2013 Honda CRF150F | Review

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2013 Honda Motorcycle Test

Sitting in a sweet spot that allows it to be comfortable for full-sized adults, as well as growing teenagers, the 2013 Honda CRF150F is an ideal bridge bike between true kids bikes and purely adult machines.

The 2013 Honda CRF150F has the very welcome e-button to get things going. Make sure you keep the battery charged, as there is no kick back-up. However, should you find yourself with a flat battery, the CRF150F is easily bumpstarted, even when cold.

While many may naturally assume that the Honda CRF150F is a direct competitor to the excellent Kawasaki KLX140L, this is definitely not the case.

The KLX140L is a much more compact machine, with ergonomics that are great for younger riders, but adults can find a bit confining, especially when it comes to clearance between the handlebars and knees.

At 5′ 6″ and 115 pounds, I fit perfectly on the 2013 CRF150F, with its seat height under 33 inches and plenty of room between the bars, pegs, and seat. While I have the experience to ride larger, faster dirt bikes, there is something liberating about throwing around the CRF150F with abandon.

Sure, I can’t do big jumps or whoops on the 150F, but on smooth, tight tracks, it’s a blast to put in some fast laps by keeping the throttle pinned.

The Showa suspension, front and rear, offers nine inches of travel. It’s not the highest quality travel, as you’d expect, though it will exceed the needs and expectations of any novice rider. The suspension could be a bit more compliant for a smoother ride, but these units are built to a price-point.

No question, the Honda CRF150F’s air-cooled, two-valve, SOHC motor is docile-it is supposed to be. Associate Editor Jess McKinley selected the CRF150F to teach his wife how to ride a motorcycle, and was highly pleased with his choice. Yet, when revved to its limit, the 150F has enough power to make for an entertaining ride, especially for a new motorcyclist, and still completely predictable and unintimidating.

The clutch has a light pull and linear response. We abused the clutch seriously, attacking highly technical trails with large riders aboard; never did the clutch complain or the motor refuse to pull. The five-speed transmission shifts flawlessly and the ratios are spot-on.

The CRF150F’s 24mm carb is set up lean enough for a Green Sticker in California, yet the bike runs fine. If you have a new rider who wants a bit more power, aftermarket exhausts and jetting kits are readily available.

I did like the Pirelli Scorpion XC tires. Designed for intermediate to hardpack terrain, they work quite well, even in the mud. They’ll last forever with the smooth power delivery, though when it comes time to replace them, you will have a wide selection of high-quality tires available for the 16-inch and 19-inch rims.

On the technical trails, the low seat height of the 2013 Honda CRF150F is indispensible. I was able to ride places I would not want to tackle on a CRF250X. Sometimes smaller and less motor is better, and I have some ultra-tight trails in my area.

Although the CRF150F weighs it at a relatively portly 234 pounds with a full tank of gas, you simply don’t feel it when you ride it. If you try to jump or fly through whoops, then the weight will make its presence known. This isn’t a bike for that, and it carries its weight well for the type of riding a 150F will be called on to perform.

Out in the desert you will run into top speed limitations quickly, but if you ride in the woods, the tighter the better works great for the CRF150F. The handling is easy and predictable, and the suspension is fine at the lower speeds.

The front doesn’t push and the suspension is reluctant to bottom on anything other than jumps. Even on nasty drop-offs and downhills, the forks didn’t plunge to the stops-a nice feature given the lack of a truly plush ride.

The front disc does the majority of the braking work, and it is fully adequate.

The initial bite is as soft as you would want it to be for this type of bike. Get a good grip on the lever and the CRF150F will slow down nicely. The drum rear brake is a bit touchy-a properly set-up disc would be a great improvement.

I was definitely impressed at how quickly and easily it maneuvered some of the rockiest trails. Ten inches of ground clearance came in very handy.

Again, we’re not talking race speeds here. This is a trail bike, and given enough time, it will go almost anywhere you can take any dirt bike.

The bulletproof design means the 2013 CRF150F is likely to be thumping along in 2033. There’s a full-size 520 chain-that should last forever, and is easily adjusted. Oil changes can happen whenever you remember to do one. Keeping the air filter cleaned is no problem, though it is not a tool-free job (you need a Phillips head screwdriver). The plastic skidplate was more durable than we expected, though riders in rocky areas can find aftermarket aluminum units.

Honda didn’t change the CRF150F for 2013, which makes sense. Until they bite the bullet and go with fuel injection and a rear disc, there really aren’t many improvements that need to be made to the CRF150F. It will work for new riding adults and youngsters growing up and looking for something bigger on the trails. New riders have never had it so good.

2013 Honda CRF150F Specifications:

  • Engine type…149cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
  • Bore and stroke…57.3mm x 57.8mm
  • Compression ratio…9.5:1
  • Valve Train…SOHC; two-valve
  • Induction…24mm piston-valve carburetor
  • Ignition…CD
  • Transmission…Five-speed
  • Final Drive…#520 O-ring-sealed chain; 13T/47T
  • Suspension
  • Front…35mm leading-axle Showa fork; 9.1 inches travel
  • Rear…Pro-Link Showa single shock; 8.9 inches travel
  • Brakes
  • Front…Single 240mm disc
  • Rear…Drum
  • Tires
  • Front…Pirelli Scorpion XC 70/100-19
  • Rear… Pirelli Scorpion XC 90/100-16
  • Wheelbase…52.3 inches
  • Rake …26°02′
  • Trail… 3.5 inches
  • Seat Height…32.8 inches
  • Ground Clearance…10.1 inches
  • Fuel Capacity…1.9 gallons, including 0.4-gallon reserve
  • Color…Red
  • Curb Weight…234 pounds, includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel-ready to ride.
  • Meets current CARB and EPA off-road emissions standards.
  • Specifications subject to change

Riding Style:

Helmet: Thor Quadrant
Goggles: Thor Women’s Enemy
  • Jersey, gloves and pants: Thor Women’s Phase Storm
  • Boots: Thor Women’s Quadrant

Photography by Don Williams