Project Bike: CRF 300L main page

Here’s a thought: a CRF300L has roughly the same power and weight as an XT500, which was a de facto choice 40 years ago. Factor in comfort, reliability, and [far superior] fuel economy – and by implication fuel needed – do we have a modern equivalent?
Ian T (300L owner)

CRF300L Index Page (latest posts first)

300L Old tubes and dirt bike rims
300L Acerbis tank, crashbars, USB
300L first impressions
Honda 300 Rally vs CB500X vs 300L (2022)
Honda 300 Rally quick ride (2022)

I’ve finally cracked and got myself a CRF300L, just like everyone else. One factor is a need for a lithe trail bike to log a mass of new routes in Morocco for my guidebook. A spell of bad weather across the south of Morocco in February cut masses of tracks and roads and led to catastrophic tomato shortages in the UK. Setting off in a rental fourbie the following week with a long list to tick off, we turned back from mashed tracks several times a day. Some of these blockages could have negotiated on a light bike, even if the job of carefully logging tracks is harder.

Why not a snazzy looking Rally with its useful screen and a 12.8-litre tank? I tried one briefly last year but it seems people who are serious about trail riding choose the cheaper, lighter more popular and much less plastic-clad 300L which they can ‘Rallyfy’ as much as needed (screen; tank) for less than the 700-quid premium.

My last bike was an Africa Twin which I knew wasn’t my thing but I thought I ought to pay lip service the ‘giant adventure bike’ phenomenon. I devised a trip within its abilities but was reminded of the obvious: unless you’re a talented young buck and despite what the adverts depict, why pretend a quarter-ton tank is any kind of useable on all but the smoothest gravel tracks? You just spend the day thinking: ‘Looks interesting up there but I better not risk it…’.

After my March 2023 Morocco fly-in tours, I did a few days solo on a 310GS. I must have done 15,000 kms on these rental hacks on my Morocco lap but it’s a busman’s holiday on these nippy road road bikes which don’t exactly set an unexplored trail on fire.
I like to think that while a 300L will be a bit slower tapped out on the desert highway, it will make the trails a lot more fun and less tiring, which also adds up to less risk roaming around alone down there.

After blundering about on the internet looking for L in all the wrong places, a mate pointed out a well fettled example just 50 miles down the road. With <1000 miles on the clock, it also had nearly all of my preferred essentials fitted (barks, bash, easy-grab tube rack, Renthals), as well as Rally Raid suspension and even a nifty screen. It even still smells new.
A pile of spares included the original chain and sprockets. The seller (second owner) had done just 300 miles before he accepted it was still just too tall for him, despite a thinned down seat. He’s after a Beta Alp 200 next.

I think I’ll need that seat padding back (a Cool Cover with a slab of foam underneath, like I did on the Him) as well as a return to stock 14/40 or near-stock gearing (currently tree-climbing 13/45) before I take it down to Morocco and leave it there for a while. I just re-read my quick impression on the 300 Rally last year, noting the low 1st; overdrive 6th was a clever spread of gears. One thing that’ll need addressing: the 7.8-litre / 230km fuel tank. An Acerbis 14-litre is on order.
More to come.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.