After buying a new Honda CRF300L Rally in November 2021, I've now clocked 36.000 kilometers so it's time to talk about the motorcycle! This number may seem a little random, but 36.000 kilometers is what I rode on my first Royal Enfield Himalayan 'Basanti'. That means, that my Honda is now surpassing that number and is holding the title of 'Highest Mileage clocked on one motorcycle'. I've never ridden further on any other motorcycle.
My general feeling about riding this motorcycle for long distance is that it's the best ADV bike I've owned. That seems like a big statement, but don't forget that I haven't owned/ridden that many different motorcycles. But out of the RE Himalayan, the CB500x and CRF250L, this bike is without a doubt the best one so far.
Its main advantage compared to the Royal Enfield is that it's so much lighter, more nimble and more powerful. The Honda also requires less maintenance than the Enfield. Compared to the 250L, it's got a bit more power and a much, much better fuel range! The CB500x is a great adventure bike for Europe, where it's mainly tar but it will never compete with the 300L Rally when it gets more technical off-roading.
So, it is the best bike that I've had so far for the type of riding that I enjoy most. By now, my off-roading skills have been steadily increasing (or, at least I like to think so!) and I've noticed that I am ready for a bigger engine. For example, riding the sandy tracks in Baja, Mexico, I was flat out on the throttle and still felt that my skill allowed for it to go faster.
But those situations are relatively rare. I always have in the back of my mind that I'm on my own and there is no help. That means I'm not racing and I'm not riding above my limits, simply because the risks are too high. More so, the reason why I like the 300cc engine is that it's not a race engine. It's very smooth and comfortable to spend 10 hours a day on. And that is ultimately more important for me, as a long-distance rider.
Upgrading to a smooth, big engine motorcycle is also not an option for me because I find the big ADV bikes are simply too heavy. I want to be able to ride small, difficult tracks, knowing that I can pick up my bike 10 times if I have to, without getting too tired. As a solo rider, you must always keep this in mind. Forget the smooth-sailing times but think about when it really gets tough and you have to manhandle your motorcycle. Can you do that on your own?
Another large advantage of this motorcycle is the big tank and fuel economy. Fuel range always depends hugely on your speed, wind speed and terrain but in general, it's around 350-400 kilometers. Not bad for a little bike! That's also the reason why I haven't been carrying extra fuel with me the entire season so far. When I reach the northern part of Alaska, I will have to bring some extra fuel. Riding all the way from Ecuador until the South of Alaska, it can easily be done without bringing more fuel.
The stock suspension of the CRF300L Rally is known to be very soft. I realized this as soon as I purchased the motorcycle. But as I was in such a rush to get the bike ready to ship to South America and resume my travels to Alaska, I didn't have time to upgrade the suspension then. On top of that, a suspension upgrade is costly and spending all this money on a brand-new bike felt wrong too. I decided to give the stock suspension a chance and upgrade it along the way if necessary.
Well, it was necessary. Especially with the luggage strapped on the back, the bike was very bouncy on rougher terrain. Having a completely new suspension shipped to me in Central America wasn't easy logistics wise so I had a complete Rally Raid suspension sent to me in San Diego. Having both rear and front suspension changed in the USA was not a cheap venture but I figured it was going to be worth it.
Being inexperienced with suspension upgrades (this was the first one I did), I didn't realize I should have checked the static (or free) sag, rider sag and pre-load. All terms I didn't even know at the time or why they were important. As I left San Diego going North, the suspension did feel better than stock so I was happy in the beginning. But quite soon after, I started noticing it wasn't performing how I expected it to be.
The lack of setting it up properly was an issue. When I tried to ride up a rocky incline, my bike bucked so much it just kicked me right off and I injured my ankle. In the motorcycle shop in Moab, the mechanics there showed me that the suspension was not set up properly. They adjusted both the front forks and the rear suspension as much as possible, but even then, I still needed stiffer springs for the rear shock.
Organizing all these things while constantly moving places and not knowing where I might pop up a few weeks later was not easy. So, it took a while before I finally received the stiffer springs for the rear shock in Canada. Having tested these springs for a while now, I can finally say I am very happy with my new, upgraded suspension! Lessons learned: have the suspension properly set up before taking off and don't try doing major upgrades on your motorcycle while being on the move on a daily basis!
I could touch on many more subjects regarding the motorcycle, but this blog was never meant as a full review! Hopefully, it will answer some of the most asked questions about how I feel about the motorcycle and the suspension. Before I forget - I absolutely love the way this motorcycle looks. They say looks aren't important, but real bikers know that you want your heart to race a little when you quickly glance at your motorcycle! For me, it does that every time. And that to me, says enough!
Love your honest review here Noraly,
i am looking at getting an ADV bike but the CRF300L would just be too small for me @100kgs (plus gear) i feel. Real pity though as i love "Alaska"...was looking at the CBX500?
Damn, it aint easy finding the right fit when it comes to ADV bikes, but because of you i will get there!! (NZ)
Keep your knees in the breeze
I'm already having mixed emotions for the approaching conclusion of your adventure in the Americas. I will try to switch watching Marc Travels. But i will always be glad to rewatch your past blogs. Whatever will be your decision after Alaska, i will always be supporting you. Still eagerly and earnestly looking forward to watch any future adventures. Please take good care always.
Hi Noraly. Man O man, your ride through the Anchorage area and South brings back SO many memories. Even though I haven't been there for 24 years, many of the roads you traveled look very much like when I was there. With the snow that your were experiencing in the mountainous areas of Montana and North Idaho, and with finally getting a close enough and slow enough view of the Fire Weed in Alaska I was able to determine fairly well the time that you were there. You see, the Fire Weed plant has those very pretty light purple flowers and at the beginning of the summer the plant flowers out starting at the bottom and progress up to the top. Just as the frost starts at night, at the end of summer the very top breaks out in white fluff. (the seeds) My guess is that you were in the Anchorage area towards the end of July, maybe the beginning of August. But all the same, it had been so nice to visit Alaska again through your camera. It make me really want to go back in person. Trebor
Hi Noraly. Ever since Kalahari, I have been trying to find the prefect bike for "my Queen" to ride. I failed. I Think Ed would be the best place to go for that advice.
The Honda 300 Rally was a great decision for what you do. But, a Rally requires a bigger bike. Do you think Honda or KTM would work with you for a pure Rally bike. Or maybe get your fanbase to buy "their Queen" a bike suitable to the Nerd, toxic alpha masculinity, and toxic capitalism requirements of a Rally. That being said, how did a girl, on a stock, 8 year old, Honda 250 come in first on the 2nd stage of the Kalalari Rally? God! you are fun to watch.
Love your channel and I've watched every episode. You inspired me to learn how to ride for the first time. I took the motorcycle safety course here in California, passed it and subsequently got my motorcycle license. I bought a Himalayan and I'm learning to ride it. Such a major change in life for me. Thank you.
Greetings Noraly. Just watched episode #140 leaving Dawson Canada and officially crossing into Alaska USA. You made the comment about the road alternating between paved and unpaved. Believe it or not the unpaved sections are much better traveling because after the winter heaves they can easily grade the roads and keep them smoother that the paved sections that get broken up and full of holes. When I lived up there in the 80's the Alcan was not paved but in some sections, and the sections that were, were much slower to travel on. A little more history for you. Trebor
Hi Noraly, love traveling "with" you. At age 73 with some digestive issues I still ride street bike when all is well. I am tempted to try some mild adventure biking but that would mean a different bike. I currently own a 2007 Honda VFR Interceptor. I would have to sell it to buy a Honda like yours (currently difficult to find). I suppose I should find a place locally that teaches off roading with their bikes for me to get a taste. Your Honda with the suspension upgrades seems perfect for you, or maybe me:). Either way don't ever stop your adventure, I'll have withdrawal symptoms and might need medical or psychological attention, lol.
Hi Noraly. I wanted to comment on episode S6-EPS138, where you were in Mayo. You were showing your potential travel plans when it was cut short because of the mosquito's... I lived in Alaska for close to 7 years and I definitely remember the State Bird. A bit into your ride you were taking a small road trying to find the Klondike River and you came to a section where there was a small pond that the road went through. That image gave me an immediate flash back. A friend and I where exploring the back country out of Anchorage, and like you, and we came to a similar place. We started through the water and it turned into a bog, with the water above the carb. The bikes would still run but they would not power through the mud and water anymore. WE had to man-handle, lift and pull, two men at a time, on each bike, to get them to the other side... The mosquito's were SOOO bad that I could not breath through my nose without getting 2 or 3 in at every breath. I know full well exactly what your saying. I found mosquito repellent with DEET is quite effective, just don't touch any plastic without washing your hands.
I so enjoy watching your videos, such wonderful entertainment. Trebor
About Alaska! I have been watching many motorbike travelers in the last time. From heavy bikes to funny mopeds. But every time I saw them driving, I had to admit or better it was my persuasion, that Alaska is the best choice. When I saw the heavy ones I always thought, oh, for Noraly and Alaska this would be "peace of cake!" So, enjoy and safe riding till the end that's already close! Mojca
So is Alaska sufficient on asphalt at highway speeds?
Btw thank you for addressing the extra fuel issue I was wondering why you didn't carry extra fuel. As I learned that even a 1 Litter fuel can can make a difference from walking your motorcycle or riding to a fuel station.