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MD Video Review: 2011 Honda CBR250R

You know that we like Honda’s 2011 CBR250R, because we have already written about our experiences with this bike at the press intro and following a brief road test.  As a 250cc single, it isn’t particularly fast but it is so simple, lightweight and flickable our testers really fell in love with it.  Given the price (starting at $3,999 for the non-ABS version we tested),  more than one of us thought about adding it to our personal stable.

We have produced a video review of the bike, which you will find below.  Immediately following the embedded video is a picture of the new color option added for 2012 by Honda.

53 Comments

  1. James says:

    No center stand? Boo!

  2. Jeremy in TX says:

    I completely understand why 250cc is the chosen engine displacement for these types of bikes, but I would much rather see 350cc – 400cc machines instead. For the US market anyway, those larger displacements offer a better fit. Still not too powerful or heavy for those new riders just learning the ropes, but enough power to adequately handle just about any riding situation.

    OK, that was my “so what” comment for the day.

  3. Bob says:

    Good review. I can see the purpose of this bike easily as a commuter to work, running around town and the occasional fun run in the hills. While everything else I have has much more power and is heavy, I still think a bike like this would be very fun to own.

    • CBR250R says:

      True!! This bike is incredibly fun to own and ride. I believe what makes it even more special is the balance of “goodness” the bike offers – with very few drawbacks. Fine, it may only have 26 crank horsepower. For some, that is just too big of a drawback. For those looking for a rocket, you would be well advised to look elsewhere. But for those who prefer to get back down to basics – follow a more “simple, lightweight, minimalist, fun” philosophy – this bike will really make you smile. Here are the virtues: 1) truly affordable insurance, 2) outstanding fuel economy (70 mpg fully loaded while touring (yes, touring) on the highway riding at 65-70 mph, and 88 mpg riding along country roads), 3) lightweight and flickable which makes it a treat in the city and in the twisties, 4) being a single-cylinder, its easy to work on, 5) parts are affordable, and 6) It was so affordable to purchase, I paid cash. Is the bike perfect? Of course not. No bike is. But it might surprise you by how much fun you have while riding it.

      This past summer I took the CBR250R on a 2000 mile touring/camping trip (see link below). I had a complete blast and plan to do it again next summer. The bike did everything I needed it to do and it was remarkably comfortable as a small sport-tourer. On my trip, it make me wonder about what it must have felt like for the first pioneering motorcyclists to ride across the country on more simple machines. If you understand and yearn for this type of experience – this bike is a great and affordable place to start.

      http://www.hondacbr250.com/showthread.php?t=159

      Mike

  4. Jay says:

    ^This^ Maybe a CRF250M supermotard version. If the CRF250L is priced right, though, I could build my own supermotard.

  5. GP says:

    Nice bike, but not nice/better enough to trade my old ’99 Ninja 250 in on one. From all I have read, my old bike will still walk away from both of the new 250′s. My advice is find a clean 2nd or 3rd generation Ninja 250 for $1-1.5K and ride the wheels off of it.
    Now, the CRF250L I am excited about. The Yamaha WR250R is nice, but too tall and heavy to be taken seriously. Hopefully, Honda got it right.

    • GearDriven says:

      From what I’ve read, it seems true that the stock Ninja 250R will walk away from the CBR250R once high up into the rev range where the Ninja 250R shows about a 2.5 hp power advantage at the rear wheel. But then again, from what I’ve read, the CBR250R also achieves anywhere from 20% – 50% better fuel economy under hard riding according to online magazine reviews. The CBR250R comes with fuel-injection, makes more peak torque, is a bit lighter in weight, and can be had with ABS.

      And the CBR250R has surprising silenced a number of Ninja 250R riders who have been following this 250cc race series.

      Look for Ryan Andrews’ results under Superstock E

      http://www.cmraracing.com/Results/2011/event40/sprint/84overall.html

  6. Joey Wilson says:

    HERE’s a parallel twin 400 available just across the border in the Great White North:

    http://www.kawasaki.ca/model/STREET-TOURING/1443/Ninja-400R

    . . . that would sure be a hoot here, though I imagine Kawasaki America would certainly have to do a lot of consideration as to whether or not this would derail their sell-all-they-can-build Ninja 250 success, which no coubt influenced Honda’s decision to sell the CB250R. Of course, there’s lots of cool stuff sold elsewhere:

    http://motorcycles.honda.com.au/Naked/CB400

    . . . which Honda in Australia names their best-seller, a 400 four-cylinder for people who want to start off on something a bit bigger than a 250, and qualifies as a learner bike legally down in Oz. and of course, the MIA:

    http://motorcycles.honda.com.au/Naked/VTR250

    Certainly the latter two are mature products at the end of their development cycles, but I can’t help but think that over time this 250 to less-than-supersport power 600 range will begin to fill in here in America.

  7. johnny ro says:

    Spent a pleasant evening last night reviewing old ex250.org site (flame-iest newbie-hostile bike site I know) and cbr250.net for fuel tuning.

    The EX takes a few 4mm washers, and no other parts, but a couple easy fun manual adjustments, to remove EPA lean condition. Point- EX. This is true for all carbureted bikes sold in US for last few decades.

    The CBR is dazzling to me. Sure it costs more than a clean VFR800, but then old bikes are cheap, we all know that. I am curious to know how the mapping provides more total power. Drivability I can easily see.

    +1 on 400 twin but thats not appropriate for the world market so don’t hold your breath.

    You can buy GS500f with 40hp and soft suspension. It looks 10 years old, new. Its blast to ride for 40hp.

  8. Rocky V says:

    Do any of the big 4 still make the inline 4 cylinder 250′s – in the Japan market

    i wish we had a shot at those bikes

    • mxs says:

      No, they do not and most likely never will again. Anything between 250-600cc based on I4 motor will roughly cost the same money. Because it’s all in the labor. Not enough people would pay for 250 only 2K less than for 600 …. power/dollar thing. The only reason they existed in 90s was a Japan licensing law restricted to 250cc for certain age. That would not work today, because all restrictions are towards power figure ….

      I love my FZR250 …. :-)

    • Rocky V says:

      Mx
      what are they like to ride ? do they have good power ?

  9. Jay says:

    I agree with the comment in the earlier review: It’s more fun to ride aslow bike fast than it is to ride a fast bike slow.

  10. Yoyodyne says:

    The Bazzaz Z-Fi fuel injection tuner for the Honda CBR250R is a plug and play unit that piggy-backs onto the stock ECU. Each unit comes with an application specific harness that utilizes OEM connectors for simple installation. Stores two fuel maps and comes pre-programmed for a slip-on exhaust. [Part No. F343]

    $379.95.

    Yikes!

  11. Vroooom says:

    It sucks to be at work and not be able to see that video except silently! I’m guessing you liked it from the lack of frowns!

  12. Mondo Endo says:

    About the only bright spot in Honda’s line up…

  13. Justin says:

    Not a bad bike, and it’s good to see more option in the 250 range. But at somebody already mentioned, something like this in a 400 twin would have virtually no competition as there is a HUGE hole in the market there.

  14. Tom Shields says:

    Great review, Dirck – thanks!

  15. Denny says:

    Purity in motion. Good job reviewing!

  16. donniedarko says:

    Add a exhaust a derestriced intake another 6-8hp maybe? Id find some old cbr 600 forks and shock for the back and that bike becomes pretty potent. Very impressive gains from the A/F module

    • mark says:

      I think you are dreaming! Another 6-8 ponies are not hiding in this motor without MAJOR work.

      • Norm G. says:

        hmmmn, looking forward to the graph. maybe 6-8 total once more air is added to the equation…? dirck definitely seems pleased, but curious as to how lean that thing can be stock that it can put to use 20mpg worth of fuel without modifying flow thru the engine…? iirc, bazzaz maps (ideal or not) target 13.0.

  17. Joey Wilson says:

    Nice video review, but geez stay away from hugging that stripe in the turns ! I’m always really leery of tight apexes on blind curves, maybe it’s just me . . . .

    What a terrific bike, but a) I too wish they’d gone with a twin (and I wish the VTR250 was still around too) and b) I’d love to see something like this in a twin in the 400cc range to ‘fill in the gap’ between this and the forthcoming (I hope) NC700/Integras.

    • Davis says:

      Looks like he is late-apexing his turns (staying wide on corner entry) to me. Not the quickest way through the corner but the safest on the street. Try it sometime, you’d be surprised how much more visibility you have through a corner and the on-coming traffic sees you sooner to boot!

  18. Irv says:

    Lots of 650 vstars, c50s less that 10000 km for $5000.

    • Tim says:

      But those are cruisers. Not likely on the same list for anyone who might be interested in the little CBR.

      • Justin says:

        There’s also lots of bikes like the DRZ400SM that you can get used for less than this is new. And I have a feeling that might very well be on the list for those riders.

  19. Gary says:

    I’m really diggin the video review. Keep up the great work! Can I ask what software you are using to produce the final? Or is that insider info? The bike is cool, too. But a 250 is just to small for me. I would totally go for a 500-twin set up like this. Love the red/white/blue color scheme.

  20. Morris Bethoven says:

    Finally, a HONDA that makes sense. I would definitely consider this bike if I was in the market.

  21. fazer6 says:

    I’m stoked about the CRF250L based around this engine!

  22. Rocky V says:

    I would like to see a 450 single version of this bike — Bsa 441 Victor ?

  23. Stinky says:

    It’s still no VTR250. Had one, sold it, regretted ever since. Taught 3 different people to ride streets on it. Never learned to love a single compared to a V Twin.

  24. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    I’d like to see a three-way between the CBR-250R, Ninja 250, and the WR-250X.

  25. Marty says:

    Interested to see the dyno comparison before and after. Nice to see a video on MCDaily. Keep up the good work. Would also like to see another comparison with the 250 ninja with the mod and also what it takes to install that Pizazz unit.

  26. Philip says:

    Could this be the Honda I’ve been waiting for all along? Something fun around town and up mountain roads? Comfortable? I wonder what I could get out of the motor at my home elevation of 6,000′? Nice to see the video review! Adds another dimension to the site!

  27. sands says:

    Great review and Video! Would love to see more videos in the future…

  28. endoman says:

    Trade mpg for hp? Hey, I have no problem with that.

    • Dave says:

      Sounds like 20mpg for ~5hp. I wonder if it has a real effect on cruising efficiency.

      • blurgixxerninja says:

        you lose 20 mpg for a few more hp? hmmmm…that’s a big loss for a bike that has less than a 4 gallon tank. but i can tell from the reviewer that it’s a revelation that the extra hp added more fun for the tiny honda.

        • endoman says:

          I know 5 hp doesn’t sound like much, but taken as a percentage of stock output (26?), that’d be a 20% increase. I would guess range on a tank, even at the reduced mileage, would be adequate, as I’m sure the rider would be ready for a quick stretch about the time it needs fuel. Add a pipe to shed a few pounds, and maybe get another couple hp from the pipe and you’d probably be able to drop a couple teeth on the rear sprocket, or up one on the front.