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2011 Honda CBR250R: MD Ride Review

You may have read Gabe’s reports from the official press introduction of the 2011 Honda CBR250R here and here.  We asked Honda for a unit to test for a couple of weeks near our offices in Southern California.  The bike was ridden by three test riders other than Gabe over the course of our evaluation.

The first question I asked Gabe to focus on at the press introduction was whether the CBR250R was fast enough to feel comfortable on Southern California freeways.  Freeways, where traffic frequently flows faster than 70 mph, and where you want to have some motor left to get out of the way of that bonehead changing lanes into you.  A very important question in my mind, and one that Gabe answered in the affirmative.  I can confirm that everyone who rode the CBR250R felt that it was fast enough.  Yes, guys who ride 1000 cc superbikes and assorted other bikes routinely thought the little 250 had enough motor to be both fun and practical, and more importantly not dangerous on our crowded, often congested freeways.

In fact, the CBR250R feels very comfortable (not stressed) cruising at 75 mph on Southern California freeways, and can even cruise at speeds higher than that without feeling like it is about to grenade.  Top speed appears to be roughly 90 mph.

The bike is also fast enough around town.  It comfortably pulls away from stop lights quicker than just about any automobile short of an exotic sports car.  Something motorcycle riders expect.  Demand, even.

Yes, the CBR250R is slow when compared with many larger displacement motorcycles, but it is “fast enough”, and this conclusion addresses the single, biggest concern expressed by potential buyers who have not ridden the bike (many U.S. riders think “all single-cylinder 250s are too slow . . .”).

In addition to a relatively low curb weight, the narrow rear tire (a 140), light crank and other engine internals lend a very lithe, nimble feel to the bike not found on larger displacement machines.  Couple this with a motor that enjoys aggressive use of the throttle (flogging?) and you have an extremely fun riding experience.  So much so that every one of our test riders has entertained the thought of purchasing a CBR250R.  One of them would park it next to his Honda CBR1000RR in his garage, and carefully debate which one to take out for a Saturday morning canyon carving session.

Speaking of which, this particular test rider took the CBR250R to the local canyons, caught and passed several 600 cc and 1000 cc sportbike riders (safely), and lived to tell about it (chuckle about it?). Granted, this guy is very fast, and he has won road racing championships here in Southern California at the expert level, but he rides conservatively (for his ability level) on the street.  This tells you something about what this bike is capable of.

The CBR250R is comfortable with its relatively upright seating position compared to other sport bikes (it has a mild, by sport bike standards, ergonomic “triangle”), and offers good wind protection.  The largely non-adjustable suspension seemed to work for all of our riders (ranging from 155 to 205 pounds), and reminded us of Honda bikes we have ridden in the past that were able to find a surprising compromise, particularly with the front fork (older VFR’s, for instance).  The suspension is soft, but it doesn’t dive precipitously when hard on the front brake, nor does it squat noticeably when exiting corners (although that is partly attributable to the lack of power).

The transmission does its job without complaint, and the brakes are adequate for most circumstances.  The single-disc front brake does start to fade fairly quickly when pushed hard during aggressive riding in the twisties.

The single bulb headlight is shockingly bright. Indeed, we had to remove the bulb just to make sure it was a garden variety H4, and concluded that the reflector design used by Honda is spectacularly effective. It made me wonder how I might transfer these reflectors to one of my automobiles.

The fit and finish is good, although perhaps not quite up to some of Honda’s best.  The styling is attractive, in our opinion, and certainly modern looking.  Personally, I think it is better looking than the latest Kawasaki Ninja 250R.

We frankly didn’t expect spectacular gas mileage.  We assumed that the single-cylinder 250 cc machine might prove thirsty, because we were wringing its neck so frequently.  We were wrong.  We averaged 56 miles per gallon.  That may not sound like much, but we expect more reasonable riding would easily achieve greater than 60 miles per gallon.  Not too bad for a little motor that is working overtime to keep up with aggressive traffic flow here in Southern California.

Despite some of our testosterone driven prejudices, it is hard not to like the CBR250R.  Particularly, at an MSRP of $3,999 (non-ABS).  The modest power the bike makes in comparison to larger machines was not an issue for us.  In fact, it seemed to add to the fun (remember the old adage that it is more fun to ride a slow bike fast …).  It sure isn’t designed to function as a two-up touring machine, but it would make an effective, frugal, fun commuter.  With the attractive purchase price, we could see a lot of experienced riders adding the little CBR as a second or third bike.  Funny thing is, it just might lead to some dust gathering on larger stable mates.

The manufacturer provided Motorcycle Daily with this motorcycle for purposes of evaluation.

90 Comments

  1. WestonJ says:

    I could NOT be more excited about this bike & I’ve been riding for over a decade. I would constantly upgrade to a “better” bike but always come back to the old Ninja EX250. Why? I just couldn’t stand dropping all the money on tires, fuel, etc. when all that supersport gave me was an ego boost. I wanted fun!

    I think FUN is the key for the new CBR25oR. The fuel efficiency, simplicity, Fuel injection, low end torque and excellent maintenance intervals make this an ideal bike for those who want to ride FUN not just fast.

  2. Sarah says:

    I am a beginner rider and am considering the 250 for my first bike. Any lady riders out there who can tell me what they think about it?

  3. Chris #2 says:

    Does this bike have a radiator fan? Doesn’t say on Honda’s website.

  4. Tim says:

    Nice review. I really wanted to know if it would be good enough for use on the freeways since i’m from So Cal also.

  5. cbr250.org says:

    Great write up! and exactly in sync with what our cbr250r members are saying.
    Visit http://www.cbr250.org for cbr250r forums,discussions,videos,pictures and ride reports posted by our members.

    –Admin
    http://www.cbr250.org

  6. CBR250R says:

    “You want to have some motor left to get out of the way of that bonehead changing lanes into you.”

    “The little 250 had enough motor to be both fun and practical, and more importantly not dangerous on our crowded, often congested freeways.”

    Why do I keep reading comments from riders who claim that a bike must invariably accelerate hard to get out of trouble? This is repeated like some kind of mantra. Don’t riders use their brakes anymore? I’m feeling left out here! When did this change happen and why was I not informed?! Am I to conclude that one of the safest bikes on the road today should be a 1000cc sportbike with no brakes at all? Why carry the extra weight around if they aren’t needed? All that is required is to adopt the following heuristic “When a potentially dangerous situation arises – accelerate like Hell!!” Maybe they should be teaching that in the local MSF courses. Very simple message. Very clear. Easy to understand and digest. Highly applicable to all potentially dangerous riding situations too.

    Actually, braking is a really effective way of slowing down and avoiding a potentially dangerous situation. At least that is a pet theory of mine (I haven’t actually seen any recent online gold-standard evidence to verify this, so for the moment this is purely speculation). Braking can quickly open up space in front of you for inattentively blind cagers to occupy. If the situation unfolding before you truly becomes dangerous, perhaps slowing down is a good idea anyway. But what about the cager that is riding your a$$ behind you? If you brake quickly, you might end up riding his hood ornament like a guest sampling a sybian on Howard Stern’s show you say? Well – riding a bike can be like playing a game of chess. You need to pay attention, plan your moves carefully and thoughtfully, and utilize your frontal cortex to your best ability to help you plan well ahead. Strategize. If you find yourself in such a compromised situation, you have probably already made several riding mistakes to get there. A friend recently told me that he was cut off 3 times during his short ride into work. I looked at him with a concerned expression and then asked him “What were you doing wrong?”.

    Might a well handling light-weight CBR250R (with ABS no less)actually be safer on a crowded highway compared to many other bikes? A more lithe, and compact bike would make you a smaller target, as you occupy less space on the road. A light-weight, well-handling bike should also enable you to more easily swerve or brake to avoid a catastophe. A light-weight, good handling bike might also be more capable of executing an avoidance maneuver on a gravel shoulder or some other unconventional surface if the need arises.

    Strange, I never see comments that discuss how fat, monstrous, and overweight high displacement cruisers might be dangerous on a highway because of the amount of space they occupy on the road, their overwhelming heft, and their compromised handling that can become a liability when having to invoke evasive maneuvers in a sea of cagers. I wonder why? Maybe big bikes are less dangerous and people simply don’t get into trouble or crash them. Wow big bike insurance must be cheap.

    Mike

    • MikeD says:

      WoW….someone was really in the mood for some venting…having said that…ur right.
      Nothing wrong with braking to get out of OR prevent “trouble”. Yes, lighter is way easier to steer and stop and what not.
      I supose people are just used to the stereotype that the small bikes, at least on the USA have the shittiest of components (frame, brakes, powerplants, u mention it)…can u still blame us ?
      Lets use the CBR250R here (steel spagetti tube frame, single disc up front, single cam, spagetti suspenders that look like made in a backyard in Hialeah, overweight bloated bodywork, ok…i think i ran out of “details”)…that’s just my un-educated judging…wich means BLAH to anyone here but the one trying to sell it cause im positive i ain’t the only one judging in such a way.
      Use ONE hand to count the “decently equipped” models and u’ll end with an excess of fingers…(the only decent one that comes to mind is the 2012? Aprilia RSV4 125)…and that’s not even a 250.

      U can’t go wrong with what u like…ligther SIZED & POWERED Bikes ?…sure, is all cool…even if u run circles around me cause ur ligther,smaller, more nimble and stop faster…but i won’t mind…cause that’s not what rocks my boat…i rather like the feel of being thrusted like a Crazy Mule kicked me on my lower back…(^_^ )

      P.S: Im not trying to pick an argument here, just sharing another view on the same subject…plus the fact that i ride an SV1000 sure makes me bias towards the big cc end of the spectrum.

      • CBR250R says:

        Hi MikeD,

        Actually, I didn’t mean that to sound like I was venting. I was hoping that readers might pick up on my point along with some not-so-thinly-veiled sarcastic humour. I have nothing against large bikes. I’m a fan of all motorcycles big and small. I love the fact that we not only have choices when purchasing well-made large displacement bikes but more choices when purchasing well-made low displacement ones too. I was just trying to provide another perspective and draw reader’s attention to certain stereotypes/myths about smalls bikes (or at least claims that are backed up with no apparent evidence) that seem to take on a life of their own and live on into perpetuity in online forums.

        Mike

  7. Dan says:

    I ride an ’82 CM450c & it gets about 55-60 mpg. It weighs just under 400 lbs & I do love it. I have a CBR250r w/ ABS on order & will hopefully have before riding season passes here in western PA. I suspect my 450 might gather dust but I’ll keep it around as my “big bore”. I just know this little thumper is going to steal my heart, and I have been riding for 45 years. I plan to use it to commute to work here in the Pittsburgh area, a 35 mile, one hour commute. I found a nice way around the outskirts of town on twisty, hilly roads I must pass the slugs usually on doulble yellow short straights. I pull it off safely with the acceleration of my paralel twin; I just know this light, torquey, 250 at 40-50 mph will be right in its powerband. I can’t wait to get it.

  8. Wayne B says:

    I’ve not been this excited about a motorcycle in years. I do believe I will ride one, and buy if it lives up to this review.

    A “fast enough” 250 with ABS will be perfect for hitting the twisties near my house, and I can hop on the GL1800 for the roads that are far from the house.

    I can also commute to work during the dry season!

  9. Mr. Mike says:

    A great case study in the “smaller/simpler is better” mantra.

  10. SKF says:

    Imagine this bike as a dual sport with some descent factory wind protection. At $4K, you would have one of the most versatile bikes on the planet.

    As for the muffler, the quieter, the better. People are getting so fed up with the loud poser pipes, it is damaging to the sport. Find a quiet way to pretend you are masculine.

    • Sid says:

      As for the muffler, the quieter, the better. People are getting so fed up with the loud poser pipes, it is damaging to the sport. Find a quiet way to pretend you are masculine.

      I think it looks stupid, quiet I like but this thing is half the size of the whole bike!!
      As far a catalysts go, why so huge on a 250??

  11. Sid says:

    Very nice, would buy one just for the fun of it but, what’s the deal with these new look mufflers? That would have to go, looks like ass. Bad enough on the new VFR but totally ridiculous on this little bike.

    • MGNorge says:

      Can you say, “Catalyzer”? Emission controls are in effect for all bikes, I suppose even less room to place them on small bikes. Having it in the muffler probably lessens the overall cost of the exhaust system, something of greater importance at this price point.

  12. kpaul says:

    Very nice review! Wish this bike had been around when I started. I ended up buying a new 600 SS and that was way too much. Good thing I was an old man with lower testosterone levels than when I was in my teens and twenties. This bike looks great and I hope it attracts new kids to the sport. Would love to see if I could get my wife interested in riding again with this bike. She is a natural athlete and very coordinated. She had a bad experience with MSF instructor who was a grumpy sexist old man in his 60s and had no business teaching new riders especially women. Too bad some MSF instructor get off on power trips. My instructor was great but was very hard to get into his classes. Wonder how many women have been turned off my grump old men MSF instructors

  13. I wonder with the weight being less than most bikes if a women could handle it better than some of the others. My girlfriend wants her own ride and I’m thinking this could be our answer??? Any thoughts? I like the price tag on this motorcycle that’s for sure and the savings on gas!

  14. Steve says:

    This bike performs like the old 350’s, one of the most popular bikes ever build, from an era before we tried to boost our masculinity by the size of our motorcycle.

  15. Ed says:

    Somebody needs to fill the hole at 450cc street bike standard that exists. Like a Suzuki SV450.
    I rode a ninja 250 at Daytona and found it unpleasant with the engine screaming the whole ride. My current bike is a Vstrom 1000 and as much as i like it i’m ready for a lighter bike. A 450cc standard at about 300 lbs would be ideal.

    • kpaul says:

      Great idea

    • Joe says:

      The ninja 250 twin is essencialy two 125s stapped together, its all about the rpms. It may feel or sound like its sceaming but its not.The gen-1 and gen-2 ninja 250s have been in production for a long time and are extremly reliable. What were you expecting?

      I agree 450-500cc is a good threshold of whats to “smal”.

    • Mark P. says:

      Funny that everybody says this. In Japan, 400cc standards are very popular, with Honda’s CB400 SuperFour being largely unchanged for well over a decade.

  16. EGS says:

    Next year’s CBR250 will likely take place of this years’ hyundai GT250 which I just bought.

    John, I didn’t know Hyundai made motorcycles! :D

  17. john says:

    No war, I have been riding a long time.

    I need to have three bikes. One in perfect condition to ride, one recently bought and being set up to fit me and the usual minor upgrades, and one on the way out, being sold to recycle the money involved.

    The plan is one new (used is OK) bike every year for rest of life.

    Next year’s CBR250 will likely take place of this years’ hyundai GT250 which I just bought.

  18. Wilson R says:

    This HONDA will sell very well. I would like to pick one up for myself after I sell one of my other bikes. I think that it appeals to a broad audience and will be a great success.

  19. BlueSkyGuy says:

    I really hope folks buy into this displacement. This would make the perfect everything motorcycle able to take you to works for pennies, light touring, and some excellent sporting rides. I have had many large displacement motorcycles that made great highway rides but a complete lack of fun in town or on tight roads. With an ABS option the range of possible customers will hopefully be wide.

    It seems like Honda has come full circle on this unit and reminds me of the 60’s when riding was just for the fun of it. For new riders, folks short of leg, and even seasoned riders looking for a great alternate ride its here.

  20. paul246 says:

    I know I’ll be buying one to go alongside my 650 DS. Can’t wait.

  21. Norm G. says:

    curious, what are the current female ridership numbers…? are they still trending up…? or have they tanked along with the rest of the moto-industry…? whatever it is, there could be a pretty high take rate for CB amongst the “motorcycle mamas”. being a growth sector, perhaps the fairer sex can help expand our numbers (certainly more reliable at sustaining profitability at a price point like this)…? i’d be interested in hearing a woman’s perspective (as i’m sure would honda) on this bike. naturally, as guys we tend to speak in the context of ourselves, but my observation has been something like 4 out 5 people i’ve ever encounterd on the nin250 have been female. again, purely my isolated observation.

    • kpaul says:

      I have to agree with you on that. I have seen about the same number of Ninja 350s each with a female rider. One was taking delivery of her bike when I was getting my new ZX-6R. Pretty redhead on a cute Ninja. Of course she had an audience of willing guys to help her :)

  22. Bill nielsen says:

    I enjoyed the Honda review and the comments. I’d love to ride the Honda which is a challenge to the Ninjette. I bought my 2008 Ninjette to be a commuter. My liter bikes are for longer rides, camping trips etc. In city driving with lots of stops my Ninjette has averaged 58 MPG. This is stop and go and I’m not disappointed. My liter bikes are in the 30’s for the same type driving. For very spirited rides on open roads with liter bikes and keeping up with them the Ninjette drops to around 50 MPG. My favorite attribute of the Kawi is that its as smooth as glass and would cruise all day long at 80MPH. An aspect about daily commuting I haven’t read is that larger bikes higher costs of lower mileage, tire wear, expensive tires, chain replacements etc make them not so cost effective as a much smaller bike like the 250’s. My 1200 Bandit needed a rear tire every 3000 miles. I have 11,000 miles on the original Kawi tires and they are hardly worn. Lot’s to be said for downsizing in the current economic situation.
    Bill

  23. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Nice touch including a picture of the bike next to California gas prices. Makes it more attractive…

  24. falcodoug says:

    Would still but it over a Harley

  25. Foster says:

    My ride for the last 16 years has been a ST1100 and I will continue to enjoy it for many years to come, but I also like to get out once in a while on my wife’s 250 Rebel. It is soooo light compared to the ST that it is a blast to ride, in its own limited way. I’m liking this new CBR250R because one thing I dislike about the Rebel is the cruiser riding position, which gets tiresome on the butt pretty quick. Just have to convince the wife she will like this bike more too!

  26. Joe says:

    Guys were talking about motorcycles here not Tarusess or Camarys. It seems we have a pack of old ladys commenting here,overly concerned with miles per gallons and how cute the overhyped Honda looks. Were is the concern for quarter mile times, top speed and potential the motor has to hop-up. When you look at what is really important in a motorcycle the Kawasaki is the only choice.

  27. Scott in the UK says:

    In countries where bikes are more than merely ego enhancement throwaway objects, a bike like that will do well. And I find it difficult to take riders seriously who think half the big bore cruisers and customs are more fun than something like this. But then maybe I ain’t voting with my wallet – I have a naked “standard” 750 twin and it suits me fine.

  28. Chris #2 says:

    Cool little bike, I want one. Sounds perfect for canyon riding and casual putting around town.

    Doesn’t look like you can attach sliders though to protect the fairing. Do the bar ends and grab handles stick out far enough to protect the fairing when you go down?

  29. Steve says:

    This bike hits the sweet spot for usability. Big motorcycles that burn more gas than some cars and have more power than you can responsibly use on the street do more to serve some egos and a need to compensate for other inadequacies than how we can effectively use a bike.

    • Brinskee says:

      “Effective”, “Responsibly”, “Usability”, are you sure you’re on two wheels?? Isn’t that part of what riding about is to escape from those adjectives? I dunno, I talk to my CPA when I need to think along those lines. I ride my bike when I want to stop thinking about my CPA.

      • s0crates82 says:

        I can’t afford a CPA. Therefore I need to be choosier about the steed that carries me to work.

        My bike is a tool as well as a toy.

    • ROXX says:

      Looks like the “PC” police have arrived.

  30. MikeB says:

    How about a used DR650 motard …..all expenses and motard upgrades done by a prior owner?

    1/2 to 2/3rds the money, same weight and will do everything inc some off road better….tear the heart right out of the CBR250 on the back roads, straights and anywhere elee ……plus no DR 650 motard look like a VFR1200.

  31. waiting for my 250 says:

    Hey Kent — stop comparing apples to oranges. I’m not thrilled about price disparity either, but the Canadian price for the CBR250 is $4499 for non-ABS and $4999 for ABS. The $3999 quoted in the article is for an American non-ABS model. I don’t know where you got $5399.

    I can’t wait until I get mine.

  32. lwatcdr says:

    In the Dual Sport vs CBR250 debate. The CBR offers better wind protection and a lower seat height than most dual sports can. It probably also has better brakes. A dual sport can be a lot of fun as well. It all depends on the person. To the people that think this is too slow? Wrong. It will be faster than any body can legally ride it on the street. Frankly it will be faster than any sane person can ride it on the street. If you want to hone your skills on the track this is also a good choice as in the Ninja 250. You will really learn how to ride with a smaller bike. Plus no one will ever embarrase you on the track unless they are on another 250. If you pass a 600 or 1000 you have bragging rights. If a 600 or 1000 passes you well dude your on a 250. If they didn’t lap you twice then they suck! Or on a 1000 they need to lap you four times. And with a used Ninja if you wreck it the cost is much less than a nice shiny CBR1000rr :) CBR250s are still new so used ones are not on the market yet. When they get to the market then they will be cheap as well.
    Let’s face it. Modern 600 and 1000 supersports are too fast to every really use on the street and live. What we need are more fun single and twins on the market at a good price.

    • Tom R says:

      “Modern 600 and 1000 supersports are too fast to every really use on the street and live. What we need are more fun single and twins on the market at a good price”.

      Abso-frickin-lutely true!

  33. CBR250R says:

    Sorry this is a repost from further down in the thread.

    You have to keep in perspective how these bikes are tested for reviews. To test their performance envelope these bikes are typically flogged – ridden hard. Show me any review of the above high-displacement bikes achieving such favorable fuel-economy figures after being flogged in ride reviews.

    Online magazine reviews of the CBR250R and Ninja 250R suggest that the former has been consistently returning fuel-economy in the high 50s after hard riding, while the latter is returning mileage in the low to mid 40s under the same conditions. That is a difference worth noting. Under more real-world conditions, numerous reports on Thai forums suggest the CBR250R has been consistently returning fuel-economy figures of around 3.0L/100KM (about 77 mpg U.S.) at highway speeds and higher out on the open road.

    Interestingly, the above figure is not far off from SportRider’s recent comparison that yielded an average fuel-economy of 70mpg for the CBR250R and 46mpg for the Ninja 250R after their requisite flogging. Perhaps a more interesting discussion could be had debating why the Ninja 250R achieves such poor fuel-economy figures after having been flogged during testing compared to the CBR250R. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the Ninja produces most of its power in the top part of its power band where the bike is screaming its little heart out compared to the CBR250Rs more relaxed and torquey power delivery? Perhaps when Kawasaki imports the long overdue fuel-injected iteration of the bike this might improve the Ninja 250Rs fuel-economy figures.

    I’m not trying to knock the Ninja 250R. I have ridden one enough to say that I think it is a great bike. However, like the recent review of the CBR250R in Rider indicates, “Economy and entertainment run neck-and-neck with the CBR – our test bike returned 65mpg after a day-long dual [with the Ninja 250]“. What fuel-economy did the Ninja 250R obtain in the same test? 50mpg. For the Ninja 250R, fuel-economy and entertainment don’t run neck-and-neck enough for me.

    Mike

    • s0crates82 says:

      As someone that commutes on a liter standard across LA twice a day, I find 60+ mpg compelling out of the reviewed bike. I’m doing about 35mpg right now, and I can get that with my car.

  34. Hugh says:

    Honda Europe lists the gas mileage at 3.8 l for 100 kms. 3.79 l is one gallon and 100 kms is about 62 miles so it comes out to 62mpg (or 63). That’s pretty far off from the quoted 77mpg that Honda USA gives us. I’m not saying the bike won’t do 65mpg but I doubt it will get 77 or 75. I had a nighthawk 250 that would get about 68-70 and about 62-3 when I would ride it hard.
    The BMW singles G650X and G650GS get about 60 mpg or more which is the CBR250 range. Here is a quote from the BMW website for the G650GS: “The bike offers absolutely sensational fuel consumption levels: 3.2 litres of regular petrol to 100 km ridden at a constant 90km/h.” That translates to 74mpg at 55mph. How can BMW get better mpg out a 650cc than Honda does out of a 250cc?

  35. Dave says:

    I’m on my 19th motorcycle at 3 years old. After selling my 2008 ZX-10R due to boredom…yes boredom, I just recently purchased a used 2007 250 ninja for $1,250. While the Zx-10R could not perform it role properly on the street, the 250 ninja is doing exactly what I want it to. My first tank back on my now 3rd 250 ninja netted me 65mpg and that is before changing the CS sprocket to a larger one for freeway duty. I expect to get 70mpg. But one other aspect of these bikes is that the tires are $100, can be changed in your living room with screwdrivers, and easily last over 10k miles. For 600 & 1000CC sportbikes, the rubber is 3 times that and lasts 3k miles before serious treadwear patterns that compromise grip appear.

    Yeah, I am disappointed in the mpg of the 250 ninja. You’d like to think that with as much of a sacrafice as your making in power output, that you’d get more than 10mpg better than an SV650 which everyone seems to mention how great they are on gas. You can also find those around quite cheap as they are seen as a stepping stone bike.

    I’ve also done some research and it looks as though users/testers are getting 20-30% better MPG out of the CBR250R compared to the Ninja 250R. If I could make up the gas savings in a reasonable amount of time, I’d get a CBR, but doing the math for my 51 mile per day freeway commute 4 days a week, a new CBR250R saves me only $123 a year in fuel over my ’07 250 ninja. The higher registration/insurance costs would eat up all the savings. However, in a few years if I’m looking for another used commuter bike, you know I’ll be looking at the CBR250R!

    • Mickey says:

      51 miles of freeway 4 days a week on a 250? You are a brave man.

      Fun Fact: Do you guys know that the the Honda Dream D of 1951 had a 90cc motor, went 45 mph and got 212 MPG!

  36. scottyz says:

    We had better small displacement bikes in the 1960’s. To wit: Honda 305 superhawk, Suzuki X6 Hustler, and others. What’s so great about a 250 single which can’t keep up with these 40 year old motorcycles?

  37. Curtis Brandt says:

    This new 250 looks fantastic. Probably going to end up with one. Now imagine it with a 450 cc motor. Keep the light weight, barely higher MSRP. Much more interesting!

    • jimbo says:

      As a 57 year old, past owner of about 65-70 bikes, I completely get your intent. OTOH…

      In birthing this all new CBR250R, Honda apparently chose to rekindle and resurrect a modern version of the 50cc Cub. The Cub blasted onto the scene in the 50s with an entirely new philosophy on the motorcycle experience: have fun, break out, be free. IIRC the Cub ad campaign included a handsome, cheery, smiling, attractive blond with long, flowing, straight hair, her face fully in view, wearing a half shell helmet. A completely new take on the motorcycle experience, the opposite of the prior image comprising the rebels Dean and Brando riding H-D-s.

      If this 250 can pull away from the largest majority of caged vehicles at a stop, it would appear to have enough oomph as is. A larger, more powerful motor would likely detract from the intended image and sales. It would add cost and little benefit. With a little searching, readers should be able to confirm that apparently, peak oil has occurred. From here on out, peak oil + population increase + economic progress means oil and fuel will inflate at far faster pace than general inflation. “Performance” over time will be equated with less (as in less consumption, less opulence, less size). “Americans” have a hard time with this because we were sold the lie that our military and financial manipulation will always give us more oil, but going forward, this lie will soon be exposed.

      This 250 is not aimed primarily at seasoned riders, but apparently, from the text, it would be a highly satisfying ride to such if they gave it a chance.

      For the Honda’s intended mission, comparing it from a purely cosmetic view to it’s only rival, the Ninja 250: the Ninja is stale, old, too sharp, too crisp, and far too aggressive looking. This bike welcomes new riders into the fold with open arms. The Ninja is for road racers and road racer wannabes, the exact opposite of the Honda’s gestalt and it’s mission.

      Comparing the Honda to a dual sport completely misses it’s mission. Ownership experience and ownership satisfaction is measured by intangibles far above and beyond function.

      When viewed for the Honda’s mission and target audience, my personal opinion is it is an A+ and hits the target dead center.

      • john says:

        I think MPOLANS and Jimbo are right. Small is fun so lets have this whole 250 class take off.

        If it does then maybe a 40hp class will arrive on our shores. Plenty of 400s are out there, just not imported.

  38. kent says:

    This looks like a great little bike the most interesting entry level bike I could purchase for cheap in 1984 was a Honda mb5 . By the way I bought it back almost 20 years after i sold it. But I would like Honda to take notice that in the states this bike is being sold for just under $4000 and in Canada for $5399 . Has Honda not seen that the Canadian dollar is at $1.04 us Good luck selling it north of the border . We may be use to snow but we won’t be snowed by blatent gougeing by the manufacture. The manufactures can freeze in the dark if they don’t smarten up on the priceing of there bikes.

  39. MGNorge says:

    If you guys wondering about performance and frugality want numbers go read the comparison test just featured in Popular Mechanics. They have gathered about a half dozen 250cc bikes and put the clock to them. The 0-60 dash for this bike is “only” down about a half second from the Kawasaki but quicker and faster than the others. It also averaged 71 mpg in their obviously calmer riding than MD did.

    Late to the party or not I think it’s a great little bike I’d love to own but am much to tall and big for! :)

  40. alex says:

    Smaller bikes like these engage the rider and can be a good way for a beginner to learn sport riding technique. It’s a scaled-down sportbike right? When you get bored with the street go flog it at a go-kart track and drag a knee. Any bike can be fun when it’s ridden in anger. Good for those who are on a tight budget too and can’t afford to shred tires at a big track.

  41. dingerjunkie says:

    I agree with Mickey on the mileage comment. I got the same or better regularly with my SV650S. Previous-gen Ninja 250’s were reported to get mileage from the mid-60’s to the mid-70’s regardless of flogging. I’m assuming that the latest gen Ninja does the same, and it costs less than the bike re-tested here.

    Regardless of inflation over the years, these small bikes are still to expensive. In my dad’s time, a CB350 could be bought and paid for, new, by a kid with a good summer job between school years. In my time, I could buy the same bike with a month of caddying, or pay for a Rebel 250 in one summer. Show me the kid who can scrape $4K in ninety days while still doing other things like I did.

    Tell me when any of these manufacturers put out a good, highway-capable, sub-500CC first-bike that can be paid for with the leftover money from a single season at a summer job. Then, I’ll pay attention again.

  42. mpolans says:

    I’ve got a Buell with about a 100hp and have owned Ducatis and ZZR1200s, but there is something fun about a light, low-powered bike that let’s you run through the gears without hitting jail time/civil forfeiture speeds. Of course, I’m in Tokyo so I’m also looking for something lighter and narrower to split lanes in traffic. I just sat on one of these an hour ago and thought it wasn’t bad. I still think they should’ve sent over the VTR250 or 250 Hornet, or brought back the 1990s era CBR250RR though. Currently thinking of an SDR200, RZ-1, or maybe a VTR250 or 250 Hornet.

  43. MikeB says:

    I really dont see anything funny about a long string of bikes from Honda that are years late to the market segment they are intended to complete or simply bikes that attempt to create new market segment that no one cares about….DN01 for example.

    However….Honda does have it down pat for creating a high demand for these same bikes that did not sell when new ….but decades later have a cult following ….GB500, 650 Hawk, CBX, RC51, RC45, Pacific Coast……on and on.

    It all started to unravel when Mr. Honda died. Then the three wheelers got attorneys into the motorcycle design approval cycle …and finally the popularity of the Honda cars sealed the deal on the motorcycles as Honda was a car company first….and all other products last.

    So here we are testing the Honda 250 again….as if the first time was not enough as if testing it 50 times will make any difference for this bike in the show rooms……again years late on the competition….and please do not respond with the tired line of Hondas worldwide sales of 43cc bikes giving massive sales successes in third world countries. Mr. Honda would not like to hear it nor would I.

    Have to give Honda credit though……..how can they make bikes that finish in third or forth place in sport bike comparison tests….year after year. Keeps those Corporate attorneys happy, I guess.

  44. Irv H says:

    For a bike that small, a dual sport is a better choice. You don’t give up a lot on road, and there is off road capability.

    • harryfxr says:

      Not be argumentative but what dual sport that’s available in the USA would be a good replacement for this bike.

      • falcodoug says:

        Dr650?

      • Donnie says:

        Well, let’s see here. For new, there’s the KLX250SF, the KLX250S, the CRF230, the WR250X, the WR250R, the XT250. And that’s just in the 250cc range (except for the CRF230).

        I weigh around 180 lbs in full gear (boots, gloves, jacket, helmet, and either kevlar-lined jeans or jeans under a pair of overpants), and the KLR250 I had produced enough oomph to actually move me around pretty quick.

    • GP says:

      As far as I can tell, the Yamaha WR250R is the only DS bike with a motor that runs as well as the one in this little Honda. Honda would indeed be well served to place this motor in a competitive DS chassis.

    • Tom Barber says:

      I totally agree. For a small bike with a small engine of this size, dual sport bikes just make much more sense.

      • Dave says:

        It comes back to a style issue. Many don’t identify with a dirt bike and they aren’t as capable on the highway either. This guy looks like s sport bike.

        Different flavors are why SUV’s sell so well against sedans/wagons even though they aren’t as good for any of the most common use scenarios.

    • CBR250R says:

      I have purchased a black 2011 CBR250R and according to Honda am supposed to receive it this month (not holding my breath). I also own a 2009 Yamaha WR250R and a 2009 Honda CBR125R. The most comparable small displacement dual-sport to the CBR250R would be the WR250R in terms of power. The fuel-injected WR250R single-cylinder actually produces about 4hp more (27hp) at the rear-wheel. The remaining small dual-sports have a minimum 5hp disadvantage (e.g., KLX250S) at the dyno compared to the CBR250R. This may not seem like giving up a lot, but for a low-power small displacement bike, it is significant in the real world. The dual-sports listed above are also not the most aerodynamic and your upper body creates considerable wind resistance out on the open road which also limits highway cruising flexibility.

      Mike

  45. Goose says:

    I’ve said bad things about this bike in an earlier article here on MD. Between this and and every other thing I’ve read about this bike Honda seems to have made a great little bike. I still wonder in US consumers are smart enough to buy this over the faster Ninja 250 but I hope Honda has a hit on their hands. It is about time.

    Goose

  46. Mickey says:

    I would have killed to have one of these when I was 16. I ride my daughter-in-laws 2009 Ninja 250 upon ocassion and it’s fun to wring its little neck in the twisties out here in the country for an hour or so, but having ridden liter bikes or larger for the last 30 something years, there’s no way I could live with it day in and day out as solo transportation. Maybe if I had a 10 mile commute to work on back roads.

    I actually find the gas mileage dissapointing…I regularly get 45 mpg on my ST 1300, 50 on my FZ-1 and 55 on my 750 Nighthawk. I would have expected 80 mpg or better from a 125 single. Heck an S-90 (a mere 35cc smaller) back in 1967 got over 100 mpg.

    But to keep this positive..it’s a beautiful motorcycle and undoubtedly excellent competition for the little Ninja. If I had to choose between the two, I’d probably choose the Honda.

    • Gabe says:

      This is a 250, not a 125!

      • Mickey says:

        LOL Brain bubble Gabe. I knew it was a 250, don’t know why I wrote 125. Talker earlier about riding my DIL’s Ninja 250. Some days I have trouble with coherent thought. Other times, not so much.

    • Donnie says:

      Hear hear! I get 43 – 49 on my ZRX! The VF750 Magna I owned managed 45 mpg. The Kawasaki Versys I had managed 48 – 52 mpg depending on riding style.

      Disappointed to see the fuel economy from this bike. Good performance, but at the cost of fuel economy.

      Can’t have both, I suppose. Oh wait, you can! That’s why I love my ZRX1100 – 43+ mpg and capable of mid-11s in the 1/4 mile.

      • CBR250R says:

        You have to keep in perspective how these bikes are tested for reviews. To test their performance envelope these bikes are typically flogged – ridden hard. Show me any review of the above high-displacement bikes achieving such favorable fuel-economy figures after being flogged in ride reviews.

        Online magazine reviews of the CBR250R and Ninja 250R suggest that the former has been consistently returning fuel-economy in the high 50s after hard riding, while the latter is returning mileage in the low to mid 40s under the same conditions. That is a difference worth noting. Under more real-world conditions, numerous reports on Thai forums suggest the CBR250R has been consistently returning fuel-economy figures of around 3.0L/100KM (about 77 mpg U.S.) at highway speeds and higher out on the open road.

        Interestingly, SportRider’s recent comparison between the bikes yielded an average of 70mpg for the CBR250R and 46mpg for the Ninja 250R after their requisite flogging. Perhaps a more interesting discussion could be had debating why the Ninja 250R achieves such poor fuel-economy figures after having been flogged during testing compared to the CBR250R. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the Ninja produces most of its power in the top part of its power band where the bike is screaming its little heart out compared to the CBR250Rs more relaxed and torquey power delivery? Perhaps when Kawasaki imports the long overdue fuel-injected iteration of the bike this might improve the Ninja 250Rs fuel-economy figures.

        I’m not trying to knock the Ninja 250R. I have ridden one enough to say that I think it is a great bike. However, like the recent review of the CBR250R in Rider indicates, “Economy and entertainment run neck-and-neck with the CBR – our test bike returned 65mpg after a day-long dual [with the Ninja 250]“. What fuel-economy did the Ninja 250R obtain in the same test? 50mpg. For the Ninja 250R, fuel-economy and entertainment don’t run neck-and-neck enough for me.

        Mike

        • Donnie says:

          Hey Mike,

          I hear what you’re saying, and when I got 43 mpg on my ZRX I actually was flogging it. We’re talking banging it out close to redline multiple times in first through third gear.

          I believe it has more to do with tuning bikes for more power rather than better fuel economy. I think a simple sprocket change could net better fuel economy, personally.

          • Jack says:

            You certainly weren’t floggin a ZRX even close to how a 250 would get flogged with constant wide open throttle and near redline rpm for long periods.

  47. Highspeedhamish says:

    I agree with brinskee…

    Those who own larger machines will not be leaving their bikes to gather dust. Just like the CBR 125 and Ninja 250, these will sell a lot at first then in a year or so the used market will be flooded with them from riders already bored with them. The trade in on the CBR 125 here (In Canada eh!) is 900 bucks. The dealers sell them new for 1999.00 now that they arent selling anymore. I dont think the 250 will last any longer than those bikes unless you dont fit anything else. The 250 Ninja at least provides more power so some riders are keeping those several seasons before trading up. Speaking of Kawasaki, they were smart enough to put out a 400 twin Ninja to trade up to. Going from a 125 Honda to the 250 would be a pass for most riders.

  48. brinskee says:

    “Funny thing is, it just might lead to some dust gathering on larger stable mates.”

    That’s not going to happen. I already have a difficult time with the two lovelies I have, and the next bike to find a home in my garage is going to be a late model, large bore supermoto. And I haven’t pulled the trigger on one of those because it would become an even greater dilemma. No Thanks.

    But I’m glad there are small bikes for the noobs!

    • harryfxr says:

      Maybe it’s not going to happen with you but it’s certainly reasonable to expect that riders other then “noobs” will enjoy this bike.

      • brinskee says:

        My prediction: For those few experienced riders who purchase this bike; the idea that a 250 single would be chosen over anything greater (or probably equal to) a 600CC multi-cylinder bike might in the long run is a very remote possibility. In other words, it will get old very quickly. I just don’t see it being a reasonable choice. Look at it this way – once you taste the forbidden fruit of ample horsepower, how can you ever choose to go back?

        • john says:

          I have had 46 bikes, three are in garage now. 70hp, 40hp, 25hp.

          This is very attractive to me. I will wait a year and get a slightly used one for $1000 off.

          There is a very good place in the world for 25 hp motorcycles.

          People who think more is automatically better are suffering from delusion. I acknowledge 90% think that way. Myself, I prefer quality over quantity.

          • Brinskee says:

            Wait a second – not trying to start a war or anything, but you’ve listed 46 bikes total, with three current and considering adding a fourth (the 250). Doesn’t that seem like QUANTITY over quality? Granted, I have no idea what those other three bikes you have are, but the Honda has non-adjustable suspension. Are you sure that’s a hallmark of quality?

            I understand the whole – ride a slow bike fast is better than riding a fast bike slow thing – but come on! 25HP! On a modern bike? Maybe for guys like yourself that are somewhat into variety, but for the average Joe that can only afford one or two (at the most) bikes? I think it would be silly to suggest that the 250 would be a bike that an enthusiast would want or choose, given a bike with more horsepower. Because – at the end of the day, you can always control your throttle hand on a fast bike, but when you want to dig deep on a smaller bike and the bag is empty… well, that’s not fun.

            Just my thoughts. Maybe I’m the one in the minority.

        • jason says:

          I am also an experienced rider and I am looking forward to this bike. The engine characteristics and reduced weight of the bike cannot be replicated by its big brothers. Like the article mentions, there is something thrilling about passing high displacement high dollar motorcycles on the outside of a corner using minimal effort. I’ll throw some better rubber on these and laugh at the macho men as I fly by.

          • highspeedhamish says:

            No offense but considering the 250R couldnt catch a cold (as its not designed to of course) it certainly cant catch a litre bike. The only way it will catch one in the corners is if its parked there.