 276 pounds



Unique Features


  • Motard-styling with a low and comfortable seat, allows maximum rider movement.

  • Aggressive 23.9-degree rake and 91mm of trail provide spirited handling.

  • Lightweight 17-inch wheels with sporty low-profile 70-series Dunlop GT401 Arrowmax tires.

  • Lightweight Renthal aluminum handlebar with comfortable grips

  • CRF®inspired bodywork and graphics with a black frame
  • Engine/Drivetrain


  • Dependable 223cc single-cylinder air-cooled four-stroke engine offers plenty of user-friendly power and lots of torque spread over a wide rpm-range.

  • 30mm CV carburetor for crisp throttle response.

  • Electric start for easy starting.

  • Lightweight aluminum crankcase.

  • Maintenance-free CD ignition.

  • Heavy-duty clutch offers smooth, progressive engagement.

  • Smooth-shifting, versatile six-speed transmission.

  • Heavy-duty O-ring - sealed chain for durability and reduced maintenance.
  • Chassis/Suspension


  • Wide box-section aluminum swingarm provides excellent rigidity to manage traction capability of large rear tire.

  • Lightweight semi-double-cradle high-tensile steel frame.

  • 37mm leading-axle Showa front fork offers 9.0 inches of suspension travel.

  • Heavy-duty Showa rear shock offers 6.6 (167mm) inches of travel for optimum front/rear balance.

  • Fork boots keep dirt and moisture away from fork seals.

  • Snail-type chain adjusters for easy maintenance.

  • Powerful 240mm front disc brake, and 220mm rear disc brake.- Road-ready, lightweight 17-inch wheels - 3.0-inch front, 3.5-inch rear - with straight-pull spokes.

  • Grippy Dunlop GT401 Arrowmax 110/70-17 front and 130/70- 17 rear tires.
  • Additional Features


  • Durable front and rear steel sprockets.

  • Wide cleated, folding, self-cleaning footpegs feature rubber-mount pads to minimize vibration and provide secure footing.

  • Cleated brake pedal provides excellent grip.

  • Quiet, USDA-qualified spark arrester/muffler.

  • Maintenance-free sealed battery.

  • Ignition switch key for added security.

  • Transferable one-year limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.

  • Purchase of a new, previously unregistered Honda USA-certified unit by an individual retail user in the United States qualifies the owner for a one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Riders Club of America.
  • Available Accessories


  • Rear Rack

  • Hand Guard Kit

  • Cycle Cover

  • Rear Carrier

  • Rear Storage Bag
  • What do you think?
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