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Honda CRF150R Review – Who This Bike Is Really For

Trying to figure out if the Honda CRF150R is the right dirt bike for you? I’ve owned 2 of them, so I’d like to share my personal review about this bike so that you can make a better buying decision, or simply get to know it better if you already have one. 

CRF150R vs CRF150RB Differences?

They are almost the same bike; the biggest differences are the wheel & tire sizes, the wheelbase and slightly stiffer suspension on the CRF150RB big wheel model. 

The CRF150R is the small wheel version with 17/14″ wheel and tire size, while the CRF150RB is the larger and longer big wheel (AKA “Expert”) with 19/16″ wheel size and slightly stiffer suspension valving. 

Is a CRF150R a good beginner bike?

If you’re a complete beginner, then it’s not a good starter dirt bike. It’s relatively hard to start if you’re not used to a kick-starter. The power is also abrupt and it’s very easy to stall, especially if the jetting is off.
These characteristics and more make it a poor beginner bike.

Who Is The CRF150R For?

The CRF150R is a motocross race bike that’s not to be confused with the CRF150F trail bike. While the 150R is a kids bike, it’s a high performance race bike. 

Review of the Honda CRF150R Dirt Bike
2009 Honda CRF150RB that I used to have

Size & Age Range

The CRF 150R is built for racing in the 85cc/Supermini class, which is for kids age 12-16 years old. It’s currently the only kids motocross bike from Honda.

The small wheel (standard model) is for a 12 year old, and the big wheel (expert model) is for ages 14-16 years old.

However, your kid’s age shouldn’t be the only factor. They may be too small or big for it.

How tall is a CRF150R?

The seat height on the small wheel model is 32.8 inches tall, so it’s good if you’re about 4’10” and 5’2″ tall.
The 150RB big wheel is 34.1″ inches tall, so it’s better if you’re 5’0″ to 5’5″ tall. These numbers aren’t a rule, but rather a guideline because it also depends on your inseam length and experience level to be able to safely ride this motocross bike.

Is a Honda CRF150R for adults?

With that said, there’s plenty of adults that ride the CRF150RB, including myself! Follow the mods at the end to make it more comfortable for you.

CRF150R Engine expectations

This is a liquid-cooled 150cc 4 stroke engine with a very light flywheel, but what does that mean? It doesn’t have much torque right off of idle, so it doesn’t lug very well at low RPM.

With a light flywheel, the engine revs up very quickly. This is great for racing or if you’re an experienced rider that likes an aggressive power curve because it will accelerate quickly.

The problem? It also decelerates quickly because there’s less inertia (weight keeping the engine spinning). This makes it more prone to stalling – especially if you’re learning how to use the clutch or like riding at low RPM.

Adding a flywheel weight and tuning the jetting will help, but it’s not going to feel like a torque-y trail bike. If you really want to prevent stalling, just add a Rekluse auto clutch (Amazon) and you’re good to go!

Can a CRF150R be trail ridden?

Yes, that’s why I bought a CRF150R in the past. However, it’s not a very good trail bike in stock form on single track trails. It stalls easily, has rather harsh suspension, and is just a little too snappy.

Below is a video of me riding my backyard trails. It takes a lot more energy to ride fast than my CRF230F because of the reasons I just gave.

With that said, if you could tone it down, make it a little plusher and easier to ride, then the CRF150R could be a good trail bike for adults or teens.

Riding the CRF150RB in my woods several years ago

Rider Size

The small wheel CRF150R has a seat height of 32.8”. It will fit you if you’re between 4’10 and 5’2” (147-157cm).

The big wheel CRF150RB has a seat height of 34.1” It will fit if you’re between 5’0” and 5’6” (152-168cm).

With that said, your inseam length plays a big role in how you fit it as well.

The Bottom Line For Deciding If The CRF150R/B Is Right For You

Whether you or your kid is the right size for the 150R or 150RB, skill level and the type of riding should be the biggest determining factor.

CRF150R Cons:

This is a motocross race dirt bike. This means its disadvantages are:

  • Harder to kick start
  • Doesn’t have much low-end power (bad for beginners)
  • The power is abrupt and less predictable than a trail bike
  • Suspension is for 80-100lb rider, but is harsh for trail riding
  • It’s easy to stall (bad for beginners)
  • Small gas tank (bad for long trail rides)

CRF150R Pros:

However, where the CRF150R is good is:

  • No mixing gas (It’s a 4 stroke engine)
  • It’s lightweight for a 4 stroke
  • It has more torque than an 85cc 2 stroke (YZ85/KX85/CR85)
  • It can be a fun trail bike for an adult with some mods

Is The CRF150R Reliable?

Reliability was originally seen as an issue, but in actuality, that’s not necessarily true. Yes, the CRF150R is not as reliable as its CRF150F cousin, but that’s because it’s a race bike that requires you to ride it harder. The more RPM, the quicker the engine will wear out; it’s simple science.

With that said, you’re not going to have to adjust the valves every 5 hours like some people may have said on forums. If you’re trail riding the CRF150R or are easy on the throttle and properly maintain it (oil and filter changes), it’s going to be pretty reliable. You might get 50 or 100+ hours on the engine before needing a rebuild.

Does It Have A Weight Limit?

There isn’t an actual weight limit, but the CRF150R/B is built for a rider that weighs about 80-120lb. 

Can you ride it if you weigh 150lbs or more? Yes, but the suspension is too soft for aggressive riding and will bottom out.

If you’re an adult and want to ride the CRF150R then I highly suggest getting stiffer springs and possibly re-valving the suspension. I cover that in the mods section at the bottom of this article.

Honda CRF150R Year Changes

There haven’t been too many big changes made to the CRF150R or CRF150RB since the year it was first made in 2007.

The noticeable changes made are:

  • 2008: Carburetor needle changed for easier jetting tuning
  • 2012: New cylinder head, piston, camshaft, and accelerator pump circuit updates

CRF150R Year Identification

So, how do you best identify which year model you have or if you’re going to look at a used one for sale? The graphics are specific to each year, but the best way is by reading the VIN. The VIN is on the right side of the steering stem frame. 

The year is determined by the 10th digit in the 17 digit VIN. A “7” would means it’s a 2007, and a “B” means it’s a 2011.

Specifications

Just need the OEM numbers?

Here are the basic specs for the Honda CRF150R and CRF150RB:

SpecificationsHonda CRF150R (Small Wheel)Honda CRF150RB (Big Wheel)
Engine149cc liquid-cooled single cylinder four stroke149cc liquid-cooled single cylinder four stroke
Horsepower23.5 Horsepower23.5 Horsepower
Top speed60mph60mph
Transmission5-speed close-ratio5-speed close-ratio
Seat height32.8 inches34.1 inches
Tire size17/14”19/16”
Gas tank capacity1.11 gallons1.11 gallons
Oil capacity0.62 US qt0.62 US qt
Weight (curb/wet)185lbs. 187lbs.
MSRP (Retail Price)$5099$5199

CRF150R Problems?

Valves and top-ends were thought to be a problem in the beginning, but that’s mainly due to mis-use or lack of knowledge. The CRF150R has stainless steel valves, which tend to last longer than titanium valves. This means they’re more reliable and will cause less issues long term.

The biggest problems that I read about from CRF150R owners is when they don’t ride it enough or do not properly maintain it.

When you leave your dirt bike sit, start going bad within months or weeks!

Your CRF150R may have these issues if you let it sit for a few months with pump gas:

  • Hanging idle
  • Hard to start
  • Idle adjustment/screw/problems

It may not even start when you take it out the next time to ride. You may need to do proper carburetor cleaning to fix it.

Maintenance Schedule

Oil changes and cleaning the air filter are the most important maintenance tasks. A schedule or every 10-15 hours for the oil and whenever the filter is dirty is a good starting point.

Remember that the CRF150R/B has separate compartments for the engine oil and transmission oil. Meaning you have to drain and fill two different spots.

Valve adjustment

The more you race and ride at high RPM, the more often you should check the valve clearance. You might not have to adjust the valves on your CRF150R every 10-20 hours.

It may go 50 or 100+ hours if you’re conservative and properly maintain it. Heat and lack of maintenance are the biggest enemies of valves.

Used Price

It really depends on your local market. An older CRF150R in poor condition may be as cheap as $1200, but a clean bike that’s only one year old might be $4500.

The most common factors for the value of a used CRF150R dirt bike are:

  • What the current market is
  • The overall condition
  • What’s been done to the bike

Best Mods & Upgrades

Whether you’re just looking for more power to race motocross or are an adult that wants to trail ride, there’s quite a few mods available for the Honda CRF150R.

CRF150R with an aftermarket head pipe
CRF150R with an FMF Megabomb head pipe

Some of the best mods to upgrade your CRF150R are:

  • Jetting
  • Suspension
  • Head pipe

Jetting the carb will make it start easier, run smoother, and stall less often. 

To find out which mods are best for your 150R click here.

CRF150R vs YZ85

Comparing a stock CRF150R vs YZ85, the biggest difference is the extra weight of the 150R. Being lighter, the YZ85 handles a little better and will be just as fast or faster, despite slightly less horsepower.

The 150R was built to be in the 85cc mini class, but it can only run in the supermini class, which is against up to 112cc 2 stroke motocross bike. With that said, the Honda CRF150R might be a better choice if you prefer the smoother power curve of a 4 stroke and don’t mind a little extra weight.

How to become a better rider off-road

Are you more of an off-road rider but want to stay safe while quickly increasing your skill? In order to ride faster without crashing, you have to stay in control of the bike, and that starts with proper riding technique. Click here for my Free training to give you more control and confidence.

jesse

Friday 28th of January 2022

if im going out and about trail riding in west va for about a 100 miles will my bike get hot or scorch the piston....

Kelley Fager

Friday 28th of January 2022

Hey Jesse, thanks for the question! That's an easy and hard question to answer... Simply riding for 100 miles won't overheat your dirt bike. But, if you're riding very slow and have poor clutch control (slipping the clutch a lot), then the engine is more likely to get hotter than it should. Coolant or steam coming out the overflow is usually the first sign that it's getting too hot. For tips on improving your clutch control you should Download This Guide.

John

Wednesday 5th of January 2022

awesome i like the 150r though

Kelley Fager

Thursday 6th of January 2022

So do I, John. Thanks for reading!