Story By Kelly Yancey and the DR Staff
Photos By Adam Booth
Christmas is just around the corner, and one of the most common gift-related questions that we get asked at Dirt Rider is, “What bike should I buy for my child?” Well, we recently went to the 2014 Honda trail bike introduction at the Hungry Valley OHV Park in Gorman, California and wanted to break down each these bikes’ key features. First up: The CRF50F. Designed for the smallest little rider in your group, this iconic four-stroke is an excellent gateway to riding that provides a fun, safe platform for young off-roaders to cut their teeth on.
Seat Height: 21.6 inches
Claimed Weight: 110lbs with full tank of fuel
Being the runt of the litter isn’t always a sign of weakness. In fact, the CRF50F will undoubtedly be one of the most popular models for 2014. The reason is simple: it is a great bike for first-time riders or those chasing that pipe dream of re-living their childhood. Here are six key notes from our time testing the CRF50F:
- Motor. The three-speed transmission and automatic clutch makes for a soft and mellow learning curve, leaving all attention to balance and throttle control of the machine. With a smaller, inexperienced rider on board the bike shifted gears with ease. The little Honda’s rev limiter was utilized by our mini tester who kept a high rpm for his entire session, which gave the impression that the CRF50F would be great for riders with less riding experience (and just screaming along in a gear too low). The beauty of this motor is that it can take a beating and is low maintenance for the parents.
- Ergonomics. Being in the four-stroke family, this bike naturally carries more weight in the motor than a two-stroke design would. However, this can work in the rider’s favor by giving a low center of gravity and making the bike easy to pick up after a fall, even for the smallest of riders. Keeping with the small rider tradition, the handlebar bend and controls best suit junior-sized riders, but with the generously-designed chassis and inverted fork suspension a quick scoot back on the seat makes it possible for an adult to take the bike for a slow spin. As we intensified our riding, the steering became nearly impossible for our adult-sized test riders, having their knees form a blockade behind the narrow handlebar.
- Suspension. The suspension is designed for lighter riders (under 100 pounds) and is sufficient enough for those in the target weight range. There is not much suspension to work with but with our test rider weighing in at 45 pounds, the forks and shock were sufficient enough even for his aggressive riding style.
- Handling. The small wheelbase and narrow 10” tires acted more like pizza cutters through the sandy desert floor, which made climbing and descending hills a real challenge. Our novice-level mini rider, within a matter of hours, easily pushed this bike to its limits, so keep this in mind if you plan on getting your kids into racing in the near future. This bike has all of the ingredients needed to get younger beginner riders moving on two wheels with confidence, but it is not a race bike. It’s designed, more importantly, to have fun with mom or dad.
- Kick Start. One thing we would have loved to see on this model is an electric starter; this option is golden for the youngsters and eliminates the parents having to chase down their little ones every time they fall. The kick-start can be a challenge for those little riders on uneven surfaces.
- Brakes. Learning proper braking skills is one of the more important parts of learning to ride a dirt bike. The front and rear drum style brakes are adequate enough for the beginner rider and since they are not especially strong or touchy, they are friendly, but heavier, faster riders will be looking for more stopping power.
Keep checking out www.dirtrider.com to see what we have to say about each of Honda’s new CRF-F trail bikes, and be sure to check out the November issue of Dirt Rider Magazine for more information on all of Honda’s trail bike line up.