CRF 300 Rally vs CB500X (2022)

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
Price £634960995149
Kerb weight199kg / 439lbs 153kg / 337lbs 142kg
Seat height830mm / 32.7″885mm / 34.8″880mm + 2cm tinner
Tank volume17.7L / 4.7US12.8L / 3.4US7.8L
Fuel consumption27.8kpl / 81UK / 67US32.3kpl / 91UK / 76USsame as Rally
Potential range506km / 314m413km / 255m252km
Power bhp4727same
Torque Nm42 @650026.5 @ 6500same
Comp ratio10.710.7same
Actual cc471286same
Bhp / kg4.23 (best)5.665.26
Oil vol • intervals2.7L • 12,000km / 8000m1.8L • 12,000km / 8000msame
Gears66same
DisplayColour LCDMono LCDsame
LightingLED all roundLED headlight Bulbs (LED in Au)
Wheels19/17 tubeless21/18 tubedsame
Brakes (disc)Dual front, ABSSingle front, rear ABS switchablesame + 40mm smaller front rotor
Fork41mm USD unadjustable43mm USD unadjustablesame + firmer
Rear shock5-level preload only5-level preload onlysame but 10mm shorter and firmer
Travel135mm / 5.3″ F&R260mm / 10.2″ F&Rsame
Ground Clearance180mm / 7.1″275mm / 10.8″285mm / 11.2″
BashplateNoThick plasticNo
Alternator500W @ 5000rpm340W @ 5000rpmsame
Power socketYesNosame
ScreenYes, adjustableYesNo
ImmobiliserYes NoNo
  • CB500X
  • 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
  • CB500X
  • 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

My impressions of the 300 Rally

5 thoughts on “CRF 300 Rally vs CB500X (2022)

  1. james hardy

    Hi Chris
    Did you ever try a DR650? And if so how did it compare? Out in the antipodes it seems like the Goto bike for travelling adventures

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    1. Chris S Post author

      Hi James, I’ve always wanted to try one but left it too late. They stopped being imported into the UK years ago. Elsewhere where they can be less old, I still think they’re contenders. Good suspension. But it’s still a dinosaur derived from the 80s original. I would not want to go back to carbs.

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  2. Tom

    Hi Chris thanks for sharing this I’ve been looking going through the same pains looking at the Rally or a similar lighter adv bike to bring in next to my Vstrom 650XT recently stepped up from a r1200gsa te and a 1000xt and the weight difference was the main reason still got me thinking of going lighter still but for my current road adventures it’s been brilliant. Been enjoying the engine on the 650xt to just did a 600 mile day to Scotland around the borders and back an it was brilliant very comfortable place to be once I fitted the puig screen on. Wasn’t bad on fuel to managed 68.5mpg an the fueling and engine are a peach still a heavy bike though at 216kg. I really wish manufacturers would give us some more sub 150kg bikes and choice but as I tried to cover in my latest youtube ramblings it’s all a compromise isn’t it really learnt that from your excellent website an book which has been a tremendous help over the years.

    Wish there was some more long stroke options on the market as my usual is a 1927 Norton 16h which only has 4.9hp and 252lbs that’s a fascinating bike to ride as its no slouch shows what can be done with lighter weight making all its hp count.

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  3. Huan

    I believe the CRF500L is a well trodden path at this stage, there have been several built in the last few years UK,US,Aus etc all have various bikes on the road.
    ADVrider.com some assembly required subforum has the details on many of them if you want build pics and info.

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  4. SIL4

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve also owned previous versions of both (I had the Rally) having bought both at the same time in exchange for my DCT Africa Twin which was no longer needed for my long-distance commute and because I wanted to do some proper trail riding with the Rally with less risk to life and limb…

    I didn’t really like much about the CBX, except for the engine, and liked a lot about Rally – except for the engine. Both are compromised and very much built to a price: your pros and cons are spot on.

    When the Honda dealer accidentally dropped the CBX off the workbench during a service and badly damaged it, I was quite relieved and ended up swapping it for an NC750X DCT which was a far better proposition. And the Rally didn’t really stand up too well to regular trail use compared to the Beta that replaced it: those plastics etc. are nice but don’t crash well…

    The Goldilocks solution is, of course, (and as some have already done) is to stick the 500 engine into the CRF – seems so obvious but then one wonders why it hasn’t been done already if that’s the case?

    For the first time in a while, I’m now bike-less and pondering my next purchase. My trail riding days are over (at least in mud) and I’m now bizarrely torn between two extremes: either a fashionable but ‘proper’, retro scambler with a clutch, kerb appeal and in need of lots of cleaning or a practical, low maintenance, fully-clothed DCT X-ADV or maybe that new ADV350 for pottering about on…must be my age….
    IAN

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