The country might be in lockdown, but farmers and essential farm services are working as hard as ever to keep the rural economy rolling.
Honda’s latest CRF 250F takes such machines to another level, with Blue Wing Honda claiming this one is equally great on farm and off the property for weekend fun.
Dairy News spent a couple of weeks riding one in Waikato just as the cold and wet set in, plus the start of the calving season for good measure.
First impressions are of a machine slightly tall for some riders, but not so for this 1.8m reviewer. It has a seat 88cm high, firm yet comfortable and long enough so that the rider can move back during acceleration to get weight onto the rear wheel.
Power, and there’s plenty of it, comes from an all new 250cc single cylinder, SOHC unit with fuel injection and electric start. The engine mates with a five-speed gearbox that sends the final drive to the rear wheel with an O-ring sealed chain, so no maintenance worries.
The newly designed frame uses a lightweight, twin spar set-up with manufacturing quality and finish you’d expect from Honda. In use it proved stable and easily moved between the rider’s legs to adapt to changing terrain and angles.
Up front, a 21-inch wheel is held in 41mm front forks with long travel, excellent damping and controlled rebound over all surfaces.
At the rear, the preferred choice is an 18-inch wheel working with the central Pro-Link single shock configuration that is smooth, progressive and controlled in all situations.
A well engineered side stand completes the frame detail.
Noticeable on the CRF 250F is the lack of any excess controls, so it’s easy to operate and has less to go wrong. Other than a headlight, there’s an ignition key, kill switch and electric starter button – that’s it. No speedo, no fuel gauge, although the 6L fuel tank warning light shows when its down to the reserve.
Add to that an hour meter next to the headstock for routine servicing intervals, then you’ll get the idea.
Performance is impressive across a broad spread of engine speed, with smooth delivery.
Clutch and brake levers are light to operate, with the latter easily giving a controlled stop by ‘wave style’ discs at front and rear.
Living with the machine was easy given its simplicity, and it felt well engineered and put together.
Are there any negatives? It might be a little ‘tall’ in the gearing for following a dairy herd along a race, but that’s easily fixed with a sprocket change. And the seat may be too high for a short rider.
A neutral light would be nice, as would a small rack to carry a few electric fence standards, but overall an easy machine to live with.