2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Part 1

January 5, 2012
By Brian Chamberlain

2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
The MotoUSA crew thought the CRF150RB was pretty dang good in stock trim, but decided to tinker with it as a long-term project bike to fine-tune the Honda red rider.

After extensive testing of the 2012 Honda CRF150RB Expert we came away very impressed with the new mini thumper. We first threw a leg over the 150 during our first ride at the Honda press intro back in September. We then put the little Honda through months of testing which was summarized in our full review article.

The refinements Honda made to the engine, carburetor and suspension valving resulted in a much-improved machine over the previous generation 150. When all was said and done, we couldn’t find much to dislike about the new CRF.

The CRF150RB is a great bike straight from the showroom floor, but as with any stock bike, you can always make it better. Besides, half the fun of owning a dirt bike is bolting on cool new components. We decided to bestow the Honda with the latest and greatest in aftermarket parts. Phase 1 starts with what we felt were the most important low-cost upgrades to improve the bikes durability and rider ergonomics. 

2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
First upgrade for our Project CRF150RB is swapping out the stock bars for ProTaper gear. The aluminum aftermarket design is more durable than the steel component it replaces

ProTaper SE Series 7/8” Handlebars
MSRP: $69.99

The weakest link on our stock Honda CRF150R, by far, are the handlebars. While we liked the stock bars width and bend, the steel construction proved to be too vulnerable for even an average crash. The ProTaper SE Series bars are constructed with AS20 aerospace aluminum and utilize a full 5mm wall thickness for maximum strength. The SE bars are an affordable upgrade that utilize a 7/8-inch diameter tube, which means they will bolt right up without having to buy an aftermarket triple clamp or oversize bar adapters. The ProTaper bar come in a huge variety of bends to suit every size bike and style of riding. They are also available in numerous colors and include the bar pad. Our mini test rider has already put the ProTaper bars to the crash test on numerous occasions and they show no signs of bending. 

ProTaper Aluminum Throttle Tube
MSRP: $49.99

The throttle tube is a component that is easily overlooked. Overlooked that is until you break the stock plastic tube and are left with a dangerously sticky throttle for the duration of a moto. The ProTaper Aluminum Tube provides a direct OEM

2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
The CRF150RB project sources ProTaper MX Pillow Top Lite Grips which improve durability and reduce vibration.

replacement, but is constructed of high quality billet aluminum instead of plastic. The enclosed end cap ensures that no dirt will find its way inside and the knurled aluminum face helps to secure the grip to the tube. We found the ProTaper tube to fit perfectly with the stock throttle housing and provides smooth, consistent throttle feel, even after a hard impact to the ground. 

ProTaper MX Pillow Top Lite Grips
MSRP: $12.95

With new bars comes the necessity for new grips. We stuck with the ProTaper brand and installed the MX Pillow Top Lite Grip. The lite version features the same vibration-reducing pillows as that of their famous “pillow top” grips, but provide a smaller overall diameter, which is important for riders with smaller hands. The small pillows provide a soft, sticky surface for maximum vibration reduction and grip, while the ends are constructed with a much more dense rubber for maximum durability. The ProTaper grips come in six different color combinations to suit any rider’s style. We opted for the grey/black/red combination to match our Honda. 

2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
Sunline provided our CRF150R project with ‘unbreakable’ levers. MotoUSA also fitted the SL-4 Clutch Assembly.

Sunline SL-4 Clutch Assembly with V1 MDX Lever
MSRP: $179.95 

Sunline V1 MDX Brake Lever
MSRP: $69.95

There is nothing more frustrating than breaking a lever during a seemingly simple fall. To forever solve this problem we quickly installed Sunline’s SL-4 clutch assembly with the patented V1 MDX “unbreakable” levers. While the V1 clutch lever can be purchased without the SL-4 perch for a much cheaper price of $69.99, we found that the stock hot-start lever, mounted to the stock perch, interfered with the wide range of motion that the V1 MDX lever provides. We could have easily relocated the hot-start with an aftermarket set up, but after checking out the SL-4 assembly, we couldn’t resist such a trick piece of hardware.

The SL-4 clutch perch and rotator clamp is constructed of forged and CNC-machined aluminum. A Teflon sleeve allows the entire assembly to spin out of harms way in a crash, yet stays firmly in place while riding. The perch utilizes Sunline’s “perfect axis” mating system. This allows the lever to pivot on a perfect axis point, which results in optimal clutch pull and greatly reduces wear on the lever at the pivot point.

Another great feature of the SL-4 is the oversized on-the-fly easy-adjust knob for quickly dialing in the right amount of freeplay. It features aluminum knobs for an easy grip and a sealed rubber boot to keep dirt and water out. Finally, a form-fitted, logo-embossed front rubber cover protects the lever and keeps debris from entering the cable.

The V1 levers use Sunline’s multi-directional or “MDX” platform. This patented design allows the lever to move in three different directions: forward, up and down. After a crash, the lever easily snaps back into its original position without any bending or breakage. In addition to the wide range of movement, the V1 levers also offer an adjustable reach and an exceptionally smooth pivot for easy operation. The Sunline V1 MDX levers are guaranteed against damage and are backed with a five-year warranty. The levers are available in a variety of colors and fit a very wide range of applications.

We found installing the levers to be a breeze with a perfect fit. After extensive crash testing of the levers on this, and other project bikes, we have never had a lever bend or break. Installing the SL-4 perch requires a bit more time than that of a stock perch, but the resulting performance is well worth a few extra minutes of installation. 

ProTaper S.P.I. 2.3 Footpegs
MSRP: $189.99

2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
2012 Honda CRF150RB Project Bike
Bigger and better pegs for our Honda CRF150R project courtesy, once again, from the good folks at ProTaper.

One of the only small quirks with our stock Honda CRF150RB was the footpeg; the left one to be precise. Due to a very slight tolerance problem, the left peg would fold up during a crash and wedge itself in a way that was almost impossible to fold back down, shy of beating it with a hammer. While we probably could have tinkered with the stock peg and found a solution, we were not that impressed with the size and shape of the pegs anyway, so we opted to replace the stockers with ProTaper’s 2.3 Platform pegs.

Like most aftermarket pegs, the ProTaper pegs offer a much larger platform over the stock units. The platforms also use a slight contour for rocking your feet back and forth while still maintaining optimum grip. If this was all that the ProTaper pegs offered they would be a great upgrade, but what really sets them apart from other aftermarket options is their two-piece design.

The base of the peg is constructed of cast stainless steel for maximum strength, while a separate aluminum cleat saves weight and also allows the rider to customize the cleat to his riding style, or just replace a worn out cleat at a reduced cost. The pegs come with the standard aluminum cleat, but replacements are available in +5mm and -5mm heights. A standard height 304 stainless steel cleat is also available and provides a much more aggressive, but durable surface.

The Platform pegs include all mounting hardware and mounted straight up. Our test rider really likes the size and the amount of grip offered by the aluminum cleats. Best of all, our left peg now returns to its original position after a crash.

The aftermarket components installed so far have dramatically increased our bike’s durability, which is important for young riders on a learning curve. The upgraded controls have also improved our test rider’s comfort level on the bike. We will continue to upgrade the CRF drivetrain and have already began testing some of these changes. Check back in the months to come as we continue to upgrade and evaluate the CRF150RB.

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