In a welcoming move to further entice new riders into the market, Honda has lowered the seat height of its already hugely approachable CRF300L dual sport motorcycle, bringing us the 2023 Honda CRF300LS. It is difficult to oversell how much fun this small displacement bike is, and for newer riders who are still building their confidence, the CRF300LS is the perfect ambassador.
- The seat height on the CRF300LS is fully two inches lower than the standard CRF300L. As we know, nothing spells confidence and reassurance like getting one’s feet flat on the ground. While there are plenty of cruiser bikes with very low seat heights, the barrier to riding street and off-road bikes can climb quickly, leaving a lot of potential riders on the sidelines. While the 32.7-inch seat height on the CRF300LS may still sound lofty, throw a leg over the narrow seat and see how the chassis settles with your weight added. I’m easily flat-footed in Alpinestars’ J-6 Waterproof shoes and my 30.5-inch inseam.
- Suspension travel is shorter on the CRF300LS than on the L. You gotta give some to get some, and Honda traded around an inch of wheel travel at each end to contribute to the lower seat height—the rest comes from a thinner seat. That’s fine; few riders will feel compromised by this reduced travel on the street. Fortunately, the nine inches of wheel travel at both ends leaves room for an average-sized rider to tackle the conditions on suburban dirt roads and trails without bottoming the suspension.
- The reduced-travel suspension and ground clearance could be an issue off-road. Those taking the dual sporter off-road have 1.6 inches less ground clearance to work with than the CRF300L. At faster speeds or over rougher terrain, depending on rider weight, the chassis’ capabilities may be overmatched. If you plan to spend more time in the dirt than the street, the CRF300L is better suited to your ambitions.
- The CRF300LS has the immediately welcoming ergonomics that make dual sport bikes so versatile. The upright seating stance is natural and comfortable, making it easy to see and be seen when riding in urban and suburban environments. Slipping through lanes of traffic is effortless with the 300’s slim physique, though keep an eye on the width of the bars.
- With a 311-pound curb weight, the CRF300LS is not a handful on the street. While considerably heavier than a pure off-road motorcycle—it weighs 46 pounds more than the CRF250F trail bike—the CRF300LS weighs five pounds less than the street-only Honda CB300R, with the wide handlebars of the LS providing plenty of leverage for easy maneuvering. Paddling at the gas station or in parking lots is not a stressful activity, though the CB300R does have an inch-lower seat height, making it a natural choice for a new rider who won’t be venturing into the dirt.
- The torquey 286cc single is easy for entry-level riders to get comfortable on. Power delivery is smooth, and you can adjust your speed