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2011 Honda CBR250R: First Ride, Part I

Just 15 hours before I wrote this, I left my house in Oakland, rode to the airport, got a plane to LAX and then took a taxicab to Torrance so I could be one of the first USA moto-journalists to ride Honda’s all-new CBR250R. Why did I go to such lengths to ride this bike? Is it because I live but to give you, dear reader, the latest tidbits of moto-data? Not really. I could say it’s because it’s my job, but there are plenty of motorcycles I won’t suffer the indignities of a jam-packed Southwest flight to ride. But this bike, though  a mere 250, could be one of the most important models Honda has imported for decades.

Why? Well, this is a lead-in to my main story, so you’ll have to check back in a few days when we bring you the full Monty. For now, here are some appetizers:

The main question I had in my mind while riding in the cab from the airport was if this bike would be competition for the Kawasaki 250 Ninja. Would it be as good-looking, comfortable, easy to ride, and most importantly as fast as the little green machine? Reports were horsepower was in the low 20s (10 or 20 percent less than the Kawi), which is a big deal if you’re riding a small-displacement motorcycle on big, fast divided freeways in California and other places where the flow of traffic is 80 mph and up. We don’t need to go 180, but on the other hand, we’d like to go half that speed without feeling like our motorcycle is about to spin a bearing. Also, would the bike’s suspension, chassis and brakes be just as sportbike-serious as the trackworthy Nin-genie?

Without giving away too much detail, the answer is a resounding…probably. Freeway cruising is fine, the suspension works well enough, and the brakes and tires are every bit as good as the Kawi’s. In fact, the IRC Road Winner (they are every bit as good as they sound) tires are actually identical to the Kawi’s (if 10mm wider in back).

Bottom line is we’re going to have to do a serious quarter-liter shootout: street, touring and track between this bike, Hyosung’s all-new fuel-injected GT250R, and the Kawasaki. I’ll write more about our first impression soon.

127 Comments

  1. Rick says:

    The CBR250 looks GOOD and is inexpensive compared to bigger sportbikes, so it will sell. A fun and non-intimidating motorcycle. Americans like their sportbikes to have shiny full bodywork, gives it that race look. A perfect example is the sudden leap in Ninja 250 sales a few years ago after they remodeled that bike and added a full fairing.

    Plenty of riders cannot afford the purchase price and insurance of a big sportbike. The CBR250 is a good choice for them.

  2. Scott says:

    I frankly think this bike has got more attention than it deserves. It’s a basic beginners bike . . . which is cool. But it’s dressed up like a 250 Moto-GP . . . which would be REALLY cool.

    From the start, it seems like too many people have been fooled by the fairing into thinking this bike is something it’s not. Why not just let it be itself. Take the fairing off and you’ve got a great little commuter standard for making shopping runs. does this thing even hit speeds high enough that you’d feel the wind without the fairing?

    . . . or . . . give it some real guts and a high-revving engine that would make it a screamer that lives up to its looks.

    I would be interested in either of those two bikes . . . but not this one.

  3. Nicolas says:

    What about refreshing the Old Cbr 400? I think that a 20 ponnies bike is not serious….

  4. GP says:

    I do not believe that this bike will be as practical as the little Ninja. We love our stock little ’99 Ninja 250, and it cruises at a steady 85-90 MPH easily. I can not see this little single doing that comfortably without “feeling like it is going to spin a bearing”. Honda needs to step up with a V or parallel twin in this displacement category. I would also agree that a 350-450cc model would be a big hit as well, provided it has more than one cylinder.
    I have ridden several singles, most recently a DRZ400-S and a DR650SE, and while they are fun run-abouts, neither is very comfortable for high speed cruising due to their engine configuration.
    I like the looks of this new Honda, though, and for around town use, it will probably work well.

  5. Ted W. says:

    Overlooked in this discussion is Suzuki’s naked TU250X street bike, introduced in the US in 2009. It has fuel injection, gets 75-80 mpg. is retro styled (single seat and pillion seat), and looks like a 1969-70 motorcycle. I bought one on a lark and find it’s perfectly OK around town. It’s got plenty of pull up to 60, will go 80, and cruises well at 65-70. I’m not a novice by any means. It’s way easier to run around town on than a crotch rocket.

  6. Mike says:

    Is there a major manufacturer that is more out of touch with buyers than Honda?

    Give them credit though…. a decade later buyers in the 1/100th of a percent the market all these new Hondas represented….. will finally be snapping them up.

    Honda…….always late on what people were buying years ago.

    • Wilson R says:

      Yeah, like the “Fury”. A chopper that was offered about 30 years too late.

    • Gabe says:

      Honda looks at the global market, not just the USA.

      Honda sells about 100,000 units here a year.

      Honda sells 30 MILLION units worldwide (of all products).

      If you were Honda’s CEO, would you give that much thought to .01% of your total market?

      • ziggy says:

        Gabe, get real. The reason why they can’t move units here on a continent of 529 million people is because they just don’t make what we want. How can a company so in touch with the North American driver be so out of touch with the North American rider? It boggles the mind.

        If I was Honda’s CEO, I would fire my staff and resign for this multi-decade research, target marketing, and sales failure. Honda has practically handed the North American market to the competition.

        • Gabe says:

          I don’t know about North AMerica, but in Brazil Honda absolutely dominates the market:

          http://world.honda.com/news/2007/c070806Motorcycle-Production-in-Brazil/

          Honda looks at the big picture. Do they want to make small profits selling a limited number of big bikes to the same tight-fisted consumers over and over? Or make similar per-unit profits selling zillions of simple, low-cost units to an infinitely expanding global market?

          As Americans, we take ourselves more seriously than the rest of the world does. We don’t matter as much as we used to, and this bike is a harbinger of what’s to come.

          • ziggy says:

            What on Earth makes you think North American consumers are tight fisted? The whole world’s economy practically revolves around the American consumer. The meltdown of the past 4 years in abundant proof of that. There’s a lot more disposable income here and a hungry market.

            Honda can sell all the low margin units it likes in the 2nd and 3rd world, but why not aim for increased volume in highly-desired, high margin markets? Are we supposed to applaud Honda for going the mass-market cheap scoot route? Some guy in Mumbai and his wife, kids and goat can all ride the 250 2-stroke around town. Great! But not the image, excitement, or passion that will sell a bike here.

            The reason why Honda doesn’t sell here is that it has no new worthy ideas for a very discerning consumer, who is, quite frankly–gobbling up the competition’s latest offerings. It’s just that simple.

          • Mike says:

            Gabe

            Ahhhhh….it is Hondas CEOs that have been totally responsible for Hondas lackluster bike lineup and bikes introduced to go against competitors models that have been out for years. As far as Honda sales worldwide at 30 million bikes that base should be enough to support a few exciting bikes now and then.

            Three things changed Honda Motorcycles to what we are seeing today.
            1. The death of Mr. Honda. There is no way this man would accept or tolerate the current Honda motorcycle marketplace strategy and offerings.

            2. Honda the car. For years now Hondas priority was pandering to car buyers. Motorcycles were tolerated at best at corporate Honda. Their worst fear is a million potential Honda car buyers would see an LA Freeway chase with a person on a Honda motorcycle flat out leave the helicoper. Honda the car is Honda…….this explains alot.

            3. Honda three wheel lawsuits. This started lawyers getting involved in marketing strategy for new motorcycles and another reason Honda does not produce any “world beater” motorcycles year after year. Is there any doubt they could….no……so why don’t they?

            4. Honda the lawnmower. For most buyers looking for a lawnmower…….Honda is a good choice……..motorcycles are not lawnmowers in most buyers view, but Honda showrooms are full of bikes that have a closer link to lawnmower marketing strategy than motorcycles.

            For the few that see the Honda DN, VFR and this 250 as the best bikes that Honda has ever offered…there are no waiting lines for these bikes at Honda dealers. For all the rest that want comparision test winners…your local Honda dealer has little to offer. The few exceptions over the last 15 years are noted.

            By the way….one of my top ten question for the current CEO of Honda would be …..where are the street versions of the Honda V5? This is not a question that would ever be necessary for Mr. Honda…. they would have been in showrooms long ago

      • Wilson R says:

        Mike makes a great point. Whoever is leading Honda these days it out of touch with the American consumer’s mindset. We have to keep in mind that America is not the greatest market for motorcycles these days and Honda will design bikes for other markets and then give us the sloppy seconds and hope that it fits our needs.
        Harley did the same with their XR1200 by designing it for the French and offering it to the USA a few years later. The ultimate slap in the face and the main reason that the XR1200 came out looking “funny”. It wasn’t meant for American riders.

  7. Tim U says:

    This bike would mean something if it was a 350 or 400 here in the US. As it is its just another Honda that misses the target. Not worth the plastic its make out of. Thank god for the Europeans.

  8. MotoBum says:

    Yep, we’ll still take a couple of these little CBRs. Since we’re done buying Kawasakis and like actual build quality in our motorcycles, it’ll be the Honda and not the competition. Seeing the bike in person at the Seattle International Motorcycle Show was the deal cincher. It looks incredible. And if it rides half as good as it looks, it’ll be sure to bring miles of smiles. Thanks for the test and mini write-up.

  9. Joey Wilson says:

    With the economic crunch and the shift to this size bike being the norm in the bulk of the developing economies, these type bikes are becoming big parts of the portfolios of the Japanese manufacturers.

    And don’t forget that in this country, expensive, big bore bikes are becoming a harder sell against this economic climate, declining sales, and declining numbers of new riders. The recipe of bigger, faster, and more expensive has reached its limit. The fallacy that your first bike needs to be a 600 or 1000cc AMA race-spec replica is a deadly delusion, or at least a way to make the insurance companies as rich as Arabian sheikdoms.

    This bike, along with the VTR250, the CB400 Super Four, and the new Kawi Ninja 400 / ER4n twins, would be a way more significant and profitable addition to these ranges than one more experts-only rocket sled or some monster bagger. These grow the market. Think not? How many scooters do you see? Would any of us get off even a TU250 or Rebel to ride a scooter? These folks are buying them because all they can find is too-much motorcycle, they’re intimidated. And with 10-second quarter miles and five-figure price tags, who wouldn’t be? That market is saturated: The CBR250 is, I hope, the beginning of a return to a full range of smaller bikes.

  10. todd says:

    In your quarter liter shoot-out test, PLEASE include a RD250 or other similar vintage mount. I think they are still serious contenders in the entry level motorcycle market place.

  11. evan says:

    This would still be a fun commuter once the aftermarket support is established, full pipe,power commander, airfilter, all the other gizmos and it might make it pretty fun to get to work and save gas

    • Wilson R says:

      Yep, hop-up parts will address what most consider to be the bikes weak spot, performance. It needs to be able to get out of it’s own way on the freeway. The NINJA 250 seems to be doing fine with it’s parallel twin so let’s hope the little Honda makes sufficient power and responds to the aftermarket performance enhancements.

  12. evan says:

    Since these bikes will be selling at msrp for a while, 500 dollars more than the abs 250r and you can get a k9 gsx650f, plenty power and a hell of a deal at 4,999

  13. middleweight_sports says:

    This bike has a niche market like the Ninja 250. For most riders it will be too small within 6 months of getting it. Why is there such a big gulf between the 250′s and the next step up, the 600′s? A 400-500cc sportbike or sporty naked bike would be totally practical and fun. 600cc will get you 160mph, and they don’t get that good of mileage anymore because they’re fuel-injected and designed to be competitive racebikes. Hey Honda, bring back the CB-1!

    • todd says:

      Don’t forget the existing (poor selling) 500′s and the (fabulously selling) 650′s in the progress to 600 Super Sports.

      • Hank says:

        CB-1, GSXR,FZ….400 !! YES ! SV650 sells pretty well. 500 twins with the right look will sell to the entry level riders. Make a bike light and with decent power. GS500 and the Ninja 500 are gutless. 400-4, 300 lbs, 75-80 HP in a good modern chassis, with sporty look and/or naked style. 600′s are too fast for beginners.

  14. Old town hick says:

    “It is more fun to ride a slow bike fast than to ride a fast bike slow.”

    You may quote me.

  15. ziggy says:

    Why bother with a serious quarter-litre shootout? We all know what these bikes can do. Do we really need to invest time in determining which of these underpowered, soulless bloat pigs serves as a reasonably decent stater bike for a diminutive novice rider?

  16. ken says:

    Look at the architecture of the motor. Honda is testing the bore and stroke of the CBR1000RR with finger followers. It has less power on purpose. They know this bike is going to sell well worldwide if not in America, but they want the data for American gas and riding styles. There will be more but they are just hedging their bets. I think it’s cool little bike. I may get one to keep my other CBR’s company.

  17. Martin says:

    I ride a yamaha air cooled 250, that gives around 19bhp at the crank. This is enough for city and suburban use, and the best part is that throttle response is brilliant, the torque curve exactly matches throttle inputs and performance requirements in that environment. Here in New Zealand we have a 60 mph open road and highway limit, and my bike is OK in that situation, but not if other road users push the pace. The Honda looks a better bet in a faster road system, but really, horses for courses! Get a bigger bike for the highway, ride the 250 around town, the best of both worlds. A 250 rides rings around a bigger bike in the city.

  18. Goose says:

    Well, just another opinion but I think Honda has, yet agin, screwed up. This bike being a 250 has much more then the needs in other countries (see the post by an Australian below) and nothing to do with what will work and sell in the US. A 300 or 350 twin would only be a little heavier, could have a nice, easy power delivery for the new folks and enough power to keep you from getting run over in big city traffic. It wouldn’t cost much more to build but it probably would only sell in the US so I’m guess Honda decided to try to pawn off a bike that really doesn’t suit American needs.

    This bike doesn’t offer anything a scooter doesn’t have (except if you have a prejudice that motorcycles are better then scooters, like me) but it is much harder to learn to ride and much more difficult to ride in heavy traffic (it has a clutch and gears) so why would a new rider pick the CBR instead of any one to probably 20 scooters on the market, most for fewer dollars, for city travel? As a 250 single it isn’t going to be a great ride on the open road. It would probably be a blast on a really tight, twisty road but how many people are going to buy a bike just for that small a role?

    JMHO,

    Goose

    • Pat says:

      Goose, no matter how many arguments you can think up, the reality is the new Ninja 250 sells like hotcakes. That’s why Honda is making the CBR250- they want a piece of that pie.

      Also- why would they bump up the displacement? Honda has a long history of excellence with singles (same as how Kawasaki does parallel twins and Suzuki is good at v-twins), and singles are light-weight and simple, so it makes a lot of sense to make their entry-level sport bike a single. So if we accept it as a single, consider that the larger the displacement, the lower the redline needs to be and the less peaky the engine will be. These are good things for driveablity, but hardly the attitude they wanted to give the bike.

      • Goose says:

        Pat,

        Nothing you said is untrue. However, I’m not so sure if the Ninja 250 is selling like hotcakes or the market is down so much it is doing well by comparison. Whatever the truth is I still think the Honda will do poorly.

        I’ll buy your comments about what company makes the best of single/ V-twin/ Parallel twin but I doubt the new riders care. I find young people today don’t have the slightest interest in stuff we old guys think is fascinating. They look at a motorcycle like they look at a cell phone, it does things they want or it doesn’t. HOW it does things is irrelevant to them.

        The number of people in the US who want a sporting 250 is pretty small. I think those people will look at the Honda and the Kawasaki and buy the faster bike. The people looking for simple, cheap transportation will buy a scooter. That leaves the Honda stuck in the middle.

        MHO,

        Goose

  19. todd says:

    It’s a very nice bike in person and the size seems perfect for me at 6’3″, 1705 pounds. I’ve owned enough motorcycles over the last 20 years to know that I don’t ride for performance sake, but for the fun (and economy) of the ride. I imagine this bike will be tops on the fun list – though an old $500 DT250 would be even more fun.

    I think I’ve read that Kawasaki sells more Ninja 250′s than all their other bikes combined. That sounds optimistic to me but it is the most common motorcycle I see in the SF bay area. It’s understandable why Honda would want results like that – and why they haven’t done this sooner is beyond me. At least, unlike the Suzuki TU250 this will be available in California, the ridingest state in the nation.

  20. MGNorge says:

    This bike will be immediately compared to the Ninja but I am going to say something that I know sounds foreign to some, it ain’t all about which bike goes faster! Enjoyment does not always have to come from every last drop of horsepower. As my name implies, I have a Moto Guzzi Norge. It’ll never win any horsepower wars but I have to to you it is one of the most satisfying rides I’ve had. Years ago I had a Honda XL250 Motosport and it produced less peak HP than this CBR does and yet I think it left me with a grin every time I rode it. If this bike can produce good usuable, satisfying power and do it with a ride and handling that are at least on par with others then I say Honda has a winner. My guess is this will be one fine scoot.

    • Scott in the UK says:

      Having studied this site for a few years now I can imagine your message will not be heeded unfortunately. In general the impression gained from reading this site is the US riders only fall into 2 camps – Harley riders on fat blatting barges with open pipes, and riders of the latest and greatest crotch rocket who change it every year.

      Thats why Its nice to see an article on a 250 (you can tour on them you know) or the “best looking standard” srticle. It proves there is life outside the crotch/barge bubble.

      Scotty – Moto Guzzi 750 Breva since 2004…

      • MGNorge says:

        It is hard to break from what’s become the norm. I started riding when there were lots of sub-500cc bikes on the market. Those bikes were a blast! I’m no stranger to bikes with lots of horsepower either as I’ve owned them. But here in the US things are different than Europe. Bikes are mostly toys that bring along with them a status, but only if you buy what your peer group sees as being cool. But once you get past that and realize there is real enjoyment in many bikes off that radar you’ll see what you’ve been missing. Too bad, some of these bikes have real character and are fun to own.

        Maybe if our gas gets a good deal more expensive will some of these riders start looking at bikes for what they can do in the quarter mile or the “Dig me” factor? It’s an awakening I guess?

  21. Ed Chambers says:

    It looks like allot of fun but $4000? really, even at todays ridiculous used bike prices you can get a nice used SV650 for that kind of money.I know apples and oranges I suppose If I were a youngster and that’s all I could afford to get financed on sure why not.I’d still prefer something faster with less plastic.

    • Mark P. says:

      In other words, you’d probably prefer a new Honda VTR 250, the better, more powerful, 250cc v-twin that Honda has been selling for many years in Japan, but didn’t see fit to bring to the U.S.

  22. Rob Blais says:

    This bike is an answer to many novice riders’ needs. Having run a motorcycle training facility for five years, I think I can make that statement. The problem is that most younger people are told by their friends that they’d be sick of a 600 super sport in a week. I don’t really know anyone that can ride a 600 to it’s potential, including me. Eddie Lawson doesn’t think he can either, as he was quoted a few years back in Motorcyclist Magazine. Image seems to be the prevailing factor in many young peoples’ minds. What is occasionally amusing is to watch a new rider who insists that he can ride mount his new super sport and see the shakes take hold. It’s also scary to watch, knowing they might not make it out of the parking lot. Not that I’m a fan of any new laws/rules, but the incremental licensing done in many other countries would make this bike a slam dunk, with riders graduating to larger displacements in steps. Then we might get some of those fantastic midsize sportbikes that we don’t get in the United States as result of the perceived lack of demand, but that sell like hotcakes in Europe. They’re fun factor is, in my less than humble opinion, head and shoulders higher than the race replicas that are uncomfortable, ridiculously expensive to insure, and way more capable than the bulk of the riders who own them. Affordability is a good thing in a motorcycle, and as always, it’s way better to go fast on a slow bike than to go slow on a fast bike.

  23. Hank says:

    Most entry level guys think they need a 600. A 250 single will NOT be “cool” enough. If the big 4 would bring back a 400 class, it would have a better chance. As an MSF instructor, the CRF230 Motard is the best trainer bike. 400′s that look like the 600/1000′s would create a whole new ( or recreate an old ) class. Light weight bikes are always more fun to ride !!

  24. Kawboy says:

    I will be very interested to see the comparo between this bike and the Kaw and Hyosung. I’m thinking the Hyosung’s are going to be the suprise here. I think the Hyo will smoke the Honda (although the Honda does look good), and be very comparable if not a little faster than the Kaw. Time and testing will tell.

  25. ben says:

    Nice looking bike, but a 250cc single? It would have had to be straight out of the CRF250R to have any chance with the Ninja 250. Honda has had the excellent 8 valve 250cc VTR V-twin for years, why this motor was not used is a mystery to me, as are many of the desicions Honda makes

    • Chris says:

      Yep. Go back to the motorcycledaily.com article when this was announced, quite a few people would have preferred a new VTR 250 instead of this.

      The CBR line-up has up until this bike been inlines… Maybe this should have been a parallel twin…

  26. The year 2011 will be remembered for an overachiever the superlative Honda CBR250R….its inaugural year will become a collectors item. Thank you HONDA for bringing to market an incredible motorcycle at a surprisingly low price of only $3999….this is within reach of every motorcycle enthusiast!

  27. Mickey says:

    2013 I believe

  28. Manny says:

    Rear plastic fender’s gotta go,and a Yoshi slip on would complete it’s looks.

  29. harry says:

    Yawn. Another sportbike.

  30. anon says:

    It’s nice enough, but I’d rather see a CRF450M.

    • Tom says:

      The first company to come out with a 450 single in race replica trim will get my $’s and be the bike everyone will start copying. I can’t believe it hasn’t been done yet. Aprilia RS450SS would be nice too!

  31. Tim says:

    I’m not the target market for this bike but I really like it anyway. I’m hoping that this engine proves itself and finds its way into new dual sport and motard models soon. The CRF230 based bikes that Honda currently sells just don’t seem serious compared to the offerings from Kawasaki and Yamaha. Like others here have said, a naked standard would seem to be a natural spin-off, as well. I hope Honda sells a bunch of these little bikes.

  32. Bill nielsen says:

    I ike the mirror stalks as the Ninjettes’ aren’t long enough to see behind you. The muffler is butt ugly, otherwise the bike looks fine. The Ninjette has very good mid range but poor gearing for off the line. Any HP less than the ninjette would be a major issue for me. Bill

  33. Wilson R says:

    It would be extremely poor marketing if the little HONDA doesn’t perform at least as well as the NINJA. It wouldn’t be the first time that HONDA completely read the market wrong. Let’s hope that it has decent performance. I read a review that quoted a top speed of 98 mph….that should at least equal the NINJA. But you can’t believe everything that you read.

    • Chris says:

      The Honda is a 15 or 16 lbs lighter if the MFG’s curb weight is believable…
      The Honda has a lower compression ratio. 10.7:1 to 11.6:1
      The Honda’s engine is less over square. 76×55 vs 62×41.2

      http://powersports.honda.com/2011/cbr250r/specifications.aspx
      http://www.kawasaki.com/Products/Product-Specifications.aspx?scid=6&id=505

      Beyond that… Who knows? We’ll just have to wait until part 2 and then the 1/4 liter “shoot-out”

      I’d guess that the Honda will be better sub 45 mph and get better mpg. Just guessing though…

      • Wilson R says:

        The HONDA will be easier to launch with more power down low than the NINJA. The NINJA will have a higher top speed, but if the HONDA can achieve 98 mph then it would be fine for freeway carpool lanes where 85 mph is the norm in light traffic. Lets hope that HONDA did it right as the $3999 price will help these bikes to sell like hotcakes. I personally like the looks of both bikes with the nod going towards the HONDA in black.

        • Gabe says:

          The Ninja 250 was radared with Don Canet riding it at 93 mph in 2008. The CBR will probably be about 10 mph slower.

          • Wilson R says:

            That’s not good news. In fact, it might take a while for the bike to get to speed which doesn’t help matter one bit! Let’s hope the top speed in higher than 83 mph.

    • Dave says:

      Roughly .062% of Ninja 250 / CBR250 buyers will buy based on which one performs better. Tis potential inequity in performance has nothing at all to do with Honda’s ability to market the bike.

  34. steveinsandiego says:

    i’m enjoying the spit out of my ’09 ninja 650r, but i’m always open to new models. a naked or mini-faired version would be more attractive to me; makes it easier to get to stuff at maintenance time but can still provide reasonable wind protection.

    we’ll hafta sit tight til mr ets-hokin gives us a full report…………..

  35. Greg G. says:

    A 400 would have been nicer and more practical!

  36. ilikefood says:

    Wow. That exhaust can is bigger than the engine.

  37. Timo2Fiddy says:

    We’ll just have to wait and see. My Ninja 250 does fine on the freeway, cause it’s sweet spot is right at 8-9k, which is about 75 on the freeway. So as long as you understand it has to Rev like you’re at the Daytona 200. But my concern is the Honda is at least 5 hp less. Considering the Ninja has enough but not any extra means the Honda may fall short. Also my thought is it would sell better if it was 400cc Twin. I’m about ready to move UP not down and if this bike was 400cc Twin I’d be sold for sure.

    Timo2Fiddy

    • tim says:

      I agree!
      Instead of taking the competition head-on, Honda should have offered an alternative – a lightweight sport tourer.
      In spite of all the BS that the “real bike” owners are dispensing here, the reality is that EX250 will do just fine on the highway (within the legal boundaries), even when equipped with a custom windshield and luggage, and carrying a 180lb rider. However, just as Timo2Fiddy mentioned, that is pretty much the bike’s limit. So, why take the competition head-on, instead of offering more? A light, 400cc, fully faired sport-tourer with good wind protection and an option for installing aftermarket luggage would sell very well, IMO.

  38. Garbonzo says:

    This is definitely an attractive motorcycle. I was glad to see you were excited about it too and look forward to the rest of your report.

    What I cannot quite figure out is how there are so few motorcycles between 250cc and 600cc available in the market. They are there in other markets around the world. Is there really no market for them here?

    The with these wonderfully developed 400-450cc singles in various motocross bikes, I would like to see a bike like this with an engine like that.

    Of course, I am over 50 and have fond memories of my SR500 so perhaps that explains it.

    • Dave says:

      All of the OEMs have tried and failed many times to sell practical, fun, cool small bikes. The bottom line is that they don’t sell. The Hawk 650 was one of the coolest, best working bikes Honda ever made to that point, and there were brand new left overs in dealerships 4 years after they stopped production. The FZR400 remains even today one of the most fun, best handling bikes ever made. It sold like ice to Eskimos. I could go on…

      I think the resurgence of the Ninja 250 means that there might be a window here for the big OEMs to nurture a small bike market, and this CBR will help that along. Here’s hoping…cuz while I’m personally not interested in a 250, if we start to see stuff like a Yamaha R4 built as a ground up design using the same tech as a new R6 (just a ‘for example), I’m going racing again.

      • mpolans says:

        I’ve heard this argument before, but I think there’s a fundamental difference between now and back in 1992. There is now a much wider gap in performance between the today’s 250s and 600s compared to back then. The output of 250s hasn’t increased from around 30-40hp (if anything, with the loss of the I-4 250s, it’s dropped), but the output of 600s has increased from around 85hp to around 120hp. Where previously, having a 55-65hp bike might not have made sense, now it does. Look at the phenomenal success of the SV650.

  39. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Love the look of the bike but will pass. I am waiting for the new (they have to upgraded it sometime..) Ninja 500 which should be competitively priced.

    • Chris says:

      The Ninja 500 was dropped. Though you may be able to find a left over on the floor at some dealorships…

  40. Chris says:

    Looks pretty good. Not too small looking either…

    $4k for the non-ABS version. $500 more for ABS. (I think…??)

    What kind of rpm on the freeway? Red line?

    I am looking forward to the up-coming quarter liter comparision.

    Maybe in 2012 the US will get the fuel injected Ninja 250R….

  41. Jeremy in TX says:

    It is a nice looking bike, but I really think that even starter bikes in the US need 350 – 400cc to be practical these days. Where I live, commuting conditions can range from bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go to bob-and-weave 80mph bumper car traffic circulation. So a little torque is nice for the low speed stop-and-go stuff, but some reserve is needed to squirt out of trouble when things are moving quickly.

    It is doable, but a 250 would be hard for me to live with on a daily basis, especially sa single.

    • dude says:

      The old 4 cyl cbr250 had 45hp. In 1986. Why can’t they make a modern version of that? They certainly dont have any trouble pulling away from a stop light, and are faster than 95% of cars.

      • Chris says:

        They probably can. But those were different times…. 250s are considered beginner bikes now, back then maybe not so much when considering that old 250 was a 4 cyl that rev’d to something like 18,000 rpm. My memory is a little foggy, but I want to say that there was a time back in the late 80s and early 90s when the Japanese used to update their home market 250s something like every 6 months. That is a crazy developement cycle.

        Both this bike and the little Ninja have a ton more potential if the MFG’s want to “hop” them up. There is no reason why the Ninja can’t spin 16k rpm, yet it redlines at 13k. Also, the compression ratio could be bumped up to 13:1 or so like the 10R and 6R. Give it FI and ram air… And then we are no longer talking about a $4k bike…

      • Gabe says:

        Because it would weigh over 400 pounds and cost $8000 or more. Next question!

    • Pablo says:

      Jeremy , I think you will find it’s a single for production cost reasons. The reason it is not a larger capacity is due to this bike been sold around the world and in some countrys a 250cc bike is the max capacity alowed for learners. Here in Australia, the bigest selling bike for the last few years has been the Kawie 250 ninja (sencond bigest is the CBR1000RR). I think you will find that a lot of Learners want a 250cc bike that looks like a sports bike and performance (hp) is secondary. If you think back to when you first rode a bike a 250cc seemed realy quick at least for a couple of months anyway. Price is also realy important to first time riders, so im very confident that this bike will be a world wide success.

  42. Bob says:

    I don’t think it will sell all that well other than to MSF courses. It does look good though, so if it sells, it will be for that reason.

    Why have a single when I can get a parallel twin? Nothing wrong with thumpers. I’ve owned a XL600R and currently have a CRF450X that’s plated. Perhaps Honda chose the single format because they want to be the upcoming engine supplier for Moto3. Just because the FIM sets format rules for racing doesn’t mean they should shove a product of the same format and displacement down the throats of the buying public. Why not a longer stroked 300 twin that will have decent bottom end so you don’t stall at the lights? Why stick to the same format as everyone else? Look at Triumph and Ducati with their oddball displacements.

    • Wilson R says:

      With all that plastic I don’t think that it will sell very well to MSF schools. One spill on the pavement and you owe HONDA $1000.

  43. KevinC says:

    I really like this bike, but why stick to 250cc? there used to be a 350cc class and a 450 – 500cc class. These would be no more intimidating than a 250 for a new rider, in fact a little more power would make them less scary on the freeway. Also If we have to deal with triple cats, why not bring back the two stroke, modern ones are clean, very simple, light and powerful

    What do you all think???

    Kevin

  44. Mickey says:

    That is a very nice looking little motorcycle. I don’t know why they went with the single though? Even the CB 150/160/175/200′s were twins. The 250 Ninja was a twin, heck even the 250 Nighthawk was a twin.If it were a 50/65/90/100/110/125 I could see it being a single. I dunno. Will be interesting to read the full report when you get her done. I imagine it will be like all other Honda reports, fit & finish excellent, power just ok, brakes just ok, a little overweight, but the most civilized, easiest to ride in it’s class, with Honda durability and a great dealer network.

  45. bikerrandy says:

    Nice looking bike, except for that grossly oversize muffler ! Why do all the new street bikes have these gross mufflers ? Is it to use bigger catalytics required by the Govt.? Or does someone actually think they look good ? YUCK

    • Old town hick says:

      Yes it is pretty homely, but cat converters are pretty much required these days and this makes bike exhausts bigger. The smaller the bike the more out of place they look.

      It kind off appears that the front bodywork was made larger looking to balance things out.

      • Wilson R says:

        Exhausts are easy to replace. The aftermarket replacement exhaust will surely be lighter which makes a big difference on a 250cc bike. When does the Arnold exhaust laws come into effect?

  46. Bill says:

    I sat on one at the San Mateo IMS; I’m 61 with a 35″ inseam and I fit just fine. This should become Honda’s best selling bike.

  47. Bob says:

    Quarter liter bikes are a great way to attract new riders. I think they could still be made more simple, like the Suzuki TU250. The old Honda 250 Nighthawk has run its course, but an updated version or a new 250 single without all of the bodywork would be better. I mean, newbies are gonna drop these things. When I was in high school, we looked longingly at my buddy’s Honda 160. And he tore up the streets on that bike. Cheap, quick and reliable is a great way to go for young people to get started. Is this new Honda that kind of a bike? I don’t know.

    • Gabe says:

      I agree bob: a stripper standard version to replace the horrid Nighthawk 250 would sell at least 1000 units to MSF schools alone the first year.

  48. trent says:

    Let’s hope it’s the little 250 that could .. instead of the little 250 that couldn’t. In any case, there’s always the KTM to look forward to also .. maybe.

  49. Tom Barber says:

    What was it that Billy Crystal would say when impersonating Fernando Lamas?

  50. bushead says:

    This is the answer as to how to attract new riders. Very nice looking bike, high fuel mileage, small carbon footprint, but still fun. In Jr. high school (way back, if you must ask) all the quys lusted after the kid with the 125cc single. My guess is that there will be more than entry level riders buying these things, for the same reason that you rushed to be part of the first test ride.