The standard CRF250L is one of Honda’s biggest sellers worldwide, and the CRF250L Rally version is not far behind with the addition of racing-inspired styling. We teamed up with Scott Wright and his crew at IMS Products to build the ultimate urban adventure machine.The Honda CRF250L Rally is a budget-minded machine built in Southeast Asia with a retail price tag less than half of its cousin, the Africa Twin. The technology is modern, though. The engine is a fuel-injected, DOHC, four-valve four-stroke with a six-speed gearbox and electric start.
But, in stock form, the bike is not about big performance numbers; it produces less than 25 horsepower at the rear wheel. The Rally version is based off a CRF250L with some upgrades that include a 38mm throttle body, 296mm front brake rotor and different exhaust system. The most noticeable differences are in the styling department, with a floating windscreen, LED headlight assembly and radiator shrouds that blend in with the bodywork—just like the factory HRC Rally machines. The fork and shock are also longer on the Rally, with 11 inches up front and 10.3 inches out back. With those credentials, this bike is clearly not made for pounding through miles of desert whoops and large dunes. But how about conquering the urban landscape? Now that is a different story!
Performance upgrades available for the engine are very limited. The key components added included an electronic jet kit (EJK) Gen-3 EFI tuner, DNA air filter and an FMF Powercore 4 Hex exhaust system. EJK tuners are adjustable but come pre-programed with their recommended settings ready to plug in and go. DNA filters are designed to flow up to 34 percent more air than the OEM unit and at a 99 percent filtering efficiency. The FMF Powercore 4 Hex exhaust is lighter than the stock unit and designed to improve performance across the entire power curve, with a removable Forestry Service-approved spark arrestor featuring a stainless steel and aluminum construction. Zeta silicone radiator hoses were also installed for some additional bling and to help the bike run cooler.
Just as with the engine, suspension modifications were limited unless the stock components were completely removed. We didn’t want to go through that hassle, so Bob Bell and his crew at Precision Concepts did what they could. Stiffer springs were installed on both ends, and the fork-oil height was increased by 10cc in hopes of increasing the resistance to bottoming without sacrificing overall plushness. With no way to adjust the setting externally, we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. The centerpieces of the build for IMS were, of course, the oversized fuel tank that holds 3.5 gallons, the Flightline shift lever and the Rally footpegs.
Zeta Racing Products is based in Japan and makes an entire catalog of parts for the CRF250L Rally. According to the owner Jun, they have a hard time keeping everything in stock. Zeta items on this build include adjustable Pivot levers; an anodized triple-clamp kit; Trigger brake pedal; aluminum plastic hardware kit; titanium axles; engine plug kit; case saver; carbon fiber frame guards; and a complete wheelset with anodized red aluminum hubs, spoke nipples and black rims. To improve off-road capabilities, STI Tech 2 Pro knobby tires and a Tubliss dual-air-chamber system were installed. Drivetrain gearing was also changed from 14-40 to 13-44 using DRC Hardware steel sprockets and a D.I.D chain.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everything done to our IMS Rally project made it more dirt-worthy and, in our opinion, didn’t sacrifice any major comforts on the road. The weight savings are noticeable, and the performance increases jumped out at us right away. We won’t say the IMS CRF250L Rally project is fast by any means, but the percentage of horsepower increase is impressive. STI Tech 2 Pro tires play a huge role in the overall dirt capabilities, and the Tubliss system allows us to fine-tune air pressure levels for maximum traction on a wide variety of terrain. This machine is a conversation starter around town. Every time we have it on the road, someone gives us a thumbs up or stops us in the grocery store parking lot just to ask questions. On paper, the IMS CRF250L Rally project is a huge success! Well, that is if you only look at the weight savings, horsepower percentage increases and overall fun factor. If you start paying attention to how much money was spent to make all these things happen, then you’ve missed the point altogether.