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Need help choosing an upgrade from CRF150F

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Kid bought a crf150f last year and loved it.  He's just too big for it now so he sold it.  He wants something bigger, faster, more powerful.  Wife and I did not grow up with dirt bikes or ATVs, so we are not comfortable with his ideas of something bigger.  How much bigger is a crf230f?  Is it as easy to maintain?  Any other suggestions?

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He's 17.  6' and 160lbs.  He will be buying it with his own money but we will be approving his purchase (at least for 1 more year).

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Having been a young, stupid teenager at one time, I'd suggest steering him towards something that will challenge him but not overwhelm him.  If not, you run the risk of him getting the biggest, most ridiculous bike he can find as soon as he is 18 and actually hurting himself.  If there are adults in his life who do ride (parents of friends for example), I'd ask them.  They may be in a good position to judge his riding level/skill and make a recommendation.

Without knowing him, I'd be tempted to suggest a CRF 150R or 250R (or maybe a 250X if the riding suits it) depending on his riding skill.  But that's a guess and not a very good one.  Even at 17, skill and attitude go a long ways towards making a good recommendation.  I've met 14 year olds that can ride a 450R very well and are safe riders.  I've met 50 year olds that I'd never put on a XR80 because they're universal idiots, regardless of the activity. 

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I guess I should take a moment to actually answer the question you did ask though.  If he has outgrown the 150F, the 230F won't excite him much after a week or two.  It definitely has more power but it's all down low so it doesn't really *feel* more powerful.  Regarding maintenance, it is virtually identical to the 150F.

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Thanks for the info.  He keeps saying he'd like to get a 2 stroke rm125? or something like that.  I think he thinks he is tricking us because you know 125 is smaller than 150, but I remember another knowledgeable poster here that said the 2 strokes are race bike and very fast.  I would like to find something that would satisfy his desire for something faster, so he can keep up with his friends, but I don't want to agree to something too big.  I also want to recommend something to him that is low maintenance like this crf150f was.  All he ever did with it was change the oil, and it ran like a champ.  They didn't make a 250f did they?  When I looked into a 150r or 250r for him, I remember lots of people saying the Rs were good bikes, but they require lots of maintenance.

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What can you tell me about the CRF250x?  Is it a race bike?  Low maintenance?  Trail bike?  Speed/power compared to CRF150F?  What years was it made?

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Just about all of the modern 4-strokes require a lot of maintenance, at least by my standards.  This includes the 250X.  That's one of the reasons I refuse to own one.  The 150F and 230F are anachronisms of a sort as they are basically revised XR motors so they don't come with the same maintenance issues as the other CRF moors (250R/X, 450R/X, et al).  The 250X is more of an offroad/desert vs a MX bike so the suspension and power bands are set up more for that type of riding.  Consider the 250R as a MX bike and the 250X as a baja bike.  In my opinion, both are "race" bikes, just different types of racing.

The RM125 is probably not a bad pick although in full disclosure, I'm not a 2T guy, although I do have a 100cc 2T in the shop.  The old comparison was a 2T was about twice as powerful as a 4T of equal displacement but that's wasn't exactly right then and it certainly isn't right now.  The power on 2T's is different than 4Ts (especially the XR's and by extension, the 150F and 230F).  The 150F has low end, tractable power.  You can get out of the power band and still be okay when you grab a handful of throttle.  The engine will lug a little bit but then pick right up and get going.  On 2Ts, you really need to stay in the powerband (generally in the mid to high RPM range) as they won't tractor through things outside of the powerband as easily. 

So essentially, if you son is doing lots of woods/technical trail riding, a 4T may be the better choice.  If they're riding faster terrain that's wider open or involves faster speeds, the 2T may be a good choice.  Regardless, I don't think the RM125 would be too much for a 17 year old who is progressing from a 150F.  It will challenge him and isn't so powerful as to hurt him (until he starts getting cocky :)).  If a 2T fits his riding terrain, the 125 is a good option.

With that said, again, I'm not really a 2T guy and have never ridden the RM125.  My comments are based on my general knowledge of 2Ts and how a 125 would compare to other bikes.

 

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More into MX riding with my YZ125, since moving to the country there are now more trail riding opportunities locally

so I purchased a CRF250X last summer, it was a toss-up between that or a CRF230F.

 

Yes the 250X is more performance oriented and requires more upkeep, (valvetrain, adjustments / limited lifespan)

power wise it's less torquey off-idle than a CFR230F so requires clutching skills in slow situations but,

afterwards  there is no comparison on throttle response and acceleration, it's still a 250R base race MX engine that's slightly de-tuned.

For tight trails you can tame it down a bit with a heavier flywheel,

although similar design to an R, an X is really out of it's elements on an MX track (wide-ratio gearbox, softer suspension, weight etc.)

 

A CRF230F would have sufficed for 90% of my needs but the limited suspension was the turn-off,

in return I'd gladly trade away some engine performance for the simplicity of the air-cooled 230F,

plus the lack of radiators / water pump etc. meaning less stuff prone to crash damage.

 

As mentioned in earlier posts, depending on terrain a 2-stroke 125 MX'er could be preferable for simplicity,

but if he's into slow, rough, rocky tight trails, an enduro specific bike is better suited.

 

 

Edited by mlatour

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I assume that because he has a 150F that his riding is primarily trails.  I have a 13 year old grandson who is 5'9" and has outgrown his CRF150R, he thinks he is going to ride his dad's 450R. Which may be OK because I expect his adult height to be 6'2"+, but I think he should first move to a 250. Big difference in horsepower.

Things to consider are the 125 MX bikes use the same chassis as the 250/450, just different engine and suspension settings; so a 125MX would be a full size bike. I have a riding friend who uses a CR125R for trails but it has a Rekluse clutch, and mountain trails do tire him faster than our XRs.  The XR200Rs, and larger XRs, do have a slightly larger cockpit than the 150/230, but there are threads on enlarging the 230 cockpit. For the terrain that I trail ride I found the power delivery of a 4T preferable to a 2T so switched over in the early eighties.  So a good question is what type of bikes do his fellow riders use, and what do they recommend?

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Do you regret choosing the 250x over the 230f?  I mentioned the 230f to my son and he said it's too slow.  I just am not confident he will maintain the 250x.  He drove that 150f for a year and only changed the oil.  I'll keep researching.  Thanks everyone.

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If you don't think he'll keep up with the maintenance, the 2T may be the better option.  On the modern 4Ts, if you don't keep up with the valve adjustments, it can lead to a very expensive BANG! in your future. 

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What kind of maintenance would be needed for a crf250x?  After each ride, weekly, monthly, yearly?  Is this something a mx garage would have to do, or something owners do on their own?

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Do you regret choosing the 250x over the 230f?  

If that was directed at me the answer is no for several reasons. I bought the X because I wanted a newer bike than my XR, so far I feel it is the next gen XR; sort of the best from the XR250R and XR400R with some MX DNA. 

Because I have modded a few XR200Rs I'm not interested in a CRF230F except for using a motor in a modded XR200R chassis.

In spite of the X manual after having a few XRs I haven't found the X maintenance a burden. I ride once a week for six months a year with actual ride time of about 4 hours, that adds up to about 100 hours a year.

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Stock crf250x is a great choice....

You can do simple mods to get it to competitive power levels ... Once he is accustomed to the power level jump from a 150 to a stock 250...

I believe it is the ultimate choice for a teen moving up... A 230 is for old lunatics that like to modify things and want the lowest maintenance possible....  We say we are sick of maintenance, but somehow trading maintenance time for modification time seems to be what we need...

100% vote for crf250x...

Make him stay in his room until he grows out of his silly rm125 infatuation .... A brief and annoying phase of adolescents...

The 250x is a trail bike that can be used in serious off road competition ... It is something he will be able to be with other young riders and be proud of... It has serious suspension and is super reliable....

 

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11 minutes ago, mixxer said:

A 230 is for old lunatics that like to modify things and want the lowest maintenance possible....  We say we are sick of maintenance, but somehow trading maintenance time for modification time seems to be what we need...

100 agreed!!!

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mlatour, baglock1, chuck, VoprtecCPI, and mixer........thank you so much for your help and taking the time to respond.  I'm going to talk to him about a 250x.  He was looking at some local ones for sale, but how do you tell if they are a good buy?  They look clean, but how can you possibly know if the engine is in need of maintenance?  I'm confident he can do any work that is needed; he's much better than I ever was, and I grew up working on cars at my Dad's garage.  It's just a matter of him taking the time to do the maintenance in-between his job, school, riding with his friends, and girlfriend.  Thanks again for the detailed assistance you all have given me.

Edited by PIZ

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I have taken apart many many engines for myself and customers over the past 40 years...2 stroke and 4 stroke...

And there have been numerous times when I have found a great running engine that was a ticking time bomb... Cracks migrating through pistons that just hadn't quite reached the grenade point yet...

No way to know if that is going on without a teardown.... And I'm not a gambling man... Everything I buy used gets ridden a bit for familiarity ... Washed thoroughly...Then torn down for a top end... I sleep better that way...

On used bikes I like to look at the side cases of the engine for crash damage and boot wear indicators... if I find one with the cases pristine I take that as an indicator of less use...Just my own thing..

As uninviting as it sounds, I would buy a stock honda piston kit... A top end gasket kit... Both new intake valves... The intakes wear out way more often than exhaust

Ask local shops about a fresh seat cutting and valve installation... Should be very reasonable... Fresh hone on the cylinder to seat the new piston and rings... Some shops will only charge five bucks for the hone/deglazing...

Buy OEM Honda shop manual ..Always...

Put it back together and know confidently that you have reset the clock on the top end 100%

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+1 on the previous for several reasons: The Honda piston is cheaper than aftermarket. The cylinder is Nikasil plated and will outlast many pistons and ring sets, the honing is with a soft hone to clean piston/ring material from the cylinder to expose cross hatch. I cleaned mine with Scotcbrite after checking with a dealer's shop supervisor, they use a soft hone to clean and it is a lot faster than Scotchbrite. Piston/pin and rings are less than $100, intake valves are $48 each, etc. The top end can be done with the engine in the bike and is a relatively  easy job. Removing the carb for servicing is difficult compared to other bikes.

The carbs can be an issue because they have some soft parts that can deteriorate with age and use, and the body is two piece with gaskets that can be damaged by soaking in carb cleaner, and neither Honda or Keihin sell the gaskets, but JD Jetting does. The FCR carb is more complex than others but is a very good carb, just needs some TLC. It is used on a variety of high performance 4Ts and there is a lot of info on this and other TT Forums. Stock the engines are jetted lean but that softens power delivery which can be good for a new rider and/or difficult terrain. Air box mods and rejetting will change the bike's power delivery.

Obtain the Honda Owner's Manual and Competition Guide from the seller or buy one; it is 150 pages of good info on bike setup and tuning.

Edited by Chuck.

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