After a mucky winter of riding the CRF300L, James Oxley thinks he may have discovered his perfect second bike
The CRF300L pictured above looks pretty filthy, I know. Usually, I’m the first to break out the hose when ABR’s long-termers are in need of a wash, but there’s something about seeing the little Honda splattered with mud that fills me with pride.
I like showing the world I’ve been slithering along muddy trails this winter, whether that was exploring the network of byways through Thetford Forest in East Anglia or tackling a few lanes closer to home.
Now, I’m usually the first to admit that I’m no off-road hero when it comes to adventure biking. I enjoy a spot of greenlaning from time to time, and I’m confident in my ability to roll my wheels over most terrain. But I do so at my own pace enjoying the experience of riding through the countryside, and I have no qualms about letting faster riders pass me on the trails.
Which is perhaps why I’ve found the CRF300L to be such a good match for my off-road adventures. In my last long-termer update, I told how I found the bike’s sweet spot cruising between 20- 30mph on the trails. At these speeds, it competently negotiates lumps, bumps, ruts, and sloppy mud.
However, ride more aggressively, and the spongey suspension causes the handling to suffer, to the extent that it saps my confidence and energy. But for all you trail-riding enthusiasts who want to rip up the trails at every opportunity, there are plenty of lighter, more powerful trail bikes designed to help you do just that.
Instead, the CRF300L is the perfect second bike for the occasional greenlaner like myself. The type of person who uses an adventure bike on the road most of the time, but who wants to enjoy the freedom that riding a smaller, off-road focused machine on the trails brings from time to time. There’s nothing intimidating about the little Honda which I reckon is its biggest selling point.
Even a complete trail riding beginner could jump on board and enjoy pootling along a byway safe in the knowledge that the relaxed ride and unintimidating power delivery won’t have them in a ditch within the first 100 yards.
In short, the CRF300L is a relaxed trail bike that’s easy to have a lot of fun on.
And this is why I’m genuinely contemplating buying one. That and the fact that you can purchase a new model for £5,149, which works out to be just £69 a month if you opt for Honda’s finance deal.
OK, so £5,000 isn’t a small chunk of change to find, but in the motorcycling world it represents great value for money from a major manufacturer with a reputation for reliability.
That’s not to say the CRF300L is perfect the way it is. I’d certainly look to add a small screen for some weather protection on the road, bar risers to make the standing position more comfortable for my 6’ frame, and a set of more off-road focused tyres that offer better traction in sloppy conditions than the stock IRC rubber provided.
But even without these additions, the standard CRF300L is a great platform if you’re looking to take your first steps into greenlaning or if, like me, you want a second bike to occasionally have some fun on.