2017 Honda CRF110F Review | Off-Road Motorcycle Test
“I really like it. Can I keep it?” With those eight words, eight-year-old test rider Skylar Carrillo summed up the appeal of the 2017 Honda CRF110F youth off-road motorcycle better than any adult reviewer can. She rode it, she liked it, and she wanted to take the CRF110F home with her.With a MSRP of $2249, there’s a good chance that there will be a Honda CRF110F in the garage, as it has an approachable price, an unassailable record of reliability, and kids love to ride it.
The last stop in the Honda off-road line-up for youngsters before the manual-clutch CRF125F, the auto-clutch CRF110F is definitely a step up from the ultimate beginner motorcycle—the Honda CRF50F. Compared to the 50F, the 110F has a seat height almost five inches higher, more than twice the displacement, longer-travel suspension, and very importantly, larger wheels.With the 14-/12-inch wheel combination of the Honda CRF110F, young off-roaders can start to explore the rougher trails without the constant sticking of tiny wheels in holes. The fork has nearly four inches of travel, and there’s 3.5 inches in the back. None of it is adjustable, and it doesn’t need to be. Racer kids will look elsewhere, and for trail riding, the suspension works just fine off the showroom floor.The 2017 Honda CRF110F allows a young rider to start experiencing some real power, speed, and weight. Over 50 pounds more than the CRF50F, the 110F is noticeably heavier for the rider just moving up—particularly when picking the motorcycle up after the inevitable tip-overs.Skylar, who is nearly eight, did struggle with getting the bike upright after falls, with mixed results. Of course, adults should always be monitoring kids when they are riding, so her parents were always there to assist when needed. One thing she didn’t need help with was starting the CRF110F—it’s electric start (with kick backup).With the leaned out jetting required to meet California’s non-scientific Green Sticker standards, the CRF110F’s 13mm carburetor did require a bit of adjustment to get it to idle properly. Access to the idle speed screw is through a hole in the right side shroud, so all it takes is a bit of patience once the cold-blooded CRF110F is up to speed. After we dialed it in, neither stalling nor a too-high idle was a problem again (though expect to recalibrate if you ride at widely varying altitudes).For the young rider who is not on a competitive track, the 2017 Honda CRF110F is a fantastic choice. The undersquare motor is torquey and incredibly friendly. The handling is predictable and the suspension certainly adequate. Nothing the CRF110F is likely to do will surprise the rider, and everything about the design is intended to make it forgiving. For the newest of motorcyclists, there’s a throttle limiter screw that can be added to stop the throttle from being opened more than 50-percent.There is no clutch, so that’s not at an issue. It makes learning the ropes of a manual-shift bike easy, though the short shift lever can be difficult to operate with full-on dirt boots.The drum brakes are good, though most of the time engine compression braking will be the deceleration of choice by the rider. A smaller hand brake would be a good addition, and perhaps a longer lever to give more leverage for easy of use.Parents are always going to be rightfully concerned about maintenance. In the case of the 2017 Honda CRF110F, there’s not much to worry about. Change the oil whenever you think of it, and clean the air filter every now and then. Oil changes are simple, though tools are required to get to the 110F’s air filter—the left shroud has to come off, plus four screws holding on the airbox lid. The spark plug couldn’t be easier to access, but it will take a long time for the air-cooled, two-valve motor to need a new NGK. With even the most casual maintenance, the 109cc motor should last approximately forever.For those who want to upgrade a CRF110F, there are plenty of functional options, including better rubber (the stock Cheng Shins are budget friendly) and exhaust systems from the likes of Yoshimura, Pro Circuit and FMF, plus higher flowing air filters, a skidplate from Moose Racing (a must in rocky areas), and different shift lever choices.At this point we want to remind perspective buyer’s to always buy a dirt bike that fits the rider. Do not buy a motorcycle, expecting the child to grow into it. Always buy the right size motorcycle and let the rider grow out of it. Additionally, make sure all safety apparel fits, especially the helmet.Honda has been in the youth off-road motorcycle market since the 1960s, so it is no surprise that the 2017 Honda CRF110F has it right. The recipe isn’t complicated, and Honda has cooked up yet another winning youth off-road motorcycle.Photography by Don WilliamsRiding Style:
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