Mention Honda CBR and hardcore motorcycling aficionados remember the powerful, asphalt tearing creations of the mid-1990s that fueled the bulk of Miguel Duhamel’s AMA racing victories. The CBR 900, 990 and 1000 CC variants all combined great horsepower with precise handling characteristics along with Honda-worthy reliability.
The same is true for the streets in the United States where riders seek time-tested Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde machines. They want tame daily commuter bikes that they can turn into monsters on weekend canyon runs.
However, everywhere else in the world where motorists pay dollars per liter, the 250 CC sport bike class reigns supreme. These riders search for economy and good looks instead of proton-smashing top end speed.
Now Honda Motorcycles is betting the American public will follow suit by announcing last month that the Honda Motorcycle USA will bring the CBR250R back to the United States after a 15-year absence.
Why the CBR250R?
The reason behind Honda’s decision is becoming readily more apparent as motorcycle riders face the growing reality of $3-a-gallon gasoline prices and as they shift their priorities from miles per hour to miles per gallon. Also, the rising cost of motorcycle insurance is keeping the 20-something motorcycle riding public afraid of purchasing any machine over 750 CC. That’s the limit when insurance premiums begin leaping faster and higher than stressed-out valves at redline.
Finally, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for any motorist, car or motorcycle owner, to justify a $400-a-month payment. The proof comes in sagging annual automobile sales figures that remain 25 percent below their pre-recession peak.
Motorcycle sales are no different. Monthly figures continue to show a double-digit, month-to-month decline according to the Motor Cycle Industry Council.
So Honda is betting that a cool-looking, sub-$4,000 250CC motorcycle sport bike that is capable 85 MPH while delivering 70 MPG will lure buyers back into the marketplace and back into dealer showrooms.
Facts and Figures
According to Mbike, the 2011 Honda CBR250R will 25.97 horsepower at 8,500 RPM. Personal experience tells me that a 18 horsepower motorcycle can get a rather chubby 185-pound rider up to 70 so the extra eight horsepower should be good enough for 80 mpg. Toque is 16.96 pounds-feet at 7,000.
No you aren’t going to win they Daytona 200 with a CBR250R, but you’ll be able to tackle most commuter needs, have a little fun and enjoy some fuel economy as well. And you and your bike will look good while doing it.
The air-cooled, the CBR250R tips the scales at 354 pounds or about 23 pounds less than the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, its main competitor. However the Honda is equipped with front and rear 11-inch disk brakes to stop all of that weight effortlessly and effectively.
Not Small in Stature
The Honda CBR250R isn’t small in size either. It’s 80 inches long with a Sportster-like 53-inch wheelbase. The machine looks good and his properly proportioned, according to Honda CBR250R photos released by Honda. The seat height is 30.7 inches so any riders among the sub 5-foot-7 crowd may want to double check the seat height before they purchase it.
Versus the Kawasaki Ninja250R
According to Top Bike, the Kawasaki Ninja250R develops 32 horsepower, but it costs nearly $300 more and has 22 pounds or nearly six percent more weight to lug around.
A Winner in the Making
Motorcyclist Magazine considers the Honda CBR250R a winner in the making. That’s because the Honda CBR125R, it’s smaller sibling, continues to rest among the best-selling motorcycles in Europe. Also, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R was one of the few motorcycles to enjoy sales figures that were relatively untouched by the recent worldwide economic slowdown.
Honda CBR250R photos