Honda CRF230F - Do-It-Yourself Notes

January 22, 2004 version

 Introduction   Modifications   Big Bore   DIY Notes   Carb Notes   A look back 

On this page, I've collected information from many sources that will help you set up and modify your CRF230F. Most of the information is opinion, mine or someone else's. If you disagree, no big deal; do your own thing and be happy. I'm not trying to make converts here. If you find any errors or would like to suggest changes, please let me know. My e-ddress is on my home page.    Click on small pictures to see bigger versions.   Click on underlined words to go to that section on this or another page.

You should buy the Honda Service Manual and use it as the first authority on modifications. If anything you read or hear conflicts with the manual, go with the manual, unless you're absolutely sure you know otherwise.

You may want to print this web page for easy reference.


Basic Setup - The easy stuff
Ergonomics, tire pressure, rear sag, jetting, spokes

Easy add-ons - Bolt on and go
Handguards, skid / glide plate, odometer, fender bag

Power - Will you ever have enough?

Suspension - I wanna do jumps

Graphics - Kewl

Kickstart - Is it possible?


Lighting - After-dark activities

Not Gonna Happen

Parts and Manuals

2003 / 2004 Differences

Web sites / forums - lots of information

Aftermarket Companies

Basic Setup - The easy stuff
Ergonomics (handlebars, levers, shifter, foot brake)

Sit on the bike seat. Loosen the handlebar clamp bolts, so the handlebar will swivel up and down. Rotate the handlebar to a position that feels comfortable while sitting. Stand on the pegs. Rotate the handlebar to a position that feels comfortable while standing. Sit back down and rotate the bars once more to a comfortable position. Now, think about where you'd like to have the bars: in the lower or upper position or perhaps somewhere in-between. You have to decide what you want. If you choose a position and find out that you don't like it after riding the bike, adjust the bars again. Tighten the clamp bolts when finished.

After you settle on a position for the handlebars, move on to the clutch and brake levers. Loosen the perch bolts and rotate the levers until they feel comfortable, again while seated and standing. Choose a position you like. To avoid straining your wrists, don't rotate the controls too far up or down. Tighten the perch bolts when finished.

Have a look at the shifter while you're seated on the bike. Does your foot like where it meets the shifter, top and bottom? Would you like to rotate the shifter up one notch to help miss rocks? Find a position you like.


Lastly, check out the brake pedal. Again, is your foot happy with how it activates the brake and where it rides when you're not on the brake. Adjust the brake pedal adjusting bolt. Loosen the nut, screw the bolt in or out, then retighten the nut. Be sure and recheck the amount of free movement before the brake shoes start working. If you have too much or too little brake pedal movement, adjust the nut on the brake rod. I personally like very little motion, so I have very little play. Don't go too tight or you'll start rubbing the brake shoes even when your foot is off the pedal.

During a ride, notice how the bike feels while you're seated and standing. Pay attention during both high-speed and low-speed situations. If you think something needs changing, make a change and assess the new performance. Readjust until you are absolutely satisfied that you've done all you can to fit the bike to you. You have to be comfortable on the bike to ride it well.



Tire pressure

Riding in rocks usually means that you should raise the pressure a bit to protect the tubes from getting pinched: 14 front, 13 rear works for me. Lighter or heavier riders will want less or more air.

Riding in sand and/or soft loamy dirt means that you should drop the pressure a bit: 12 front, 11 rear works for me. Lighter or heavier riders will want less or more air.

Soon you'll know what works for you and the bike.


Rear sag

Sag, sometimes called race sag, is the amount the suspension collapses when you're sitting on the bike compared to the fully extended suspension position when the bike is on a stand. Most bikes do well with about one-third of their rated suspension travel used as sag. For example, if your bike has 12" of travel, you'll want 4" of sag. This is a suggested value; you may decide you want more or less sag.

Place your bike on a stand so the rear wheel does not touch the ground. Measure from the rear axle to a point on the rear fender and write this number down; call it E for extended. On my 230F, I came up with 24 1/2" from the tang on the axle adjuster cam to the rear fender. Next, sit on the bike and have someone measure between the same two points and write this number down; call it C for compressed. On my 230F, I came up with 20 3/8" before adjustment; way too much sag.

Now, calculate E-C and call it sag.

Calculate the desired sag amount by dividing rear wheel travel shown in the Honda specifications by 3. For the 230F, it's 230mm / 3 = 77mm (9.1" / 3 = 3").

If sag is larger than desired sag, then you have too much sag, and you need to crank up the shock spring preload.

If sag is smaller than desired sag, then you don't have enough sag, and you need to remove some shock spring preload.

My sag was 4 1/8", which is 1 1/8" more than desired sag.

To adjust the shock spring preload, you can either remove the shock from the bike (difficult) or do the adjustment with the shock on the bike (preferred). To adjust the preload with the shock on the bike, do the following:


Two jam nuts on the top of the shock are screwed tight against the spring. These preload the spring and affect sag.

Use a drift or similar tool to loosen the top jam nut on the shock. Turn it counterclockwise, looking down from the top. Use a 3-5 pound sledge; a regular hammer leads to a mangled nut because of the repeated blows. After the upper nut is loose, run it up the shock body to get it out of the way. There will be one jam nut still tight against the top of the spring.

Remove the rear wheel mud-guard (2 screws). Pass your hands through the space left by the removed mud-guard and grip the spring. Turn the spring counterclockwise to loosen the remaining jam nut (decreases preload) or clockwise to tighten the nut (increases preload). As you turn the spring, the jam nut rides along. Adjust in 1/4 inch increments and re-measure sag to see when to stop. When you get to the correct sag, screw the upper nut back down to the lower nut. Jam it by judicious use of the drift. I usually look for about 3 to 5 gaps to pass by.

Align the nut gaps/tabs and mark a tab from each nut with a chisel across two aligned tabs, or put some fingernail polish across two aligned tabs. Do this over by the battery, so you can visually check to see if the nuts get loose easily. Measure sag one last time before putting the mud-guard back on. I ended up with 3 1/8" sag when I finished; the bike rides better now.

A note about front sag. Forks have a sag setting also. However, the only way to adjust fork preload and thus front sag is by changing fork springs and/or spacers. There are some bikes that have preload adjusters built into the fork caps, but the CRF230F does not. Short of changing springs, you're stuck with whatever front sag you've got. See also: Suspension.

The 230F as delivered by Honda is jetted lean for sea level use and has a restricted intake and exhaust. You may want to install a larger main jet, raise the needle to richen the mid-range, and possibly adjust the pilot air screw to adjust off-idle performance. No further changes should be necessary if you leave the intake and exhaust in stock form. If you ride above sea level, then you may want to install a smaller main jet. If you ride in cold weather, you may want to richen the mid-range and top-end by raising the needle and installing a larger main jet.  

You should not have to change the pilot jet unless you make considerable modifications to the intake and exhaust systems or ride at extremely high elevations (over 12,000').

I describe the infamous Honda 'Power Up' kit in the power section.

For more information, see the Carb Notes page.


Spokes get loose, so check them often and adjust as necessary, at least once a month. One method that minimizes misadjustment is the skip-2 method.

First, a basic rule: never tighten any spoke more than one-half turn during any single adjustment. If you find a very loose spoke, tighten it one-half turn and mark it with a trash-bag tie. As you follow the procedure described in the following paragraphs, you adjust very loose spokes gradually. This should not happen very often with regular maintenance intervals.

Go to the first spoke past the air valve. Check and tighten the spoke as needed. Then, skip two spokes and work on the next one. Continue until you reach the air valve.

Go to the second spoke past the air valve. Check and tighten the spoke as needed. Then, skip two spokes and work on the next one. Continue until you reach the air valve.

Go to the third spoke past the air valve. Check and tighten the spoke as needed. Then, skip two spokes and work on the next one. Continue until you reach the air valve.


Note that because there are always an even number of spokes, you will arrive at the air valve with none, one, or two spokes remaining, depending on where you started. Don't panic; they get tightened on another trip around the wheel.

If you found any spokes that were extremely loose, do the procedure all over again, but this time, only tighten spokes with a trash-bag tie. Do them in the skip-2 sequence. Remove the tie when a spoke is finally tightened enough. When all ties are removed, you're done.

The skip-2 procedure helps ensure that you don't tighten a group of spokes in one area and thus cause a rim to be pulled to one side. By skipping two spokes, you are working on opposite sides of the hub and alternating pull direction, thus keeping the rim aligned.




Easy add-ons - Bolt on and go

You can buy and install some very good bolt-on parts for protection and convenience.


Handguards or barkbusters provide protection for your hands and levers. Handguards use single-point and two-point mounting systems. Single-point mounting attaches the handguard at one point on the handlebar, usually on the clutch perch and brake perch. This type doesn't provide much protection in falls, and you'll usually see them used by motocrossers to protect hands from flying rocks. Two-point mounting attaches at the handlebar ends and inboard of the clutch and brake perches. These guards come in all-plastic or aluminum with optional plastic protectors. All-plastic guards are lighter but not as strong as the aluminum guards. Aluminum guards, with or without plastic protectors, are very rugged and are recommended for maximum protection.

Some manufacturers make both standard and oversize mounting clamps; make sure you get the kind that fits your handlebars. Standard is 7/8 inch; oversize refers to Pro-Taper, BFB, Thinwall, T2, Renthal Fat Bar, and other 1 1/8 inch mounting bars.

Some very good two-point mounting guards are:

Acerbis - Rally Brush and Rally Pro. The Rally Brush model is all plastic with metal mounting hardware. The Rally Pro model is plastic molded over an aluminum bar with metal mounting hardware. Both models come in many colors.


Answer Bark Buster - The originals. Bark Busters are all aluminum. Answer also makes Pro Taper handlebars and handguards.

Enduro Engineering - All aluminum for both standard and oversize handlebars with optional plastic protectors. These are very high-quality handguards.

Motonation Wackers - All aluminum for both standard and oversize handlebars with optional plastic protectors. These are very high-quality handguards with one of the most adaptable mounting systems of all. The three-axis mounting system ensures they will fit any handlebar bend. I installed a set of Wackers on my 230F.

Other manufacturers include Cycra, Maier, MSR, SRC, and UFO.

While installing the handguards, you may want to cut the handlebar ends down to make the overall width narrower. I usually cut my bars down to 31.25" because I'm comfortable with this width. There is no hard and fast rule about what width is best, but most agree that anything over 32" is too wide.


Skid / glide plate

A skid plate covers the bottom of the frame and wraps around the lower portion of the engine to protect against damage in falls and while riding aggressively over rocks. Glide plates are similar but do not wrap around, so they provide less protection. The 230F has a very small plastic guard on the bottom front of the frame downtube. This guard does not provide any significant protection. You can buy an aluminum skid plate/glide plate or make your own out of plastic.

Aluminum skid plates:

Baja Designs - Protects engine cases; wrap-around design.

SRC - Exclusive design protects the frame and engine cases; welded from a single piece.

Utah Sport Cycle - Protects engine cases; wrap-around design.


Aluminum glide plates:

BBR - Protects engine cases and helps keep mud and dirt from collecting on the underside of the engine. Protects lower frame rails.

Works Connection - Covers frame rails but does not extend beyond rails. An oil drain access hole is pre-cut into the plate for easy oil changes without having to remove the skid plate.

Devol has plans to make a skid plate for the 230F in the spring of '04.


For an idea on how to make a skid plate from plastic, see the one I made and the one made by Gordon.

The 230F does not have an odometer, and this can make it difficult to judge when you should change the oil and other service procedures keyed to bike mileage. You could add a simple mechanical-drive, 3-digit odometer that you commonly find on KLX, KDX, and other enduro bikes, except that there is no drive mechanism in the front wheel hub. Or you can add an electronic unit, either a high-zoot enduro computer or a cheaper bicycle odometer. The electronic units use a magnet on the brake rotor and a pick-up unit mounted to the caliper with a signal wire running up the brake line to the handlebar area.   Trail Tech makes a very nice electronic odometer that is much cheaper than a full-featured enduro computer, and it has all the bells and whistles that you could want, including two service intervals and dual bike setup. The Trail Tech is based on a bicycle odometer that has been modified to allow tenths reset, and it has a hard-surface face. The mounting instructions that come with the Trail Tech are easy to follow, so I won't repeat them here. Here's what my mounted unit looks like.

Fender bag
The 230F has no tool bag, and the seat and rear fender design make mounting a full-size bag on the rear fender difficult. CycoActive makes fender bags that are lower profile than regular tool bags, and you can mount one on the front and/or rear fender. These bags do not hold as much as a regular tool bag, but they are still convenient for carrying a jacket, extra gloves, and other small items. I mounted a bag on the seat/rear fender junction of my 230F, and it holds my cold weather gear.    
You can check out a few other modifications by looking at my 230F modifications web page.



Power - Will you ever have enough?
Baffles and Power Up

Stage 0 - no mods

Before you attempt any modifications, you should ensure that your bike is jetted correctly for your riding elevation and temperature. Only then can you judge how much better the performance becomes.

I'm calling these modifications 'stages' only to distinguish between them.

Stage 1 - modify exhaust baffle, remove intake baffle

Honda designed the 230F to run with an exhaust baffle and intake baffle to limit the noise produced by the bike. These baffles are removable, and doing so can increase the power your bike produces. It will also increase the noise.


The exhaust baffle is held in place inside the exhaust canister by a single torx-head bolt. To remove the baffle, just remove the torx-head bold and pull the baffle straight out the back of the canister. If you have trouble removing the torx-head bolt, some riders have found that running the engine for a few minute to heat the bolt will ease removal. I used a torx socket and ratchet and had no problems.

You can drill one or more holes in the baffle body to increase exhaust flow. I drilled 5 holes: one in the end and four in the sides. My 230F exhaust got louder, but not objectionably so. See pictures of my baffle mods.

If you are concerned about noise, you may want to start out by drilling the end hole first, reinstall the baffle, then ride the bike to check the noise level. You could then drill two holes in the sides and check again, following up by drilling the last two holes in the sides. Remember, once you drill the holes, you can't go back, unless you buy someone's discarded unmodified baffle, which I'm sure are available for the asking on any of the forums mentioned here.

Choosing what holes to drill is up to you. You could use the same sizes I did, or whatever you want. See my baffle mods to get the sizes I used.

There are two theories about removing the intake baffle:
Do it and don't worry;
Don't do it because water will get into the air box easier.

I personally don't worry about it and just take the intake baffle out. I've done so on every Honda that I've owned that had one and never had water-in-the-airbox problems.

The intake baffle is in the top of the air box. You must remove the seat to get to it. Pull it out of the top of the air box carefully, so as not to tear it. You may want to put it back in when you ride in Florida.

After I finished drilling the exhaust baffle and removing the intake baffle, I went up one size on the main jet, and everything worked fine. You may also want to adjust your needle if you feel the mid range is 'soft'.


Stage 2 - remove exhaust and intake baffles, power up kit

Honda, in their wisdom, and knowing full well that everyone who bought a 230F would want more power and would remove the exhaust baffle and intake baffle, designed the Power Up kit.

The power up kit was made known to dealers through a service bulletin. The bulletin says, more or less:

You may remove the intake restrictor plate and exhaust diffuser on the 2003 Honda CRF150F/230F, in order to get more power. When making these changes, change the main jet as noted below.

Picture from Woodsrider (LynnK)

16012-KPS-921, CRF230F Full Power Needle

99113-GHB-1320, #132 Main Jet

Note provided by Manchester Honda 1/15/03 - November Motorcycle/ATV Service News - Author: Shane

The kit has a needle, needle clip, and a brass needle jet. You have to buy the main jet separately.

This tuning information applies to bikes at sea level on a standard day (70 degrees). If you ride at higher elevations, you'll need a smaller main jet. If you ride in colder temperatures, you'll need a larger main jet.

Rick's note: Although this service note recommends the 132 main jet, testing has shown that jets from 120 through 128 provide better performance. The size that works best depends on elevation, temperature, exhaust pipe modifications, muffler modifications, air filter modifications, and air box modifications. The more modified the intake and exhaust system, the larger the main jet should be for best performance. Higher elevations require smaller main jets.

Notice that the bulletin doesn't say anything about the pilot jet, air/fuel screw or the needle clip position. Getting these items correct is left as an exercise for the reader.

Installing these parts is not difficult if you've ever worked on carburetors before. For those less knowledgeable, see the Carb Notes page for some detailed instructions and a few pictures.

Read Stage 1 to see how to remove the baffles.

Note: when you remove the exhaust baffle, the spark arrester remains inside the canister.

Note also: there is no packing material inside the stock Honda silencer.

Please don't try to second guess Honda and only remove the exhaust baffle when installing the power up kit; remove both baffles.

It's also a good idea to install the power up kit if you install an aftermarket exhaust system or silencer. You'll be giving the engine the fuel/air mix it needs to support the free flowing exhaust system.

Exhaust pipe and silencer

I very seldom buy aftermarket exhaust pipes or silencers lately. In the early 80s, I bought SuperTrapp and was happy with their performance. These days, the stock silencers on new bikes are usually quiet and not as heavy as the boat anchors of the past. Until recently, most aftermarket silencers were also very loud. But that is changing.

The head pipes that aftermarket companies offer are all extremely expensive and do not differ substantially in performance from stock head pipes; just look at the dyno charts in recent magazine articles. I think they sell hype, but they sure do sell it well.

Considering that the 230F is a low-tech trail bike, it seems counterproductive to spend lots of money on a product that is supposed to actually work best with high-performance engines to extract the last erg of energy that allows you to beat your buddy. I'd rather spend my money elsewhere, so I haven't really researched this topic at all. Most of this information is from advertisements. There are many aftermarket exhaust pipe and silencer manufacturers, so I will undoubtedly miss some, but here's what I found.

BBR: Complete exhaust system from the head pipe to the tail section. Ceramic coated, stepped header for power gains throughout the RPM range; 1.5 hp gain over stock exhaust. Billet aluminum end cap; BBR aluminum heat shield. Comes with a removable USDA Forest Service approved spark arrester installed. Accepts OEM Honda end cap from CRF230F for super quiet sound output! Optional BBR quiet exhaust insert for lower noise.

Big Gun: Exhaust systems feature an exclusive tapered or stepped head pipe (better bottom and midrange power delivery), Aerospace ceramic coating inside and out (this coating's thermodynamic properties are able to increase hp by up to 2%., lowers exhaust temperature and will not flake or blue), CNC machined aluminum end cap and steel exhaust port flanges, aluminum oval motocross-style silencer, stainless buttonhead allen bolts with welded inserts. Exclusive high performance silencer packing. Comes with the competition core and new polished CNC Billet Aluminum end cap and removable 'screen type' USFS approved spark arrester.

White Brothers: R4 exhaust system. USDA approved "screen type" spark arrester is included. Quiet Core and different end caps available.


FMF: Factory 4 Exhaust System - The muffler uses our oval-to-round construction using military grade titanium and is offered in either a natural or an anodized blue finish. Leading into the muffler is a formed tapered inlet. The oval shape combined with the tapered inlet allows the muffler to be routed further forward without interfering with the rear of the bike and subframe. Preceding the muffler is a Powerbomb titanium header and titanium mid pipe for optimum fit and strength. Also new is our modular exhaust port flange which offers a better seal, transmits less vibration and puts less tension on the exhaust system. Included at no charge is our Power-Up jet kit for optimum tuning and "remove before flight" wash plug.

FMF: The revolutionary FMF "Q" is the world's first 4-stroke off-road muffler to combine strong performance while minimizing noise output. The "Q" uses internal baffles, chambers and space age sound-absorbing materials for maximum sound disbursement - and more power! The internal "bullet" spark arrester and performance flow end cap help stifle sound AND enhance the exhaust flow dynamics. Complement that with an aluminum oval can and stainless steel mid pipe and you've got the ultimate lightweight all legal, low maintenance 4-stroke muffler. The new "Q". Focused off-road power. Less noise.

Pro Circuit: T-4 Exhaust is lightweight and offers incredible power gains over the entire RPM range compared to the stock exhaust. Features a round 6063 aluminum canister, stainless connector pipe and a stainless end cap with removable USDA approved "screen type" spark arrester. Packed with Silent Sport packing. Tunable end caps available in different outlet sizes and can be changed to fine tune the power delivery of each exhaust. Optional "Quiet Core" is available to reduce the db levels.

IF YOU CHANGE THE EXHAUST, YOU SHOULD CHECK YOUR JETTING AND ADJUST AS NECESSARY. Typically you will need to richen the jetting. Most exhaust manufacturers provide jetting information.

It's also a good idea to install the power up kit if you install an aftermarket exhaust system or silencer. You'll be giving the engine the fuel/air mix it needs to support the free flowing exhaust system.

Air filter

BBR, Baja Designs, and White Brothers all sell an air filter that is supposed to flow more air than the stock unit. Be wary of air filters that are so porous that they let dust in.

BBR: High quality, free flowing replacement air filter element. Features: super high flow air filter element, open cell industrial grade dual density foam, flows almost 40 CFM more than stock!

Baja Designs: Uni air filters.

White Brothers: Power Filter, two layer foam filter.


Carb mods
You could replace the 230F carb with an XR250R carb; someone on one of the forums said they did this, and it worked. I think this is not very productive. The 230F carb is not the wimpy carb that used to be on the XR200R but is a larger carb more nearly the size of, and with parts like, the XR250R carb. I think the best course of action here is to work on getting the jetting right and save your money for other hardware.    

A performance cam is one of the easiest ways to increase power. Web Cam makes a drop-in cam that is reported (on the forums) to give a substantial gain in performance. You can even install it without removing the engine from the frame, if you're agile and careful.    

Big bore and stroke

BBR and Engines Only announced their big-bore kits in January 2004. Check their web sites for details.

The BBR kit consists of a new piston, rings, pin, and gaskets. Bore the cylinder, install the new piston and other parts, and go riding. The kit increases displacement to 233cc, although BBR calls it their 240 kit. Price is about $170.

The Engines Only kit includes a resleeved cylinder (exchange), new high compression piston with rings and clips, all top end gaskets and jetting. This kit requires case machining. Engines Only also sells the lower end gasket kit and provides a complete engine installation service. Prices range from $450 for the kit only to over $850 for the complete installation.

Powroll is the only company I know that makes stroker kits for Hondas. They are rumored to be working on a kit, but don't hold your breath.


Rev box
BBR's rev box replacement is one of the better hop-up items. It gives a definite performance gain, is not too expensive, and is easy to install. The rev box moves the rev limit higher and provides a hotter advance on the ignition curve. Forum contributors rate this item as a must-install and say it really works.    


You can change either or both sprockets to make the 230F into a highway cruiser or a trench digger. Well, not exactly. But you can alter the gearing enough to enhance performance at one end or the other. You don't actually make more power, you only move the power around to where you want it.

Changing the front sprocket is easy and cheap. Changing the rear sprocket is more difficult and more expensive. A way to relate sprocket changes is: divide the rear sprocket size by the front sprocket size (50/13=3.8) to see that one tooth on the front is equal to about 3.8 teeth on the rear. This holds for gearing up and down. This means that a change of one tooth on the front is equal to 3.8 teeth on the rear. Changing the front has a much more dramatic effect, tooth for tooth. Usually you change the rear in one or two teeth steps for fine adjusting performance.

Adding teeth to the front gives the same effect as removing teeth from the rear, and removing teeth from the front gives the same effect as adding teeth to the rear. You don't want to make the front smaller than 12 teeth to prevent excessive chain wear, and you don't want the rear so large that the chain guide interferes with the chain.


Larger front sprocket / smaller rear sprocket - increases top speed but loses bottom end. This allows you to ride a little faster on roads, for commuting, for instance.

Smaller front sprocket / larger rear sprocket - improves bottom-end performance but decreases top-end speed. This allows you to get faster hole-shots or ride slower on tight trails.

The 230F uses the same front sprocket as the 88-95 XR250R. Sprocket Specialists part number is 568-xx, where xx is the number of teeth ($12.96 from Chaparral). The Service Manual says to place the flat side of the sprocket facing out (the stepped side toward the engine). The chain is continuous and does not have a master link. When you put the smaller front sprocket on, you'll have to loosen the rear axle to get some slack in the chain to swap the sprockets. Make sure you set the chain slack correctly when finishing up.

The rear sprocket is available as a 230F part from Sprocket Specialists, SunStar Sprockets, Sidewinder Sprockets, and others.

Chain conversion
You can change the chain from a 520 to a 428, the next size smaller. Doing so will improve performance because the chain is lighter, and the engine will rev quicker. Sidewinder Sprockets sells a complete chain and sprocket kit. I wouldn't do this mod if I was adding lots more power with the cam, pipe, rev box, and bore kit. Otherwise, the 428 chain is probably strong enough for a mildly hopped-up 230F.    


Suspension - I wanna do jumps

The front forks are not adjustable so your choices are limited. You can change the oil to increase or decrease overall damping. High quality suspension fluid may improve the damping performance with the stock valving. No one makes a revalve/emulator kit yet. You can also install heavy duty springs.

BBR - heavy duty fork springs: .53 kg (stock is .21/.51 progressive)

  SRC Fork Brace Kit - here's a product that will help the front forks stand up to severe treatment. Several of my friends have these on their XRs, and they work. SRC says: Reduces fork flex by 50% at 25 lbs of steering force, while eliminating that annoying "wandering" sensation while riding in ruts and deep sand. Includes a lightweight (10 oz.) billet aluminum brace, fork guards, guides, stainless steel hardware and detailed installation instructions.


The rear shock is adjustable for spring preload only and it is not rebuildable. You can install a heavy duty spring. Works Performance says they will build a 230F shock, but no one I know has one yet.

BBR - heavy-duty shock spring: 12.5 kg (stock is 9.0 kg)


Shock linkage

You can raise or lower the rear of the bike with replacement shock linkage. If you do either, you should also make a corresponding change to the front end by installing a triple clamp or handlebar riser. You can also just lower the triple clamps on the forks to lower the front up to one inch.

BBR - Shock linkage is billet aluminum, gold anodized, raises seat height 1 inch. Triple clamp is billet aluminum, gold anodized. Drops the forks 1 inch, raises the bars 3/4 inch. Allows standard or forward bar position. Available with standard or Pro Taper® mounts.

Kouba - Shock link is billet aluminum, lowers seat by up to 2 inches. Lower the front by raising the forks in the triple clamp.


You can mix and match stock Honda parts from the 230 and 150 to get different suspension heights.

"yendor1958" posted on ThumperTalk in June 2007:

I call the triangle thing a "rocker" and the u shaped thing a "link".

150 rocker on a 230 = raise rear 230
150 link on a 230 = lower rear 230
230 rocker on a 150 = lower rear 150
230 link on 150 = raise rear 150



Graphics - Kewl

Yes, graphics. After power and suspension, every kid out there wants kewl graphics. Or wild graphics. Or factory look-alike graphics.

BBR: High quality seat cover and tank decals featuring the BBR Motorsports logo. Features: 20 mil vinyl; non-slip seat cover with glossy sides; full BBR motorsports logo with red checks.

N-Style has graphics kits but nothing specific for the 230F. You could use one of their CRF250R kits and trim it to fit the 230F

Note that the stock Honda fender and tank shroud colors are Fighting Red for 2003 and Extreme Red for 2004.



Kickstart - Is it possible?

Is it possible? Maybe.

The engines of the 150 and 230 share many parts and, externally, they look the same, except for the electric start motor and the kickstart. It's tempting to think that Honda designed one motor and then made changes to arrive at the second motor. Going on that premise, the extent of the changes will dictate the feasibility of this project.

Looking at the Parts Catalog for the 150F and 230F, we see:

Right crankcase cover: On the 150, this cover contains an oil seal through which the kickstart shaft passes. On the 230, the case is smooth at this point. The choice here is whether to buy a 150 cover or machine the 230 cover and buy the oil seal only. All other parts on both covers are identical.

Right crankcase: This is the right half of the engine case than contains the transmission, crankshaft, and other parts. The kickstart assembly mounts onto this part. The 150 and 230 parts are the same. The crankcase center gasket is also the same. The left crankcase differs because the 150 does not have the electric start.

Clutch: All parts are identical except for the following: the clutch outer (aka clutch basket) and four clutch springs. There is also a clutch outer guide on the 230 that is not on the 150. The springs are different because of the different power through the clutch. The clutch outer is different because there is a clutch outer guide on the 230 and not on the 150, so the hole through the center of the clutch outer is larger on the 230. There may also be a different number of teeth between the two outers.


Three gears must mesh properly for everything to work right. The 150 pinion kickstart gear must mesh with the 230 clutch outer gear, and it must mesh with the 230 main drive gear. We already know the latter two mesh in the 230 engine now. The only question is will the 150 pinion kickstart gear mesh with the 230 clutch outer gear? One indication of a problem is that the main drive gear on the 150 crankshaft has 18T, and the 230 has 22T. Therefore, the clutch outers may have a different number of teeth. The only way to know is to compare the two clutch outers because Honda does not publish the number of teeth. This task is left as an exercise for the reader.

Thoughts: The clutch outer guide on the 230 is a bushing that sits on the transmission main shaft and onto which the clutch outer rides. I have some ideas about why Honda uses this design, but I won't speculate here. I don't think the clutch outer guide is a factor in the conversion. I do think the number of teeth on the back of the clutch outers is the deciding element. The 150 kickstart gear is fixed. If it will only mesh with the 150 clutch outer, then you're stuck using the 150 clutch outer. If the 150 clutch outer fits on the 230 transmission main shaft, that still doesn't solve the problem because the 230 main drive gear will not mesh properly.

Lastly, you could have a pinion kickstart gear fabricated that would match the 230 clutch outer and the 150 kickstart shaft. Undoubtedly this is what Honda will do when they add kickstart to the 230 in 2005 (or 2006).

List of parts




Lighting - After-dark activities

The CRF230F sold in the USA does not have lights, neither front nor rear. However, models sold in some other countries are equipped with lights. So is it possible to add lights? You bet it is; how much money you got?

For a minimal lighting setup, you can tap into the existing wiring. The Service Manual shows: "Alternator - Capacity - 60W/5,000 rpm". The alternator wire goes to a regulator/rectifier box. The output then goes to the battery plus terminal. The battery is only used for starting. So if you tap into this circuit, you take amps from the battery charging circuit, which is probably ok for a minimal lighting setup. After starting, you would wait a bit before switching on your lights to let the charging system top up the battery. There is one other alternator output: from the alternator exciter coil to the ignition control module. Don't mess with this circuit!

Several USA riders have added lights by tapping into the existing wiring and not modifying the stator; see DaveC mods and LeoA mods.


Baja Designs makes a full Dual Sport kit with lights, flashers, horn, and control box ($385). They also have three abbreviated lighting-only kits: Baja Designs headlight and handlebar mounted switch panel, optional Maier taillight, and optional brake light switch. Prices are $161 to $190. Their kits work with the stock electrical system (no stator mods necessary).

If you want more expansive lighting, you have to look at rewiring the stator. Pictures of the stator in the Service Manual show that two or three of the eight poles on the stator do not have any wiring on them. Ricky Stator will rewind the stator for more watts. I found these pictures posted by parkrider on a Yahoo group:

Stock stator     Stator modified by Ricky Stator




Not Gonna Happen

The 230F is a cheap, low-tech, beginner's or entry-level bike, also suitable for more experienced riders who want to plonk around. Honda makes high-tech bikes that are about the same size and displacement - CR80, CR100, CR125, CR250, CRF250R, CRF250X. Don't look for anyone to make enough mods to turn the 230F into a bike that can take on any one of these head-to-head, except for the outrageous BBR aluminum frame overkill!





Anyway, you won't see any of the following as over-the-counter products; some savvy hop-up guy may do one or more of these out of his garage, but the average motorcycle after-market company doesn't do these kinds of things for bikes like the 230F.

  • Rear disk brake - no company ever made rear-disk-brake conversion kits for any drum rear bike (trail, motox, off-road, etc) with any degree of marketing success.
  • Supercross suspension - again, it doesn't make sense for companies to do this. There are other already-capable bikes out there.
  • MotoX killer - you could motocross the 230F in under-250 classes and win a trophy or two, depending on the rider. However, RC doesn't ride one, so take a hint.


Parts and Manuals

I order all Honda parts from Service Honda, 800-828-5498.

I order all other parts, tires, tubes, lubricants, etc., from Chaparral, 800-841-2960.

I ordered the Honda 2003 CRF230F Service Manual from Helm, Inc for about $48, including shipping.




Helm also has the parts fiche information available as a high-quality Parts Catalog booklet (8.5 x 11) that is much better than printing the fiche yourself (see below). The booklet is bound with a heavy paper cover and includes Part Number and Part Description indices. These booklets have the same content as the XRs Only parts catalogs available in the middle 80s but are much higher quality.

I ordered the Honda 2003 CRF230F parts fiche from for $17 and printed it on paper at the library for .10 per page. also has the Honda 2003 CRF230F Service Manual now.



2003 / 2004 differences
I reviewed the 2004 Parts Catalog, which shows 2003 and 2004 parts, and the only differences I could find were the fender and tank shroud colors. 2003 is Fighting Red; 2004 is Extreme Red.    


Web sites / forums

CRFsOnly - lots of info about the CRF230F. - is the place to find and share information about dirt trails, trail riding, dirt bikes, ATVs, events, photos and more. Forums on popular topics. - Dirt bike section - news, reviews, reports. See Project CRF450R.

ThumperTalk - Straight talk about 4-strokes. Forums on popular 4-stroke topics.



Aftermarket companies
All of the companies mentioned in these notes are listed here. Click on the blue underlines for web sites.

Acerbis   800-659-1440
Handguards, lighting

Answer   909-736-5369

Baja Designs   Orders 800-422-5292   760-560-BAJA
DualSport kit (lights, horn, flashers), lighting kit (HL,TL,BL), headlights, taillights, skid plate, Uni air filter

BBR Motorsports   888-668-6227   253-631-8233
Air filter
Aluminum frame
Big-bore kit
Billet gas cap
Exhaust pipe
Graphics kit
Heavy-duty fork springs

Heavy-duty shock spring
Rev box
Shock linkage
Skid plate
Triple clamps

Complete bike!

Big Gun Exhaust   xxx-xxx-xxxx
Exhaust systems

BRP   949-380-1160   outside CA 800-834-9363
Handlebar mounts, triple clamps, exhaust inserts

Chaparral   800-841-2960

CycoActive   800-491-2926
Fender bags

Cycra   800-770-2259
Fenders, handguards, graphics kits, stickers

DeVol Engineering   Orders 800-DEVOL99   360-825-2106
Engine and frame guards

Enduro Engineering   517-393-2421

Engines Only   408-374-4297
Big-bore kit and other neat stuff

FMF Racing   310-631-4363
Exhaust systems

Helm, Inc   800-782-4356
Owner's Manuals, Parts Catalogs, Service Manuals

Kouba   208-939-3753
Suspension linkage

Maier   Orders 800-33-MAIER
Plastic parts, fenders, numberplates, handguards

motocom   800-426-4214
Parts Fiche, Service Manuals



Motonation   Orders 877-789-4940

N-Style   661-296-1118   Outside CA 800-831-9043
Graphics kits

Powroll   541-923-1290
Engine big bore and stroker kits

Precision Racing Components   570-992-4561

Ricky Stator   619-449-3905
Stator rewind

Scotts Performance   818-248-6747
Steering stabilizers, steel oil filter

Service Honda   800-828-5498
Honda OEM parts

Sidewinder Sprockets   630-513-1000
Sprockets and chains, 428 kit

Sprocket Specialists   Orders 888-782-8202
Sprockets, chains

SRC Summers Racing Components   800-221-9752
Fork brace kit, handguards, aluminum skid plates

SunStar Sprockets from SUDCO   323-728-5407

Thumper Racing   Orders 800-259-5186   Tech questions 903-938-3340
R&D on big-bore engine kits; nothing available yet.

Trail Tech   Orders 360-687-4530

Utah Sport Cycle   866-273-1197
Aluminum skid plates

Web Cam   909-369-5144

White Brothers   714-692-3404
Suspension and other hop-up stuff

Works Connection   530-642-9488
Aluminum glide plates

Works Performance   818-701-1010
CRF230F rear shock available; call for details.

XRs Only   760-244-2626
Skid plate

UFO Plastics and MSR products available from Tucker Rocky at your dealer



Eat your heart out

Here's a hot version of the 230F selling in Belgium, the 230 Easy Enduro. This version is made by HM (Honda-Montesa), a company formed to market specialty trials bikes and which now also markets other Honda specialty models.

See the Belgium HM web site. Click on "Easy" to see the three CRF230 models; Trail, Enduro, and Motard. Click on the thumbnails to see the different models. Note the Enduro and Motard models have rear disc brakes! The Enduro model looks like it has longer legs than the Trail model. Note - once you've clicked on all three thumbnails, clicking on them again in rapid succession switches the full-size picture quickly.

See the Italian HM web site.