Q & A, February 2007 - Project Honda CRF230f - Part 20

Feb. 01, 2007 By Rick Sieman

Q & A that you ought to know


Hi Rick, 
Great articles on the CRF-230F! Well written, excellent photos and plenty of detail to keep even the novices 'on track'!

I was disappointed with the performance and handling shortly after getting my bike and had contemplated selling it and just trying something else soon. Your articles changed my mind to invest few(er) dollars for, in the end, probably getting a better reward.

I have 'uncorked' my bike, and just installed the BBR exhaust. I am anxious to now get after those unforgiving and sloppy forks. I'm not sure when you posted the ad for your excess inventory of 43MM forks, but do you still have any? What are the costs for these, if still available? If not, where/how did you have the best luck in finding these? Generally the same sources for the other components you've tried?

I weigh 155 lbs ... and my son (145 lbs) rides the bike sometimes, as well. Any suggestions on setting them up for a lighter weight rider?

Lastly, Honda's been in the game for a long time and (like others) profess to be on the cutting edge for innovation and design. One would think that the engineers and production test riders would recognize many of these very apparent shortcomings and changes such as the ones you recommended might have happened before the bike hit the showroom. Is it simply under-engineering, cost or short-sightedness on their part?

Thanks again for some great information!
Gordon S. Johnson
Scottsdale, Arizona 

Honda makes the 230 for the undemanding rider; that is, the wife or girlfriend, or the older or beginning rider.  There are plenty of these lower skilled riders who find the stock 230 just fine as is.  Then there are the riders who love the electric start and the dead reliable air-cooled motor and don’t mind working on the bike a bit to make it better.  I have only one set of forks left from a XR600.  The forks are good, but chances are you’re going to need lighter springs to make them work right.  Perhaps the springs from a CR125 will do the job.  I’ll let these go for $100 plus shipping.  I got my forks from ebay and had about a 50% success ratio.  Yep, half the stuff I got was chewed up and gouged.




which model Maxxis tires did you use -
Hank Hilliard

I used 64M rear and a 51M Motocross front. So far, they’re holding up well.



I am going to put the power-up kit on my CRF 230 this week and I was wondering, since I live in West Virginia I should still put the 132 Main Jet on or get a different one? Could you help me with this?

Put the jetting kit just as we did.  Period.



Hi Rick

After doing some research on your site I went out and bought two CRF 230's.  One is a 2005 for my son, and a new 2006 for myself, I ran it in for about 10 hours of gentle riding, then gutted it - airbox ,exhaust silencer etc. Also did the power up jet kit. However, I have left the rest of the pipe standard.

The difference is astounding, But, She is now doing something quite weird and I can't put my finger on it. When I open the throttle wide it starts to miss, like it's coming up against a rev limiter. It’s fine at just before half throttle but as soon as I open it more it wont rev more, just reaches a spot and begins to "pop pop". My son's 2005 was already converted when we got it, and his is fine, and thrashes me on top end.

The Honda mechanic said I should check and reset the float level, which I have done but it made no difference. I have also reset the fuel air mix, Reset the tappets, Tried the needle in different positions. This has improved the acceleration, it in fact now almost revs as quick as a two stroke, but still not rectified the high Revving problem, all I can get is half throttle. As soon as I open up above this, it just begins to "pop'.

Can you help with any ideas on what is causing this frustrating problem, and what can be done to overcome this.
KZN South Africa.

Wow, this one has me pulling my hair.  The only things I can think of would be that the needle seat was put in upside down, or the timing is off.  My guess is the timing, all other factors being equal.

Hey Rick,
Found the problem. Thought you could share this with any one else experiencing the same problem.
After a lot of head scratching, and frustration, I placed my son's 230 alongside mine and started with the carburettor. We swapped every component one at a time from my bike to his and by process of elimination checked them all.

One of the interesting things we learned is that this bike does in fact have a rev limiter, but it is programmed into the CDI. After checking every component and settings, this problem was still present. Then we tackled the main mechanical part - the engine. Only to find that for some odd reason the timing chain had jumped a tooth. (I had been told this was impossible) All I did was to retard the valve (top) sprocket by half a link on the chain, and hey presto. She is back to normal and strong enough to pull a ............... off his sister.
Thanks for the great article.
(KZN) South Africa.
Great.  It warms the cockles of my heart to find out that my guesses are correct once in a while.


I want to thank you for all of your help on increasing the performance of my CRF230. I followed the instructions and the bike seems to run much much better. I must admit I was very apprehensive about taking apart the carb, but it seems to have worked out fine. However, I am still confused at to exactly what I need to do to make the bike run a little more rich. If there is anything that you could post (preferably with pictures for the mechanically inept like myself) it would be greatly appreciated. I can't wait to try the next mods.
Rob Freeman

If you want to go richer, although I can’t see why, all you have to do is install a bigger main jet.  The bigger the number, the richer the jet.  You won’t need any photos to change these.


Excellent article. I am still a little confused on the fuel mixture adjustment. I have looked through the manual supplied with the bike, which just indicates that you should take it to your Honda dealer if it appears to be running too rich or too lean. I also have the Honda Service Manual and it does not have instructions on how to do it. It would be very helpful if you could provide some insight on this to us neophytes and mechanically challenged.
Rob Freeman

If you  simply follow the instructions on installing in power up jetting kit, you don’t need to do any fuel adjustments.  The kit does them for you.



yea I was wondering how hard would it be to install the 15 front instead of a 14 and also the back sprocket is 50 correct?
Jeanette Osborne

No sweat.  It just goes on with enough clearance.  Side note:  I left off the countershaft cover on purpose.



Yes I was just wondering what might be the problem because I did your chain and gearing exactly and my chain will break almost every time I go riding

If you installed Sidewinder chain (520) and Sidewinder sprockets, the only reason you would break a chain every time you ride is a misalignment.  To double check, take a measurement from the center of the swingarm pivot bolt to the center of the axle bolt ON BOTH SIDES.  If this measurement is the same on both sides, then your swingarm is tweaked … which is highly unlikely.



hi rick,
i recently purchase a 2004 AND a 2005 Honda CRF230F (one for me and one for my 15 year old son) about 5 days apart. one of the sellers had modified the exhaust baffle and jets and had given me the web site to download info to do the same on the other bike (the 2005 has the modifications).

anyway, by the time i got to the article it had been filed as "no longer available". i would like to know if there is any way i can get parts 1 - 4 of your PROJECT CRF230F. i have downloaded and printed #'s 5 - 17 as these were still available. any help would be greatly appreciated as the first article seemed like the natural first step to improving these bikes. thanks in advance for any help you can give.

paul morris
monett, mo



I am looking for the article on the works performance shock on the CRF-230.  Why is it not available anymore?  I have been reading your articles since early dirtbike days and really enjoy them.
Thank you,
Joel Huddleston   

Here are the links to the missing parts of the Project CRF230.  Thanks for pointing this out to us and yes, we have fixed it.




Dear Rick,
I have been following your awesome 'Project CRF230F' publication on
http://dirtbike.off-road.com for about 8 months now, ever since purchasing a 2nd hand 2005 model CRF230F.  I have done the uncorking; gearing; tire swap; raised bars with hand guards and some other extras to date. 

I am keen to go all the way with this bike, but, I have one nagging reservation – will it still be too small for my size to ride comfortably?  [ I am 6'3" ( 1.91m) tall ] 

My intention, as part of my project, is to fit the Pro Series Works Performance Shock and to the use the adjustable-ride-height feature in order to increase the seat height and ground clearance.  If this is not enough, BBR have a linkage that will increase seat height by ½".  Furthermore, to increase the seat height relative to the peg position, with a Guts Racing high seat (add 1").  This can be balanced with the correct positioning of the USD forks in the front. 

I also believe that it may be necessary to modify the foot peg mounting brackets in order to move the foot peg position about 1" down & 1" back towards the rear wheel (This is because of my perception that the main frame size is too small, i.e. when measured from the foot pegs to the steering head).  Currently, I feel somewhat unbalanced towards the front when standing.

I see these bikes as having good benefits over the racers and yet also being able to remain competitive with the racers. 

Just to hint at the overall project cost – some of the other aspects that I intend to modify on my 230 are:
      Engines Only 250cc Big Bore Kit ($450) + BBR D-Section Pipe ($360)
      USD Showa forks (2002 or later) & front wheel [$300-$400] + NOST Novation Suspension OD3 ($495)
      RTT Steering Stabilizer with lower clamp 20mm offset and F.I.T. hand guard system ($900)
      Pro Series Works Performance rear shock ($530)
      Rear brakes – Drum or Discs ($250)
      …approximately $3500 by the time we are done

Do I go for it and hope that once all the mods have been done that it no longer feels too small / uncomfortable to ride?  I ride with friends and compete in our local clubs Off-road & Enduro events and wish to be competitive on my bike.  I am in a bit of a dilemma about where to go with this – I am starting to consider selling the 230 as is, and then perhaps buying something like a 2 nd hand 2006 KTM 250 XCF-W …

I will get all the performance and handling that I want to have, along with less favorable aspects such as a complex engine system & radiators and increased maintenance costs?  Ergonomics obviously play an important role in the man-machine combination – this is why I am interested in the KTM – my main concern is that I may be left with the 'short end of the stick' after having spent $3500-$4000 on my CRF230F.

I am hoping that your experience would allow for an objective opinion on this matter and would value & appreciate any comments that you may have in this regard.
Denver Vermeulen
Port Elizabeth,
South Africa

I wouldn’t put all that money in the CRF230.  Go for the power up kit, a BR pipe, Works Performance shock, good forks and a CR 250 or CR500 rear hub,  and that’s it.  As far as getting the bike taller, go for a thicker saddle.  This will place your lanky body in the proper standing position.  You can also get flatter bars, which might fit you better. You won’t have to spend a ton of money on big bore kits or steering dampers.  For enduro use, the bike would be competitive.  For motocross, no.



I was never able to get the Works Performance rear shock on my CRF230 to work to my satisfaction. The Works shock I installed had both the compression and rebound adjustments.

I have been riding on the works shock sense last April and works did a spring change the first month, they say the shock is correct for my 160 lb. weight.

I guess I was expecting too much of a change over the stock shock when I installed the W.P shock.  I realize now that the stock shock on this bike is not that bad. Maybe the BBR rear spring would have been enough.  It's a good little trail bike at slow speed. I guess I try to push it to hard.

The jetting change and the gearing change modifications you recommended worked great.

Thanks for all the information you have provided on the CRF230 it's been fun.
John Darby
Age 73.
2005 CRF230

You must have a spring that’s way too heavy for your body weight or your riding style.  The Works shock on our bike made a world of difference.  Contact Gil or Ned at Works Performance and tell them Rick sent you.  Chances are they’ll have the answer.




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