These days when kids make the jump from a small 85cc two-stroke to a big and powerful 250cc four-stroke, they are forced to accustom themselves to a huge increase in power and even a different type of power itself. Fortunately, there is the CRF150R in between. This little Honda gives the future ripper a preview of that torquey four-stroke power that will nearly get away with murder compared to their two-stroke counterpart, the 85cc two-stroke. If you think about it, the 150R is only 100cc less than the CRF250R, proving that the gap is narrowing between the little and big bikes. Although the 150R and those 85cc bikes are all so similar in size, the 150R is going to act as a better crossover machine in getting the young rider ready for the real world which consists of fierce 250cc and 450cc four-strokes.
Enhanced torque and response throughout the powerband was the main goal, and to achieve this the ’12 150R was given a new cylinder head, a lighter piston and a redesigned camshaft. A new 32mm Keihin carburetor with a revised accelerator pump also played a part in improving the throttle response. The suspension settings both front and rear were tuned for better action in tough sections on the track. And to put a cap on things, Honda stickered up the 150R with the race graphics that you will see on the larger 250R and 450R.To get the majority of our riding impressions we invited two of our trusty, barely-double-digit-aged test riders to the track before tossing our full-sized boys onto a kid’s bike. Carson Brown and Tyler Weyman took the honors and literally handed the bike off back and forth all day long. We had to keep an eye on them to make sure the thing got filled up with gas every so often, but in the end they did their homework and gave us two articulate and honest opinions.Adult Test Riders
The bike did have a bit of a bog that made an appearance where all carbureted bikes do, but when we asked the kids about this they didn’t know what we were talking about. Poor youngsters, they haven’t experienced fuel injection yet! For a rider around 165 pounds, adjusting the clickers goes a long way and setting the sag is a must for the stock suspension. I could see a group of dads borrowing the bike from their kids in between motos for a session or two of good, fun battling. Kids, don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Now that the Lead Law has been lifted and is no longer affecting the youngest generation of talented riders, the timing couldn’t be better to stop by the dealership and surprise junior with a shiny new ride. Not to mention you will be preparing him (and you, by way of maintenance) for his days on a big bike. The downside of owning a four-stroke is the pricier rebuild cost, and if something goes wrong, you’re looking at a lot more than a piston and rings. But look on the bright side, dad; you’re getting a head start when it comes to valve jobs and camshafts! While you’re at it you might as well teach junior how to put it all back together and get some quality bonding time out of the situation.
|Specifications: 2012 Honda CRF150R|
|Claimed seat height: 32.8 in.|
|Claimed weight (tank full): 183 lb|
|Online test/video: www.dirtrider.com/2012CRF150R|
Weight: 85 lb
A first-timer to the CRF150R but an experienced two-stroke racer, young Tyler was impressed with the Honda. The first thing he noticed was not having to feather the clutch. “It was weird at first, but when I got the hang of it, I just left the bike a gear high and let the torque bring me up to speed. On my 85, I would constantly have to shift to go fast.” Tyler thought the stock suspension on the 150R was stiffer than what he is used to, but he was able to charge harder off big jumps and it soaked up the landings well. In rougher sections of the track, such as braking bumps and chop, it was a bit too stiff for him with the stock settings. Tyler noted that the CRF150R handled wider, sweeping turns better than the ruts, but when he was smoother the bike followed the rut much better.Carson Brown
Weight: 84 lb
Carson has a ton of experience on little four-stroke playbikes, including the CRF150R, and he noticed the new 150R revved higher than his older version and allowed him to hold gears longer. He felt it made smoother power throughout the entire rpm range and pulled harder, too. He noted that the ’11 bike had a small off-idle bog that the ’12 didn’t seem to have. The suspension felt solid to little Mr. Brown when landing bigger jumps, and he commented that it handled braking bumps with more stability compared to last year’s model. When it came to cornering, this small rider was comfortable leaning the bike into berms and ruts. It was easy for him to choose his lines because the 150R handled each of these conditions equally well and didn’t do anything unpredictable. He liked the bar bend and said it made it easy for him to maneuver the bike in the air.