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2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R Comparison Review

In this article, we will cover the comparison review between 2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R. If you ride a motorcycle, you know that the red and green colors stand for two of the most famous motorcycle manufacturers in the world: Kawasaki and Honda. Despite their different corporate colors, one of the many things these firms have in common is the ability to build high-quality, fun-focused trail bikes that are as kind to the rider’s wallet as they are to them. Yes, for a reasonable price, these are enjoyable and adaptable bikes.

For many years, the Big Red was carried in this class by Honda’s CRF230F, but the CRF250F took place in 2019. In an attempt to gain a foothold in the trail bike market, Kawasaki introduced the KLX230R the following year. Prices for the 2023 models (our test bikes are ’22s) are similar: the 2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R have MSRPs of $4,749 and $4,899, respectively.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

Although the specifications of the four-stroke Honda CRF250F and Kawasaki KLX230R engines are similar, the air-cooled singles of the bikes have different displacements (249cc for the CRF and 233cc for the KLX). However, they are still comparable enough for analysis. It is also clear that both the bikes are for the same rider. In addition to the more significant displacement, the Honda’s cylinder head has four valves compared to the Kawasaki’s two. The front gets 240mm rotors and dual-piston calipers, while the rear gets 220mm discs squeezed by single-piston calipers.

With standard full-size off-road wheels measuring 21-inch in the front and 18-inch in the rear, both models offer extensive options for aftermarket tires. Additionally, both manufacturers installed nearly identical brakes on their respective models—the complete comparison review, i.e., 2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R – Features Comparison

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R – Engines Comparison

The engine plays a vital role when riding off-road, so let’s compare the engine between the 2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R. With electronic fuel injection (EFI), an electric start, and a larger engine than its predecessor, the CRF250F is primed for the Roaring Twenties (2020).

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The quarter-liter Honda produced 15.5 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm and 20.1 horsepower at 7,500 rpm on our in-house Dynojet 250i rear-wheel dynamometer. At 9,100 rpm, the rev limiter activated.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

The CRF’s SOHC four-valve engine impressed with its high-speed characteristics and linear powerband. Its power is excellent and valuable throughout the rpm range. We spent much of our test time wandering through rock gardens and narrow single tracks, where pulling the bike into second gear was easy. Riding in tight and rough terrain was a breeze for the CRF250F as it had enough downforce to push the bike out of turns or over rocks.

The bike can accelerate from a near stop in second gear thanks to the CRF engine’s trackability and large flywheel, exceptional gearing in the five-speed transmission, and 13/50 final drive sprocket combination.

Without rolling speed, dropping to first gear felt excessive, even on the roughest route we could explore. The first gear was small enough to prevent the bike from coming to a dead stop while providing enough torque to quickly propel you up steep inclines.

With a simple lever push, the cable-actuated clutch delivers quick bursts of manageable power. Activating it is smooth and easy.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

Honda’s desire to recover quickly paid off as the roads opened up. With a light touch of the throttle, the Honda delivers maximum power to the redline. A decently knobby tire helps the CRF250F make a strong drive, making it feel lively and ready to accelerate quickly. It’s acceptable in this class as it needs excellent power delivery from competing models.

It leads to a motorcycle that gives the rider confidence—even when they’re pushing the machine to its absolute limits. In what way? Squeezing a fistful of throttle produces a pleasant and manageable burst, but you don’t feel like you’ll be thrown to the ground.

Team Green’s KLX230R has a marginally lower power output than its red rival, which is understandable considering its 17cc (6 percent) displacement deficit. On our dyno, the Green Machine’s fuel-injected SOHC engine produced 17.9 horsepower at 7,700 rpm and 14.4 lb.-ft. Of torque at 6,100 rpm. That’s 2.2 horsepower and 1.1 lb.-ft. Less torque at peak than the CRF250F, or 11% less power and 8% less torque. It’s not negligible, but it depends on how energy transfers.

Although the KLX230 has more midrange pull than the CRF250F based on feel alone, a look at the dyno cruise shows that the Honda produces more horsepower and torque across the board. That feeling of midrange bridge, like the seat of the pants? This results in the Kawasaki’s torque curve being less linear than the Honda’s.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

The Kawasaki experiences a sharp increase in torque at 4,400 rpm, making the midrange appear more potent than it is due to the sharp climb in output. The Kawasaki KLX230R has a flat low end and doesn’t hold its peak power like the Honda, but its midrange sounds lively and fun (probably because of that initial spike).

Both bikes can handle similar rocks and terrain, but the Kawasaki lacks the Honda’s immediate low-end snap. Wheeling the Kawi over obstacles requires quite a bit of clutch use. Regarding the Kawasaki’s understated qualities, novice tester Kyle Woertink responded, “It’s not very strong, especially when you need it to be.” The KLX’s engine also feels less tuned and smoother overall, with more vibration in the higher rev range.

The Kawasaki KLX230R engine needs more care to ensure it is in the sweet part of the rpm range because it has less overall power and a less refined torque curve. Although not highly annoying, it increases the mental pressure on riders, especially those new to the sport, as they try to master a challenging field.

It becomes easier to pop the wheels and lift the front wheel at medium speeds and midrange. We only want a single burst of power available at low RPMs, which can be used at low speeds in second gear.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R – Chassis/Suspension Comparison

The chassis/ suspension comparison is as meaningful as the engine comparison between the 2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R. Simply put, the Honda’s suspension is luxurious. A spring-preload-adjustable shock and non-adjustable Showa 41mm fork are standard on the CRF250F.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

Travel is 9.1 inches in the rear and 8.5 inches in the front, with carefully calibrated spring rates supporting the bike at low-to-mid speeds. The components offer compliance early in the stroke and then gradually stiffen with enough bottom resistance when approaching tight sections that demand slight suspension manipulation (fork preload and shock weight and reduce the bike’s weight) unless speed. Not too fast

The shock and fork never bottom out when moving at slow to medium speeds. Accelerating over rough terrain, the shock absorbs the impact and drops into oops, go-outs, and other critical obstacles. For experienced motorcyclists, it is essential to balance maintaining a reasonable speed and being aware of the motorcycle’s limitations.

An intermediate-level motocross test rider, Michael Wicker remarked, “It was better to ride with more precision and finesse.” “It’s unlikely that riders who charge and pass everything quickly will be the most comfortable.”

In addition to being smaller than the Honda in terms of engine size, the Kawasaki also has a fork with a shorter stanchion. The Showa shock has spring preload adjustment; however, the Showa 37mm unit does not. Front travel is 9.8 inches, and rear travel is 9.9 inches.

Although the KLX230R‘s fork legs are thinner, the bike has more suspension travel (1.3 inches compared to 0.8 inches) front and rear than the CRF250F. According to our test protocol, this extra travel results in a 1.5-inch taller seat height.

The KLX230R’s stance may seem high in the back, but its extended travel makes it possible for the fork to be in the sweet spot of the stroke more often and provides a more accommodating, comfortable ride. The KLX230R outperformed the CRF250F in this front suspension area.

However, Kawasaki’s suspension could have been flawless. Compared to the fork, the rear is much higher. Although heavier riders will benefit from a stiffer rear setting, especially if the ride is seated, to be fair, our test riders were on the lighter side. The 230’s agility in tight, rough sections was enhanced by its flexible fork. Even so, we needed more confidence at high speeds that the front would hold its traction when leaning forward.

The KLX’s high-rear stance and unbalanced chassis put a lot of weight on the front end, which is why. Fast sections with big hoops, bumps, or jumps can cause the rear end to go full hook-a-buck with a robust rebound.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

By reducing the preload adjustment on the KLX to its lowest setting, the bike’s balance was increased by softening the rear and allowing the shock to travel less in the stroke. In the end, though, the KLX230R continued to adopt a somewhat stinky bug posture.

It can be relieved by shifting your body position back on the seat. On the Honda CRF250F, on the other hand, a much more neutral riding position can be maintained under the same conditions. The Honda’s front/rear balance was just delicate, so the rider didn’t have to make any more body posture adjustments to compensate.

In most situations, the Honda CRF250F also has superior cornering. It is more stable on the side of the tire, more confident entering corners, and maintains its position throughout the ride. When reversing course, the Kawasaki KLX230R requires extra caution as it is more likely to deviate from your directions.

The KLX230R’s chassis has a tappier, almost airy feel than the Honda’s, shorter front to back but taller. It reminds me of yesteryear’s famous 130cc pit bike racers.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R – Ergonomics Comparison

Larger riders may find the KLX230R a better option than the CRF250F because of its extra room. The Honda configuration is recognizable in terms of the bars, pegs, layout, and position.

The red bike’s competition model sibling, the CRF250R MXer, is the source of part of its authentic dirt bike DNA. When you throw a leg over it and close your eyes, you’ll notice that this trail bike feels much like a motocross bike, albeit a bit shorter.

2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R – Specifications Comparison

Specs \ Bikes 2023 Honda CRF250F 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R

Engine and transmission

Engine size 249.0 ccm (15.19 cubic inches) 233.0 ccm (14.22 cubic inches)
Type of engine Single-cylinder, four-stroke Single-cylinder, four-stroke
Compression 9.6:1 9.4:1
Bore x stroke 71.0 mm x 63.0 mm (2.8 inches x 2.5 inches) 67.0 mm x 66.0 mm (2.6 inches x 2.6 inches)
Valves per cylinder 4 4
Fuel system Injection. Fuel-injection, 34mm throttle bore Injection. DFI® including 32mm Keihin throttle body
Fuel control Single Overhead Cams (SOHC) Single Overhead Cams (SOHC)
Ignition Full Transistorized TCBI Electronic Advance
Cooling system Air Air
Gearbox 5-speed 6-speed
Transmission type Chain (final drive) Chain (final drive)
Driveline #520 O-ring-sealed chain; 13T/50T Sealed chain

Chassis, suspension, brakes and wheels

Rake (fork angle) 26.1° 26.5°
Trail 102 mm (4.0 inches) 112 mm (4.4 inches)
Front Suspension 41mm leading-axle Showa fork 37mm telescopic fork
Front-wheel travel 216 mm (8.5 inches) 249 mm (9.8 inches)
Rear Suspension Pro-Link® Showa single shock with spring-preload adjustability Uni-Trak® linkage system and a single shock with adjustable spring preload
Rear wheel travel 231 mm (9.1 inches) 251 mm (9.9 inches)
Front tire 80/100-21 80/100-21
Rear tire 100/100-18 100/100-18
Front brakes Double disc Single disc. Petal disc. Dual-piston caliper.
Diameter 240 mm (9.4 inches) 240 mm (9.4 inches)
Rear brakes Single disc Single disc. Petal disc. Single-piston caliper.
Diameter 220 mm (8.7 inches) 220 mm (8.7 inches)

Physical measures and capacities

Weight incl. oil, gas, etc 120.2 kg (265.0 pounds) 115.0 kg (253.6 pounds)
Seat height 884 mm (34.8 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting. 919 mm (36.2 inches). If adjustable, lowest setting.
Ground clearance 287 mm (11.3 inches) 300 mm (11.8 inches)
Wheelbase 1420 mm (55.9 inches) 1359 mm (53.5 inches)
Fuel capacity 6.06 litres (1.60 US gallons) 6.43 litres (1.70 US gallons)

Other specifications

Color options Red/blue/white Lime Green
Starter Electric Electric


The comparison review of 2023 Honda CRF250F vs 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R has been conducted extensively. After proper testing with multiple test riders of varying skill levels on tight single-track, open desert, and dirt roads, it was clear that these two motorcycles, targeting the same category, perform quite differently on the trail.

Due to its roomier riding position and more extended suspension travel, the Kawasaki KLX230R is more suited to larger riders. It also has an advantage thanks to its sharp and supple spines. While we enjoyed the agile feel of the chassis, it lacked the Honda’s level of balance and predictability. The engine could be more maneuverable and flexible.

It has a slight displacement loss, but the smoother horsepower and torque curves will make it less noticeable. The bump in the torque curve makes the midrange feel lively, so if you’ve never ridden a Honda, you might feel less. However, the chassis forced the rider to work hard on similar terrain, which is against the play bike mentality in this class.

The Honda CRF250F will set you back another $150 (in 2023 dollars), but its impeccable engine tuning, soft, balanced suspension, and smooth, linear power make the extra money worthwhile. The CRF is a great play bike because it allows more riders to do more in different terrains.

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