You’ve heard us talk about how much fun small bikes are. You’ve also heard us talk about how riding in the dirt is a good way to improve your street skills, not to mention have a hell of a lot of fun. So this month, I’d like to introduce you to our long-term project bike, a 2014 CRF250L.

Now let’s be clear—American Honda didn’t show up at the CityBike bunker to woo us with the CRF, a bunch of hookers and a bucket of fried chicken. Your Editor-In-Cheep bought this thing with the sacks of nickels and dimes saved up from many long days at the lemonade stand, paid good money for this thing, knowing full well it would be on the receiving end of plenty of unskilled riding and general thrashing.

And thrash it I have. I picked up the bike on a Wednesday, rode it in and out of SF a couple times, threw it on the magnificent CityBike trailer along with Art Director Al’s KTM that Friday, and headed for the hills to break it in on Bungee Brent’s Backroad Bash.

So how’d it do so far? The li’l CRF is actually pretty capable in the dirt, and way more fun than it has any business being, for the paltry MSRP of just $4,999. Sure, it’s slow as frozen molasses, the stock tires grip about as well as latex slathered in KY, it’s too heavy for a 250, and ok, it’s not a real dirtbike. So what. It’s a goddamn blast to ride—switches direction like a fast bicycle on the pavement and is totally serviceable as a dirt bike, especially in the hands of slow, bad dirt riders like me.

So what next? Our plan is a long-term how-to project, with an affected, overbearing title like “How to Take a Perfectly Good, Inexpensive Dual-sport and Turn It into a Rockin’ Good, Still Pretty Inexpensive Bike That Works Pretty Well Everywhere from Singletrack to SF.” We’ve already got a good list going of things that will make the CRF more capable and fun, like tires and a skid plate. Definitely need a real skid plate—I felt lucky that the rocks I encountered on Bungee Brent’s Backroad Bash didn’t bang through the plastic “bash plate” that comes on the bike.

Stay tuned—this is gonna be good! Or something.

This story originally appeared as a sidebar to Out and About: Bungee Brent’s 7th Annual Backroad Bash in our September 2014 issue.

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