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  • December 21, 2010
  • Gabe Ets-Hokin
  • Kevin Wing and Honda
  • 120 Comments

2011 Honda CBR250R: MD First Ride, Part 2

So have you seen a lot of open-class sportbikes with the dealer tags still on them lately? 

Neither have I. And neither, I’m guessing, have the product planners at the Japanese Big Four. What they have seen is weak sales numbers and plenty of dealers shutting their doors for good. Sales numbers for the motorcycle industry here are around half of what they were in 2006—and things aren’t improving, either. You can blame lots of factors; aging of that key Baby Boomer demographic, a sluggish economy, tight-fisted banks, but the bottom line is big bikes aren’t selling, and will take a very long time to get back to the numbers we’re used to seeing. 

Where the two-wheeled industry is growing, worldwide, is in developing economies, particularly in China and India. So what do consumers want in those countries? They don’t need 190 horsepower and SBK-spec suspension, that’s for sure; bad roads and traffic conditions make stuff like that useless. Good looks, user-friendliness, simple reliability and most importantly, affordability are what sell bikes in most places. 

Granted, those things may not be so important to many of you MD readers. A number of you do want 190 hp and race-spec components. So why do I think Honda’s little CBR250R is one of the most important bikes of 2011? Because it represents the future of the industry, one focused on the customer and the customer experience more than building rolling showcases of racing dominance and high-tech expertise. And bikes built for a global market will start appearing more and more, reducing R&D , production and distribution costs. Always wanted those cool little bikes they have in other countries? Be careful of what you wish for. 

I know, it’s depressing me, too. So let’s focus on the positive: the 2011 CBR250R that I rode last week at Honda’s Torrance, California headquarters is a really fun bike, one that is going to put a smile on the face of everybody who rides it. After all, Honda—and the Japanese motorcycle industry in general—became the global success story it did by putting fun, lightweight and affordable machines in the hands of every consumer who wanted one. The CBR gets back to those roots by using technology, clever design and global economics. 

In press materials and scripts of talking points Honda’s P.R. folks use when they officially interact with media, there is little to no mention of the 380-pound elephant in the room, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R. And in fairness to Honda, I don’t want to do too much comparing, as the CBR wasn’t developed just  to beat the Ninja. But looking at the CBR, it’s clear Honda’s engineers took aim at their green competition. They knew beating it on power while achieving their other goals would be challenging (I won’t say impossible—American Honda’s VP, Motorcycles, Ray Blank told me once that Honda could build anything it wanted, and I have no doubt of that), so it appears they instead focused on the Ninja’s weak spots. A peaky powerband less friendly to new riders is one, budget-oriented build quality and features was another and porky-for-a-250 curb weight was a third. Another challenge would be to beat Kawasaki on something it’s always been tough to beat Kawasaki on, especially for an obsessively detail-oriented company like Honda: price. 

The powerband bit would be tricky. How do you make a 250cc streetbike comfortable, reliable and fast enough while still offering good throttle response down low? MD readers have known this one for years: a high-performance Single motor that is torquey, fast-revving, and still packs a relative punch up top. Honda’s motor is an all-new design (sorry, no street-going Unicam CRF250R motor for you!) with nine patents in the engine alone. It’s a liquid-cooled design with a compact cylinder head that uses forked roller-rocker arms to actuate the four valves.

Some of you may wonder why Honda didn’t just use the VTR250 V-Twin motor it’s been using for decades. After all, the VTR250 we reported in 2009 has the same wet weight as the CBR250R and makes a little more power, and we all know a V-Twin is very user-friendly and fun. The answer is probably a matter of money—it’s more expensive to build a V-Twin, which would mean a higher MSRP and less profit for dealers. Honda thinks in tens or hundreds of thousands of units—maybe even millions. 

The very oversquare bore and stroke numbers—76mm by 55mm—are similar to the CRF250’s (and CBR1000RR), but it uses a mild 10.7:1 compression ratio, probably to make sure it can use lower-quality gas with no troubles. The crankshaft runs on plain bearings to reduce noise and vibration—a first for a Honda Single, and a gear-driven counterbalancer runs right next to it. There is a six-speed gearbox. Fueling is by PGM fuel-injection, and there’s a catalyzed exhaust system to ensure the bike meets emissions regulations worldwide. 

The chassis also got a lot of thought. It gets a light, rigid tube-steel frame with triangulated trellis-style bracing. There’s a non-adjustable 37mm fork in front and a Pro-Link-equipped rear monoshock, with five spring preload settings. Wheelbase is a tight 53.9 inches, and a 25-degree rake speaks to quick, if not extreme steering response. The 17-inch wheels roll on IRC Road Winner bias-plies, a 110/70-17 in front and a 10mm-fatter-than-the-Ninja’s 140/60-17 in back. 

The Honda’s brakes deserve some attention. The standard model gets a two-piston caliper and a 296mm front disk, but there’s also an ABS version with a three-piston front caliper. It’s combined so that actuating the rear brake also activates the front caliper, depending on how much force is applied. Working the front lever doesn’t activate the rear brake, allowing for more “sporting use.” Stoppies, anyone? 

Styling, comfort and convenience touches aren’t forgotten. The fairing is sculpted and futuristic looking—maybe a little too busy for many American buyers, who tend to be a little older and more conservative than other markets, but step back and squint and it grows on you. There are nice rubber-covered grabrails for a passenger, the footpegs are mounted on real rearset brackets, there’s room under the seat for tools and maybe a sandwich (as long as it’s not a club) and the instruments are smoothly styled, with digital readouts for time, fuel, mph and engine temp. 

So how do they deliver all this technology at an affordable price? Take advantage of lower labor costs by building it outside of Japan is what I’d do. And so does Honda, building this bike at its Thailand plant (something Kawasaki and Triumph do as well), where it’s been building Thai and world-market bikes since 1967. That means an MSRP of just $3999 for the non-ABS model, exactly what the Ninja goes for. 

The CBR made a good first impression on me, as I’m used to waiting a minute or two for my 2010 Ninja 250R to warm up to a rideable state from cold. It fired right up and after stuttering a bit, was ready to ride away in just seconds. Fueling seemed right on, with no flat spots (although since it’s probably only making about 8 hp under 3000 rpm, it all feels like a flat spot) I could find. The gearbox was buttery-smooth, as was the light clutch pull and perfect engagement. 

The ergonomics will be found similarly friendly, and not just by beginners. At 30.5 inches, new riders will have plenty of confidence when the bike is stopped—no small thing, when you consider a third of prospective buyers in the “entry sport” category are women. But the other riders on our little press junket varied in size, from Motorcycle USA’s Steve Atlas trial size to Motorcycle.com Jeff Cobb Virginia Slims 120, and nobody faulted the ergos, even if Cobb looked a little silly. Wind protection is also comparable to what you’d find on a bigger sportbike, with a wide fairing and big windscreen bubble. The passenger seat is tiny, but not as small as the seat on some 250s I could mention. 

A big concern many have about buying a 250 is how it will perform at highway speeds. But unless you like to seriously abuse the law, the CBR is just fine. At a claimed 359 pounds full of gas (add nine pounds for ABS), it’s plenty heavy to not get blown around by semis and crosswinds. I felt engine vibration at higher rpm, a tingly buzz through the footpegs and grips, what you’d expect from a free-revving 250 Single, even if it’s counterbalanced. A 3.4-gallon tank should provide adequate range, although Honda hasn’t released mpg figures. After 100 miles, the fuel gauge read a third tank remaining, for what that’s worth. 

The six-speed gearbox, quick-revving motor and good midrange response help it get up to 60 mph as fast as you need, and a quick downshift to fifth is enough to access a nice little top-end kick for passing. The 250 functions like a larger bike, at least until you reach about 70 mph. From there, you’ll need a downhill slope or a lot of room to get up to the bike’s top speed, which we weren’t allowed to explore—not enough room on the I-405 between Torrance and Malibu. But I did see an indicated 80 mph at one point (and judging from a radar-equipped traffic sign, the CBR actually has little speedo error), and although it was past its 8500 rpm power peak, at about 9500 rpm, it still had a ways to go before redline in sixth gear. 

But who gets a 250 for top speed? Lightweight sportbikes are for tight, twisty roads like you’ll find in the canyons of Malibu. Following Honda development rider Jeff Tigert on a CBR600RR, we passed a rider on a big Moto Guzzi sportbike going uphill—and then we opened it up and had some fun. Although the CBR initially felt a little heavy-steering compared to the Kawasaki, it was very stable in turns and wasn’t hard to steer by any measure. The suspension was a little lacking—it’s clearly set up for the lower speeds and poor-quality pavement you’d encounter in developing areas—as the front end felt too soft and the rear shock felt sacked out. But it all worked well enough on bumpy, twisty pavement, and riding this bike on twisting roads is a ball, especially following other riders on similar bikes. 

Braking performance was adequate on the standard bike—you don’t need much power with a bike this light and slow. The ABS version worked as you’d expect, with a little mushiness at the lever, but I was impressed with how functional the combined braking was. It will help new riders brake smoothly and safely, but you can also just use the front setting up for turns. None of us noted the extra weight of the $500 ABS option. 

One thing we did all note was the tuning potential of this bike. The muffler seems restrictive, heavy and big enough to cause a cornering problem on the racetrack, and there’s no doubt the aftermarket will respond quickly. When it does, I’d expect a free-flowing exhaust to free up 3-5 ponies. Honda won’t give us power figures, but I’d guess the stock bike puts around 22 hp at the back wheel, so some tuning should make it almost as fast as the 92 mph (according to Cycle World’s radar gun in 2008) Kawasaki. The suspension is as rebuildable as any sportbike’s, so I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing this CBR at trackdays and on club-racing grids (Honda is offering lots of contingency money to club racers as well).

 What it all means is that Honda has a very competitive product here. It’s easy for new sportbikers to hop on and ride, it’s fast and entertaining enough for experienced riders, and at $3999 it’s priced right. Its only marked disadvantage is a top speed that may be just slightly lacking for high-speed commuting.

But the fact that it’s a Honda is enough for many new riders. Add in its styling, low seat, friendly nature and competitive price tag, and it could be one of the best-selling sportbikes of 2011. And that’s a very good thing, as most of those buyers will be new riders, younger than the average age of 49 reported by JD Power in its latest study. If our sport is to survive, it needs affordable and attractive new bikes to draw in young buyers, and consumers who have so many other things they can do with their money. The quarter-liter class used to be a one-man band—let’s hope Honda’s entry sparks enough interest to form a trio, or even a quartet.

120 Comments

  1. CBR250R says:

    I might be part of Honda’s demographic. I’m from Canada. I grew up riding dirtbikes and purchased a CBR125R last year as an affordable and fun way of getting back into riding.

    The interesting thing is that I could have purchased a Yamaha R1 if I had wanted to. Dealers were eager to start me off on one. A “real bike” they said. The problem for me was that a “real bike” could not perform at the level I required. It really all came down to a lack of performance. For instance, it:

    1) Was hard to find a new R1 for $2599. It wasn’t up to the task. I was underwhelmed by its cost performance.

    2) I really wanted an R1 that weighed 280 lbs wet. It was unable to perform in this area for me. It’s a pig in terms of weight. I was crestfallen by its poor weight performance.

    3) I tried desperately to find an R1 that could return 110 mpg (city) and 92 mpg on the highway (These are real figures from my CBR125R by the way – in imperial gallons). The R1 couldn’t offer this kind of fuel economy performance. I was very disappointed.

    4) I wanted an R1 that would cost me $390 per year for insurance. Not possible. Once again I was left disillusioned. It simply couldn’t perform in this area either.

    5) I wanted a bike that was incredibly flickable and fun in the twisties – with quick turn-in ability. The R1 is too stable and not as flickable. Sure out on the open road the stability of the R1 would be great. But one might as well be driving a Mustang convertible if they enjoy open motoring on straight highways. It’s the turns that make riding fun. Once again the R1’s handling performance left me cold.

    6) I wanted a bike that was easy, simple, and cheap to work on. Nothing more simple than a single cylinder engine compared to an inline four. Parts are incredibly affordable too. I actually started to feel bad for the R1 at this point, as it was evident that it lacked many performance attributes that were important. I was completely disheartened.

    7) I wanted a bike that I could ride in the city or on the highway and in both settings feel the excitement of extracting all the bike’s grin inducing performance – to feel like a racer – without the threat of losing my licence. To get this kind of fun from the R1 I would have to ride around in 1st gear all the time and even then I would be at risk of losing my licence in the city. And what fun would that be? Not to mention the stress on the bike. Once again, the R1 just couldn’t offer the same level of fun performance. Like it has been said many times – it’s more fun to ride a slow bike “fast” than it is to ride a fast bike “slow”. And perhaps unlike many people who ride large bikes, having fun riding is important to me.

    8) Finally I secretly yearned to be worshipped as a hero by my fellow riders on large bikes. These “experienced” riders have all at one time asserted that riding a low displacement bike on the highway is unsafe, as the power wouldn’t be there to get out of danger if needed. Wow instant “street cred” right there! They’ve all conceded that they have been (or would be) “scared $hitless” when riding a small bike on the highway not to mention the absolute terror of being blown around in your lane or being blown off the road by tractor trailers. I could simply explain to them that if these bikes were truly unsafe, there would be road statistics to back this up and hefty insurance premiums that aptly addressed this supposed issue. However, I’ve preferred to stay quiet and let them continue to believe that I am a hero – a renegade, maverick rider with boundless courage and better physical conditioning that enables me to ride under conditions that they would be far too afraid to ever attempt or at least ever attempt again.

    While it is evident and incontrovertible that the R1 is glaringly lacking in a number of key performance areas – I would definitely consider downgrading to an R1 from my CBR125R if its cornucopia-like list of performance decrements could be addressed, as I’ve heard (anecdotally) that it is a much faster bike. But would it be worth it to get a one-trick pony R1 just to improve on one aspect of performance? I am anxiously awaiting the introduction of the 2012 Yamaha R1. I figure that if Yamaha can knock $10,000 off the MSRP, remove 100 lbs of weight, and double the fuel economy, this might make it competitive enough in terms of performance with the CBR125R that I just might be convinced to ride blue. Otherwise – I’ll just buy a 2011 CBR250R (with ABS and in black please), as it will come much closer to meeting the criteria I’ve outlined above.

    • Mike M says:

      Easily the most spot on and entertaining post I’ve read regarding the CBR 250 R.

      • Doc says:

        I agree Mike M. It’s doubly so for me because I’m a Honda fan(even tho I don’t own one at the moment) and can’t stand Yamahas. I like your way of thinking CBR250R!!!

    • Wilson R says:

      I think you’re a bit tough on the R1. The R1 exists because there’s a market for it and many riders enjoy the performance with the compromises. The CBR250R will succeed like the R1 if enough people show interest and actually put up the money to own one. I think the little CBR is a great offering from Honda and I hope it succeeds, but it’s not going to be the do all bike that satisfies everyone. Everybody has a different idea of what they want in a bike and Honda Goldwing riders would be a good example as they would never be able to do with 125 or 250: crossing continents in comfort. Glad to hear that your content with your 125 but I don’t understand your slamming another bike because it doesn’t make sense to you.

      • MGNorge says:

        Wilson, he’s not slamming the R1 specifically although it is named. It’s all tongue in cheek and comes at the whole issue of buying a smaller bike opposed to a larger one based on needs and reality rather than mostly want. As I mentioned before, I’m old enough to remember all kinds of bikes under 500cc and many of them quite entertaining to ride. I even rode most of mine on the highway although I was not touring with them. But here especially in the US bikes started to get unreal. Each year eclipsing the last with newer and faster, read more powerful and heavier, bikes until the under 500cc bikes were all but gone. I’d be willing to bet many riders thinking they “need” a much more powerful bike, and all that comes with it, would be quite surprised just how versatile and fun these bikes can be.

        • CBR250R says:

          Actually MGNorge is correct. That piece I wrote was really meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but with a dose of reality thrown in. I wanted to highlight some of the clear advantages to riding a small displacement bike that people seem to miss. Most people I know who own a CBR125R either have other larger bikes or have owned other large bikes previously and just wanted to have fun riding again. Guess which one sits closest to their garage door? I just wonder how much more fun some people might have riding if they didn’t feel pressured into the “bigger and more expensive is better” or the low displacement bike is a “beginner’s bike” myth. And I have nothing against Yamaha’s R1. I am a big Yamaha fan and own a 2009 WR250R as well. It’s a great bike. You could simply replace “R1″ with “_____” (any large, heavy, expensive, or high performance bike) and I think the message would still hold true.

          I actually completed a 3200km (2000 mile) trip across the Province of Ontario this past summer on my CBR125R. Yes – on a CBR125R. I had a complete blast. Wanted to hop back on a doing it again a month later! And I was easily able to keep pace with highway traffic. The CBR125R was fitted with a tank bag, tail bag, and saddles, and I camped along the way. I plan to do something similar out to the East Coast of Canada after the 2011 CBR250R joins my stable this Spring.

          I tried to make the trip report as entertaining as my post above. If anyone is interested in reading it – here you go. All nine pages of it.

          [URL=”http://www.hondacbr125r.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5913″]http://www.hondacbr125r.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5913[/URL]

          or

          [URL=”http://www.tourbytwo.com/2010/10/24/3200km-camping-on-my-cbr125r-part1/”]http://www.tourbytwo.com/2010/10/24/3200km-camping-on-my-cbr125r-part1/[/URL]

    • Gabe says:

      Great post! Please email me: info@citybike.com

    • Maddy says:

      Superbly put. I am quite done listening to everybody whine about how much they think this bike falls short in top speed department and the 150 odd horses they feel must be there for them to buy a set of two wheels. I like to flick my bike around the corners and I don’t mind doing it at 70 mph. It gets there quickly enough and doesn’t burn the whole gas station getting there. One number black CBR250R with ABS please

  2. BlueSkyGuy says:

    In the last 10 years the average age of a rider has gone from 41 to 50. This means almost no new riders are entering the market for too many reasons to mention. Back when I first began riding it was 125, 175, and 250 dual perpose motorcycles I started on before moving up. This 250 is a great looking starter or re-enter motorcyle. I like it.

  3. Simon Jester says:

    I seriously doubt that Honda is too worried about what sport bike fanatics in the US think of the 250, that’s totally off of their marketing radar. Based on my time in Brazil in cities the size of Sao Paulo to ~50,000 I can tell you this bike will be like catnip to the late teens to late 20’s. City streets in the 3rd world don’t require twins and 250 singles are more than a match to anything likely to line up at the stop light drag races that happen every day.

    I suspect that similar findings will happen everywhere but here.

    • Nospig says:

      I think you are spot on Simon. I think what Honda means by ‘World Bike’ is Asia and if they can sell a few in the US and Europe then it’s a bonus. Here in Thailand the choice of bikes above 125cc is very limited, only Kawasaki have sensibly priced bikes on offer. Everything else is imported which can treble the price compared to the US.
      The new CBR is a little over $3000 in Thailand and a whole $1000 cheaper than the Kawasaki Ninja 250, dealers are selling them as fast as they arrive. It is easy enough to maintain for the bike shops used to dealing with scooters, cheap to run and will still blow away 99% of other bikes and cars on the road. It will probably sell more in Thailand in the first year than it ever does in the US and Europe.

  4. MN246 says:

    I think the bottom line on this bike is that it’s ugly. It looks like a baby VFR which is UGLY also. Honda needs to fire the styling department as a whole and start over.

  5. Old town hick says:

    WHY?: This 250 is a product generally meant for markets other than the U.S. Honda is selling some here probably because it is convenient and a bit of an experiment, as in “What the hell, nothing else is working in the states. Let’s send some over there and see what happens”. Emissions and equipment requirements have become more standardized around the world, so it is easier for manufacturers to build a “world bike” in the same manner that auto makers now frequently do with cars.

    The Look?: In trying to appeal to a fickle and style-conscious youth market, appearance is EVERYTHING. Consider Apple products. Steve Jobs and his crew probably spend more of their R & D budget on how their latest iphones LOOK than on how they work. Would a naked (and less fragile) CBR250R sell as good as the swoopy one Honda has settled on?

    Size Matters?: As far as the 250cc displacement is concerned this is a fundamental engine size for many markets around the world. In many countries you cannot buy a bigger bike even if you want to, or you must proceed chronologically through tiered (age) license requirements before doing so. Will many would-be riders really plunk down $4000 plus tax and title of their cash (or credit IF they can get it) here in the Land of the Crowded Interstate Highway? Do experienced riders with fond small-bike recollections from their youth really want to part with this kind of money on a 22 HP trip down memory lane?

    Verdict: This is a difficult and curious time to design and introduce a new model for the U.S. Honda is courageous for doing so, but their sales expectations are probably pretty low. But hey, I’ve got to give them credit for trying to recruit new blood. Will they sell a very modest number to newbies? Probably. Will more than a handfull of experienced (average age of 49) riders buy one? Not a chance.

    • Wilson R says:

      Many riders have “plunked down” $4000 for the Ninja, so I guess this crumbles your whole theory. The Ninja 250 is Kawasaki’s best seller.

    • Tom Barber says:

      And the obvious question is why they chose to do this rather than bring over the VTR250. Perhaps it has to do with lower engine production cost for a single vs. a V-twin. But I think it probably has more to do with their marketing group having concluded, based on history, that a small sporty V-twin would not likely sell very well. If if happens that this is the reason, and if they happen to be correct, the question that remains to be answered is whether this bike will sell any better than the VTR250 would have. We will never know the answer to this question, but if I were looking to buy a bike this small, I would vastly prefer the VTR250.

      • Wilson R says:

        It’s cheaper to build a single than a twin. Also, for most folks not interested in top speed, the single will offer more torque off the line and in the midrange. Honda is hoping that it’s betting correctly.

        • todd says:

          The configuration of the cylinders does not determine its torque output. The twin could easily be tuned to provide more torque than the single, or vice-versa. People who buy these bikes do so because of cost, not power. If they wanted more power they could buy the 500’s or 650’s or more. The single can be built at a lower cost and can be used (in part or in whole) in more applications. With the full bodywork, the visual benefit that the twin provides is wasted. The single will be fine.

  6. JimS says:

    I would love to have a modern liquid cooled 600cc+ single styled somewhat like my 1982 Honda Ascot FT500. The KTM Duke 690 is close but too expensive. The CBR250 is too small for me. I am over 200 lbs. I wish I was more skilled as a mechanic. I would take an XR650r motor and build a nice street single. I am not interested in a Supermotard bike. I want the essence of my Ascot in a modern single.

  7. todd says:

    I might need to sell off a couple of my old BMW’s and get one of these. Perfect for my 60 mile commute and my wife too. People’s tone will change after they get passed up a few times by experienced riders on this (like already happens with the lil’ Ninja).

  8. Kevin says:

    The bike could have (should have) been a 500 single. It would have appealed to the exact same beginner and added a much more experienced potential buyer group as well. The same extra torque that makes it easy to exit a parking lot or accelerate onto the freeway also makes it yummy to whack open the throttle at mid corner. At the same time a 500 single overwhelms no one. Eric Buell understood this as demonstrated with the poorly executed “Blast”. The 500 single is as weak as you can have in America and still retain freeway capability in hill country.

    Jimbo, you’re exactly right about bikes in the 350-500cc range. I’ve owned several beginning with an ’80 Honda 400 Hawk in college. My ’85 RZ350 is the only bike I ever regret selling. There’s a sweet spot for street bikes in this range of size that almost defies explaination. Balance, user frendliness, economy, serviceability among other reasons win us over when we look back over our riding careers. These bikes also require rider ability when the pace is turned up because with them you go fast by not going slow (energy management)!. They made the best out of us without scaring us silly in return. This class of motorcycles also promotes comraderie over ego. I for one enjoy backround scratching WITH others instead of leaving them in the dust alone. It’s simply more fun this way.

    I live in the Blue Ridge mountains and even a mean 250 is just too weak to sweep around traffic safely. I do, however, look forward to this reinvention/renewing of the product life cycle in motorcycling. VERY good times could be just around the corner again as manufacturers get back to the roots of riding.

    • Bob says:

      Speaking of the Blast, it regularly got 60-65 mpg. At the rear wheel it would dyno at 27HP and 25 Lb/ft. Don’t doubt the little 250 only has 10-12 lb/ft. Known plenty of owners who have never had a problem other than defending it’s silly looks. It was a sensible bike and actually quite fun.

      I actually find those bikes in the 350-500 cc range to be ideal for US roads. They’re capable, reliable and make good sense. It’s a shame you don’t find really good quality bikes of that size in this country, only extremely busget conscious crap that only comes in “classic” form. The GS500F is actually a very nice bike. Where did the 400s go?

      • Bob says:

        forgot add:

        “The bike could have (should have) been a 500 single. It would have appealed to the exact same beginner and added a much more experienced potential buyer group as well.”

        You’re very right. When the bike is geared for the extreme beginer only, it isn’t long before it is sold off to another person of the same skillset. This one bike might see 6 or 7 owners in it’s short life rather than each owner buying new. The original owner might be inclined to keep it longer if there was something to grow into and even over time develop some brand loyalty.

      • Wilson R says:

        It matters not what the gas mileage was, the B-Last was a failure because it was so darn ugly! They did foist a lot of them to MSF schools, but I think that most folks would be embarrassed to be seen riding one. Buell had a lot of great ideas but the B-Last was not one of them.

    • todd says:

      I bet the 500 Blast is no more faster than this 250 Honda. I know plenty of people who are intimidated even by the 250 Ninja. I usually have to dig out an old 90 or 125 (no fairings either) for them to feel comfortable enough to try it out.

    • Chris #2 says:

      I got rid of my street bikes out of fear for my life from all the ultra dangerous teenage text message zombies on the road. The one bike I kept was my 85 RZ350. A classic example of the old Japanese design philosophy of twice the power than the chassis can handle. The kind of bike that’s a blast at 40 mph in the canyons.

      I hope this new generation of sensible sport bikes is successful. I don’t want to go 190. A whole new generation is going to figure out that it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.

  9. jimbo says:

    Nobody posted what a great road test you wrote Gabe! Great job!

  10. jimbo says:

    I’m going on 57 and owned about 75 bikes, quickest/fastest probably a ’00 VFR800. Also owned a ’98 Ducati SS900 and ’00 BMW R1150GS.

    My favorite to ride overall was an ’83 Yamaha Vision liquid cooled 62-degree DOHC V-twin (V-Max motor split in half, higher state of tune), w/ dual front disc and minus the fairing. I had more fun on it than any other street bike, by quite a huge margin…curb jumping, wheelies, power and torque up the wazoo, absolutely grin-inducing. I felt like I was breaking the law even when I wasn’t (well, only a little). Second overall favorite was probably the first year Honda CX500 (standard model).

  11. Bjorn says:

    More choice = good.

    From the sounds of some of the comments, you’d think full on – track ready sportbikes were not sold anymore.

    Stop your crying. Look at the 1000RR or the new 10R (once fixed ;)) and then think about whether you really want to complain about a 250. I’m personally glad the new riders out there have another choice to look at.

    Kawi is bringing the 400R to Canada, I think that’s an excellent trend to see more choice at the entry level end of the spectrum. We have plenty of high power options out there.

  12. Dave says:

    “If our sport is to survive, it needs affordable and attractive new bikes to draw in young buyers, and consumers who have so many other things they can do with their money.”

    Sorry, “they” won’t buy it. They don’t know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle, do not want to get an additional certification/endorsement to their drivers license, do not want to purchase/wear additional/specialized/expensive riding apparel, do want extra room to throw their fast food wrappers and the occasional riding buddy, will not tolerate lack of protection from the elements, do want their eardrums pounded by the latest MP3 and want to share it with the rest of the travelling world (i.e., no earbuds).

    Cycles (in the USA) have always appealed to a distinct minority – those who find the romance/adventure in travelling on a motorized two-wheel machine regardless of the impracticality or inconvenience. We put up with everything else for that romance. If we cannot afford a new machine, we purchase a used machine. If you want to get someone new (but already fascinated with the romance) into riding, the best thing would be to have large batches of relatively small-displacement dual-sport bikes available for lots of regional “demo days” where a newby can actually get on a bike (on a closed course) and give it a go without worrying about other traffic or dumping the thing (and themselves). They don’t even need to be new bikes. This is what hooked me over 35 years ago and still is valid today.

    • Ken says:

      Demo days are gone with most motorcycles because of insurance. The last three motorcycles I’ve purchased had to come without a chance to test it. The best I could do is read extensively about them or track down someone willing to let me through a leg over theirs. Insurance was always the reason I couldn’t get that first ride.

      That being said, my last two bikes were enduros. I scoffed at a 250 becuase I thought it wouldn’t do what a 450 or a 650 could. Boy, was I ever wrong. I had several friends buy a KLX250 enduro and that puppy handled everything handed to it. Highways to singletrack. Very impressed with what a 250 thumper can do. Perfect for a beginner. Americans are largely stuck on the notion that bigger is better. But not all. This is a great product for those people.

      For those that think a 500 is the answer, its not. For the guy who works for minimum wage, this is something he/she can get NEW with a WARRANTY and afford the insurance. Something very important for many people with limited funds.

  13. Scott says:

    “it could be one of the best-selling sportbikes of 2011″

    . . . uhhhhh, how do you define “Sportbike”? Does a full fairing make it a sportbike even though it’s got 20 horsepower and weak brakes?

    Honda also made a great sports-car many years ago. It was called the Del Sol.

    • MGNorge says:

      Sportbike in style and riding dynamics. Nowhere is it said that to posess the sportbike tag a motorcycle should reach 60 mph in under 3 seconds or reach 190 mph on top. I don’t recall the del Sol being marketed as a sports car. It was simply a two-seater, open air (if wanted), car built on the Civic platform.

  14. Bob says:

    As far a gas mileage goes, I’ve had 4 Buells and every one of them got around 50 mpg. The best I’ve ever gotten was 58. That’s out of a 1200cc twin with about 90 RWHP. If this 250 can’t get any better than that, they should have bumped up displacement to 300 or 350. At highway speeds, these little bikes have to work too hard and spin too high of rpms to generate the HP to fight wind resistance and the gas mileage suffers greatly. A little extra displacement would provide better power down low to get off the line better, require less rpms to cruise and achieve better MPG and still not be intimidating to new riders.

    • GMan38 says:

      I thought I saw somewhere else Honda expects about 200 miles to a tank of gas.

    • jimbo says:

      I owned a Ulysses (thank goodness for only a few weeks). “90 RWHP” is quite optimistic IMO. I estimate low 70s RWHP at best. The oil cooled Sportster twins don’t make 90 hp in any OEM guise, even Eric’s. Uly weight is just a little under my old Suzuki GS1000, whose hp was in the mid-high 70s. The GS1000 did hi 11s 1/4s, the Ulysses low 12s, so no way the Uly made more power than the GS.

    • tastroman says:

      My uly gets 42MPG and I read the Honda could get upwards of 60mpg. Throw in the light weight of the Honda, presumed Honda reliability and the 4g price tag, it makes no sense to compare it to a Buell.

    • Bob says:

      All my Buells had the Pro-Series exhaust systems and race ECM. They were making 95RWHP and much better mids than stock. Off the floor, my various Buells were coming in right around 90 RWHP. Still, I always got right around 50 mpg. Plenty of new XB1200 owners that get around 60 mpg. I only bring up the Buell as an example because 60 mpg, even 65 mpg isn’t very impressive on someting that can barely get out of it’s own way.

      Don’t even bring the reliability issue to the table. 2 of my Buells have gone to Anchorage from Houston, twice. To both coasts including Nova Scotia and as far south as the Panama Canal without missing a beat. I’ve had some bad ones though too. But I’ve also had problematic Hondas…including the CBR in my garage.

    • todd says:

      You also were probably only using 20 or less power nearly all the time. Bikes are rated higher than many people ever take them. Use everything that the bike can offer and you’d; A. get killed, B. get arrested, and B. probably get 20 MPG.

  15. ziggy says:

    *exhaust note*

    Snooorrre….

  16. Kawboy says:

    Ok, now it’s comparo time. Hope you guys are working on the Kawasaki, Honda, and Hyosung 250 sport bike shootout!

    • todd says:

      Don’t forget to throw in a vintage bike for good measure; like a RD250 or something. This way we can see if things have gotten any better over the years or if it’s worth paying the additional $3000 for the Honda over the RD.

  17. Tom Barber says:

    It makes sense for an engine this small to use one cylinder rather than two. The reason is that with one cylinder you have (theoretically) less mass for the same displacement. And because the two pistons in parallel twins move as one (conventionally), there is no difference in vibration that is due to the center of mass not being stationary. There is still of course a difference in thrust occurring discretely once every 720 degrees vs. once every 360 degrees for a conventional in-line twin.

    Thus, even if it happens that the weight of the bike is the same as the weight of the VTR250, the weight of the engine itself is probably less. This is almost certainly the principal reasoning for the use of the single cylinder engine, although cost may also be a consideration.

    Given that the overall weight is the same as with the VTR250, it would seem that, assuming that they did in fact achieve some mass reduction in the engine via the single-cylinder, that the mass reduction was consumed elsewhere. Perhaps the frame is heavier, or the pipe, but you cannot help but look at it and wonder how much all that plastic weighs.

    Which leads to this question:

    Does this much plastic belong on a bike this small?

    To my way of thinking, the answer is no. It looks nice, but there is no question that it adds unnecessary weight, and on a bike this small, the last thing you want is any unnecessary weight. I suspect that it will not take long at all before almost all of these bikes that you see on the road will be missing most of the plastic, in which case they will not look pretty. Having just compared the pictures of this bike with the VTR250, I think that if I were looking to buy a bike this size and I had a choice between the two, I would take the VTR250.

    • jimbo says:

      “…but you cannot help but look at it and wonder how much all that plastic weighs.

      Which leads to this question:

      Does this much plastic belong on a bike this small?

      To my way of thinking, the answer is no. It looks nice, but there is no question that it adds unnecessary weight, and on a bike this small, the last thing you want is any unnecessary weight. I suspect that it will not take long at all before almost all of these bikes that you see on the road will be missing most of the plastic…”

      As a ratio, what do you think would be the weight of the extra, perceived unnecessary plastic compared the curb weight bike + rider? My estimate is the weight of the plastic will be extremely small as a ratio, imperceptible while riding. Modern plastic is lighter than earlier vintages.

      • Wilson R says:

        The Ninja 250 wouldn’t be the big seller that it is without the plastic.

      • Tom Barber says:

        It all depends on how you define “extremely small”. I doubt that the actual ratio or percentage would be so small as to justify the use of the word “extremely”. “Extremely small” to my way of thinking would be less than 1%. This bike has a small fairing that is too low to accomplish much beyond creating turbulence at the level where it will hit the rider’s helmet. If you include the extra weight there along with all the unnecessary plastic, my guess is that it would account for about 5% of the total mass. To many people this would be insignificant, but to my way of thinking, on a bike of this sort, where the power/mass ratio is not so great, this is significant.

        Of course, as a percentage of actual accelerated mass, i.e., the total mass including the rider, the mass of the plastic is an even smaller percentage. With even a light rider weighing only 140 lb, the total mass is still going to be minimally 500 lb, so we are talking roughly 23 lb per hp. Small engines of this sort also tend to have narrow, peaky power bands, so the overall acceleration will be less than it would be for a typical passenger car with a similar power-to-weight ratio. There are many family vehicles nowadays with V6 engines with around 3.0 liter displacement and with variable valve timing and making around 250 hp, and weighing perhaps 3600 lb with driver. This works out to around 15 lb per hp. Many passenger cars with in-line fours have peak power around 200 hp and with driver weigh around 3500 lb, which still comes out at around 18 lb per hp, a good deal better than the the effective power-to-weight ratio for this bike, easily over 22 lb per hp. It is thus apparent that this bike will be a good deal slower than the vast majority of four-wheeled vehicles on the road. It will have almost no passing ability on regular highways, and I for one would not take it onto a freeway except when well away from any urban area. The question thus becomes, with this kind of bike, if you had the option to omit that extra 10 – 20 lb or whatever it actually is, and it would still look factory without that extra weight, would you consider that amount of weight reduction to be significant. To my way of thinking, for a bike of this sort, I would prefer it without the plastic.

        • Wilson R says:

          I agree with your lbs. per HP theory, though the HP quoted by the auto companies is for peak HP that we rarely use on the streets. In fact, my 1200 Bandit has an 11,000 rpm reline but rarely gets over 5000 rpm as there is no need for that kind of power on the streets. The aerodynamics at freeway speeds is most likely better with the plastic than without. Also, the demographics that buy the Ninja and the same ones that will consider buying the little CBR. Thus, the plastic.

  18. jon says:

    I like this new Honda a lot.I’m 57 years old and started riding motorcycles at 8. I still enjoy riding.And I still enjoy riding the smaller motorcycles too.And guess what? I even enjoy riding–scooters. This sport is supposed ton be fun above all, and many of us are brain washed into thinking riding the smaller bikes isn’t fun, or isn’t “manly” enough. I would challenge people that think that way to try a Yamaha XT225 on some trails, or a Ninja 250 on a country back road, or a TU250.This new Honda looks like it has what it takes to me.

    jon

  19. Fernando Pan says:

    I have a fuel injected Ninja 250. With an open exhaust and an IAT mod, the little bastard shows 180 km/h (about 113 mph) on the speedometer.
    I think that the top speed is what makes the Ninja a special bike, because it does more than you expect, so I whink Honda made a big mistake by making this single cylinder engine.

    • Mark P. says:

      Lucky. It’d be nice if the U.S. market got FI Ninja 250s.

    • MikeD says:

      +1 on the EFI, and what’s this IAT Mode u speak about ?

      • Fernando Pan says:

        IAT is the temperature sensor. If you trick the sensor you can run it richer. The stock bike is too lean, mainly if you change the pipe.

      • Wilson R says:

        If the IAT sensor thinks it’s colder than it really is it will make the mixture richer and when a freer flowing air cleaner and exhaust is added it will make more power. Even a 5 HP difference will definitely be felt in the saddle on the 250.

  20. Dannytheman says:

    MPG’s are very important now in this economy. I would ride a 250 to commute if I was getting 90MPG. But in your test it was getting about 50-55ish. Damn, I get 45 on my Harley.

  21. MGNorge says:

    Remember, this bike may just represent a start-off point for new riders. Many spoken here that it’s too small and underpowered need not apply. If sales do show an interest and surveys show enough interest in other models heading north of this one we may well see a 450-500cc model hit the stores. But no manufacturer wants to bring product in just to see them sit in warehouses. This way too, if this bike fails to bring them in, Honda can probably ship them to other markets where they do sell. For the health of our sport here I do hope it succeeds.

  22. Lee says:

    360 pounds and 22 HP! Maybe an electric future looks better than I first thought. I think I’ll just keep my RZ350 until the EPA rips it from my oily, smoky hands!

  23. MarkF says:

    I would still rather have the Suzuki TU250X. A flat black option would be killer!

    • MikeD says:

      Aside from the spoked wheels… i think i would too.

      • MGNorge says:

        The Suzuki looks rather retro and plain. Not sure it would attract the younger set that doesn’t have a connection with the past. Putting this Honda next to the TU250X and the Honda looks like a jet fighter compared to a trainer. Maybe it’s just me but the Honda would get my blood boiling before the Suzuki would and I’m speaking on looks alone.

  24. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    I’m curious to see how this bike goes over within the next year.
    I’m not convinced that, just because the economy is in a depression, people will be buying this bike in numbers.
    The next year will tell.

    Ever since I’ve been involved with motorcycling, whenever Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, or Suzuki brought a 250cc-or-whatever-size street single to the USA, it basically sat on the showroom floors and collected dust, and was often used as a conversation piece with the sales staff and the customers they knew.
    The next year will tell.

    I can easily imagine the majority of young people scoffing at the thought of riding a 250 single as their street bike, and they’d probably view it as being caught seen going out with the girl in class that nobody wanted to be seen with.
    That’s just not cool, not to mention pretty slow.
    A lot of young people believe they need enough power to keep up with the Jonses, whether they have saggin’ pants and wear NBA-type shorts in cold weather or not.
    The next year will tell.

    Myself?
    The bike simply looks cheap, with typical spindly-looking fork legs with crude internals, old-school tires, and 1980-spec swingarm.
    The fact that it’s called a CBR and has a full fairing will probably appeal to certain riders, but I think the bike would appeal to me a lot more if lost that silly bodywork and handlebars for some naked bike stuff, instead, and allowing the thing that probably got the vast majority of it’s development time and money – the new engine – to be seen easily.
    To hell with any silly ABS, too, but, that’s just me.

    The next year will tell. :)

    • Gabe says:

      John, do you know the Ninja 250 may be the best-selling sportbike in the USA–ever? You could say a lot of the same things about the Kawi that you just did about the CBR.

  25. Joey Wilson says:

    While the arms race will not stop, it will slow down: I mean, where do you go from here, 250hp on pump gas and insurance the price of one semester at Harvard? I believe we will begin to see S1000RR’s and ZX10R’s and the like slot into a race replica category sold in limited numbers, with bikes along the lines of Ninja 1000’s becoming the suberbike norm, just a click or two back from an AMA license.

    Cheap gas and cheap financing have painted the majors into this deception of buying as GSXR600 or R6 as your ‘first bike’. Check the classifieds for just how many are on the used market less than a year old with less than a thousand miles on them: Musta scared a few people right out of the market.

    This is a home run for Honda, in style, price, and content. They’ll sell like crazy. Maybe a little light on horsepower for full-growed men, but with any luck this will make them revive a 400-500cc class that’s been MIA for too long. With today’s engine technology, this would be a great compromise of power, economy, and price. I’d love to see the new Kawi Ninja 400 / ER4n twins brought in, and the older CB400 Super Four would be great.

    Give people a choice from 250cc’s up, WITHOUT that huge jump to AMA 600’s or worse, and this market would come around. The way they’ve been doing it is over.

    • Cory says:

      I definitely agree. The old CB-1 was a great bike, and the Bandit 400 was just a flat out better motorcycle than the Bandit 600. Anything modern and performance oriented in the 350-450cc range would appeal to me. I would love a nimble and peppy small bike to go next to the ST4s in the garage.

      • jimbo says:

        What Cory wrote, and Joey here:

        “…with any luck this will make them revive a 400-500cc class that’s been MIA for too long. With today’s engine technology, this would be a great compromise of power, economy, and price. I’d love to see the new Kawi Ninja 400 / ER4n twins brought in, and the older CB400 Super Four would be great…”

        The last 600 race replica I rode was a CBR600F2. I ripped, quicker and faster than my old Suzuki GS1000, and handled obviously way better. I can imagine the performance of modern 600 race replicas (I also rode Triumph’s 675R, which had way-good power, but light on torque and just too buzzy/busy for me).

        A modern well balanced street bike between 350-500cc could be the best ever street machine. I’ve dreamed about the 450-550 Aprilia twins but to say they are unreliable, needlessly exotic, require too much service, and have way inferior parts and dealer support is an epic understatement.

        • Cory says:

          I am seriously considering doing a RSD style dirtbike conversion for the street. Take a 250-450cc dual sport or supermoto (so the title will be for on-road use) and put sportbike suspension and wheels on it. It would make way more power than this 250, and be lighter to boot.

  26. john says:

    If this trend is correct would a GB500 be very far off??

    I like this CBR 250 it is a great looking bike. Sure to interest new riders.

    But a GB500 for 6k?? Think it would sell?? They styling would be right and a 6k price tag would would attrack some experienced riders as well

  27. George Krpan says:

    Has anyone noticed that Suzuki has dropped the price of the GS500F from $5499 to $4399?

    • MikeD says:

      They should drop the HIDEOUS THING ALL TOGHETER from a Mile High CLIFF with carbide tipped steel pikes and anti-tank mines waiting at the Bottom and then MELT ALL THE TOOLING and erase any records of it from motorcycle history…
      Then model something MODERN along the lines of Yamaha’s YZF 125R, Aprilia’s RSV 125 or any of the current crop of 600’s and drop a EFI liquid cooled 500 single or twin in it and call it a day.
      Something people would like to be seen riding in broad dayligth.

      • jimbo says:

        Mike, are you BLOCKING…AGAIN?

        • MikeD says:

          Jimbo buddy…Blocking ? Im still scratching my head trying to figure that one out ? A little help, please ?

      • George Krpan says:

        Are you saying that it’s just ugly or/and it’s a lousy bike?

        • MikeD says:

          I would be cool with the current running hardware(EFI would be nice tho) if it looked better. So yes, i think the most current one was a lame execution of applying to it the GSXR Theme.
          They CAN do way better and should not let it dry up and die.
          The standard naked one with the round headlight at least looked like it was not pretending to be and portrait something it never would be.

          • George Krpan says:

            I agree that it’s not the best looking bike but the bodywork would have to make it much better to ride than the naked.
            My original point is that price difference between it and the Kawasaki and Honda 250s is negligible yet it has 50+ horsepower.

    • todd says:

      The GS500E (without the fairing) was such a better looking bike. Besides, being a standard (Naked?), it wasn’t ever compared, performance wise, against things like the GSXR600. Now that they turned it into a “Sport Bike” it’s just lousy and lame looking to boot. I used to see WAY more GS500E’s on the road than I ever have seen the F – maybe one or two of those.

  28. William says:

    “Always wanted those cool little bikes they have in other countries? Be careful of what you wish for. I know, it’s depressing me, too.”

    Gabe, I’m not sure I understand why you would be depressed?

    Seems like this would be a good thing, attracting new riders to our sport. They sure as hell aren’t gonna learn to ride on an FZ8, VTX1800 or a Triumph Thunderbird. This bigger is better mentality in America is obviously not working to attract new buyers.

    Perhaps letting the manufacturers cut costs by making models they can sell all over the world instead of separate models just for the U.S. market would allow them to send us more bikes. We in the U.S. would benefit from greater variety of models and styles. Perhaps retail prices could come down also.

    My first street bike was a Kawasaki 440LTD and it hauled my ass all over southern California, no problem. I bought bigger and bigger bikes over the years until I recently rode a friends 650cc bike and realized it was perfect, just the right size. I traded in the liter bike for a 650cc and am very happy.

    This Honda looks like it will be a terrific bike, and not just for beginners. I am an experienced rider and have had many motorcycles over the years, I am excited about it. I want a small ride for the commute. I’ll probably buy one for my son also. He’s interested in riding and it will be his first bike. I sure as hell don’t need him learning on a 95hp 600 super sport.

    Maybe I’m a little out of touch here, but I can only see this as a good thing. Gas ain’t gonna get any cheaper either, so smaller displacement bikes are in our future. Now if they could only fit a device that kills cell phones within a quarter mile of my motorcycle, I’d be really happy.

    • james says:

      couldn’t agree more. i progressed up the displacement ladder like this:

      10 years old – 50cc
      12 years old – 70cc
      18 years old – rd400
      19 years old – 550 supersport
      20 years old – GS1100
      28 years old – 750S
      40 years old – 800 twin
      next? the motoguzzi 750? mid-70’s japanese standard? a single?

      sometimes less is more.

      I would love a big tourer or multistrada for long trips, but lets face it, 99% of my riding is to the shops less than 2 miles away through downtown traffic. useless to have a big powerful bike for that. not everyone hits the freeway, and in fact I avoid it at all costs, superslad=superdrab. That is not motorcycling. Smaller bikes are more fun on fun roads. period.

    • Gabe says:

      I wrote that for a couple of reasons–one, I think the motorcycle market is changing from one of massive change and innovation every year to something more sustainable, with a focus on smaller, less expensive models that are developed for a global market. Little bikes are cool, but go somewhere like India or Thailand and that’s pretty much all you can get.

      Another reason is that the USA and European markets are no longer leading the world–more proof of America’s waning as the sole superpower. I’m as patriotic as the next guy, and this isn’t the place to go into the why of it, but that it’s happening is irrefutable.

      And maybe I’m just getting old…things seemed much more exciting 5 to 10 years ago.

  29. Norm G. says:

    i sure hope (for honda’s sake) the comparos to the ninja 250 stop sooner rather than later. :( i have had the ninja 250 on a busy interstate, but it’s not something i’d suggest making a habit of. other than “250cc” moniker, it only seems right to compare singles to singles. this bikes REAL competitor i would think is the WR250 or the foreign market yamaha R125. don’t mistake this bike being “sold” in america as being designed “for” america. it’s only here to leverage the cost of it’s production against the low margins it commands. if i had to guess, honda has to sell prolly 2X to 3X as many of these just to EQUAL the returns of say a 600 or a 1000. 4X to exceed the returns of those (then only just). since they’ve been in thailand for over 4 decades, i can’t imagine this bike costs exponentially less to manufacture in the year 2010. less, but not exponentially less. however, honda are certainly forced (by the nature of what this is) to have an exponentially lesser price point. :( not so with a CBR, VFR, or G-wing. hopefully, it’s presence stateside helps go some way at correcting the walmart/bestbuy/dollartree mindset regarding bikes 600cc and over. ie. that rather than being “expensive” (a relative term), that instead, one is in fact getting what they pay for. pay less ya get less. pay more ya get more. i mean, if ya wanted to buy a car with thrills and performance close to what’s delivered by almost ANY modern motorcycle you’d be shopping 911’s and F430’s over $100 grand…? not accords and camrys at $20 grand…?

  30. Iv@n says:

    The missing link of motorcycling, the Ninja 400R had to be mentioned by someone here. All Kawasaki has to do is make it available in most North America. But then riders might still not have in their garages this stylish, cute gem called the CBR250R. Life ain’t easy, my friends..

    • MikeD says:

      They should make it available, at least thru special order like the Super Tenere…variety ain’t a bad thing.

  31. ben says:

    nice looking bike, but a 250cc single? It is going to be tedious to go very far on that thing. It will be fun to screw around on and fun for rank beginners of small stature, but too underpowered to be considered as an everyday rider

  32. Wilson R says:

    The cockpit on the Honda is waaay more modern than the one on the Ninja. I think if someone is trying to decided between the two bikes, once they’ve seen the Honda in person they will buy it.

  33. Waynej says:

    I can’t wait to see and ride the Honda if it is built like a real bike as they say. The Kawi feels so cheaply built and heavy. Who cares if it is down a couple horsepower on top when beginners and many women won’t ride it like they stole it. The guys that complain it doesn’t have enough power won’t be buying this bike, or any other 250 anyway. You don’t need a “pipey” bike for the riders this bike is meant to appeal to.

  34. johnny ro says:

    I want one. Have to go sit on one. This will replace GS500F which is my small bike. The new ex250 looks and feels a bit wierd, I am not sure its better than my old ex250F8 which I gave away to a short friend.

    The idea of 100hp beginners’ bikes has to end. This is a very nice segue into a logical future where more people will be riding.

    The friend with my ex250F8 has three CA 77s in basement among other things. They are from another time of great beginnings.

    The thing that will kill this as way to get teenagers to ride is Twitter. They don’t need to get around physically with their social media.

  35. Joe says:

    How can they say the only disadvantage is top speed.There are no 1/4 mile times or Dyno chart times for hp. or tourqe conparing the Honda vs. Kawasaki. When you have 250cc’s every pony counts.Everybody knows the Kawasaki has a huge advantage in breathing with two cylinders vs the Honda one cylinder.Based on the Honda approx. 22hp it is down about 6-7hp. The bottom line is, the Honda is slow. Bye the Kawasaki.

  36. Don Fraser says:

    Drill out the fuel screw caps on your Ninja and back the screws out a turn, start the bike and ride. Strange how a “peaky” bike will haul my 300 lb self with minus 3 teeth on the back sprocket and plus 1 on the front. Kawasaki is clever when they install a speedo that is a full 10% optimistic. My GPS shows 91 mph, while the speedo reads 100 with my butt on the seat. Corbin seat is a little better than stock, Avon tires work real well. You are a fool if you pipe a small bore bike, they are always working hard and the noise never stops. We should all be promoting quiet bikes, especially you media types.

  37. RedFZ1 says:

    Sales of large bikes are slow huh? We are all facing a bad economy and yet a new Honda Gold Wing costs north of 20 grand. And the new BMW six? Again….way too expensive. Want to sell the bigger bikes? Try bringing the prices down.

  38. Al says:

    You forgot to mention the currency swings of the last couple of years that increase prices of all imported goods.

  39. Al says:

    What about the fact that the dollar is worthless over the last two years causing prices to increase. Who wants to spend 10k on a bike?

  40. CraigE says:

    I absolutely love the stock pipe!

    • MikeD says:

      Like my cousin says, w/e tickles ur pickle… i find it too big, but i guess we need clean air to live and low noise levels for the general public not to hate us and catalytic’s big mufflers to reside in, scrub the filfty fumes and lower the noise of the exhaust.
      There’s always the aftermarket to fix it for those of us who don’t like it.

  41. Tim says:

    I expect Kawasaki to immediately lower the price of the Ninja 250…I’d bet on it. That will make it tough for Honda to sell a lot of these in the states.

    I like the looks of the bike, except for that can. In a world of ugly Japanese cans, this one takes the cake. It’s nearly as wide as the bike is tall. Otherwise, great looking little bike.

    • MikeD says:

      Im hoping Kawasaki throws in EFI for FREE(FAT CHANCE,LOL) and ABS as an Option to make a good case over this Honda.
      Im too spoiled already by EFI and is almost 2011 “for me” to be tinkering with a stinkin carb and an enrichener lever every time the engine is cold. JMHO.
      I know lots of people still prefer Carburetors and THAT’S COOL…no need to argue there. OK ? LoL.

  42. Brinskee says:

    I don’t know why this depresses me so much, but it does. Maybe it’s because this and the Kawi signal the end of an era. A changing of the guard. When markets shift some are left exposed. I feel exposed, and that the clock is ticking for more restrictions, lower ticket sales to motorcycle races, and different people joining our little club. I understand what this makes me sound like, but I can’t deny how it makes me feel. Do not want.

    Linked ABS? Hell, I don’t even want ABS in the first place. I see this all as a sign of bad things to come. I hope I’m wrong. I see an whole crowd of newcomers on their small, underpowered army of shitty-little-singles, and I see myself on a literbike being banished to the racetrack because I’m too loud, too fast, and too dangerous. Mark my words. This is not a good sign.

    I know you can’t fight change. Does that mean you have to sit back and take it? I’m booking a flight to Qatar to see the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP in March. At least I can soak up what I love while we’ve still got it.

    • Superchicken says:

      I’m sure many people shared the same sentiment when the Japanese first introduced bikes to this market as well. But look where we are now: there’s a huge diversity of bikes. The fact is that the more people there are out there on two-wheeled vehicles, the better off we all are as it’s that much more exposure for us. As far as ABS, I wish my bike had it since it’s undeniable that it’s safer on the street, even more so in the sketchy conditions I’m likely to encounter as a year-round rider.

      What this country has needed for years is a practical and inexpensive way into the world of motorcycles. Well, that and higher gas prices to drive people towards more economical forms of transportation. Admittedly the economy seems to be doing pretty well on that front judging by the increase in motorcycles I’ve seen on my commute this year.

  43. Bill Wolk says:

    I like everything about it except the full fairing. One parking lot tip over, and you’ll be spending a third the bike’s purchase price in new plastic. Of course, the same is true for the 250 Ninja, which is why I’m looking at used SV650s for my wife’s first bike.

    • Brinskee says:

      She will be so happy you went for the SV instead of the CBR. It might take a few months, but when she gets the hang of it, she won’t have outgrown it so very quickly and will have more than enough power to explore. Not so much on the Honda…

  44. Jmedina says:

    If you plan on selling this bike to the younger crowd you’ll need to find a way that they can text and ride at the same time…

    Most kids won’t give up the convenience a cage provides them to multitask while they are operating heavy machinery…

    • Calvin and Hobbes says:

      i don’t now, have you ever seen the cockpit of a goldwing? Good gravy you might as well be texting….

  45. james says:

    i love it. i wouldn’t buy one but only because i’m past the entry-level bike stage but i would have in the past most definitely. My wife would love something like this, just a bit more serious than the cbr125 she’s been looking at, but not too serious.

    Anything that gets young riders onto a bike is to be applauded, especially something like this.

  46. S Calwel says:

    It’s time for an updated “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” promotion. This product could be the best product for future sales. The industry needs new riders and entry bikes like the 250 meet all the requirements.

    They should take this bike and a couple of scooters to College Campuses and non-motorcycle events to promote the fun, utility and economy of 2 wheels. Plant a seed today and tomorrow…..

    • Mickey says:

      Considering the age bracket this bike is aimed for you’d have a hard time convincing most of the people in America that “the nicest people” are the tatooed, pierced, hat on sideways, pants hanging below their underwear, blinged out, rap listening, wheelie/stoppie pulling gansta crowd

      • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

        Lets not generalize too much, shall we? This group is entering the hardest job market in decades. Lets give them a little credit.

        • Superchicken says:

          Indeed, and not to mention that this is said about every generation by the preceding generation.

          • Justin says:

            it’s amazing how many conversations I, a clean-cut middle-class caucasian professional, get into with dudes who have ink up and down their arms and dudes who look lifted straight out of a rap video just because we both happen to be on motorcycles.

            they may not be the ‘nicest’ people in the Beaver Cleaver sense, and neither am I, but I do meet a lot of people on my Honda and they’re usually pretty nice to me

          • Wilson R says:

            Kids do the darnedest things! There is an upside as I plan on making millions rebuilding stretched ear lobes in about 10 years!

  47. buddygixxerninja says:

    i love the look of it. i’m also happy that it’s fuel-injected and comes with available ABS. kawasaki needs to step it up a big and offer their 250 with ABS and fuel-injection. i’m looking forward to adding this little moto to my collection.

    • Norm G. says:

      i wouldn’t hold my breath for any “arms race” to kick off down at this end of the market. i predict kawasaki will do little if anything.