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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Honda Unveils Its 185 pound (wet) Moto3 Race Bike

Honda today unveiled its 2012 Moto3 race machine and provided complete specifications and European MSRP (23,600 Euro delivered in Spain, VAT included).

Powered by a 249cc 4-stroke single with front intake/rear exhaust (sounds like Yamaha’s latest 450cc motocross bike), the high revving machine features a six-speed transmission and nimbleness that “goes beyond the RS125R” two-stroke (according to Honda). The switch to four-stroke power did not hurt aerodynamics either, according to Honda. Here is the Honda press release, followed by full specifications for the NSF250R.

TOKYO, Japan, June 2, 2011 — Honda Racing Corporation will launch the NSF250R, a newly developed machine for the Moto3 class that will be added to the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (WGP) in 2012. Sales of the new vehicle are planned to start in December 2011.

In developing the NSF250R, Honda took the “Next Racing Standard” as its development concept and reaped the benefits of racing technology cultivated in the RS125R, thereby achieving a high-level combination of outstanding controllability and racing competitiveness.

The liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, 249 cc engine was specifically designed for Moto3 to be lightweight and compact while delivering high output. To achieve this high output together with excellent responsiveness, the machine incorporates a front-intake/rear-exhaust configuration with high charging efficiency, while adopting a layout with the cylinder tilted back 15° to concentrate mass.

To ensure power delivery all the way through to the high rpm range, the NSF250R adopts titanium valves for both the intake and exhaust to reduce friction. Furthermore, the design reduces friction between piston and cylinder and improves durability by offsetting the cylinder centerline and applying nickel silicon carbide (Ni-SiC) for the cylinder surface treatment. The easily replaceable cassette design selected for the close-ratio 6-speed transmission, allows gear selection to be optimized over a large variety of racing circuits.

The frame ensures a degree of freedom in cornering and nimbleness that matches and goes beyond the RS125R by revising the rigidity balance and the shape while inheriting the compactness of the RS125R. Even though the basic structure of the front and rear suspension is the same as the RS125R, the NSF250R-exclusive settings produce a machine with excellent riding stability.

The cowling makes the NSF250R the equal of the RS125R in aerodynamic performance, while a cooling duct on the under cowl improves the engine’s cooling performance.

As a new-generation road racing machine that complies with Moto3 regulations, the NSF250R will help revitalize road racing while meeting the expectations of road racers.

NSF250R Specifications

Model name NSF250R
Model type MR03
Overall length × Overall width × Overall height(m) 1.809×0.560×1.037
Wheelbase(m) 1.219
Ground clearance(m) 0.107
Seat height(m) 0.729
Caster angle(degree) 22°36″
Curb weight(kg) 84
Fuel tank capacity(l) 11
Engine type liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC single cylinder
Displacement(cm3) 249.3
Bore × Stroke(mm) 78.0×52.2
Maximum power(kW/rpm) 35.5/13,000
Maximum torque(N・m/rpm) 28.0/10,500
Oil Capacity (ENG OIL/T.M OIL) (l) 1.27/0.55
Transmission Type Constant mesh
Gear ratio 1st 1.875
2nd 1.524
3rd 1.304
4th 1.167
5th 1.077
6th 1.000
Reduction gear ratio Primary 2.952
Secondary 2.333
Devices (Intake) IACV
Fuel supply system PGM-FI
Ignition type Full-transistor
Clutch type Wet multiplate
Lubricating type Semi-Dry Sump
Tire size Front 90/580R17
Rear 120/600R17
Rim size Front 2.50-17
Rear 3.50-17
Brake Front Type Hydraulic disk
Diameter φ296
Rear Type Hydraulic disk
Diameter φ186
Suspension Front Inverted telescopic
Rear Pro-link suspension system
Frame type Aluminum twin tube


  1. Norm G. says:

    re: “It would be interesting to see what the maintenance intervals are on this engine. On a CRF250R the schedule is measured in hours like 15 hours for new piston and valves etc. And failure to adhere strictly will result in major and costly damage.”

    speaking of maintanence… anybody know that honda calls for on the new CBR250…?

  2. yellowhammer says:

    I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this. 185 lb… A prior poster calculates close to 130 mph… a butterfly at 20% the speed of sound?

    Come up out of the tuck at WOT and this sucker might take off like a hang glider.

    My point? Eh, no point, but I want one.

    • mechanicus says:

      Birmingham to Nashville in 1.5 hrs, then I could strap it on my back and bring it upstairs to my apartment kitchen. I repeat, Dang…

  3. mxs says:

    Absolutely great looking. Light with enough power to impress.

  4. Dave says:

    Front intake,rear exaust like a Yamaha? Come on,give credit to the real innovator,Cannondale.

    • Chris #2 says:

      The 1988 Yamaha TZ250U 2 stroke parallel twin GP privateer bike had forward facing carbs, the pipes came out back and had a straight shot to the silencers under the seat.

      • harryfxr says:

        Actually even further back then that in 1970 Motorcyclist magazine ran a story about an engine called the Spartus which featured a reverse head with the cylinder tilted a whopping 30 degrees rearward. Also unique to the engine was the exhaust routed straight out the top of the head.

      • MikeD says:

        I just google’d it. I must say…that thing looks like 2Smokes SIMPLICITY AT IT’S FINEST.
        I don’t care about the bike but that powerplant looks like THE SHIZNIT.

  5. Phaedrus says:

    Very interesting how a simple presentation of a bike based on specs (Moto3) announced about a year ago generates so many enthusiastic responses – both positives as well as negatives.

    Just wait until the race starts…

  6. Rob says:

    I doubt the lump would turn faster lap times than the the RS125. I wonder if they will allow the 125cc bikes run with the 250cc four strokes the first year? They were supposed to have the 250cc 2-stroke GP bikes on the track with the 600 Moto2 bikes this season but when they found out the hunk of sh** honda powered 600’s were 2 seconds per lap SLOPWER all of a sudden they killed the 2 strokes
    4 strokes are completely inferior in EVERY measureable way but the lemmings will buy into it.

    • Chris #2 says:

      Absolutely. Those of us into dirt bike riding have learned the hard way high performance 4 strokes cost about 3 times as much to maintain and rebuild as the 2 strokes, and they weigh a lot more to boot. Yes, they have nice torque- but it sure comes at high price. Trust me, mixing oil and gas is a lot easier than constantly draining it and readjusting valves.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “4 strokes are completely inferior in EVERY measureable way but the lemmings will buy into it.”


  7. Joe says:

    Wow, welcome to Moto3 aka Moto Honda 3, just like Moto2, why don’t they just name it Honda GP instead of MotoGP? Since Honda had such great influence over the sport.

    • MikeD says:

      Hopefully KTM will have something to say and DO about it.
      I think there are others too pushing their way into the Honda Cup 3.

  8. harryfxr says:

    It would be interesting to see what the maintenance intervals are on this engine. On a CRF250R the schedule is measured in hours like 15 hours for new piston and valves etc. And failure to adhere strictly will result in major and costly damage. If this has separate engine and trans oil like the CRF it needs those changed constantly as well. I don’t lament the demise of 2-stroke powered racing but I do wonder how racers afford to run machines that are so much more maintenance intensive.

  9. Tom Webb says:

    I’d be keen on a road version but make it a 450. With a more road oriented 450, it could have about the same peak power as the race version but if they could keep the weight down it would be heaps of fun. So something like a 450cc version of the current new CBR250 in a lightweight sports bike chassis but alloy frame and looks like this.

  10. Tom Webb says:

    I’d be keen on a road version but make it a 450 so with a milder state of tune and meeting emissions and noise so that it still makes the 47HP (or lets say 50). If they could keep the weight low, it would make a great little sports bike without being as ridiculous as my CBR1000RR.

  11. Chris #2 says:

    Let’s see if it’ll turn a faster lap time than the RS125. Probably will, but it should being that it costs twice as much. Wonder how much a top end rebuild costs compared to the old RS125? Let’s see some detailed pictures with the fairing off.

    Hopefully they’ll make a cheaper production model for club racers (use the CRF250/450 engine).

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Hopefully they’ll make a cheaper production model for club racers (use the CRF250/450 engine).”

      they do… it’s called the honda/moriwaki MD250. cost, $12 grand. iirc they’ve been running them in USGPRU goin’ on 3 years now…?

  12. Wilson R says:

    It’s always amazing how great the track bikes look compared to what they offer us for the street. How about a street legal version that looks exactly like this bike but for about 1/5 the cost? 23,600 euros is a lot of money! What doesn’t the team at Honda pull their collective heads out of their butts and do something right for once. Do they ever read opinions online or do they just stick to their in-house reports? How many would you sell for the street compared to race spec bikes. Hello! McFly???

    • harryfxr says:

      A street legal version that looked exactly like this would cost even more do to all the emission requirements etc to make it legal.

      • Tok says:

        No it would not. The r&d cost and that for homologation would be spread across the number of buyers. Compare the number of people in the market for a Moto 3 race bike to the number of people in the market for a 250cc sports bike.

        • Ruefus says:

          What you propose isn’t as easy as you think. First, if you think they’d sell more than a handful, you’re nuts. Just because your one opinion backed up with ten (or even 100) other people on a message board doesn’t constitute enough demand to go through the headache of homologating a racebike to the street.

          The closest anyone has gotten to doing what you suggest recently was Ducati with the Desmocedici. Even then there were a lot of major differences. Oh, by the way – the cost was stratospheric and they didn’t exactly sell them all that fast.

          Making a bike last over a race distance is entirely different than making one last over years. Race engines rarely become street engines. Usually the other way around.

          The weight would skyrocket, adding a starter, emissions, lights, gauges, street-legal exhaust, durable bodywork, wheels, switchgear, sidestand,

          Nice idea, I agree. Never going to happen. Not because Honda is dumb. Exactly the opposite.

          • Wilson R says:

            No, Honda is dumb. Look at some of their failures….bikes that nobody asked for. Rune, DN-01, VFR1200 etc… These are good example of offerings from a company that is out of touch with the consumer.

          • Ruefus says:

            Says you. Stop acting like its news, because it’s been this way with Honda for ages.

            Honda, more than any other motorcycle manufacturer has a penchant and willingness to try radical ideas.

            The Rune? Everyone knew that was merely a demonstration of Hondas ability. Ever ride one? I have – and it looks crazy and rides fantastic. They were sold in very limited quantities at a high cost. Right at the peak of the chopper craze. A high-school freshman could figure that one out.

            If you think Honda thought the DN-01 was going to be the next big thing for Honda, you’re nuts. At 15 grand for a scooter with zero storage, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist. An exercise.

            What the consumer asked for? Nope. Honda being Honda? Yep, and this is merely the latest example. There will be more.

            People WERE asking for a larger displacement VFR and….OMG, they made one. Then people start clamoring for another 800 or whatever. The Sprint ST with which it competes, is less money – but again you’re looking at Honda.

            Honda treats their name like Sony in that you add about 10-20% just by slapping the name on it. Generally, there’s a lot of odd-ball ‘out-there’ tech involved.

            It is what it is and always has been. Stop using it as a reason to act indignant. It’s not new.

          • Wilson R says:

            Mr. Ruefuss-
            It’s my opinion (along with thousands of others) and I’m not going to STOP giving my opinion because you tell me to. What right do you have to tell people to stop saying something that they truly believe? Honda was the premier builder of motorcycles for the longest time and then they became out of touch with the consumer’s wants. It’s as simple as that. They’re “exercises” as you call them, cost millions of dollar in tooling and marketing and no company (especially in these economic times) wants to throw away money on an “exercises”. Does Honda want to lose money? No. They are in the business of trying to make money. The current management at Honda is in the dark as they don’t seem to value what’s important to the rider today. Your opinion is valuable to yourself and many other like minded folks, as is mine.

          • Ruefus says:

            Didn’t tell you to stop giving your opinion. I said stop acting indignant over a decades old behavior.

          • Wilson R says:

            It really doesn’t matter what Honda decides to sell, I’m just not buying it. Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha offer more interesting machines lately and I’ll just hope that Honda gets their act together some day. Hopefully

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “No, Honda is dumb. Look at some of their failures….bikes that nobody asked for. Rune, DN-01, VFR1200 etc… These are good example of offerings from a company that is out of touch with the consumer.”

      let’s theorize for a moment and ask, what if honda suddenly made a 180 degree about face and started producing all of it’s motorcycles based on consumer input…? would it work…? the answer is a resounding “NO”. why…? because the very first thing we motorcyclists would think to do is “devalue” whatever they tooled up to bring us…? 🙁

      as reufus points out, the cost of homologation, emmission certs, etc. (never mind the physical costs of production) is in the millions… not the “thousands”. let you in on a lil’ secret… honda aren’t the ones out of touch… it’s US…!?!? it can’t keep being the manufacturer’s fault all the time when we (who supposedly “LOVE” motorcycling) have a track history of NOT “closing the loop”. numbers don’t lie. what…? are we thinking the accounts don’t see this…?

      • Wilson R says:

        Honda would benefit from building bikes that people actually want to buy. It’s a simple formula to follow. Just look at Triumph as an example. They are creative and their bikes are in demand. No 4 year DN-01’s still sitting on the showroom floor. No, I think Honda a very dumb.

  13. Tom says:

    Where’s my wife supposed to sit, and what about saddle bags?

    • Wilson R says:

      Don’t forget the sissy bar and the tassels on the bar ends. What would a proper race bike be without them?

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Don’t forget the sissy bar and the tassels on the bar ends”

        bar end tassels…? or booby tassels…?

  14. mechanicus says:

    Assuming 13K stated is the redline, and it will pull to the redline in 6th hauling my fat arse, and a 120/60ZR17 Dunlop rear tire, I’m calculating:

    13000/2.952/2.333*22.800*60/12/5280 = 128 MPH

    Dang, that’ll get it done…

    • jimbo says:


      Can you see the ticket? …”Year 2014…”Model M3-250RR…Posted Limit: 45mph…Observed Speed: 103…Officer’s notes: Radar speed 103 mph in corner heading N, 3m S of Petaluma Cheese Factory…”

      “Someone” I know was ticketed for 78 mph in the corner described above, riding his 85 Honda VF700S Sabre with OEM Sport Fairing. In court, his defense comprised a video made from a car traveling the same corner, with narration for the judge, that such an old motorcycle with 83k miles was incapable of the speed alleged by Officer Bonanno (a self-described hater of “motorcylists” and “lawyers”).

      Verdict: not guilty.

  15. harry says:

    This and not the CB1100?

  16. Mick says:

    And with this the last vestige of the soul of GP will finally be laid to rest. To have been replaced by an artificial racing series of proven obsolete technology.

    Good work Honda! To think of all that time and energy I wasted watching races and caring about the outcomes. Now I can ignore it completely.

    What’s next? Steam power?

    • Billygoat says:

      Two-strokes is NOT newer, more advanced technology. If I have my history right, the first engine ever made was a 2 stroke diesel.

      • Billygoat says:

        Oh, and by the way, do you really want race outcomes decided by HARDWARE? If that is the case, then you don’t need to watch either. We’ll let Ducati and Ferrari win everything and the fans don’t actually have to use their precious time watching. I want my races decided by the actual riders skill. There’s no better way to do that than to make everyone ride equipment that is equal.

        • MGNorge says:

          The only way to make racing that equal, hardware wise, is to have all the riders on the same bike, tuned by the same people. Snooze-a-roni I say! What a bore that would be.

          Secondly to Billygoat, I believe you’ll find that the first internal combustion gas engine was either a two-stroke or four, depending on various sources but that they were not diesels. It is unclear who actually had successfully working examples in the latter 1800’s. Rudolf Diesel didn’t have a working model until the about 1895 or so, a good ten year after working Otto cycle engines.

    • bp says:

      so the vestige of the soul of GP is running bikes so outdated NOBODY MAKES THEM ANYMORE.
      Here in the US you can get crack in every city, but you can’t buy a 2 stroke street bike (or anything performance oriented with less than 120HP!) ANYWHERE!

      sorry to hear you wasted so much time watching tv, I’d recommend you stop. And for all the energy you wasted watching other people race I think you’ll be OK.
      Hopefully what’s next is some real performance motorcycles available for sale with less than 100 hp raced out.

    • MotoChris says:

      @Mick – you are right on. The 4 strokes have been asked to perform in a way that is totally unnatural to them, hence the absurd cost and maintenance schedule. The 2 stroke was born to race. Let up on the throttle and it STILL wants to go forward! Anyway, Honda can take their ridiculous “nimbler than the 125” propoganda and shove it. Yeah we get it Honda, you hate 2 strokes.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Good work Honda! To think of all that time and energy I wasted watching races and caring about the outcomes. Now I can ignore it completely.”

      no don’t ignore it. keep supporting. by doing so your involvement gives a chance (albeit small) at changing things. if you ignore it, your chance dwindles to ZERO. remember racing is but a sub-niche of an already niche business.

  17. YellowDuck says:

    Yum. Still, I am guessing that for me, suspension set up would be a bit mysterious, seeing as the rider would outweigh the bike!

    • tepi says:

      Ever heard of mountain bikes? A lot less weight and much more suspension travel. And in any case this is 20 pounds heavier that 125s, the riders will be the same. 125 MX bikes were/are in fact lighter than this thing.

  18. endoman says:

    They need to keep the 125cc 2-strokes. Love to hear them scream around the track.

  19. Stone996e says:

    Trade for a teeny weeny high cost 250….let me think. Naw.

  20. Hot Dog says:

    WOW! Akin to the beauty that the RC30 had, or the RC45 showed me, when I looked under her dress. I’d sleep with her and even tell her mate. What a beautiful machine!

  21. Tim says:

    How cool would it be to take a few laps on that thing? I can’t even imagine how awesome something that light must feel in the curves.

    • Random says:

      I can only imagine it is like riding a (man-powered) bike with lots and lots of grip in the turns.

  22. Brendan says:

    If only the new CBR250R looked like THAT!

    • MikeD says:

      LMAO! +1. If only “Baby Shamu” were that good looking.

    • MGNorge says:

      The NSF250R is a single purpose machine. It doesn’t need to comply with emission regs or keeping its cool in stopped traffic. It probably wouldn’t be as comfortable on the street either. And since looks are subjective, it goes both ways, but I find the CBR250R a very attractive bike.

  23. ROXX says:

    Wouldn’t a 450cc street version of this just be insane fun?
    Keep it ultra light and Honda could also sell a race kit for local club use.

    Please Honda???

    • kpaul says:


    • Curtis Brandt says:


    • Cowboy says:


    • Billygoat says:

      This 250 version would be insane fun on the East Coast.

    • Wilson R says:


    • harryfxr says:

      Apparently you’ve forgotten about the 450 Super Singles class that never caught on. Roland Sands might still have some modified 450F’s around they did look like fun bikes.

      • ROXX says:

        Haven’t forgotten about the MX’ers converted to road race.
        Seriously though, how do you think they would stand up to a “purpose built” road racer with proper road racing geometry and frame/design details from the start?
        I live near Roland and we have already spoken to him about putting a 450 in my Wife’s NSR250.
        As I said before, a ground up road racer would trounce the handling characteristics of a motocrosser turned road racer.

        • harryfxr says:

          I suppose so but it wouldn’t eliminate the maintenance schedule that is measured in hours and that’s for the MX/off-road version. A higher state of tune would only increase the frequency of expensive upkeep requirements.

        • Dave says:

          I believe that they found the converted MXer’s to handle extremely well once tilted down for road racing use.

          For those who think this would be fun to ride, have you ever seen a 125cc road racer up close? One needs to be ~5’6″ or less to fit on one, they are TINY.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I live near Roland and we have already spoken to him about putting a 450 in my Wife’s NSR250.”

          don’t you dare bastardize that NSR250. you leave her alone. she was built perfect. some things cannot be improved upon. if you want a 450 project, may i suggest you hack up one of the new CBR250’s.

  24. ScooB says:

    but why the motocross 250F bike weight more?? )))

    • endoman says:

      AMA has minimum weight limits for the various motocross classes, plus the pounding they go through in a race, frame, et al, need to be beefier.

    • harryfxr says:

      Seriously? Have you watched a motocross race before even at the amateur level? Let alone SX or MX at the pro level where they literally ride the dog piss out of the 250F’s in particular.

  25. Snoots says:

    It sounds like the engine is very similar to the single residing in the current CBR250RR. Can we please get a tuned race rep version of that bike, Honda? With upgraded suspension and brakes? Pretty please?

    • MikeD says:

      More like the Yamaha 450 MotoCrosser (intake and xhaust ports reversed, canted backwards cylinder and offset with the crank centerline, blah blah blah) Yeah, not a lot going on at the same rithm as Baby Shamu…lol.

      Chances of it spawning a road going version ? The same as me going to bed everynight with a different girl from the Victoria Secret’s Catalog. (-_- )’

  26. kirk66 says:

    I weigh more that!

  27. jimbo says:

    It looks like I could pretty easily carry the motor with one arm.

    Dear Honda USA,
    USA EPA/DOT-certified street legal version, please? I wonder how many would trade their current larger race replica for this?