If you thought Honda was going to let Yamaha or any other brand beat it to the punch with manufacturing the first high-performance mini four-stroke, well, you thought wrong. This time, at least, Honda is first. The company had even taken a risk, because at the time the bike was being produced there was no class for a 150cc four-stroke in AMA amateur racing. But Honda was sure the off-road market was ready and willing to buy these little red rockets, regardless of racing regulations. For what it's worth, the FIM over in Europe had already decided that 150cc machines could race in the 85cc class.But there are also some underlying circumstances. There is the Honda decree that the company will only produce four-cycle engines, with a small asterisk after it reading "except for competition racing machines," leaving the door open for the survival of the two-stroke CR. This mini could be the signal that a total switchover is imminent. There is also the gap in the CR line between the 85cc two-stroke and the 250F, as the 125cc two-stroke is largely ignored for any type of racing. It could be that the CR85 is at the end of its cycle, and the future of four-strokes looks so promising that this CRF150R is just the stepping-stone to continuing innovations in engine design. Why wait any longer?We signed our lives away and met at the top-secret Honda Proving Grounds in California's Mojave Desert for a one-day ride under a cloak of secrecy, as this bike was slated as the big surprise at the upcoming Honda dealer's convention. Cameras could only be pointed in specified directions, cell phones were confiscated as we entered, and we were watched and warned about all the rules.One ride on this little rocket and it's obvious that minibikes are changed forever. It is going to, if allowed, take over in racing. Especially at the top ranks because, as with all the racing four-strokes, it makes more power and delivers it for a longer duration. It is easier to ride than an 85cc, so for even those lesser-skilled riders, it will be an advantage. And it provides a fun factor that will surely have adults wanting to ride it. Really small guys and a lot of ladies will be extremely happy, because this machine will fit them just right, too.So how did Honda get here? HRA, Honda's U.S.-based research and development arm, has had an interest in these bikes ever since a bunch of screwed-up adults like myself were stuffing hopped-up XR75, 80 and 100 motors into decent chassis, such as the CR80 or, more recently, going full-bore into a BBR aluminum frame. HRA has ridden a number of these bikes, and it seemed just a matter of time before the market aligned and there was enough demand to build such a machine.Dirt Rider proposed that the bike would come with an aluminum frame and be a full-on, no-compromise race bike. That shows we don't think too much about the real world when we do these speculations. Honda definitely tested bikes similar to our drawings, but when it comes time to set a retail price, some corners must be cut to make the CRF150R affordable and practical, hence the steel frame. Then aspects like sharing parts with the current CR85, such as suspension components, wheel parts and a lot of the trim, come into play. There are no magnesium covers on the engine like the larger CRF-Rs, and the clutch cover is not a two-piece, easy-to-change design. All this lowers the price as well as leaves room for improvements in the years to come.