Honda CRF150R - 2007 Bike Of The Year - Dirt Rider Magazine

Winner: Honda Crf150r

There is no criteria list for Dirt Rider Bike of the Year candidates hanging on the wall of a cubicle or inhabiting a staffer's computer memory bank. Each of the 19 previous winners had traits that made them unique in their respective year, so the recipe that makes up a winner changes a little each year. Some of the ingredients do remain the same for most winners, though. DR looks for machines that profoundly affect a class of bikes, or even all of dirt riding. The last decade has seen unprecedented changes in frame design and material, suspension innovation and engine development. For that reason, many recent winners have created or redefined a class, and our 2007 winner certainly does that. But it defines a class that none of our BOTY winners has ever come from before: the minicycle class. Yep, the Honda CRF150R is Bike of the Year. Minis and their riders make up a small part of Dirt Rider, and during the usually (but not always) civilized "discussions" that lead to the choice, more than one staffer wondered if any mini is important enough to make it BOTY in a magazine dedicated mostly to adult riders and their machinery.After further reflection, the choice was pretty easy and the voting unanimous. The CRF150R has scrambled the mini class structure as if it were eggs for an omelet. Earlier in the year, many organizations ruled that the 150 couldn't race in the regular mini classes. But soon after, those same groups created classes for the 150. In terms of engineering, the tiny motor advances and miniaturizes existing technology. But it's the whole package that is amazing, and it has profoundly affected the makeup of the mini class-off-road and on the track. The chassis, while it looks much like a close relative to the Honda CR85R two-stroke, has jumped forward in performance farther than any recent machine in the class. Larger frame tubes and mounting points, massive gussets, larger axles and upgraded suspension internals ensure that the chassis is worthy of the engine. And now that we have more experience with the machine, especially at the Dirt Rider 24-Hour Test (in which it was an official Mini Rider entry), we feel confident that the model will prove itself reliable in most cases. Even those who are sorry to see the 150R arrive and lament the stirring it is giving the mini class can't stop talking about it. If there were a criteria list for BOTY, "buzz" would certainly be on it.Staff Personal Picks For Bike Of The Year And ForeverIt is one thing to arrive at a decision on the Bike of the Year for the magazine and quite another to decide what our personal favorite bikes are. I doubt that any of our staff would turn down a ride on a cool CRF150R, but it won't be our regular ride. So these are the bikes that we actually would and do ride in real life.Jimmy Lewis
Preferred Riding Mix: 60% Off-Road/40% MotoBOTY vote: Honda CRF150R. I've been trying to build this bike for the better part of my life, since the days of sticking a Honda XR80 motor into a KX80 chassis. Good suspension on a four-stroke minibike with a pumped-up motor. Honda took this to a level garage mechanics could only dream of. The bike is an outright rocket ship, arguably so fast, like a two-stroke 85, that some of that big-guy-on-a-slow-minibike fun factor is gone. But that hasn't slowed the big guys buying and riding these things, never mind the kids.Favorite bike ever: I spent more time on my 1997 Honda XR400R this year than any other bike, owned or borrowed. I spray-painted most of it flat black and put a fresh cam chain in her, since she was a little tired. OK, she was beat. She hasn't lost a drop of water or ever needed new radiators. They don't make them like this anymore, which in a lot of ways is actually good.Favorite bike this year: The factory 1200cc BMW HP 2 Enduro bike I raced at the Baja 500. I had one of my best racing rides ever on this 120-horsepower works bike built just for me. They (the bike and the ride) couldn't be topped, so with that I retired from racing.

Favorite bike this year

Karel Kramer
Senior Editor
Preferred riding mix: 65% trail riding/35% moto-track play ridingBOTY vote: Honda CRF150R. The Bike of the Year title has always gone to bikes that stand out from the crowd and usually to those that redefine the sport or create a new class. There is no question that the Honda CRF150R is redefining mini riding. Whether you hate the idea of the bike or love it, only an ostrich could claim the Honda hasn't made a major impact. Even the fact that it isn't legal to race in some organizations hasn't slowed its acceptance. Emotionally, I wanted to vote for the KTM 450/525 EXC models, since I am much more interested in riding them than hopping on a mini, but I had to go with the CRF.Favorite bike ever: My long-term 2005 KTM 525 MXC. That bike was set up for me better than any machine I have ever ridden. Of course, it was mine to modify for more than a year, or 200 hours of riding. No matter what kind of riding was planned, I was happy on that KTM.Favorite bike this year: After the 450cc shootout ended, Jimmy asked which one I wanted for the year, and I didn't hesitate to pick the Yamaha YZ450F. It has been the only bike I've had to ride for both motocross and off-road. I was stressed that the suspension would be too stiff for the high desert, but no way! This bike makes me look good, and that isn't so easy these days.Chris Denison
Associate Editor
Preferred riding mix: 60% motocross/30% off-road/10% ramp nuttinessBOTY vote: Honda CRF150R. It may not be a big bike, but there is no denying that the CRF150R has sent an excited red rumble throughout the industry. From timid beginners to amateur motocross champions, the Honda fits a wide variety of pilots, all of whom have fondly accepted the little red bike as a permanent fixture. With its minisize technology and irresistible fun factor, this Honda four-stroke heralds a bright hope to the future of thumpers while simultaneously serving a crushing blow to the skull of the two-stroke motocross class. C'est la vie.Favorite bike ever: Honda CR250R (2003 and newer). I've been privileged enough to ride some pretty sweet stock machines, but the CR250R will always hold a special place in my heart. The Honda is fast, nimble and utterly bulletproof. I have oddly always been able to ride a 250 two-stroke better than I've been able to ride any other stock bike, whether it be on trails, ramps or the track. It might have something to do with the fact that I have enough frequent-flier miles on CR250Rs to send the entire DR staff to Madagascar and back, but who knows?Favorite bike of this year: Suzuki RM-Z250. Since 2006, Suzuki has managed to transform its 250F effort from a mild disappointment to an outright shocker. The '07 RM-Z250 has better power, poise and performance than anything else in its class, and the overall yellow package never failed to leave a trail of dropping jaws among our test riders. The CRF150R may be the magazine's BOTY, but the Suzuki 250 four-stroke is hands down my bike of this year.Pete Peterson
Associate Editor
Preferred riding mix: 94% moto/5% off-road/1% sitting on bikes and making engine soundsBOTY vote: Honda CRF150R. We are living in a four-stroke world, but we weren't living in a mini four-stroke world until this bike came along. This bike shook everything up just by showing up, and it's awesome. I would never throw a leg over an 85, but I jumped at the opportunity to take this bike out. I realized right away the thing was too small to be a safe bike for me to moto on but was too fast for me to think I was out there just goofing off. It may be too much bike for some kids, and for some classes, too. This little thumper may not rewrite the record books, but it is rewriting the rule books.Favorite bike ever: My 2004 RM250. It was a passionate but short affair. I never rode as well on any other bike and even got bumped up a class. Then we had a falling out. I choose to remember the good times.Favorite bike of this year: The 2007 YZ125. The broad power (yes, for a 125) makes the bike easy to ride, and I love how light it feels. Forget arm-pump, this bike gives face-pump by making me grin like a doofus.Jesse Ziegler
Associate Editor
Preferred riding mix: 65% motocross/35% off-roadBOTY vote: Honda CRF150R. I didn't want to vote for this bike. Not even close. I'll never own one, I'll rarely ride one, and I'm only interested in it because the idea is so damn cool. With that said, I can't get away from this little weasel. The CRF150R is everywhere. And for making the biggest impact our sport has seen since Yamaha's original YZ400F, it wins my Bike of the Year vote easily. That, and I can jump on it stock and smile my butt off as I loft over tabletops.Favorite bike ever: My favorite bike ever wasn't even my own. It was my big brother's 1995 CR250R. I borrowed (stole) it from him and raced an entire season without him really knowing. I'm sure he figured it out, but I was having so much fun on the bike that I think he just let me go. It had a purple seat cover, but all the other stickers were long gone. What was so great about it? Holeshots. And pretty much everything else.Favorite bike of this year: The 2007 RM-Z250. I can't give it BOTY honors because of that little red stinker remaking the industry. However, the RM-Z is the best stock 250F I've ever ridden. The motor makes up for any soft suspension worries, and considering it's Suzuki's first real 250cc four-stroke motocrosser, it's a huge success. I hate Chris Denison for getting to keep it all year for his Long Haul.

Favorite bike this year-making Pete look good.
Favorite bike ever(Pete could never corner this well.)