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Honda CRF50 Review: Is It The Right Kids Bike For You?

Looking to get a Honda CRF50? It’s Honda’s smallest kids dirt bike, but they’re not the only ones that ride them.

I’ve owned a Honda 50cc dirt bike for many years, so I want to show you what kind of dirt bike it is, why it might be the best bike for you or your kid, and what to expect when buying and riding one.

What is the Honda CRF50?

It’s a 50cc air-cooled 4 stroke trail bike designed for little kids beginning their dirt biking journey. It has a kick-start only engine with very simple suspension and smooth power that is easy and predictable to ride.

With a 3-speed semi-automatic transmission, there’s no clutch to learn how to use, but you can shift gears – or keep it in first if your son or daughter is just learning to ride.

The Honda CRF50 is the standard for a quality little kids dirt bike

What age is a CRF50 for?

The Honda 50cc has always been a perfect first dirt bike for little kids (which is what I started on back in 2000. If your son or daughter can ride a bicycle, then they’re able to ride this dirt bike as a beginner.

Depending on the size of your child, the CRF50 is good for ages 3-8 years old. It mainly depends on their height and experience level.

Is it the right size though?

With a 21.6″ seat height, it’s a good size dirt bike if your kid is between 38-45″ inches tall. As long as they can touch the ground with one foot, they’re tall enough.

Training wheels can be put on if they can’t balance with their feet, but I don’t recommend training wheels because they don’t get the real dirt bike experience – you might as well put them on a 4 wheeler, but that’s all I will say about that.

While it’s targeted at little kids, many of us adults like to steal this bike while they’re not watching and ride them as pit bikes…

Do they still make the CRF50?

Yes, Honda still makes the CRF50. It first came out in 2003, but it’s the same thing as the previous model XR50. Honda just renamed it as they phased out the “XR” model lineup for the new “CRF” model names.

CRF50 vs XR50

They’re basically the same dirt bike – the biggest difference is that Honda updated the plastics and name to a “CRF” model to feel more modern.
The XR50 has the same engine and suspension and was made from 2000-2003, and before that, the old Honda 50cc dirt bike was called the Z50.

The CRF50 is the replacement for the Honda XR50 and Z50 kids dirt bike.
My first dirt bike was a Honda 50 over 20 years ago.

CRF50 Engine

A 50cc 4 stroke engine is the standard for small kids dirt bikes because it has just enough power for your kid to have fun without being too fast. The benefit of the four-stroke engine over a 2 stroke is that there’s no 2 stroke oil to deal with, and the power is slightly smoother.

Reliability & maintenance

The Honda CRF 50 engine is incredibly reliable – if you properly maintain it. That means changing the oil when it’s dirty/low. Besides that, it’s just keeping the air filter clean, the chain adjusted, and the tank full of gas.

Maintenance is as easy as it gets on this dirt bike, so you don’t need to worry about spending hundreds of dollars every year if you’re just a casual rider. It will last many years if you simply pay attention to the little things.

CRF50 Suspension

The stock forks and shock are pretty basic and non-adjustable on, but this isn’t bad. That makes it affordable to sell and it works well for most kids.

It has USD (upside-down) forks, but they’re nothing special compared to modern USD forks. Since there’s so little suspension travel, there isn’t a lot that will help outside of stiffer springs and a service job with fresh oil, seals, and bushings if they have a lot of hours on them.

Weight limit

The CRF50 is widely used as a pit bike, whether it’s for racing or just tooling around the pits. The weight limit is technically supposed to be for kids under 80lbs or so, but it will still hold you if you’re 200lbs.

Once you start riding aggressively or jumping it, however, the suspension will easily bottom out and you’ll start breaking parts. That’s why there are a lot of aftermarket parts available to upgrade the suspension and frame.

Any common problems?

The CRF50 has never had any major issues outside of common operator error, which is: poor or lack of maintenance. Since this 50cc motorcycle has been around for many decades without changing much, it’s a proven package that won’t be a headache unless it’s been worked on by a hack.

CRF50 won’t start problem

With that said, it’s common when you can’t get it kick-started because the carburetor is so small. When gas sits in the carb for months (or even weeks), it can clog up the jets, causing it not to start.

The pilot jet is very small and is the most important jet circuit for starting, so it’s the most likely problem. Sometimes you can drain the float bowl and spray some air through the jets, but it may need a good & proper carb cleaning to get it started again.

CRF50 Specs/Dimensions

Engine49cc air-cooled 4 stroke
Transmission3-speed semi-automatic
Seat Height21.6″
Weight (wet)111lbs
Top Speed30mph
Horsepower2.5 HP
Price$1649 (MSRP)

How much does it cost?

The new model has an MSRP of $1649 (plus any destination/dealer fees and taxes), but a used one can be had for 500-1400, depending on your local market and what condition the bike is in.

When looking to buy a used CRF 50, you want to be aware of bikes that have been abused with little maintenance. Since they’re so reliable, many owners did not keep up on maintenance.

This means the oil has been run low for too long and the air filter hasn’t been cleaned or replaced often enough. This leads to burning oil and potentially an engine that smokes out the exhaust.

CRF50 vs PW50

When considering a first dirt bike for your little guy or girl, the PW50 is the most common comparison to the CRF50. So which one is better?

It mainly depends on the size of your kid. The PW50 has a seat height of 18.7″ and the CRF50 is 21.6″, so 3″ is a pretty big difference. The Yamaha is also about 20lbs lighter. 

The PW50 is also a 2 stroke, so you just have to remember to keep the oil tank filled (no premixing required). It has a single-speed transmission with a shaft drive, so it’s super simple and reliable. 

The CRF 50 is a little more durable and has plenty of aftermarket accessories available. 
But if the CRF50 is too big, then the PW50 is the better to start on. 

Racing the Honda 50 – can it be done?

Can the CRF50 be raced? Yes, if your kid wants to race the 50cc class as a beginner, this is a good bike to start on.

It won’t handle much for jumps and obstacles, but it will train your son or daughter how to properly balance, control the throttle and brakes, as well other riding techniques before they move to a faster dirt bike. 

CRF 50 pit bike mods

There’s countless mods available for the CRF50, including: carburetor, exhaust, suspension, and engine upgrades. 

For a complete list of the best CRF50F mods click here.