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Honda Bouncing Back With Value Priced Product

Dual Sports are doing well, and Honda's CRF250L offers good value and enjoyment.

We thought Honda was asleep at the switch (and so did many of our readers).  As others, principally Kawasaki, grabbed U.S. market share with exciting new models introduced during the recession, Honda seemed to be sitting on its hands.

Things seem different now.  If the rumored parallel twin CBR500R emerges next month, Honda could be on its way to being positioned with the most diverse line-up of affordable, practical motorcycles in the U.S. market next year.  With the state of the U.S. economy (and most enthusiasts’ checkbooks), this is no small accomplishment.  Consider this:  Honda now offers the CBR250R at $4,099, the PCX150 scooter at $3,449, the CRF250L dual sport at $4,499 and the NC700X adventure bike at $6,999.  These bikes are not only inexpensive, in our tests of the first three, we found plenty of value and entertainment.  The rumored CBR500R could come in at under $6,000.  Of course, Honda is also developing a large displacement modular engine (like the one in the mid-displacement NC700X) likely to be introduced in multiple, value priced models in the near future.

Honda's CBR250R may be outgunned by Kawasaki's new Ninja 300, but it is still a great bike.

Honda hasn’t been known for value pricing, that’s for sure.  Certainly not in connection with newly designed product.  Honda is accomplishing this with low cost manufacturing, and engines used in multiple models (such as the CBR250R and CRF250L).  They haven’t captured the headlines that the wiz bang, high buck models typically get (such as Ducati’s redesigned Multistrada and Panigale superbike), but Honda likes volume . . . lots of it.  These new bikes should deliver.

The new Honda PCX150 might just be the most frugal, practical (and freeway-capable) commuter of them all.


  1. todd says:

    If Honda want’s to sell bikes in a downturned economy they should start selling used bikes. For half the price of a CRF250L you can get a very clean XR650L.

    I like small bikes more than the next guy but even at $4,499 I won’t be emptying my pockets for one if my job is in danger. People buying new vehicles, even cheap ones, aren’t currently affected by the economy.


    • MGNorge says:

      You make a good point but people don’t always act rationally. If one has a need, or at least a bad itch, to buy a new bike one that is cheaper will often suffice. May not be their dream bike but that’s the way it is now, hopefully not later.

    • Provalogna says:

      There is a new bike market.

      There is a used bike market.

      The group defined as “all motorcycles” trade first in the former group, then the later group. This sequence is never inverted.

      The larger is the magnitude of the former group the larger is the potential magnitude of the latter group. To dampen enthusiasm for the former group is to minimize choice in the latter group. To grow the size of the former group is to enlarge choice in the latter group.

      It’s always in the interest of members of the latter group to only maximize size and success of the former group. It’s always counter to the interest of members of the latter group to minimize potential size and success of the former group.

      IOW, maintaining honesty, members of the latter group serve their interest best with silence. Any statement of perceived benefit of membership in their group is self-defeating because it potentially minimizes choices.

      • MGNorge says:

        I have a friend who never, well almost never, buys a vehicle new. There’s no way for him to rationalize the expense and depreciation of a new model when there are so many good used vehicles at a fraction of new prices. I have not always bought new but have on a number of occasions. I simply remind him when he gets going enough on the subject that someone has to buy new or else there wouldn’t be used!

  2. Al says:

    How about a parallel twin CRF500L! I’d line up.

  3. Provalogna says:

    I read about the CRF250L at this website; never saw one in the flesh. A close friend mentioned he wanted a new bike, possibly a “dual-.” Before he finished the word (dual sport) I told him, based on my reading here (which I find extremely trustworthy) the only bike to consider was Honda’s CRF250L. I later let him clarify his needs/wants/use, occasional freeway, light dirt trails, which only cemented my opinion.

    He absolutely loves the bike, and thanks me profusely and multiple times for the recommendation. So I must pass along thanks to MD for the info.

    Last conversation, he said he presumed I would recommend 3-5 different bikes in our first conversation, then tell him I’ll do some research and add a few more bikes later. Several times I mentioned that Yamaha’s dual sport is an archaic, carburatored boat anchor by comparison, and it costs $700 more than the brand new FI Honda.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I think that I may plunk down for one of these 250L’s as well as a Yamaha FZ8 to replace my aging Ulysses with two bikes that serve two different purposes rather than go for a multi-tool in another pricey adventure bike.

      FYI – The Yamaha XT250 is now an archaic, fuel-injected boat anchor.

    • GeardrivenCam says:


      Great recommendation. The CRF250L is really an incredible value in a new 250cc dual-sport bike. I hope it inspires many new riders to take up motorcycling and maybe adventure riding as well. It is the one that I am now recommending to my friends too. However, I own a Yamaha WR250R. If someone were looking for a “better” bike with better specs bike – the WR is hard to beat. It weighs 20 lbs LESS than the CRF250L, has about 5 more rear-wheel horsepower (actually more rear-wheel hp than the recent generation Ninja 250R twin!!), better suspension, and like the CRF250L – also includes fuel-injection. But it is considerably more expensive. So the CRF250L is clearly the better bike in terms of value for the money.

      • Provalogna says:

        Oh, I bought a new WR250R myself, BTW. I liked it, but all things considered, I’d probably rather give up a bit of top end rush for more low-mid grunt, which apparently describes the Honda. A mc collector (owned about 35 bikes including original John Player Special and Guzzi V7 Sport both show condition)/pro machinist mentioned to me many decades ago: in normal driving, every time you go through every gear you must pass through the low/mid band to get to the top of the rev range, hence it is more useable except for racing.

        I apologize for not mentioning the exact Yamaha model about which I spoke, the XT250, which indeed is archaic, air-cooled, carbureted, and +$600 vs. the Honda.

        Yamaha charges $2k more than Honda for a FI 250! The Yamaha has more top end and better suspension, but that up-charge is absolutely huge.

        • Jake says:

          Provalogna says: “I apologize for not mentioning the exact Yamaha model about which I spoke, the XT250, which indeed is archaic, air-cooled, carbureted, and +$600 vs. the Honda.

          Yamaha charges $2k more than Honda for a FI 250!”

          Jeremy in TX says: “FYI – The Yamaha XT250 is now an archaic, fuel-injected boat anchor.”

          Provalogna — Jeremy in TX is correct: the 2013 XT250 is, indeed, fuel injected and is some $600 dearer than the Honda (not $2K more — you must be thinking WR…?)

        • todd says:

          Don’t kid yourself. The WR250R is more powerful than the CRF250L. It seems oxymoronic to suggest that a bike with less power has more power when you’re in the act of using less power…

          You only really go up through the RPM once, in first gear. When you shift there is a fairly small drop in RPM to each gear as you go up.

          If you want less power like the CRF has to offer, just use less throttle on the WR and shift early for that “grunt” you’re looking for. Since torque is largely dependent on engine size the bikes will be terribly similar at the same RPM – it’s just that the CRF starts tapering off at 7,000 whereas the WR is able to keep pulling a while beyond. Having that extra RPM range allows you to stay in the lower gears longer for more pulling power. If you never run above 7k then the extra cost of the WR would be a waste for you.

          From what I’ve heard, most people have been able to purchase the WR for less than MSRP whereas I doubt the Honda will be discounted. In the end Yamaha may still need to discount the WR more and then dumb it up a little on the future versions to better compete on cost.


          • MGNorge says:

            What you say is true in some respects but let’s look at the extremes to better illustrate the issue. A full on, taken to the max MotoGP bike will produce a much greater maximum horsepower peak, somewhat higher torque peak (torque output generally follows displacement) but in comparison to a road going liter bike those numbers come at much higher rpm and at the expense of power generated lowered. Tuning the Yamaha WR for a higher peak horsepower level will usually mean something’s given up down below. Simply not wicking it up and short-shifting it at the same rpm level as the CRF will not likely give you similar results, just as a MotoGP bike on the road would be a disappointment at less than race levels.

            Simply put, what we’re talking about here, is torque spread throughout the rpm range is usually sacrificed when tuning for higher peak power. What you’ve find in the CRF is a very broad power delivery, perfect for trail riding and newer riders. High level experienced riders might find it boring if they were expecting more.

        • soi cowboy says:

          The wrr has crap suspension. The shock is not kyb. It is made by another subcontractor. The damping is nonexistant even with the adjusters all the way in. Check a few wrr forums.
          One aspect of the 4 stroke mx’rs is the high maintenance costs. That along with green sticker regs mean that many serious riders must have a second bike.

          • todd says:

            I imagine the CRF is equally “budget”. These are not MX’rs, these are entry level 50/50 trail bikes. The maintenance costs on these low revving singles is going to amount to $50 Cheng Shins every 15,000 miles.


    • Provalogna says:

      For reader’s info: the CRF250L buyer/owner is a Marine Aviator Captain, used to operating machines with exponentially higher power to weight ratio compared to his new Honda. Even so, he really loves the bike.

  4. Joe bar says:

    Saw a bunch of CRF250L’s at the Shenandoah 500 last weekend. Everybody loves them. Honda has a hit at the right price this time.

  5. John says:

    At least they’re getting it. When they came out with the Dullville at $10,000, I thought “okay, game over, these guys are lost”.

    Nice bike for $7500, but $10K??? The NC700 is more like it, though the “X” is HARDLY an “adventure bike” unless going to work is an adventure for you.

  6. Louis says:

    I’m waiting for Honda to announce they are bringing the CB1100 (retro) to the U.S. Hopefully it will be value priced, at least compared to a CBR1000. Or at least tell us if it won’t be brought here, so I can move on… to a competitor.

  7. soi cowboy says:

    Anyone who reads ds forums knows the first thing riders complain about is the seat. The new crf blindly follows the path with a saddle no wider than a 2 x 4, on edge. These 300# trail bikes are not serious off-roaders anyway, why not make it comfortable enough to ride to the next town?

    • Motowarrior says:

      Just a quick word about seats. I’ve owned 56 motorcycles over just about as many years and I have bought an aftermarket seat just once (which I regretted). Since I frequently rent motorcycles overseas where I take the seat that comes with the bike, it dawned on me years ago that it is far better to adapt your butt to bikes than buy a new seat every time you buy a new bike. The seats on all of these new Hondas are fine, if you give them a chance. How far are you going to ride a dual sport? Can’t you adapt to 100 miles at a time? We’re riding motorcycles, after all, not lounging in front of the TV. Man up!

      • soi cowboy says:

        I rode a 125 Honda scooter over 20,000 km in Asia. Is that man enough?

        • Motowarrior says:

          Definitely! That ride in Asia seems like a great adventure. Then you understand the concept of adapting your but to the bike. Surprised you are concerned about riding one of the Honda’s to the next town. Guess I am just very old school, where riding a motorcycle involved some comfort concessions.

          • soi cowboy says:

            Our local honda dealer just closed their doors. I guess that is an example of the customer not adapting to the product.

  8. MGNorge says:

    It’s what the market needs to get it jump started. “Whiz-bang” models are fun to look at and all but such a low percentage of us really plunk our money down there.

  9. Wendy says:


    I think there are enough whizz-bang exciting bikes in each manufacturer’s line for everyone. In order for the companies to build neato bikes, they need a solid foundation of sales, built on boring bikes. These “boring” bikes are really for the developing markets, where bikes are real transportation.

    Every time Honda has taken a “great leap forward”, the bikes that have resulted are future “oh man I wish I had bought one of those” bikes that sit on the dealer’s floor for two years.

    I wish Honda would build a turbo V-6 bike that toured, roadraced, ran off road and got 90 mpg, but it would cost the earth, and no one would buy it. Bring on the boring bikes.

    • Dave says:

      Now that gasoline is hovering up in the $4/gal. range, WE (the US) are an emerging market. If gas goes to $5/gal the transportation habits of this country will change dramatically. Sub 500cc bikes will flourish.

      • OtherDave says:

        Not until the typical US discretional funding (net salary minus all costs of necessities minus higher-priority desires (like air conditioning, cell phones, cable tv, etc.)) is the same as other “emerging” (AKA 3rd world) nations – which may be sooner than expected.

  10. Dingerjunkie says:

    Budget-bikes can be built for the riding experience, like Mazda did with the Miata int he car world. I haven’t thought about a Honda being a “fun bike” since the early eighties, though. Their bikes have a tendency to be as character-driven as Maytags.

    I had to read this article to guess that volume was Honda’s goal, so their goal will never be reached. Volume requires marketing en-mass (remember “You meet the nicest people on a Honda?”). Cutting production costs while not leading in price or character won’t work within the current marketing target, so they’d need to “grow the pie” like they did fifty years ago. I’ll believe they want to grow their share when I see a 30-second spot for one of these bikes on a non-motorsport channel like A&E or Fox News in a primetime slot…along with a coordinated print ad in a non-industry-related magazine.

  11. George Catt says:

    What Kjazz said. A “real” Adventure bike, as in a cross between that Dakar 450 and DRZ 400 S Suzuki: _light_, fast, big tank, roadworthy AND dirt worthy. And, a Honda.

  12. Gary says:

    Low cost manufacturing as in other countries. I belive the CBR250R is manufactured in India, and I know many of the manufacturers are starting to source parts made in China.

  13. kjazz says:

    I’d much prefer they make something publicly available out of that Rally Bike you showed us earlier….

  14. Nocklhiem Verstadt says:

    The CBR500R better be priced a lot less than the Kawasaki 650R or it will be a bench warmer. People aren’t dumb, they shop around before they lay their money down. I hope that HONDA offers the bike at a sensible price as I do want them to be successful in this new small bike market.

  15. MotoChris says:

    sign of the times, budget minded yawncycles

    • Ziggy says:

      Agree with kjazz and MotoChris. When did riding become sensible? You just can’t have passion for these bikes. The kernel of something interesting can be found in the Honda DS offering, but it just doesn’t have enough power for street riding. And riding just plain sucks without enough power to pass a diesel-belching truck. I dunno about you guys, but I’m into this for the thrills.

      • John says:

        I disagree. You are assuming that all people ride motorcycles for thrills. I miss my Honda Sabre because it was dead quiet and I felt like I was slicing through the air on gravity. My Monster was far superior, but I couldn’t stand it. It was loud and clacky and distracted from simply enjoying not being in a cage.

        • Dave says:

          Riding has always been sensible, it just enjoyed a period of expansion due to economic growth.

          There is a significant group that ride older, air cooled bikes because they appreciate the stripped down simplicity of it. Bikes like the Honda CB350, 400, 450, etc. Lots of the same sensibilities that continue to keep the KLR and XR 650’s popular. They are every bit as passionate about their riding as anyone else. They’re the riders that will appreciate a simpler, more economical bike, along with many others.

      • toad says:

        Different strokes for different folks. 90% of my miles are commuting miles. Give me a bike that is reliable, comfortable, and gets good mpg.

        • Dan says:

          90% of my riding is commuting, also. My bike is also uncomfortable, not particularly fuel efficient, and extremely expensive to maintain. And I’m not about to trade it for anything sensible any time soon. I grew up riding in the ’70’s and admired Honda’s for their fit & finish and stolid reliability, but they tended to be dead boring to ride. If this is the trend Honda is returning to, well, all the best to them. The world seems like it needs functional commuter bikes, and I applaud Honda for it’s forward thinking to that end. I’m just not that kind of rider. Different strokes, as you say.

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