Favorite driver's magazines

"Fast Bikes", January 1, 2013

Honda CBR250R

JONNY GAWLER

If you’re reading this on a digital device, or near a computer, when you have a second pull up Google Images. Then enter anything from TZR250R to NSR250. Take a nice long gander, then look at this CBR250R. It’s a brave choice by Honda to model one of its junior ‘supersports’ range on the flagship VFR1200 tourer, don’t you think? I actually think it’s OK in its own right, because this is a different breed. Yamaha and Kawasaki have, thankfully, realised that with the age group these are aimed at, good looks are half the battle won. Those old two-strokes still look fantastic, even now, and while the CBR fits into the modern slant, I don’t think it’d stand the two-stroke period with equal grace.

But at least it’s a bit chunkier than its 125cc brother, even if that’s not really saying much! It’s still quite spindly, and lanky/fat old gits like us look silly on the Honda, but the bike isn’t without its charms. One of the best things about the CBR range has been the impressive level of control that the chassis is capable of. I’m talking around town here, or down tight and twisty lanes. Those skinny wheels, allied to immense leverage via those big bars means the CBR can be turned on a six-pence. Real blink-of-an-eye type stuff, which is immensely handy in traffic heavy situations. To make faster, safer progress, yet have that ability to hand if you need to turn hard and fast, is of serious benefit to the CBR and any prospective owners.

It darts about – a bit like those fish you see on nature programs, that are static one second, then ten feet to the left the next. That’s the feeling it promotes diving through the commuter scrum, just like the 125 does. It’s very handy indeed, and the 37mm fork and shock appear to be set-up near perfectly for this scenario. What also impresses around town is the engine. Well, it does at first at any rate, by giving you a nice dollop of torque from the off. This makes activities such as changing lanes quickly much easier. So long as you’re in the right gear, the CBR leaps away like an excitable puppy, which disappears almost as quickly. Doing laps of the ring-road or shopping centre, this isn’t an issue. Brave the big wide world, however, and the engine’s charm is soon lost. That little surge is useless unless brapping down the back lanes, so you’re left with the long slog of allowing it to reach the redline, before changing gear and starting again. The good part is that keeps going though. It gets past 70mph reasonably quickly, and will happily allow another 10mph so long – as you’re not on a steep incline. That’s pretty good, and enough to make fast A-road journeys more than bearable. Exciting, however, it is not.

The suspension can also lose its focus, too. It’s almost plush while cruising around 70mph, but riding hard through quick turns does come with drawbacks. It’s actually quite stable, and doesn’t suffer with the standard tyres to the same tune as the Kawasaki. They still don’t promote bags of confidence, but leant over through a fast curve they do their job well. Until you hit a bump, that is, which can transform that assured stance into a bit of a weave. It sorts itself out in the end, but it can give you a little shock! Yet that kind of thing is what provides the excitement here, rather than how it can perform. It’s a good bike, but that’s about it. At least it’s frugal on the fuel front – bonus!

HONDA CBR250 £3,950 (ABS – £4,100)

ENGINE

The CBR’s engine is a single-cylinder, and apparently has a world’s first inside – the first DOHC engine to utilize a roller rocker arm for the valve system. Wow, that was worth waiting for, huh? A spiny sleeve has been used in the cylinder, small spines that improve cooling and help reduce distortion. The crankshaft is super light, valve stems ultra thin though with large diameters. Crankshaft has been strengthened.

CHASSIS

The frame and running gear do a good enough job to make the Honda worth its asking price. The 37mm front fork is fully unadjustable, as is the monoshock gracing the rear. The frame itself is a diamond-steel twin-spar affair, which isn’t good looking, but functional enough. Front brake is a two-piston caliper jobbie, biting a 296mm disc, while the rear is a single-piston, 220mm disc set-up. Both do a job, but are left wanting.

Highlights

C-ABS option

VFR styling

Well priced

DOHC

21bhp

161kg (kerb)

TRACK 3

Fun for about five mins

FAST ROAD 6

Fun for about ten mins

HOOLIGAN 1

Bwah ha ha ha ha!

NEW RIDER 10

Billy Bob On...

DESIRABILITY 5

The price is right

DON’T BE FOOLED BY

Honda saying the 250 is ‘race-inspired’. They styled it like a tourer, FFS!

Verdict 6/10

To be honest, it’s a bit of a disappointment, but it’s still a solid choice and well-priced.

+ STABILITY, TORQUE, PRICE, AGILE

- JUST A BIT LAME REALLY…

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