In 2012, Honda resolved to join the ever-growing 150c “mini” motorcycles market by launching a 150cc version of their CBR250R, making the Honda CBR150R the young runt of the legendary CBR lineup.
Aesthetically, the CBR150R adopts the style of its older siblings, looking almost indistinguishable from the 250R.
The CBR150R is prevalent in many regions where small-displacement commuter bikes are popular viable options, but what are the common problems with the CBR150R?
Don’t commute away from this page~we’re here to tell you about the most common problems with the Honda CBR150R!
Table of Contents
1. Gearbox Problems; Poor Shifting
The most commonly reported problem for Honda CBR150R rider express is rough shifting issues with the gearbox, including skipped and stagnant gears.
Don’t take out word for it. Here are a few complaints from real-life Honda CBR 150R owners regarding their mini-commuter’s gearbox:
- I have a Honda CBR 150R, which is two years old now. I’ve been facing an issue of [rough] gear shifting since the day I bought this bike. I’ve mentioned this issue to various mechanics and service centers, but they are unable to fix this.
- I start my bike, and once in motion, I start shifting the GEAR UP. Gear shifting works fine, but once I’m in a higher gear (3, 4 or 5) and I try to shift the Gear DOWN with clutch fully engaged, I’m unable to shift down. In this case, I have to release the clutch just a little bit and then only the gear responds to down shift.
I found complaints like this all over the internet, bashing the CBR’s gearbox for rough shifting while describing their “symptoms” as benign, similar to those I quoted above.
If you’re an experienced rider, you might be thinking what I was thinking—that just sounds like how standard moto-shifting works to me.
But I’ve never ridden a 150R, so I dug a little deeper to find a few responses from other CBR150R owners who could shine some light on the situation; this is what they said:
Actually, this is how gear shifting works. In order to make the smoothest possible gear change, remember you have to match two rotational speeds on two gears and also momentarily remove torque from the previous selected gears, so they can disengage from each other. With the clutch fully engaged, shifting down might be prevented due to high torque already been applied on the originally selected gears. Another way to change gears without even touching the clutch lever is using your motor RPM to match the speed of your motorcycle-wheel.
Straight from the mouth of a CBR150R rider, and I barely could have said it better myself. This is how shifting works, not just on a CBR 150R but also on all motorcycles. Then it dawned on me. The CBR150R is a motorcycle geared at new riders; it’s the most entry-level CBR there ever was.
Most of the complaints surrounding the gearbox of the bike being difficult to operate are tied to the fact that the CBR150R is a beginner’s bike, and its rider hasn’t quite mastered the rhythm of manual motorcycle hand-clutch-foot-shifting.
So, if you’re having gearbox trouble on a Honda CBR150R, there are a few shifting tips to try out before you make it a part or take it to the mechanic to fix a problem that isn’t there. That’s not to say it’s unheard of to have some severe gearbox problems, only to ensure it’s not a user error before spending your cold hard cash to have a mechanic tell you there’s nothing wrong with it.
Here are a few troubleshooting steps you can take before assuming you have gearbox problems:
- Do your best to rev-match when you downshift, paying close attention to the RPM ranges suggested by Honda in the bike’s owner’s manual.
- The first thing to break is often the shifter lever if you drop a small commuter like a CBR150R, even off and at a standstill. Inspect your gear lever to see if it’s been damaged, slacked, or tightened. It may need to be replaced, as a damaged clutch lever will significantly affect the rider’s shifting experience. That said, it may be as simple as adjusting your clutch lever with more slack or tension.
- Be sure you’re using oil recommended by Honda, specifically for the 150R, as oil is a significant component of gearbox function on a wet clutch.
2. No Pass Light or Ignition Switch
Another widespread complaint you hear in the forums regarding the CBR150R is its lack of a pass light or ignition switch.
A passing light is a switch on your motorcycle that, when pressed, activates your high beams to notify oncoming traffic of your location and to let cars in front of you know you aim to pass them. Unlike the high beam switch, on most bikes, the pass light switch doesn’t kill your low beams, nor does it switch on your high beams for good.
A pass light switch only leaves your headlights on for the duration of the time the button is pressed in.
Pass lights are commonly used to indicate the drivers who forget to dim their high beam, which can be dangerous as it blinds traffic coming the opposite way.
To be clear, not all motorcycles have a pass light switch. In fact, of the 4 I’ve owned, only half of them have had a functioning pass light. It’s not required, as there are other ways of alerting traffic to your presence, like flicking on your high beams, honking your horn, or revving that zippy little 150’s throttle.
I think this is another unfair reputation garnered by new riders.
Another switch the 150R lacks is a kill switch. In today’s market, lacking a kill switch is significantly less common than not having a pass light switch.
As its nickname implies, the ignition switch, also known as the kill switch, is a button that almost all motorcycles have that kills or immediately cuts off your bike.
Operating a motorcycle takes two hands.
The kill switch maintains rider safety by making it possible and easy to turn off the motorcycle without using your free hand to turn your keys.
Engineers designed ignition switches to keep riders from slipping the clutch and jumping forward while removing a hand to turn the keys off when stopped. Still, it doubles as a safety feature in emergencies.
Therefore, CBR150R’s lack of a kill switch concerns some rides even more than its lack of a pass light switch.
3. Front End Speed Wobble At High Speeds
Another common problem we’ve encountered several examples of on the Honda CBR150R is a speed wobble.
A speed wobble, sometimes referred to with other colorful titles like head shake and tank slapper, is when your bike’s bars oscillate back and forth while riding above certain speeds.
In some cases, CBR150R owners may have noticed their little commuters wobbling after their front tire left the ground if they hit a pothole, for example.
Your CBR’s front wheel is supposed to correct itself into a straight line once the tire settles back on the road, but if the fork realignment uses more than the usual effort, the force can cause your front end to overcorrect itself on the opposite side.
This triggers a pendulum motion that vibrates back and forth at rapid frequency, creating a wobbling effect.
It’s called a speed wobble because, in general, bar-oscillation only happens at high speeds.
The simple fact is that speed wobble occurs more often on small bikes that are being ridden faster than intended, and the Honda CBR150R is a modest little commuter, not a stunt bike, and certainly not a racer.
Speed wobbles on a CBR150R are often caused by accelerating at a rate not suggested for a bike with such a small displacement or reaching higher speeds than Honda recommends.
And once the wobble starts, external physical forces can worsen it, increasing the vibration past the point of being able to control the bike, increasing the risk of a crash.
It’s essential for riders on all bikes to do everything in their power to prevent speed wobbles; on a CBR150R, that includes maintaining speeds and acceleration rates, per Honda’s suggestion.
The Honda CBR 150R isn’t intended to operate past a specific rate. Also, like on any motorcycle, when you corner your little commuter, you’re putting an increased strain on particular parts that can lead to wobbling. Here are a few causes of speed wobble on a Honda CBR250R:
- Wheel bearings: If the bearings get worn out, this could cause lateral axle movement, which leads to wobbling. Replace worn bearing asap to prevent this.
- Swingarm: If the swingarm moves too much due to work suspension, the excess play could cause the 150R to wobble.
- Lateral axle movement: The bike will wobble if the front or back wheel has excessive side to side or lateral axle movement. The issue could stem from worn wheel bearings or another problem.
4. Rear Wheel Wobble on a CBR150R
It’s noteworthy enough to mention that the speed wobbles described by 150R owners are generally a front-end wobble.
It’s easier to correct a rear-wheel wobble than a front-wheel wobble since the front-wheel wobble affects your steering by vibrating your handlebars, as described above.
Rear-wheel wobble usually happens on a 150R that’s been fully loaded with gear, especially if the weight isn’t displaced evenly across the bike’s frame, with consideration to the riding position.
On a fully loaded bike, you might not notice the wobble right away, but as the gear continues to pull and push your bike in adverse directions, you’ll notice it as you begin to pick up speed.
Get familiar with how your CBR150R feels when it’s empty and try to replicate that balance when it’s fully loaded to ensure you don’t catch a case of rear-wheel wobble.
General Pros and Cons of the Honda CBR150R
Here are general pros and cons of the Honda CBR150R:
- Fuel Efficiency
- Gearbox Problems; Poor Shifting
- No Pass Light or Ignition Switch
- Front End Speed Wobble At High Speeds
What Do the Reviews Say?
The Honda CBR150R is powered by a 149.4 cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve short stroke engine which produces a maximum power of 17.6 BHP at 10,500 RPM and a peak torque of 12.66 Nm at 8500 RPM. Surprisingly, the engine idles at a distinctly high, 1800-1900 RPM! The fact is, this engine is an engineering marvel. This is only a 150 cc motor but it redlines at a stratospheric 11,800 RPM. While other bikes may redline up to the same, it is not in the same tune as that of the CBR150R. It’s similar to the VTEC system which is found in Honda cars, which means, it becomes completely berserk after it reaches a certain RPM range all the way to the redline. The precise fuelling, the ballistic mid-end and the stupendous top end power are the party pieces of the CBR150R.https://www.motorbeam.com/honda-cbr150r-long-term-review/
What’s the Resale Value of a Honda CBR150R?
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.