By: Chris Green
Honda Rider Education Center
Our official introduction to the CRF110F was at the Honda Rider Education Center in Colton, Ca. Honda is the only manufacturer that has a facility dedicated to teaching beginning riders the basic fundamentals of riding a dirt bike. Their two-acre dirt bike riding grounds is for anyone eager to learn to ride. It’s a stress free environment with an enthusiastic staff of riding coaches. Mercedes Gonzales (nine time woman’s national MX champion) is the head instructor and truly enjoys helping out first-timers.
To make you feel even more comfortable on your dirt bike, Honda has replicated five ecosystems that you will find in the California desert. From the San Bernardino National Forest to the Mojave Desert, the half-mile trail system has a different surrounding around every turn. However, the basic learning kicks off in the flat section of the property where the instructors take you through the basics and prepare you for the trails. Proper body positioning is a main focus along with starting, stopping, shifting, cornering, standing and how to take on different obstacles. Mercedes and her team do a fine job keeping the riders on two wheels—and we can guarantee you this… You will not be bored!
The course runs seven days a week and only costs $150 per person (children through adults). Family packages are also available and run $500 during the week and $650 on the weekends. You can find more information on the class at http://powersports.honda.com/experience/colton.aspx and to register visit www.dirtbikeschool.com or call 909.430.3000.
2013 Honda CRF110F
The all-new CRF110F is about the same size as the popular CRF70F, which is now gone from the Honda line up. Honda felt the auto clutch mixed with the size filled the gap between their CRF50F and CRF80F/CRF100F perfectly. Seat height is a low 26.3 inches and she rolls on a 14-inch front wheel and a 12-inch rear. Honda is ready to face off with the other 110 machines that have had the market on lock down.
The engine is a strong and simple 110cc single overhead cam single-cylinder four-stroke feed through a 13mm Keihin carb. To fire it up there are two routes, the kick-starter or the electric starter. A key ignition keeps the young ones from roosting when mom and dad aren’t around. When the motor is purring it is through a very quiet muffler standard with a spark arrestor, which keeps neighbors from getting annoyed and the forest from burning down. To stop newbies from grabbing a fist full of all the horsepower there is an adjustable throttle limiting screw. In drag races between the CRF110F, the KLX110 and TT-R110E all the bikes almost identical in power. The CRF shines in bottom end response that is smooth and strong but also very friendly for beginners.
The engine power of all the 110 mini bikes is nearly identical but suspension on the Honda stood out as the best in bone stock form. It soaks up small bumps even for light riders and has impressive resistance to bottoming, (the best we’ve ever felt stock) even with 175-pound riders punishing it. Upon internal inspection of the forks we found they have a longer bottoming cone, keeping that dreaded metal to metal clank at bay. The shock bottoming rubber is also thicker and longer than other 110 models to resist hard bottoming. The fork offers 3.9 inches of travel while the shock gives up 3.4 inches of movement.
If you want more power out of the CRF110F the quick method is a more open exhaust system but that comes at sacrificing the whisper quiet exhaust. The other way to let the engine put out more ponies is with a BBR U-Flow intake. We are genuinely impressed with the CRF110F, Honda did a great job of building a bike that is easy to ride for kids but holds up to serious abuse by adults. It starts with the push of a button, the suspension works great, it corners awesome and to most it looks killer. With a price just under $2000 there will be a lot of little red and white 110s tearing up the dirt. If you are looking for a taller seat, bore kit, fork springs, shock spring, dampening rods, taller bar kit, rev box, skid plate or exhaust, BBR is the place to contact.
Michael Allen: Intermediate / 25 / 6’0” / 175 lbs.
Before riding the 2013 CRF110F I assumed it would be another run of the mill mini bike, after the test I stood corrected and here is why. The 110 is obviously not meant for a rider my size but when I mounted the machine I was surprised to not feel like Shrek on a PW50. The push button start is a huge plus, especially with younger kids who don’t quite have the power to kick-start a bike, but as a bonus there is also a kick start backup incase the battery dies. At times it was irritating that the bike had to be in neutral to use the e-start. Rolling on the gas from a dead stop was very seamless and the engine has great throttle response. Another great option for beginner riders is the adjustable throttle stop so the peppy 110cc bike doesn’t get too out of hand for an inexperienced rider. Being a bigger rider I was surprised at how much punch the engine packed when at wide open throttle. The four-speed tranny is very usable and seems to have a high top speed (I was unable to fully wind out fourth gear on the tight course. One issue I found with the bike is it was hard to up shift when the bike is under hard acceleration. It would also be nice if a 110 model with a clutch was also available, that is where the CRF100F comes in but I would imagine it is hard to explain to a new rider why going from the CRF110F to the CRF100F is a step up. The suspension also dealt with a larger framed rider surprisingly well, I was actually able to feel the suspension being dampened instead of the dead spring/bottom out feel of most mini bikes. Being that it has a backbone frame leaves the engine very vulnerable to trail obstacles. Front and rear brakes are both drum but work quite well unless abused, they get very mushy when they get hot. The styling is up to date and resembles the 250 and 450 MX bikes quite well. All in all the CRF110F is a great bike, and a good stepping-stone in between the CRF50F and CRF100F. Not to mention a great bike to steal from your kid and have a blast banging bars with friends.
Scot Gustafson: Vet Rider / 48 / 5’10” / 180 lbs.
I thought Honda’s 110 was an awesome mini. You can’t beat a Honda small engine for long-term reliability and the styling was super cool. Upgrading the engine to a 110 with electric start made it stronger then the other 110’s out there. The increase in fork size made it handle my weight pretty well too. The only mod I would do to the bike is to put on a taller straighter handlebar.
Lindsey Lovell: Novice / 26 / 5’3” / 110 lbs.
I had so much fun on the CRF110F, I didn’t want to return it. The bike had more power than I expected and it handled well for my petite 110lb, 5’3 frame. The wide pegs help with controlling the bike, though the rear drum brake seems vague. This bike would be a perfect for smaller beginners with its auto clutch, electric start and the adjustable throttle limiter. It’s even ready for some mini moto madness fun with more experienced and bigger riders.
Teresa Glenn: First time rider / 38 / 5’4” / 135 lbs.
Getting on a dirt bike for the first time is thrilling, and Honda’s new CRF110F makes it super enjoyable. The bike boasts an electric start, race-inspired styling and all the powerful features you expect from Honda’s bigger model lineup. Best of all, it’s easy to use for a new or younger rider and offers a chance to learn on a reliable and strong bike. Cruising around and learning from the super enjoyable instructors at the Honda Riders Facility made my first time on a bike an absolute blast and a lot less intimidating than I thought. I can’t wait to ride again!
Alyse Vanhulla: Beginner / 26 / 5’7” / 135 lbs.
Being that I have only ridden 3 times prior to testing the CRF 110F I have very little to compare my opinion to. For me the electric start was like heaven, there is nothing more discouraging than learning to ride, trying to concentrate on the basics, stalling, then not being able to start the bike. Speaking of stalling, the centrifugal auto clutch 4-speed was great, it is nice being able to concentrate on actually riding the motorcycle instead of being in the wrong gear or scared you are going to stall. The shifting pattern makes neutral easy to find and changing gears very easy. In sharp turns it was very responsive, but Being 5’7” and a new rider the bike felt twitchy due to the fact that I was cramped and a little uncomfortable. In my opinion the CRF 110F is too fast for its size without the throttle stop in place, I found this to be true when I grabbed a little too much throttle and sent myself into orbit over a large berm. I think with the throttle stop in place and the correct sized rider this would be a great bike for a beginner.
Originally published in the December 2012 issue of Dirt Rider.