Here at MotoUSA we’re not only about the full-sized bikes but also motorcycles designed to give our future a head start on learning how to ride. Honda is a leader in pushing the market to bring new riders into the sport of motorcycling. This is proven by Honda’s line-up of small value-for-money bikes such as the 2013 Honda CRF250L, 2013 CRF110L and even bigger bikes like the NC700X. One of those bikes that snags beginning riders at a young age is the Honda CRF50.
As the smallest of the CRF family, the bike has only seen small changes since its debut over a decade ago. Previously known as the XR50, the CRF’s most visible updates have been slight bodywork styling changes here and there since it has become available.
Honda has combined key features into the 49cc air cooled ripper ensuring children have a fun and safe time learning to ride. The engine offers smooth, easy-to-use power and includes a three-speed transmission with an automatic clutch. An adjustable throttle stop allows parents to tailor the power to the child’s skill level. The powerplant is also designed to be virtually bulletproof in order to take the beatings of our rev-happy youth. The engine is extremely low maintenance and not high-strung in order to last a long time.
We found that the three-speed semi-automatic transmission offers up two rider- and parent-friendly features that aid a child’s path to motorcycle riding. First, as a youngster learning to ride, he or she most likely will not know how to shift. With the CRF50F a parent can throw the mini in first gear and set the adjustable throttle limiter to allow only a small amount of power to be used. The second advantage of the gear shifter comes as children get more advanced and are ready to step up to a bigger machine. Although it does not have a clutch, the CRF can teach a beginning rider the early stages of gear shifting, preparing them for what lies ahead.
“I like that the bike is fast,” says our eight-year-old test rider Kayden. “My first bike was a Honda 50 and I really liked it and I still really like it. Red is one of my favorite colors too so that makes me like it more.”
In the suspension department, little red offers a non-adjustable inverted front fork and single rear shock providing a smooth ride ready for whatever a child may throw at it. Our test rider tore up the mini bike track of Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park for hours with no complaints about the suspension being too hard or soft.
One thing we did find trying was the starting procedure. Our test rider was unable to get the CRF fired up with the bike’s kick-starter as she didn’t have the coordination to kick the bike over, give a bit of throttle, and hold the bike up all at the same time. Since it’s a kids bike and this problem isn’t uncommon for an 8-year-old, we believe an electric start button would be beneficial, a feature like the one Yamaha has incorporated into its TT-R50.
Kayden believed the 2013 CRF50F was fast enough to make her riding experience a great one with the only complaint being that the seat was a tad stiff for her likings.
“I rode a lot and now I’m sore because the seat is too hard. I wish it was softer,” explained our tester.
When asked about the brakes, Kayden revealed that she only used the back brake because of a personal fear of grabbing a handful of front brake and crashing. but according to her the rear brake provided plenty of stopping power for her.
“It’s a good bike to learn how to ride on,” says Kayden. “If one of my friends at school wanted to learn how to ride, I would tell them to tell their mom and dad to get them a Honda 50 because that’s what I learned how to ride on.”
When it was all said and done, MotoUSA and our test rider agreed that Honda’s CRF50F, with its automatic clutch and throttle adjustment, is an outstanding package for your child to begin their path of motorcycle riding. As we mentioned, Kayden’s first bike was a CRF50, she now rides a Honda CRF70F proving positive riding experiences with the brand at a young age can foster brand loyalty when it comes time to purchase a larger ride. The 2013 CRF50 is available now at your local Honda dealership with a lowest-in-class MSRP of $1399.