Looking to get a Honda dirt bike and comparing the CRF250R vs CRF250X vs CRF250RX as well as the CRF250F? They’re all 250cc 4-stroke dirt bikes, so how do you easily tell the difference between each model?
Don’t worry, I’ll break down the differences between each bike so that you can know which one will be the best for YOU based on your specific size, riding style, and budget!
The Honda CRF250R has been around since 2004 when it was their first 250cc 4-stroke motocross bike, but it’s been updated many times over the years. However, it’s always been the same type of bike…
It’s made for racing on motocross tracks with big jumps and whoops. This means that it has the snappiest throttle response, the most horsepower, and the stiffest suspension.
Not all 250cc dirt bikes are created equal, so if you think you can start on the CRF250R model for your first dirt bike, you’re in for a rude awakening because it will put you on your butt faster than you can grab the brake or let off the throttle if you’re not using proper techniques to stay in control.
The Honda 250X dirt bike model is designed from the 250R motocross bike, but there are some significant differences that make it unique. The CRF250X also has the 250cc liquid-cooled race engine, but it’s detuned with different cams, porting, compression, and a heavier flywheel.
This makes the throttle response much smoother and easier to control riding on the trails and at lower speeds. The 250X doesn’t have as much peak horsepower and is much quieter, but it has a broader power curve that allows you to ride at a lower RPM without stalling the engine as easily.
The suspension is also much softer because you aren’t doing big jumps at high speeds. It’s great for casual trail riding or technical trails.
Honda didn’t update the CRF250X much over the years for a couple of reasons. For one, they didn’t feel the need to make it better, which saved them money in development costs, but it also wasn’t making as many sales.
That’s why the 250X enduro bike was discontinued in 2017 – and it still had the same engine platform with a carburetor as the 2004 model. There was nothing to replace it until 2019…
Maybe you prefer the snappy power of the 250R MX bike but want a few upgrades to make it more off-road friendly. Well, Honda introduced the CRF250RX in 2019, which is currently the only 250cc enduro model they offer.
It’s almost the same as the CRF250R, but the engine and suspension are tuned slightly differently so that it’s softer and more comfortable on the trails, in the woods, or out in the desert.
Make no mistake, though, the 250RX is a racing machine, so it’s not an easy bike to handle. The suspension is stiff if you’re lightweight or riding at low speeds on technical trails or deep sand.
While the engine has slightly more low-end torque, it still wants to rev high and accelerate hard. The Honda CRF250RX is a great dirt bike if you’re riding fast trails or racing off-road enduro, hare scramble, or GNCC-type events.
Last, but certainly not least, Honda unveiled the CRF250F in 2019. It’s completely different than all of the other CRF 250cc Honda dirt bikes – every single part and system is different.
The CRF250F model is an entry-level trail dirt bike if you’re a beginner, a short rider, or if you’re just a casual rider with farm property. It has a lower seat height and a low-performance engine and suspension.
This not only makes it much easier and more comfortable to ride at low speeds or if this is your first dirt bike, but it’s cheaper and easier to maintain.
The air-cooled engine makes about half the horsepower as the race models, but that’s not what makes this bike so great for the right rider. It makes good low-end torque right off of idle.
That means you can putt-putt around smoothly at 3-4k RPM, while the other bikes would be very jerky at that RPM.
Suspension – Racing, off-road, or casual riding?
Having the right suspension for the job will make all of the difference when it comes to comfort and confidence. When you have a really stiff suspension and you’re a beginner rider, this makes it harder and less enjoyable to ride because you feel every single bump and get exhausted quickly.
This is caused by the common mistake of choosing a race bike for your first dirt bike. Many guys (or gals) end up buying an older motocross bike because it was the only thing that they could find cheap enough.
What they don’t realize is that the high-performance motocross or enduro bike is the reason why they’re constantly stalling, falling, and riding tense. This is why it takes so long to build your confidence.
Difference between each suspension setup
The CRF250R is a motocross bike; therefore it will have the stiffest suspension and valving set up for racing on a track with big jumps and whoops.
Next, the CRF250X has softer suspension even though it’s also a high-performance enduro bike. It’s tuned for riding on technical trails or at lower speeds off-road.
The CRF250RX is also a race bike, but it’s made for racing off-road. This means that the suspension will be fairly stiff, but it’s noticeably softer than the 250R because it’s not made for doing big jumps.
Lastly, the CRF250F has the simplest and softest suspension, which is great if you’re a beginner or riding at low speeds because it will soak up the small bumps well. It’s the most reliable and easiest to maintain, but it definitely starts lacking if you’re an aggressive and/or heavier rider.
Engine – comparing the power
Do you like a fast-revving, high-horsepower, race engine, or do you want something that’s smoother with a broader power band so it won’t scare you? While 3 of these dirt bikes have similar engines, there are yet again some major differences between the four CRF 250 dirt bikes.
CRF250R power characteristics
The 250R has a larger stroke (smaller bore), a little higher compression, hotter camshaft, a close-ratio transmission, and EFI starting in 2010.
These things all add up to making the motocross version of Honda’s 250F more snappy and begs the rider to twist the throttle.
CRF250X power characteristics
On the flip side, the CRF250X still has the same basic engine design. A less-radical cam makes it more trail friendly for smoother power, along with lower compression.
A wider transmission ratio also makes it great for trails, both tight and high-speed. A lower-flowing intake and exhaust set-up combine to make this bike tamer for the beginning riders in mind.
The exhaust is considerably quieter and has a spark-arrestor for state trail riding.
CRF250RX engine tune
Similar to the 250R, the 250RX has a snappy engine with a strong midrange with lots of high RPM horsepower. While it may not be quite as aggressive as the MX engine, it’s quite a bit stronger than the 250X engine.
The CRF250RX has the same close-ratio transmission as the 250R, so it’s easier to keep it in the meat of the power, but first gear isn’t as low as the 250X for hard enduro type riding unless you gear it way down.
It has an open exhaust that is made for performance, so it’s loud and not legal for trail riding because it doesn’t have a spark arrestor.
CRF250F power expectations
The only air-cooled engine in this group is the CRF250F, which is much lower performance when it comes to maximum horsepower and overall weight. However, that’s not important if you aren’t a “revver” and prefer to ride at a lower RPM.
It’s simple, easy to maintain, and has a very smooth power curve from idle all the way to redline. Since the 250F trail bike engine has good torque right off of idle, it’s very easy to learn how to use the clutch because you don’t have to slip it as much to get moving from a stop.
Seat height difference
The CRF250R, CRF250X and CRF250RX all have about the same seat height – around 38 inches. This will feel tall if you’re under 5’10” – especially if you have short legs.
The CRF250F trail bike has a 34.8″ seat height, making it much easier to get on and practice your balance skills because you can put a foot down more easily. It’s a good size dirt bike if you’re in the 5’5″-5’10” height range, but can fit if you’re slightly taller or shorter.
Which Honda CRF 250 is best for YOUR specific needs?
Still can’t figure out which is best for you? Here’s a quick breakdown based on the type of riding you’ll be doing:
Which is best for motocross?
Obviously, the CRF250R is the best Honda 250 for racing or riding on a motocross track. It has the stiffest and best suspension for doing jumps, and it doesn’t have any extra accessories to keep the weight down for the best handling.
Which is best for track & trail riding?
There’s no “perfect dirt bike” that can do everything well. You either have to own multiple types of dirt bikes for each type of riding, or you’ll need to compromise – mostly when it comes to suspension and engine characteristics.
So, if you can only choose one Honda dirt bike for track and trail riding, the CRF250RX is your best choice. The suspension is stiffer than most trail or enduro bikes, so it can handle small to medium-sized jumps, but it’s still soft enough to soak up a lot of the bumps while trail riding off-road.
Which is better for trail riding?
What kind of trail riding will you be doing most? When you choose the wrong bike, you’ll have a harder time riding and controlling it, whether it be riding tense and death gripping the bars, or getting bounced around because you’re over-riding the bike.
Of these bikes, the CRF250F, CRF250X, and CRF250RX are best for trail riding. Your size (height & weight), experience, and trail riding speed will determine which is best for you.
Best for slow, tight, or casual trail riding
The CRF250F is generally the best for the slowest trail riding because of its smooth power and plush suspension. The lower seat height and shorter wheelbase also make it easy to turn, lean, and balance on – especially if you’re a short rider.
With that said, the CRF250X can also work if you want more power and better suspension. It’s a few inches taller, so it will be a little harder to ride unless you have good balance skills & confidence.
Best for faster or more aggressive trail riding
Since the CRF250F has plush suspension, you’re going to start bottoming out and get bucked around on faster trails unless you upgrade the suspension. That means the 250X and 250RX are generally better if you’re an experienced and faster rider.
The CRF250X will be easier to ride, while the CRF250RX has quite a bit more power and stiffer suspension. The best choice will be based on how aggressive of a bike you want.
The 250X also has a headlight, tail light and spark arrestor from the factory, if those are a deciding factor for you.
The more trail riding you want to do, the more accessories you’ll want to have on your bike. The CRF250R is lightweight and handles well, but the suspension and power is not good for trail riding.
Can you trail ride a CRF250R?
Yes, it’s definitely possible, but it has limitations. For one, the stiff suspension will make you feel every single bump unless you weigh over 200 lbs with the stock set up. The engine is snappy, making it harder to control at low speeds because it will want to wheelie on you more easily.
You also don’t have electric start on the 2009 & older models, and the close ratio transmission makes it harder to ride on tight or technical trails in 1st gear unless you gear it way down.
250R vs 250X vs 250RX vs 250F
There are so many 250cc 4-stroke dirt bikes from Honda, so how do you know the difference between them all? I know, it’s frustrating if you get all these letters or numbers confused, but just remember this…
Here’s the easy way to identify each Honda CRF 250 four-stroke:
- CRF250R – Motocross race bike
- CRF250X – Enduro trail bike
- CRF250RX – Enduro race bike
- CRF250F – Trail bike for beginners/casual riders
CRF250R vs CRF250X
The biggest difference is that the 250R is a motocross bike with stiffer suspension, and more power, and Honda has been updating it every few years with more advanced technology and performance. The 250X is an off-road trail bike that’s made for riding all types of terrain.
CRF250R vs CRF250RX
The main differences are that the 250RX has slightly softer suspension, a larger gas tank, an off-road 18″ rear wheel, and a kickstand, which add about 7 lbs but more it more comfortable for riding off-road.
The 250R is the MX bike with the least amount of accessories because it needs to be lightweight for doing big jumps and handling well on the MX track with deep ruts.
CRF250X vs CRF250F
The biggest differences are the 250X is taller with more suspension travel & performance and has a more powerful liquid-cooled engine. The 250F has smoother low-end torque and plush suspension, making it more beginner-friendly for low-speed riding.
CRF250X vs CRF250RX
The main differences are the 250RX has more power with a snappy throttle response, stiffer suspension for more aggressive riding, and modern EFI, while the 250X is discontinued and slightly outdated when it comes to the latest technology and performance.
They’re both great off-road bikes for the right rider. The faster you want to ride, the more you’ll want the newer Honda CRF250RX.
CRF250F vs CRF250R
When comparing the CRF 250F against the CRF 250R, you’ll quickly find out that they’re completely opposite types of dirt bikes. The 250F is a beginner trail bike with much lower performance, while the 250R is a motocross bike with the latest and greatest in technology & performance for experienced racers.
The Important Differences Between Each Honda 250
If you’re like me, then you also want to know the cold hard facts. That is, what are the differences that will actually make a difference when riding?
So, here are the actual physical specs & features that make each bike different:
- Motocross race bike
- Snappiest engine with highest peak horsepower
- EFI (fuel injection starting in 2010)
- Kick-start only until 2018 when Honda added electric start
- Stiffest suspension for jumping
- Lightest flywheel for quick-revving and the most engine-braking
- Loudest exhaust for competition racing
- Lightest weight – no extra features/options, such as kickstand or lights
- 21/19″ wheels
- 37.8″ seat height
- Made from 2004-current
- Enduro trail bike
- High-performance engine that’s de-tuned for smoother riding at lower speeds
- Carburetor (all years)
- Electric & kickstart
- Modern suspension that’s softer for bumps and obstacles at trail riding speeds
- Heavier flywheel for smoother throttle response, better traction, and less stalling
- Quiet exhaust with spark arrestor that’s legal for riding on state trails
- Noticeably more weight due to trail accessories
- Has headlight/tail light
- Comes with kickstand
- 21/18″ wheels
- 37.7″ seat height
- Made from 2004-2017
- Enduro race bike
- Snappy engine with good midrange and top-end HP
- EFI (fuel-injection)
- Electric start
- Stiff suspension for off-road racing and high-speed/aggressive trail riding
- Lighter flywheel for quick-revving and engine-braking
- Loud exhaust for competition racing (no spark arrestor)
- Only about 7 lbs heavier than the 250R model
- Comes with kickstand
- 21/18″ wheels
- 38.0″ seat height
- Made from 2019-current
- Trail bike for beginners & casual riders
- Smooth engine with good low-end torque but much less peak horsepower
- EFI (fuel-injection)
- Electric start
- Softest suspension to soak up trail bumps at low to moderate speeds
- Heaviest flywheel for smoothest throttle response, best traction, and to prevent stalling
- Quietest exhaust with spark arrestor for riding on state trails
- Heaviest of the group, but not super noticeable due to lower seat height (except when picking it up off the ground)
- Comes with kickstand
- 21/18″ wheels
- 34.8″ seat height
- Made from 2019-current
Honda CRF 250 Specs Comparison
Here are some of the more important specifications and dimensions of each Honda 250 four-stroke:
|Weight||231 lbs||251 lbs||238 lbs||265 lbs|
|Horsepower||40 HP||30 HP||40 HP||24 HP|
|Transmission||5-speed close||5-speed wide||5-speed close||5-speed wide|
How to make dirt biking safer
If you fit the CRF250X better, then I want to help you become a better and safer rider today.
To stay in control riding on the trails or off-road, you need proper riding technique. This is where a lot of new riders struggle because they try and teach themselves or learn from a friend, but they end up creating bad habits that cause you to ride out of control and crash more easily.
So, I want to show you how to ride with control and confidence off-road, click here to get started with proper riding technique.