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.