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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
Photo by Ellen Delis, Lagunas Ojos del Campo, Antofalla, Catamarca

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Ellen Delis,
Lagunas Ojos del Campo,
Antofalla, Catamarca



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  • 1 Post By AnTyx
  • 1 Post By Threewheelbonnie
  • 1 Post By Threewheelbonnie
  • 2 Post By *Touring Ted*
  • 1 Post By Tim Cullis
  • 1 Post By badou24
  • 1 Post By dtour
  • 3 Post By Chris Scott

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  #1  
Old 3 May 2023
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CRF300L disappointment

Hey All,
I would like to share my experience with a recent trip on my Honda Crf300l. This was meant to be a 2 weeks trip to Morocco from Malaga (where I live). The first week was great - bike performed great on B roads and off road (we did a couple of tracks from Chris Scott’s book Morocco Overland i.e. MH1 and MH10, made it to Merzouga and spent a few days exploring the area and playing in the sand. On the morning of day 8 we were planning to go down MS6 just to take a peak and then turn back and head north slowly making our way back to Tangier. So we did - we reached the auberge Porte de Sahara Ouzina, had a snack and turned back. 2kms in, I had a fairly slow fall on some fesh fesh and landed the bike on its left hand side. I noticed the shift lever was a bit bent but didn’t think much of it until a few seconds later I realized the bike was stuck in first. With my friend we tried to rock the bike back and forth, all the usual things, but nothing. Long story short, we had to arrange transport back to Merzouga, and now I am getting the bike sent back to Spain through my insurance because the problem cannot be resolved on site (or it could if I was willing to wait a few days for the part to arrive, but unfortunately I have my ferry back in 3 days). So what is the problem? Well apparently this is a known weak spot for these bikes, as it’s quite easy to bend the shifter if you fall on your left hand side. And fixing that is not the easiest thing if you are in the middle of nowhere as it requires you to drain oil and coolant, plus having a spare shifter or hope that somebody can bend it back to its original shape without breaking it.

Now my trip is over, and I feel that the same applies to my trust in this bike. At the same time though this is only my third bike (after a Suzuki van van 125 and a RE Himalayan) so I am wondering whether I am reaching my conclusions a little too fast. To clarify - I love the bike, I’m no fast rider so I’m happy with the power delivery and after changing suspension I feel it handles rough terrain quite well. But I am a bit worried that if I was to come back here in Morocco with the same bike I would be a little paranoid about this design flaw. So - what do other more experienced folks think about my logic here? Do all bikes have some kind of weak spot that you need to be ready to deal with, sooner or later? Are there other bikes out there that you think would have handled such a situation better ( in terms of overall design but also parts availability)? Again I’m in Europe so old style bikes lol DRZs ecc can be found but they are likely to be quite old now. Also I was surprised to see so many KTMs around here - is the 690 platform becoming more widespread / used for overlanding?
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  #2  
Old 3 May 2023
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I think every bike has a design flaw/problem area.

Just gotta know what it is.

Other than that issue we’re you happy?


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  #3  
Old 3 May 2023
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Oof, that sucks.

Went to have a look and here is someone who shows exactly what happens inside the shifter: https://youtu.be/vBWwUYjRCQI

Out of curiosity - do you have the stock shift lever on your bike? It seems from comments etc. that Honda made the stock shift lever out of soft steel to bend/break before the shifter plate does (and that, in turn, to prevent damage to the gears), so it happens more often with aftermarket shift levers.
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  #4  
Old 3 May 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homers GSA View Post
I think every bike has a design flaw/problem area.

Just gotta know what it is.

Other than that issue we’re you happy?


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Where I’m struggling here is that this seems to be a fairly high likelihood / high impact issue, due to the design and limited availability of the part needed for the fix. So I’m wondering how other dirt bikes compare - are there more robust designs?

Antyx - it’s all stock apart from rear suspension, hand guards and bash plate
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  #5  
Old 3 May 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homers GSA View Post
I think every bike has a design flaw/problem area. Just gotta know what it is.
I'd be interested in what is eventually found when the CRF300 is repaired.

But as Homers says, all bikes have problems. The BMW F650/800GS twin had it in buckets full, with chain failures, radiator top hose disconnection, stalling, wheel bearing failure, steering bearing failure, split in fuel tank, and more besides, see BMW failures

My first one was returned to BMW, the second had fewer faults, but still more than the single fault you have experienced.

And yes, I've been using my Spanish-plated KTM 690 Enduro in Morocco for the last ten years. The KTM 690/Husky 701 remains in a class of its own and if Husky still sold a 701 LR (long range) with a rev counter I could be tempted.
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  #6  
Old 3 May 2023
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Sure thing, I’ll get back to you regarding the diagnosis when I learn more. Bike is still under warranty so I’m hoping Honda will cover.

Regarding the 690/701 platform I might consider upgrading in the future. I’m just a bit discouraged by its power (not being an aggressive rider I’m not sure I’d know how to handle it nor whether I’d enjoy it) and again reliability. Though as I understand it with the 2019 update they fixed many of the most recurring issues.


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  #7  
Old 3 May 2023
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BMW-Rotax water pump, Triumph spokes, Enfield OE chains, Urals (The whole bike)....

The video was good, thank you for posting.

The Honda solution of a weak lever could be expanded upon, drill a hole so it snaps off easier or fit one that will hinge until the bike rests on the engine case without pressure on the shaft. The problem then is that it'll snap/hinge where barely provoked and need re-setting while stopped.

If you have a friend or supplier with a laser cutter or even a milling machine a beefed up selector assembly could be made. This however risks becoming a concrete parachute. It doesn't catch fire in the burning plane, but will ruin your day in another way.

Temptation might be to make a guard. A protection bar round the lever. This can likewise get you other ways, bend the frame, turn a simple slide into a spinning, swinging mess by acting as an anchor.

You might make an external limiter. A plate that will stop forces going onto the shaft or the lever going outside the normal travel. What to bolt it to though? The engine case sacrificed to save the shaft is not great.

It's a big lump of spare to carry, up there with a BMW drive shaft. Changing it wouldn't be nice at the side of the road. Your tea is going to taste off forever if you use the normal container for catching emergency drained oil.

One to think about.

Andy
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  #8  
Old 3 May 2023
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Andy I got to ask then - what do you ride?


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  #9  
Old 3 May 2023
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An 850 Guzzi - You deal with what Giuseppe #$%^ed up and try not to cringe when fellow sufferers call it character

A Honda Supercub - About as indestructible as they come.

My last bouts of enforced pedestrianism was the fuel hose that Giuseppe didn't push on properly and the Honda CL350 cam chain where I mixed up plain and shouldered bolts

Those pressed selecting mechanism parts are typical Honda. 1970's CL's and CB's and 2020's CB500's use similar.

Andy
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  #10  
Old 4 May 2023
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Yup.

Even the BEST Overland bikes have their weaknesses.

Although your problem is particularly annoying and requiring a fair bit of mechanical confidence to repair roadside.

I could think of a few ways to modify the shaft/case to stop it.

The 250/300L is a very popular bike. I know plenty of people who off-road them. I don't think the problem is as common as you may think.
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  #11  
Old 5 May 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtour View Post
Regarding the 690/701 platform I might consider upgrading in the future. I’m just a bit discouraged by its power (not being an aggressive rider I’m not sure I’d know how to handle it nor whether I’d enjoy it) and again reliability. Though as I understand it with the 2019 update they fixed many of the most recurring issues.
I'm not an aggressive rider and am generally found to be bumbling along at 70-80kph, entranced with the scenery. Ever so often I open it up but I'm running mousses so only go over 110kph when I'm on the last lap home and will be changing the tyres and mousses before the next trip. Thanks to Covid and then family illness, my current set of tyres and mousses I fitted on the Spanish bike were almost 7,000 km ago, some time in 2018. I have fresh BIB mousses and Michelin Desert tyres in the garage which I will likely fit this summer.

The reliability issues were sorted in 2012, which is why I bought my first (of three) 690s in 2012.

EDIT: what I forgot to mention is that there's an underseat switch that changes the throttle response from soft to standard to sports. It comes set with standard. The first thing I did was to switch it to soft for off-tarmac use and that's where it has stayed even since.
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 10 May 2023 at 08:17.
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  #12  
Old 8 May 2023
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crf 300 rally

I have read so many reports about how this bikes power and not once has any one mentioned the weight / size of the person on it !
Its a small adventure bike .and if your over say 6 feet in height and over say 12 stone its the wrong bike !
I am about 11 stone and find it perfect ( thats with over 9,000 miles on one )
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  #13  
Old 10 May 2023
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Thank you Tim, that’s good to know about the power settings and reliability of the ktm.

Badou24 are you referring to the crf?


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  #14  
Old 15 May 2023
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Hey All

Just to confirm that the issue was exactly what was mentioned above with the spindle. Interestingly the mechanic at the Honda shop where I got my bike delivered to (ServiHonda Malaga) asked me if I wear boots, because he thought I broke the spindle by applying too much pressure on the lever with my foot. I do wonder whether I hit it with my foot when I fell. Not sure.

The replacement seems to be around 50 euro online so I guess next time I’ll bring a spare. I don’t think I’d be able to fix it on the side of the road however it seems quite a simple job once you manage to get to a workshop, providing you have the part.

Also I would like to say that Honda fixed the problem under warranty (though I may have omitted that this happened as a result of a fall), and overall Servihonda Malaga provided really good service despite me not having prior appointment.

Interestingly a guy on the CRF300L/Rally Owners Group on Facebook had the same issue happen to them - here is the thread if anyone is interested

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1052...5337077251278/

Cheers!
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  #15  
Old 14 Jul 2023
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Good video, good to know and even better to know it's not a crankcase split like it can be on so many bikes.
Didn't a similar thing happen to itchyboots on the Railway Piste in Mauritania around the same time and set the internet on fire?
Also a harmless fall in deep soft sand, and probably one of many after some 30,000km? which supports the inadvertent heavy-boot-kicking-the-lever theory.
Hers repaired itself next morning, iirc.
I also recall there was a drama earlier in getting her shifter bent straight by a mechanic, yet this is commonly done trackside after a prang as mild steel shifters are made like that on purpose (as mentioned above). Better a mashed shifter than snapped shaft*, but I guess it won't deform so readily with a sharp upward/downward whack.

The FB link is private – unlike the HUBB which is open for all to share info like the internet was supposed to be ;-)
So thanks for sharing dtour.

* 74 quid from Fowlers UK
30 quid from Partzilla USA
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