Honda’s mini-cycle line is the Hoover Dam of the dirt bike world. With six different Hondas
that you could honestly call entry-level dirt bikes,
it’s wide and deep, designed to let nothing leak
by—not a single customer, not a drop of business. But there was one tiny gap, one breach
that Honda finally filled at the beginning of 2013.
The CRF110F is an all-new mini designed to fit in
a tiny niche between genuine minis and small
motorcycles, as defined by whoever defines such
things. It has a never-before-seen motor, and
that’s unusual in the Honda mini family, which, for
the most part, is still powered by motors that
were designed in the 1960s.
The final piece of Honda’s
massive mini puzzle
Honda considers the CRF50F the
first rung on the mini ladder. It’s powered by the most-copied motor in the
world: a SOHC, air-cooled, two-valve
engine that was originally made to
power King Tut’s chariot. The CRF70F
was the next bike up, but it was
almost the same thing with larger
wheels. The 50 has 10-inchers and
the 70 had a 12-inch rear wheel and a
14-inch wheel in front. The motor was
the same, with an 8mm bore
increase. It still had a three-speed
automatic clutch, and it still had a
manual kickstarter—the electric
starter came long after King Tut’s
time. Next in line was the CRF80F
with a manual clutch and a 14/16
wheel combo. That’s where the gap
existed. Kawasaki and Yamaha both
have 110cc bikes in that space.
Honda’s solution was to discontinue the 70 and make a 110 of its own.
Thus, the CRF110F. Honda says it’s
the same physical size as the old 70,
but with a more powerful motor and
that most precious commodity of all
for a beginner: an electric starter.
THE POWER AND THE
Kawasaki had spectacular success
with its KLX110, starting in 2002,
which led Yamaha to go one-up with
an electric-start TT-R110 in 2009.
The Honda most closely resembles
the Yamaha. They both have modern
motors with electric start, and they
are both the same physical size.
Even though Honda says the 110
is about the same size as the 70, it’s
a more substantial bike. The claimed
seat height of 26. 3 inches is accurate, but the seat is wider, taking up
a little more inseam and making
touching the ground more difficult for
little guys under 10 years old. It
weighs 156 pounds without fuel, and
that, too, makes it a clear step up
from the 70 and the 50, the latter of
which is under 100 pounds without
Even more important, the bike’s
power places it in its own category.
The 110 is snappy and responsive. It
has a four-speed transmission and
can get up to a full head of steam in
a very short distance. It actually feels
more powerful than the larger, five-speed CRF80F, which is designed to
fit much older riders.
Riders over 11
years old can
the ground easily
on the CRF110F.