CRF 300 Rally or the latest USD CB500X; these are two travel bikes on my shortlist while I prepare for my ‘cheapest-on-ebay’ Africa Twin to get snatched up. I’ve owned earlier versions of both these bikes (500X RR; 250L) so I know a 500X will sit comfortably at 120kph and be OK on the smooth, dry tracks I mostly ride in Morocco these days.
No matter what gushing reviews say, add hills, headwinds, elevation plus a load, and I do believe a 27-hp Rally will be gasping on the open highway, but it will be much less of a handful on wetter European trails or deeper Saharan sand. It’s also ~50 kilos less likely to damage itself in a crash after which it’s easier to pick up. I also believe that speed-for-speed a 500X’s fuel consumption is actually superior to the 300 once you factor in the sustainable higher cruising speeds. The best I ever got from my 2014 500X in Morocco was 93.5mpg IMP; in SW USA my 2013 250L topped out at 98.5.
So, ahead of me trying out these bikes [actually, I’ve now ridden the Rally], let’s make a handy comparison table mostly based on unverified specs from Honda UK’s website (500X; 300 Rally) as well as this Honda CB500X document (includes inconsistencies), plus some added stats of use to a travel biker.
I added the 300L, but with its thinner saddle foam, lighter weight, tiny tank and – according to some – firmer suspension, it’s more of a trail bike suited to TET-like trails. But once you factor in the Rally’s 5-litre-bigger tank, the actual difference in claimed weight over the L drops from 11kg to 7.3kg.
The staggering £950 price difference between the two 300s is harder to square but it helps to factor in an imminent Rally-sized IMS tank, screen, LED headlamp, bashplate, bigger front rotor and a thicker seat. Meanwhile, from the sunlit uplands of 2022 UK it’s best not to scrutinise CRF300 prices in North America too closely, though some stats seem to vary and ABS is an option.
|CB500X N (2022)||CRF300 Rally||CRF300L|
|Kerb weight||199kg / 439lbs||153kg / 337lbs||142kg|
|Seat height||830mm / 32.7″||885mm / 34.8″||880mm + 2cm tinner|
|Tank volume||17.7L / 4.7US||12.8L / 3.4US||7.8L|
|Fuel consumption||27.8kpl / 81UK / 67US||32.3kpl / 91UK / 76US||same as Rally|
|Potential range||506km / 314m||413km / 255m||252km|
|Torque Nm||42 @6500||26.5 @ 6500||same|
|Bhp / kg||4.23 (best)||5.66||5.26|
|Oil vol • intervals||2.7L • 12,000km / 8000m||1.8L • 12,000km / 8000m||same|
|Display||Colour LCD||Mono LCD||same|
|Lighting||LED all round||LED headlight||Bulbs (LED in Au)|
|Wheels||19/17 tubeless||21/18 tubed||same|
|Brakes (disc)||Dual front, ABS||Single front, rear ABS switchable||same + 40mm smaller front rotor|
|Fork||41mm USD unadjustable||43mm USD unadjustable||same + firmer|
|Rear shock||5-level preload only||5-level preload only||same but 10mm shorter and firmer|
|Travel||135mm / 5.3″ F&R||260mm / 10.2″ F&R||same|
|Ground Clearance||180mm / 7.1″||275mm / 10.8″||285mm / 11.2″|
|Alternator||500W @ 5000rpm||340W @ 5000rpm||same|
- As good on fuel
- Longer range
- Costs not much more than at Rally
- Tubeless wheels
- Better LCD display and some other equipment
- CRF300 Rally
- Much less weight makes many more trails attemptable – a big plus
- Limited to gravel roads due to weight and basic suspension
- CRF300 Rally
- Was underpowered on the open road at times
- Less comfortable over distance
- Expensive in the UK
- High seat
- Basic suspension
- Lots of plastic bodywork to damage