2003 Honda CRF250 Comparison

MotorcycleUSA Staff | August 7, 2003
2003 Playbike Shootout
The stock, restricted version of the CRF wasn’t that much faster than the rest, but once it was derestricted it became the king of speed.

Honda CRF150F

The motor matters and it should be no secret that the Honda CRF150 rules in this category because, as they say, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” and the Honda has almost 33cc on the competition. With the exhaust baffle and air-box restricter in place, the power output isn’t that much greater than the 125s, but with a little modification the Honda can be taken to another level. By removing those two components, more air can flow in and out of the motor, which brings it to life. The bike still retains the spark arrester, but can become too loud for the tastes of some riders (and neighbors). Jetting changes are also recommended if you remove the exhaust baffle and air box restriction – more air means you need more fuel. Raising the needle 1 clip position and increasing the size of the main jet from a 105 to a 115 will complete the quest for more power.

The suspension on the CRF is the best of the bunch. It works great for everyone from beginners on up the talent scale. What’s even cooler is that a full-size adult can ride the bike at nearly full clip and have confidence in the suspension action. Sure, you can’t slam into everything and the forks will make a weird creak every once in a while, but it’s pretty darn good for a mini bike. We would love to see a reservoir on the rear shock and adjustment capabilities, but that would raise the price and it already costs up to $300 more than the competition at $2799. Besides, for those dollars you already get an indestructible (and power-robbing) 520 O-ring chain, aluminum wheels, and a complete frame that fully encases the motor. Note: The other bikes in the class use the motor as a stressed member and don’t have frame rails on the bottom, which makes them structurally weaker and more prone to flex. Aftermarket companies sell frame kits that remedy this, and this modification is highly recommended if you plan on any real motocrossing against your buddies.

2003 Playbike Shootout
The CRF150 was full of typical Honda refinements including excellent brakes and smooth clutch actuation.

The rest of the bike is typical Honda, and that means the fit and finish are excellent. The brakes work great and the clutch is outstanding, but the transmission did give us a little trouble. It feels a little notchy, and it is extremely difficult to find neutral. That’s great for ensuring that most riders will never hit neutral when shifting from first to second gear, but sometimes it was just a pain in the rear trying to find neutral.

The size of the Honda can also present some troubles for smaller riders. It weighs as much as a full-size, 2-stroke 250cc motocrosser, pushing 225 lbs with lubricants and fuel, and is a full inch taller than the other bikes at almost 33 inches. Simply stated, our smaller riders had difficulty lifting the bike up after tip-overs due to those extra 30 pounds. This bike definitely works best for the bigger and faster riders in this market.

Make:  Honda
Model:  CRF250
MSRP:  $2,899

MotorcycleUSA Staff