Honda XR100R Review – The Bullet-Proof Dirt Bike

Honda XR100…….. What comes to mind when you hear this? For adults, we think “pit-bike”, but for young riders we see it as the beginner bike. Not just A beginner bike, but THE beginner bike. Although it hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years, the docile XR100 is probably the best dirt bike to learn on. It is big enough for adults, yet has a short enough seat height for a kid (just over 30″). It’s smooth power makes it easy to ride, and has enough torque to do most anything the bike should handle. These are key factors as to why it’s so popular, but lets dig into why it and its modern-day twin, the CRF100F, have become such a success…

I Just Want To Ride!

This slogan pretty much sums up Honda’s line-up of trail-bikes. You can roll the XR 100 off the showroom floor and ride it! Unlike motocross bikes, you shouldn’t have to adjust anything on the suspension, carburetor/FI system, gearing, or add other ‘race-mods’ before riding it.

The Do-It-All Starter Bike

’97 Honda XR100R

Why is it the best dirt bike to start out on? It’s extremely easy to ride, and has every control you’ll ever use! Kick-start, throttle, brakes, clutch, suspesnion…. What more do you need from a “First-bike”? The XR100 is easy enough for a kid to kick-start it, so you don’t need the added weight of a battery and starter; although one could come in handy when stalled on a hill. The engine is very forgiving with its clutch and buttery-smooth power. It’s a lot more difficult to stall this on the trails than a motocross bike. Even though the newest CRF100F only puts out a measly 6 horsepower, it’s still enough to chug around the property with an adult on the saddle.

Suspension

For what it is, suspension on the XR/CRF 100 is pretty versatile. While I don’t recommend racing one in its stock form, it sure can take a beating. Many adults and bigger kids (me) like to rip around on these bikes; hence why finding a roached XR100 for sale is common. Why do we do it? Because it’s so fun on a smaller bike that you can just whip around. All in all, the stock springs are meant for some under 130lbs that trail rides. It will last longer than it should if you jump it, but you risk breaking the frame, handlebars, and possibly more. Stiffer springs and an aftermarket frame cradle are a must if you’re going to race/jump this bike.

Engine

The 100cc four-stroke air-cooled engine that powers the XR100 and CRF100 has virtually stayed the same over the past few decades (other than the CDI ignition upgrade in ’92). It may not be up to date with today’s four-stroke motocross bike technology, but why change something that already works, and works well! The power is very smooth and manageable, and can still get you out of a lot of messes. Due to a heavy flywheel and low gearing, stalling is not an issue on the XR 100. It offers just enough power to hand you loads of fun, yet wont’ get you or a beginning rider into too much trouble. This 100cc engine is commonly used the sheer pleasure by many adults. It is an excellent starting point because it’s cheap, easy to work on, and has the potential to be a fast little machine. XR100’s are used to make pit bikes, supermoto, flat-track, and mini motocross for these reasons.

Reliability

This is where Honda gets its name. The reliability of the Honda XR machines are at the top step. If you keep up on maintenance (which isn’t much), the XR100 will last for years, if not decades, on the stock engine. Keep oil in it by changing it after about 10-15 hours of use (depending on the riding conditions), keep the air filter clean, and don’t let the gas go bad. It’s pretty common to see well used XR 100’s from the early-mid 90s with as little as a piston re-ringing or valve-shimming. It’s amazing how long these things will last, especially for how high they rev (no rev-limiter).¬†Reliability¬†is one of the main reasons adults use this engine for their pit bikes. Even after modifying the engine it can still last a long time.

Honda CRF100F

The Sky Is The Limit…

While a stock XR100 is fairly restricted to more skilled riders and weekend warriors, there are endless mods and upgrades you can do to beef up this bike to make it more potent. A pipe and heavy duty suspension upgrade may be all it takes to provide hours and hours of fun. However, some of us that are more on the edge like to go a step or four further… This can turn into an all-out pit bike build that starts with an XR 100 engine as the power-plant, but uses a modified chassis/suspension from an 85cc 2-stroke motocross bike. (In fact, I’m about to start one of these builds and will hopefully finish it this summer, so stay tuned for a full article/video on it!).

You Should Buy An XR/CRF100 If You:

  1. Want cheap fun
  2. Enjoy riding more than maintaining
  3. Want to learn how to ride a motorcycle
  4. Like pit bikes
  5. Trail ride
  6. Like the 4-stroke power curve
  7. Want an easy to ride bike
  8. Want a back-up bike

You Shouldn’t Buy An XR100 If You:

  1. Expect a race bike in stock form
  2. Don’t like having fun

Add a gallon of gas and you’re in for some serious fun…

-Tom Stark

2002 Honda CR125R Review

For those of you dirt bikers that would like to know a little bit about the Honda CR125, tune in to this post as I will give you a review of the bike. Although it is a 2002, not much changed since 2007 except that the motor was modified a little bit in 2005. So this should be pretty accurate to the newer models as well because Honda pretty gave up on their two-strokes once they unleashed the thumpers (four-strokes).

2002 Honda CR125R

 

Comfort

First off, I wanted to mention the comfort level on this bike is excellent. It’s probably the tallest bike I’ve ridden, seat height-wise, but it’s also one of the most comfortable motocross bikes I’ve ridden. It’s a little bit high for shorter riders like me(5’6”), but once you get on it it’s fine.

Suspension

For being stock suspension, I thought that it was great. Although I did not ride it extremely hard, it worked out very well for me. It soaked up all the bad landings, the braking bumps did not throw me around, and in the corners it wasn’t wanting to stand up. Since I am a lighter rider I thought the stock set-up would be a little on the stiff side, but I turned the compression and rebound clickers on the forks and shock all the way in and it was fine.

’02 CR125R

Engine

Now you may have heard that the Honda two-stroke enginessuck, they have no power, and they are the worst two-stroke ever. If you did not hear that, then disregard what I just said. Now, some of that is partly true. They don’t have the most powerful engine that’s for sure. But that’s not to say that they are slow. After all, it’s mainly the rider and not the bike, but we’re not here to talk about that. As for the power, yes the bottom-end is very weak. In fact, it’s so weak that it’s surprising that it even goes. Once you get it into the mid-range then it wakes up a little bit with okay power. The top-end hit isn’t the most powerful in it’s class either, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The motor also has the “Rattle of Death,” I have heard, and my CR had a rattle too, but you shouldn’t need to worry about that because pretty much all of them have it.

Handling

Handling on this bike is probably number one in it’s class. It can go through corners faster than you are able to! Wait, does that make sense?? Anyway, the handling is great much like the stock suspension. This is probably the biggest reason why people buy Honda’s, and I agree with them; it’s great!

Jetting

The jetting on Honda’s is one thing that scares people away. The two-strokes tend to eat up spark plugs quickly if the bike isn’t jetted for the correct temperature and altitude. I didn’t have any problems with mine because I bought it with it correctly jetted for where I ride. I am not an expert with carburetors, so I suggest bring it to a trusted mechanic and get it properly jetted. If you want to do it yourself then buy a manual for the bike if you don’t have one already and read it carefully. Don’t let the Honda jetting or rumors about it always being hungry scare you away. It’s a great bike. You just have to fix the carburetor right way. Unless of course you go with the PWK Air Striker like many people are doing.

What I Think of It…..

Overall this is a great package for new riders. It looks great, it rides great, and two-strokes are easier/cheaper on maintenance. This is a perfect bike for a new racer that doesn’t need much power and wants a good handling, stock bike. After the the jetting is fixed, you got a great bike in your hands. Make sure you maintain it, have fun, and keep those two-smokes rollin’!!

-Tom Stark

Riding the Honda CR125R: