The Honda 230 dirt bike, also known as the CRF230F, was produced from 2004 to 2019. During this time, Honda also released the street-legal Honda CRF230L and the supermotard Honda CRF230M. Each offered simplicity, versatility, and function.
The Honda 230 Dirt Bike is an air-cooled 223-cc dual-sport bike that is both durable and reliable. This popular two-wheeler capitalized on Honda’s factory MX ergonomics and boasted an EFI/carburetion system and plush suspension.
This entry-level bike is excellent for beginners. You can leisurely ride trails, go racing in the dunes or use it as a daily ride. While the stock Honda CRF230F may be a bit choked up, there are lots of mods you can add to improve it. Unravel this and more as you continue to learn about the dirt bike’s history, specs, and features in this article.
Honda 230 Dirt Bike
The Honda 230 Dirt Bike belonged to the Honda’s CRF lineup launched in 2003 as a successor to the Honda XR series. This lineup had five styles, three of which included the Honda 230 CRF, namely: CRF230F, CRF230L, and CRF230M:
Honda CRF230F (Family)
As of 2019, the CRF-F series included 50-cc up to 250-cc displacements and the Big Wheel (CRF125F). Initially, only three of these air-cooled, four-stroke bikes – the CRF110F, CRF125F, and CRF250F – came standard with Electronic Fuel Injection. It made cold-starting and maintenance easier since the motorcycle did not have a carburetor. The Honda CRF230F dirt bike was part of this line and produced by Honda from 2004 to 2019.
The 230 Dirt Bike was the most trail-friendly out of all the versions in the CRF series. This trail bike had an efficient four-stroke engine, top-notch suspensions, and a snazzy electric start, which offered excellent tolerance and stability over unwelcoming terrain. It had a 30-mm CV carburetor but eventually had an EFI version during its outgoing year.
Honda CRF230L (Street-legal)
The Honda CRF230L was an entry-level dual-sport bike that was street legal. It was the first of the CRF-L series and sibling to the Africa Twin (CRF1100L), produced only from 2008 to 2009. The CRF230L had lighting, electric starters, a different frame, and an engine. It did not share most components with other off-road CRF motorcycles. Providing plenty of punch for traversing diverse terrain – from city asphalt to muddy wet trails to non-existent roads – the CRF230L was one of the benchmarks for bricoleur machinery. Honda marketed it as the XR230L outside the U.S. Three years later, the redesigned dual-purpose CRF250L launched in Japan. In 2017, the air-cooled 149 cc four-stroke SOHC single-cylinder CRF150L was launched in Indonesia, which shared an EFI engine with the Verza.
Honda CRF230M (Supermoto)
The 2009 model (CRF230M) looked like an off-road, CFR230L spin-off. 17-inch standard spoked wheels and a shiny black finish gave this supermotard a sleek look. Its narrow seat height and upright riding position allowed for proper handling – the center of gravity calculated with the rider considered. However, the seat height was unpopular, since it seemed to cater to middle-sized and short riders. Additionally, the lighting components (headlight, turn signals, taillights) looked dated and out of proportion to the rest of the bike.
Nonetheless, Honda’s attempt at the supermoto made up for what it lacked – brake sensitivity, suspension, and engine vibration reduction. It catered very well to inseam-challenged riders who wanted a stylish, functional two-wheeler to use daily. In 2013, the CRF230M launched in Europe, a year after the dual-purpose CRF250L.
Honda 230 Dirt Bike Specs & Features
- Engine – Four-stroke, air-cooled, single-cylinder SOHC two-valve engine with a bore x stroke ratio of 65.5 mm x 66.2 mm. The power mill has a displacement of 223 cubic centimeters. A 30-millimeter CV carburetor (with a 28-mm piston-valve, 42 pilot, and 102 main) handles the air-fuel mixture with a compression ratio of 9.0:1. Fuel tank capacity is 2.2 US gallons/8.33 liters, including a 0.4-gallon/1.5-liter reserve. For the 2008 models or above, fuel capacity is 1.85 US gallons/ liters, with a 0.34-gallon/1.3-liter fuel reserve. The 230 Dirt Bike has a miserly fuel consumption of 3.4 liters every 100 km (83 mpg).
- Drivetrain – Power travels via a six-speed, wet multi-disc clutch manual transmission. The final drive is delivered by a 520 O-ring-sealed chain (with snail-type chain adjusters for hassle-free maintenance) and 13T/50T sprockets. The primary reduction is 3.090 (68/22). Maximum power output is 19.04 HP (14.2 KW) @ 8000 RPM. Maximum torque is 48.31 ft/lbs (65.5 Nm) @ 6000 RPM.
- Ignition – It is started by a solid-state CDI push-button electric start system. It also has a single-phase output alternator. The 2014 model featured a keyed ignition switch for added security and control over whom goes riding and when.
- Tires – The Honda 230 Dirt Bike tires consist of Dunlop 80/100-21 front tires and Dunlop 100/100-18 rear tires mounted on tubeless steel wheels, and strong, straight-pull spoke rims (the CRF230M came with Dunlop GT401 Arrowmax 110/70 x 17 front tires and Dunlop GT401 Arrowmax 130/70 x 17).
- Brakes – A single 240-mm front disc brake and rear drum brake provide stopping power. The front disc rotor is drilled for lightness and better performance in inclement weather.
- Suspension – The Honda 230 Dirt Bike features a 37-mm leading-axle Showa® fork that allows 8.5 inches of travel. The rear suspension utilizes a Pro-Link Showa® single-shock with spring-preload adjustability that allows for 9.1 inches of travel.
- Dimensions – The bike’s overall length is 81.1 inches. The width is 31.5 inches, and the height is 46.9 inches; the minimum ground clearance is 11.7 inches. The vehicle wheelbase is 54.1 inches. The seat height is 34.3 inches. Dry weight is 238 lbs/108 kg, while curb weight is 250.2 lbs/113.5 kg. There is a half-kilogram reduction in curb weight for the 2008 models and above – 249 lbs/113 kg.
- Exterior – It is composed of a semi-double-cradle, high-tensile steel frame, an aluminum crankcase, and plastic body material. It comes with standard grips, a high-impact plastic skid plate, and a buzzard beak front fender. The 230 Dirt Bike also features an MX-style seat that allows maximum rider movement. Later models met both EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) off-road standards.
Honda CRF230 vs. Honda XR200R
Many Honda enthusiasts compare the Honda 230 Dirt Bike to the older XR200R, considered the greatest trail bike ever produced. In terms of size, they are similar except for the 230F seating position, which seems slightly roomier but narrower. The footpegs had improved from the XR200R’s weak loops. Neither of its forks nor shock has any external damping adjustment knobs or screws, and cannot be remodeled.
In place of the oil filter is an internal centrifugal filter that spins contaminants out of the oil. It collects them in an internal disk that you can clean by removing the engine side cover. The bike’s exhaust is very quiet, with the stock diffuser installed (rated 82 dB). Otherwise, it is quite noisy for trail riding. A brief skid plate only covers part of the front down tubes but not the bottom frame rails.
Comparing to the XR200R, updates include an electric start, front disk brake, slick-looking silencer, beefier footpegs, shifter, brake pedal, and a more robust frame. The 230 dirt bike’s stronger frame and better suspension add stability over rough terrain. The front disk brake adds confidence as well, especially for inexperienced riders. The Honda 230 Dirt Bike was predominantly sold in the U.S., Asia, and Belgium, where Honda Motor Europe Ltd marketed it under Easy Enduro.
Next Level Up
While the Honda 230 Dirt Bike is extremely underrated, it is undoubtedly not perfect. Some of its strong points have trade-offs like seat height, slow warm-up, and small footpegs. But like any other quality bikes that Honda produces, the CRF230F’s performance and handling can be further enhanced with a few adjustments and add-ons. Here are some suggestions:
- Performance. Replace the stock jet (main, pilot, and cold start) if you happen to have a carbureted Honda 230 Dirt Bike, as it takes a while to warm up. This step will improve throttle response and open up mid-range and low-range and help with idling. If you’re using your trail bike for desert racing, fitting it with a 520 Gold X-ring chain will increase durability. You can also change sprockets (to make your bike less torquey and allow optimal use of gears) and upgrading the stator to 70 watts.
- Handling. Do front forks and spring upgrades to your Honda 230 Dirt Bike to make it usable by heavier riders, as the CRF230F built seems to cater to small and mid-sized riders. Change your tires for improved versatility on different types of terrain. Get new footpegs for a wider grip, a lithium battery to replace the stock, and 7/8″ aluminum handlebars for a more aggressive riding position if you like to ride standing up.
- Protection. These items are a must as they protect the parts of your two-wheeler that often bruise or puncture. Handguards will protect handlebars from breaking if you drop the bike to its side. An off-road skid plate will shield the bottom of the motorcycle. And an aluminum brake pedal with an anchor will ensure that the pedal doesn’t detach from the bike should it hit anything hard while you are riding.
- Aesthetics. Lastly, a well-modified dirt bike deserves some creativity. Depending on your personality and art style, there are tons of products that you can get for your rides such as a replacement plastic kit, a Custom Senge Graphics Kit (view on Amazon), a seat cover, new grips, leathers, and a gas cap. A new look will definitely complement your bike’s enhanced configuration.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How fast does a 230 dirt bike go? Depending on the trim, the top speed can go anywhere from 65 to 75 mph. Replacing the stock exhaust with an aluminum exhaust system and the stock battery with a lithium type will take off at least 10 lbs from the stock weight and increase max speed by 2 to 5 mph.
- How much HP does a CRF 230 have? The marketed horsepower for the Honda 230 Dirt Bike ranges from 14 to 19 (rounded off), depending on the trim. Both the CRF230F and CRF230L have 18.63 HP (13.7 kW) @ 8000 RPM. The CRF230M has 14.3 hp (10.7 kW) @ 6650 RPM. Jetting and gearing adjustments may open up the engine to produce more power.
- How much is a CRF 230? The Honda 230 Dirt Bike in 2003 was $3,649, only increasing by $700 in 2019. This dirt bike retains its value very well, with current retail pricing averaging at $3,625 – only $24 shy of its MSRP 17 years ago. The 2009 CRF230L’s introductory price was $4,549, while the 2009 CRF230M was at $4,749.
Honda Motor Company Ltd. is the maker of Honda 230 Dirt Bike and the CRF series. Soichiro Honda founded the Japanese firm in 1946. Since then, the company has become an industry leader well-known for highly-engineered motorcycles and automobiles. Its aggressive globalization strategy included the production of multipurpose engines, dynamic sports models, and power equipment. At present, Honda continues to pioneer in energy solutions, AI, robotics, and mobility.
Conclusion – Honda 230 Dirt Bike
The Honda CRF230 is a jack-of-all-trades dirt bike and not one to be undermined. Yes, it is multi-functional, agile, and is generally impressive. But unlike other motorcycles, it covers a broader spectrum of riders. It instills confidence, allowing the inexperienced driver to be in full control and not the other way around. And given the right upgrades and a skilled rider, it can crush the egos of weekend warriors at any given time.