When I purchased the CRF250 Rally for this trip I viewed it as a cheap base platform ready for conversion into the adventure bike that I needed for the trip. At less than £5000 new on the road it really is a lot of bike for the money. With 43mm Showa forks upfront, 21in and 18in wheels, good ground clearance, LED lighting and a proven 250cc single cylinder engine this little bike has some serious potential.
When I initially got the bike I did nothing to it, just rode a mix of on and off-road for 2500 miles to work out what needed doing to make it right for me.
It wasn’t long before I had a list of things that I needed to do to the bike to make it adventure ready, most of which I have already written articles about on the blog.
Suspension is one of the things I left to last as I needed to have a good idea about weight before I could order what was necessary.
I decided to fit the HyperPro progressive spring in place of the OEM spring as it gets great reviews, is sensibly priced and available in the UK from a reputable suspension business via Ebay.
Installation is fairly straight forward and is well documented on Youtube and so I won’t got into the fitting process here.
The HyperPro kit also comes with replacement oil for the forks which improves damping considerably.
For the rear I went with the British manufactured Hagon shock, it’s a quality unit that has both preload and damping adjustment and is extremely well priced at £299.50.
The great thing about ordering a shock from Hagon is that you can talk to their tech team and discuss what you are going to be using the shock for and how you intend to load it. The outcome of the discussion that I had with them was that they wanted to build a custom shock for me using a higher rated spring so that the unit coped better with the load and terrain I was going to be using it in.
So, total cost of the suspension upgrade was £419.45 (£299.50 + £119.95), almost 10% of the value of the bike.
Today I had my first ride on the bike since completing all the work and was amazed at how different the bike felt to ride. The first thing that hit me was how much taller the bike now stands. The unladen sag is considerably less as is the laden sag. Climbing on I now find I can only just touch the ground whereas before I could get both feet down. I would go as far as to say that the bike is a good 2-3in taller than previously when I’m sat on it.
My initial concern was would I be able to dabble when off-roading as now it’s very much one foot down only.
Setting off down the road the first thing I realised was how plush the ride felt. The suspension soaked up the lumps and bumps in the country lanes in a much firmer manner than before but, felt very plush. Steering is also much improved. Gone is the vague wandering front end that used to plague me in the twisties and instead, I now have a much more confident feeling, planted front wheel that gives me plenty of feedback even when pushing hard.
Under hard braking the front end no longer pushes through the mid section of the stroke causing the front forks to bottom out as before, it’s now much firmer and doesn’t get anywhere near to the end of the mid part of the stroke. Hitting a couple of trails I know well, the front suspension didn’t bottom out once, even on a series of whoops that normally cause things to get totally out of control, the bike handled the terrain perfectly. I enjoyed it so much I went back and had another go!
The rear Hagon shock also handled the whoops much better, not once did it bottom out and the damping was unbelievably good compared to the OEM shock. I found myself riding faster than I had before as the bike felt so much more confident both on and off-road.
I also have to note the tyres, the new Continental TKC80s are superb. Loads of grip on the road and good off-road too. For a 50/50 tyre they’re certainly worth every penny. The difference between the TKC80s and the OEM tyres is light and day!
So, is it worth upgrading the suspension on the CRF250 Rally?
The simple answer is Yes! The bike becomes much more confident, more capable, more comfortable and will boost your off-road confidence dramatically and it won’t get out of shape as easily as it does with the OEM suspension.