Moto: Bridging the gap between mini and full size

I am 39 years old, 5 foot 7 at 135 pounds and live in California (green/red sticker). I got a used little 1998 kx80 a year ago to see if I like dirt biking.

Of course I do, so now I need a bigger bike but a 125/250 seem too big for me. I can just barely tippy toe when sitting on one. I know people way smaller than me ride full size bikes and I should be on a full size bike, but I guess I am just intimidated by the size and power of the bike.

Do you think I should get a kx 100 or get the full size bike?

Brian Lopes wrings out a BBR-maxxed CRF150 at an indoor track in Seattle. This bike retailed for something like $15K. He bought one on the spot.

Hey Brian,

Welcome to the world of moto. What’s not to like about ripping around on what amounts to a perpetual downhill?

Most mountain bikers take quickly to moto riding, but the size and weight can be intimidating. That’s why so many MTB/MXers ride smaller motorcycles. But true minis like 80s are awfully small.

Check out the Honda CRF150R. It’s a small-sized bike with nice, usable 4-stroke power (I don’t think you need or want a two stroke like a Kawasaki KX). The CRF150R Expert model is made for slightly taller riders — I think you’d really dig that.

Many MTBers start (and stay) on bikes like this. Given your height, I think you can tune and tweak your 150R as your skills improve. It’s a solid little bike, and BBR Motorsports will make it as fast as you can handle (and afford).

Don’t be in a hurry to ride a bigger bike. A confident rider on a 150 is faster and has more fun than a nervous rider on a 250.

This is pretty interesting:

Lopes, a very solid moto rider, rips a flat turn on the 150.

Same turn, same rider, on a 250. He’s still killing it, but he looks more reserved.


— Lee

PS: I have a fair amount of time on both a 250 motocross bike and a 450 trail bike. The 250 is much narrower and about 60 pounds lighter, and, to be honest, it’s more fun to ride.

Look at the big smile inside Steve Peat’s helmet. Peaty (about 6’5″) is a big fan of small motorcycles.

18 replies
  1. Eric says:

    Hey Brian and Lee, not to contradict you Lee but the 150’s shown and I think what you’re recommending Lee, are CRF150F’s not 150R’s. The F models are playbikes where as the R models are race bikes that will require a boatload more maintance and expense. Yes, they have more torque than a KX100 but a topend overhaul will buy a second-hand KX100.
    In the F model you could get a 230 for some more braap with not much more weight.
    I don’t want this to be a novel so Brian if you want some advice from someone who has been braapin’ for 30years and has owned more than 50 moto’s give me a ping at bige132 at yahoo dot com.

  2. Marshall says:

    Lopes is on a 150f by BBR. I raced a mini national on a CR150F with nothing more than a pipe and spring kit and had the time of my life. Feels so much more like a mountain bike than my full size moto. Im 6’2″ 185lb and yes it took some time to get it up to speed but that is a good thing for MTBike training as it makes you learn to keep speed and not rely on a motor. The 230 is much heaver and just feels like riding a big bike with soft springs and no guts, total pig to me. Give the 150f a shot ( its green sticker also, so year around riding) you will have a blast!

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    Guys, thanks for the info.

    A little background:

    – The CRF150R is a motocross bike.

    – The CRF150F is a trail bike. The performance is more tame than the R. The MSRP is about $1100 lower.

    Those shots of Lopes and Peaty were made soon after 150F first came out — before Honda introduced the R model.

  4. Eric says:

    Thinking about this a lil more (ok, had dividing up my novel ;D)…Brian, since you are used to a KX80, a CRF-F model is going to seem way heavy and slow. The 100/150 models are a ton of fun but not much juice compared to a 2-stroke racer. They are a lot less maintenance cost though.
    If you’re happy with the KX and not racing, just using it for training aka playing around on, I’d say go with a KX100. BTW, I had a KX80 big wheel(what they called the 19/16 wheels way back)for my girl back then that was faster than my 125 (can’t see why she didn’t like it). And had a buddy with another one and we had a blast on those things, like BMX without pedaling 😀

  5. Brian says:

    Thanks for the help. I forgot to add that my girlfriend has a 150F that I have ridden. I have only ridden it twice because well…it is my girlfriends bike and I don’t think she would like me jumping and beating up her dirt bike. I didn’t really like the 150F because it was heavy and it seems hard to do tight turns on because the motor seems to always want the bike to be moving. I don’t know how to word it.
    I guess I can just take my girlfriends 150F out and if I like that I can get a 150R and if not I can get a KX100. I am glad that at least I have narrowed it down to two bikes and not have to worry about all the different full size bikes.
    Thanks again for the help.

  6. Jeff Kendall-Weed says:

    I am 5’8″, 152lbs, and love my 2001 YZ125 to death.

    Seat height is super low, and I can easily touch the ground. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the rear shock is pretty soft, hence the low height. Anyhow, I went from a TTR125 with a 150 kit and stiff suspension to the 125 2 stroke, and loved it. Low, low maintenance, tons of power, and VERY light. Full throttle and out of control descending on the 125 gets me smiling every time. Hopping, wheelying, and bouncing up rocky climbs is equally as exciting.

    CRF150R: 170lbs, 20HP = 8.5 lbs/horsie
    YZ125: 190lbs, 33HP, 5.76 lbs/horsie

    A 2 stroke 125 will be significantly harder to ride than the 4 stroke, but faster in the wide open stuff. In tight singletrack, the little 150 will be great. I love my 125, and would never go back to that old TTR. I haven’t ridden a 150R, but would really like to try one. I only ride trails, no MX.

    Oh yeah, my green sticker 125 was $1500 in tip-top shape. The 150R is $4300 MSRP…

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    Right on, thanks Jeff. I was thinking about you when I did this post.

    There are so many options, but I think we can all agree:

    The best moto is the one you can afford, that feels good to you and that you get to ride in your area.

    All this moto talk has me JONESing!

    I talk to the orthopedist tomorrow about fixing my shoulders. Better braaap while I still can …

  8. Wayne says:

    I bought my first ever motorcycle in April, 2008, WR250R. My son lowered the suspension via the factory tweak and also installed an after market lowering link. I am almost 6 foot with a 32 inch inseam and as a rookie rider I insisted that I be able to put both feet on the ground when stopped at a signal. My WR250R is a dual sport, so it is street legal. I ride it to work in nice weather and meet my son at Metcalf ORV after work sometimes. I love the bike, but I am a little taller than the OP.

    I took the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) training class and used their DS moto. It was a Suzuki, but I do not recall what size. It was certainly lower and smaller than my WR250R. I was glad to be learning on something smaller than what I had purchased.

    My advice is to ride something that fits you. Sure you can grow into it, but don’t go crazy. I’m 55 and I doubt that I will ever be able to handle something bigger than what I have.

    More advice: take a class. I’m glad I did, but I ride on the street. I am considering taking a dirt class. My only serious crash occurred the day after I completed and passed the MSF class while riding at Metcalf in the dirt. Overconfidence can be your enemy. I had a helmet on and a jersey and riding pants. I wish I had more body armor on.

    One nice thing about my DS, when we are in the Sierras, I can ride from trail head to trail head while everyone with the red/green sticker bikes has to use a trailer or a truck.

  9. Polar says:

    No mention of KTM 2-strokes? What about the 200 and 250 XCW’s. Amazing power to weight, high-end parts, easy maintenance, perfect for woods riding. I own a 200xwc (209lbs) and it out-performs any 250/450 in the woods hands down. Match either w/ a trials tire and it’s a DH bike w/ horsepower. Ride one and you will see the light..

  10. Wayne says:

    If you ride red you mostly only ride between October and April. If you want the moto for the winter and ride mtb in the summer then red will work. If you want to ride all year you might be better off with green or plated.

  11. Eric H says:

    Just a disclaimer, I’m the Eric in the first two posts, not the one saying a TW….(where’s the rolling eyes emoticon,sheesh).

    Brian (OP), I’d take the KX over the 150R any day of the week unless you’re going race mini class.

  12. Richie Vegas says:

    The 150R is a hoot to ride, but the more seat time you get in the more you long for a full size ride. I’m 42 years old, 5ft6 on a good day, and around 165lbs. I race expert class 40 to dead downhill class, and my moto of choice is a Honda crf450r. Yes big bike, lots of power, but I will never have to seek out BBR or any after market company for any performance upgrades! Yes the bike weighs more than a 150r, but wow does it kick ASS! This will only make you faster on the mtb because half the time you WILL be scared shitless. Have fun no matter what you chose.

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