2008 Honda CRF230L | Motorcycle Test

Living in Los Angeles has its definitive advantages for a motorcyclist. With the help of the beautiful Southern California climate, motorcyclists can enjoy the freedom of being able to ride almost year-round, which serves as a reason to get outside and search for a way to explore our own senses of adventure. Requiring only a short ride, Los Angeles offers many things to do, from hanging around the snowy slopes of Big Bear Lake in the winter, to swimming at one of Malibu’s beaches in the summer.

With all of the choices available to Honda, the company decided to unveil its new two-trick pony, the CRF230L dual-purpose motorcycle at the Silver Saddle Ranch in California City, California. (Click image to enlarge)

An oasis in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the Silver Saddle Ranch Resort and Spa is located about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, offering visitors many activities to partake in—from miniature golf to trap and skeet shooting—though most travelers visit the Silver Saddle Ranch to explore and roost through the hundreds of square miles of desert around the resort.

The CRF230L and the off-road-only CRF230F share the same air-cooled single piston, 223cc four-stroke engine, but the bikes are more like cousins than brothers. Unlike the 230F, which serves its function strictly on the dirt, the 50-state street-legal 230L’s appeal can be attributed to the fact that the bike is perfectly suited for the part-time off-roader, the commuter, and beginners looking to hone their riding skills.

Possessing a below-average seat height just shy of 32 inches, the 230L allowed me to plant both feet firmly on asphalt or dirt while at a stop. Due to my lack of elevation, I can not begin to explain the frustration of having to balance tall bikes on my tip-toes. With the 230L’s low saddle height and front and rear disc brakes, every stop was welcomed.
From the Silver Saddle Ranch, I embarked on a 40-mile round trip to the historic mining town of Randsburg. My itinerary included a few hill climbs, some sandy trails to blaze though, as well as, some time spent on the highway, plus a tough section that consisted of whoops, ruts, and hairpin turns. To alleviate the uneven topography, the 230L is equipped with 37 mm leading-axle Showa forks, controlling the nine inches of travel in the front. A preload-adjustable Pro-Link Showa shock provides 6.3 inches of movement in the back. In addition, the 9.5 inches of ground clearance is more than sufficient to take on anything the 267 pound (claimed, ready-to-ride, with all fluids and a full tank of gas) 230L can handle.

Known as a “living ghost town,” the mining town of Randsburg is like riding into a western movie with the exception of asphalt roads and a few vehicles here and there. Randsburg has a population of 80 during the week—mostly gold and silver miners. That number can often jump into the hundreds on the busier weekends, with the likes of off-roaders in search of a satisfying burger or a refreshing soda from the old-fashioned soda fountain at the Randsburg General Store. (Click image to enlarge)

After I gorged myself on a king-size cheeseburger and knocked back an old-school cherry soda, I checked the gas tank. After a couple side-to-side movements, the tank seemed to be nearly full still. When I asked Ray Conway, Off-Road Media Coordinator for North American Honda, what the gas mileage is on the L, he told me, “I don’t really know how they are on the street, but, we rode them around all day yesterday in the dirt and the 230L averaged about 60 miles to the gallon.” That’s pretty efficient, with its 2.3 gallon tank you can easily go 100 miles between pit stops. Whether ridden on the busy urban streets, or in the middle of the desert in search of a scrumptious burger, the 230L shined.

Although, I found it hard to deal with on the freeway because the bike tops out at around 70 mph, which makes passing a slower car at highway speeds practically impossible. Whereas on the good side, with a price tag of $4499, the 230L provides beginners and veterans alike with a fuel efficient do-it-all bike that’s affordable and a blast to ride on and off the beaten path. 


Helmet: Axo Chute Bang Tango
Goggles: Smith Optics Intake Enduro
Chest Protector: Axo Vortex
Jersey and Pants: Axo SR
Gloves: Axo Ride
Boots: Axo Boxer
Socks: Axo Motocross
Knee Guard: Axo TMKP



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