CBR250R Long Termer – Wrap Up

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Words: & Pictures: As specified

The long term CBR250R has long since made its way back to Honda and it’s now 2012, so let’s wrap it all up with some thoughts from those who put some real saddle time on it.

Words: As specified. Photos: Rob Harris, unless otherwise specified (main photo: Kevin Wing)

Costa Mouzouris

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I’ve always liked Honda’s small displacement bikes. Let’s face it; if you’re middle-aged and started riding in your early teens, it was probably on a small Honda.

The CBR250R continues this tradition of making the introduction to motorcycling a genuinely enjoyable and exciting experience.

You probably already get that every CMG tester who has ridden the CBR loved the bike. I’m no different. Sure, it handles exceptionally well, is comfy, good on gas and has every other attribute we want in a motorcycle — at least one in this displacement class. To top it off, it’s affordable too.

CBR250R Engine Cutaway
It's a surprisingly advanced motor. (Photo: Honda)

All that is well and nice, but what I really like about the quarter-litre CBR is its engine. It’s physically small and simple, yet has lots of technical innovations that make it very efficient, like low-friction roller rockers, offset piston, oversquare cylinder (which allows the use of large-diameter valves), and a counterbalancer to smooth things out. These are things you’d typically find in larger, high-performance applications — and more expensive ones to boot.

It also initially seems extremely reliable. Our long-term tester got thrashed on the racetrack, did extended highway treks, weekend sport rides and weekday commutes, and I’m almost ashamed to say, it never got an inkling of maintenance other than the occasional tire-pressure check and chain adjustment. The oil never got changed and it probably used about 250 ml of the slippery stuff all summer.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming CRF250L dual-sport, which will also use this engine, and I’m seriously considering getting my hands on a CBR250R to make a project street bike of the naked variety.

Rob Harris

$4,500 asking price is pretty low, but Honda haven't skimped on styling and despite its Thai production, quality seems to be there too!

The good news is that lanky sods can celebrate as the CBR250R’s spacious ergos and relatively high bars make for a surprisingly comfortable riding position. No sore wrists, craned neck, knees around the head. Throw in the well-designed seat and it’s actually one of the most comfortable sport-ish bikes I’ve ridden.

Who's that fat bastard? 'Arris finds the CBR250 to be spacious for big gits. (Photo: Janet Pickard)

And why not? There’s no supersport pretentions that contort the rider into poses that even a yoga master would find limiting and it won’t rip your arms off at a twist of the throttle. This allows for some real-world thinking and Honda took advantage of it to make an everyday useful machine. What’s up with that?

In keeping with the theme, the motor has a very even spread of power – you just open the throttle to the stop and the CBR picks up the pace accordingly. No neck dislocations, dumping of the passenger, wheels to the sky, etc.

Though this may disappoint some, its power is very usable, and if you’re on a good straight and adopt a tuck you can get the speedo showing close to the 150 mark, though it’ll take time to work itself up there post 130 – it is only a 250 after all.

Although it’s also perfectly comfortable on a main highway, you’ll likely find yourself doing some drafting behind larger vehicles and working the gearbox, especially uphill with a headwind, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.

Group Shot
Everyone who rode the inaugural Dawn to Dusk rally had a blast. (Photo: Janet Pickard)

As a result longer, open-road journeys tend to end up with the throttle pinned but without those heart-stopping moments that a larger bike can lead you into, or at least not as many.

I took it on CMG’s inaugural Dawn to Dusk ride at the end of 2011 and had a hoot covering 600 km of Maritime back roads in 12 hours with a bunch of like-equipped riders. As anyone who’s tossed a dwarf can tell you, small is fun … and affordable too.

Lee Mallette

You can ride this thing all day and still climb off with a smile on your face.

I found myself constantly comparing the CBR250R to its little sibling, the CBR125R I tested a few years back, and everything I liked about the little bike is doubly so in the 250.

Bigger and better!

While not trying to turn this into a comparison review between the two, there are significant differences worth pointing out that make the bigger 250R stand out, even among its competition.

For starters, where the 125R felt diminutive, the bigger 250R feels … well exactly that … bigger. It looks and feels like a full-size sport bike.  Even the ergos on the bike (footpeg/seat/handlebar) felt downright roomier than some 600s I’ve been on.

A glaring difference between the 250R and its smaller sibling is horsepower. Where the 125R had you tap dancing on the shifter and revving the piss out of it to make use of its anemic engine, that was never the case with the CBR250R.  Whether it was daily commuting at speeds between 60-80 km/h or on 400 series highways, the bigger 250R never felt like it was lacking in power.

Lugging it along in 5th at 60km/h there was no real noticeable deficiency and at highway speeds, there’s enough power on hand to tempt fate with Ontario’s much loved … oops, had to swallow back the bile there … Stunting Law.

To be honest, I couldn’t find anything to really fault about the bike. My big take on the CBR250R is that some real thought went into putting this package together. It doesn’t feel cheap or that anything had to be overly compromised in the development process.

It's been very hard to find fault.

The FI made for easy starts on a few brisk mornings. ABS is an option, the paint and finish are excellent, and even though I’m a little on the retro side, I really dig the angular looks of the bodywork and exhaust.

The clutch and shifting are buttery smooth. The suspension, combined with the lightweight feel of the 250R, had me pushing the pace every now and then, but still well within my comfort zone.  I would have really liked to have gotten it out onto the local track to let it all hang out.  It’s just that much fun to flog around!

If anything, given the price point, quality, power delivery, and handling, I wonder if Honda even needs to keep the smaller 125!

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