Enjoy the best of both

by Andy Bryenton

Summer’s here at last, and the big questions of the season have come around again. Should I get my motorcycle licence? What’s the best way to start out? The answer could come from an unexpected quarter.

Honda’s CRF-R range of track-only motocross bikes are dominant in their field, but almost certainly too powerful to appeal to novices. They’re also precision-engineered to accelerate and turn with nimble speed on dirt, not asphalt. However, Honda has seen the gap, and they also deliver a CRF of a different character, which ticks all the boxes for new riders.

The CRF-L series tops out with the mighty Africa Twin, a bike, which is designed to cross continents and endure adventures. However, its baby brothers, in the 150 to 250cc displacement range, maybe close to a ‘jack of all trades’ as a motorcycle can get.

Their robust construction comes from decades of Honda making reliable farm bikes, their power and handling stem from that CRF-R lineage on the track. With the addition of lights and indicators, they’re ready for the road as well.

Many rural riders who don’t possess a road licence have had a go on a two-wheeler or quad out in the fields. For them, the riding position of the CRF will be natural; not the hunched-over stance of the hardcore racer nor the easy-chair stretch of the ape-hanger chopper. The controls are simple.

The engine is economical but punchy, with good solid four-stroke torque available with a twist of the throttle to take riders from the road to the trails. A cheap commuter, a companion for adventures or a stepping stone to bigger bikes above the learner’s grade? It does all three. With many riders opting for ‘adventure bike’ configurations as their weapon of choice, the ‘junior’ version makes sense as a versatile, fun way to learn. The CRF-L is a bit of a global sensation, which says a lot. In nations where the roads are worse than ours, where the infrastructure is patchier, and where the network of repair agents, service stations and motor mechanics is rudimentary, people aspire to own one of these machines.

So, when the desire to try something new strikes this summer, there’s no need to compromise. The CRF-L series is such a popular learner that you’re even likely to recoup good resale value when you step up to a bigger bike
in future.