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Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Honda CBR 250R - Ride Review

When the Honda CBR 250R was first announced, in 2010, it really took the world by storm. Globally, it was Honda's attempt to get more volumes in their book, which was certainly not possible with the flagships. Honda was seriously lacking a motorcycle, which was budget, gave good mileage per fill and was equally fun. Kawasaki Ninja 250's historical success was glaring on everyone's face. It was not difficult for Honda to realize the segment that would give the company the maximum providence. Today Honda CBR 250R is a reality in flesh, and after yesterday's test ride, I've no qualms in saying that the Honda CBR 250R, is the perfect entry level quarter liter motorcycle that has been ever created. Why I call the CBR 250R, the perfect entry level quarter liter motorcycle over the Kawasaki Ninja 250...?? well, read on.


The four stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder develops a max power output of 26Bhp and 23.84 Nm of Torque. This means that the bike is not, out rightly radical and is friendly to anyone who swings his leg over. The bike NOT insanely fast, but it builds on acceleration progressively.

Thumb the starter and the 250cc mill below springs to life with the most minimalistic engine note at around 1.5k rpms. I found the engine note to be classic Honda single cylinder that we get in India like the Unicorn and the Dazzler. Going by the engine note, you won't be able to make a difference between the three. No grunt, but a smooth and calm note.

Liquid cooled, four stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder.
Bore x Stroke 76 x 55mm
Compression Ratio 10.7: 1
Electronic fuel injection PGM-F
Electronic Self
Max Power
26.4 hp 19.4kW @ 8500 rpm
Max Torque
22.9 Nm @ 7000 rpm
6 Speed/chain

Though I found that the engine loved to be revved, but the major chunk of fun lies between the 5,000 to 9,000 rpm mark, the mid-range. The engine has a very powerful mid-range and there's a distinct change of engine's character from being naive to becoming confident. It might be just this test mule, but I found that the engine was feeling a bit stressed post 9,000 rpms in each gear. Talking about that, the speedo indicated speeds at each gear are as under -
  • 1st gear @ 4k rpms - 40 kmph
  • 2nd gear @ 9k rpms - 65 kmph
  • 3rd gear @ 9k rpms - 79 kmph
  • 4th gear @ 9k rpms - 95 kmph
  • 5th gear @ 7.5k rpms - 115 kmph
  • 6th gear @ 8k rpms - 123 kmph
All in all, it's a text book Honda engine, which is not going to frighten you, but it's gonna pamper you with each mile munched.

Ride and Handling

Frame Diamond; steel twin-spar
Front Suspension
37mm telescopic fork, 130mm wheel travel.
Rear Suspension
Pro-Link Monoshock damper, 104mm axle travel
Front Brakes
Single 296mm disc 2 piston caliper
Rear Brakes
Single 220mm disc 1 piston caliper
Front Tyre
Rear Tyre
Seat Height 784 mm
162kg (166kg C-ABS version)
Fuel Capacity 
13 Litres

The moment you swing your legs over the saddle, you are greeted by the big 13L fuel tank. It's design allows you to comfortably tuck yourself behind it. The seats are one of the most comfortable that I've ever sat on. The mid-section geometry provides enough room for most body heights, provided you are not a seven footer.

At 26 degree forward lean angle and 77 degree Knee angle, the ergos are not very aggressive, but is sporty enough to excite you. This, coupled with the low seat height of 30.9 inches and low center of gravity, results in excellent and very progressive handling.

Though I was not able to flip the bike from one side to another (because of the pillion), but negotiating through the traffic and making turns where quite a bliss and fun.

The suspension is par excellence on a budget 250cc. Both front and rear suspension where dancing in tango to gobble up the pot holes and the speed breakers. You don't get the feeling that you are riding something which has been built with tight budgets in mind. The feeling was quite plush so to speak. The choice of rubber on the bike is also good and provides good traction as well as cushion. The gear shift is very progressive and positive. I had no difficulty in finding the neutral and moving quickly up or down was butter smooth.

A things which need special mention here are the brakes. I was riding the C-ABS variant and the braking was quite confidence inspiring to say the least, specially when you are using the front brake. No sign of any lock ups what so ever. I tried braking hard a couple of times on gravels and no problems what so ever. It was smooth and safe. But at the same time, I was not that confident when I was using the rear brakes hard. Since the rear brake is linked to the front calipers, hard braking using the rear accentuates the front calipers and that might take you by surprise. Specially, a couple of times, the nose developed a tendency to dive when I was hard on the rear. So, I would suggest to continue with the habit of using both brakes in the C-ABS version, just don't get complacent with the C-ABS, the CBR 250R has a very different front end geometry than the CBR Firebalde and the CBR 600RR. Another thing, that got out of my comfort zone was the angle of the gear shift lever. I personally found it a couple of degrees too high for my toe. So, for any prospective buyer, I would suggest to get that adjust first hand.

The equipment on the CBR 250R is quite contemporary, with the blue backlit digital and analog dash. The most useful thing that I personally found on the dash was the inclusion of the digital clock. Man, that's some thought given. Honda has managed to include almost everything that an average metro dude would like to have on the bike. The quality of the switches are also good.

Quality and Reliability
Well it's a Honda and one would expect that the quality would be top notch. But, here should also keep one thing in mind that the bike has been built with a very tight budget and there would be somethings on which some kind of a trade off would have to be called for.

Quality wise I would say that the CBR 250R falls a notch short from the Honda legacy, but at the same time, such things are very trivial and do not come into picture until and unless you are really bent to eagle eye each and every nut bold. A couple of things that I observed were -
  • The finishing of the clip-ons is not up to the mark.
  • The fit and finish of the dash and the fairing is a notch down as at higher rpms, they develop a tendency to vibrate and make those vibes noticed.
  • Since the fairing develops vibes at higher rpms, those vibes infest themselves on the RVMS too, which otherwise provide a good view.
  • The plastic used for the panels don't give you that premium feeling, but it's good, but could have been better.
Overall, the fit and finish of the bike is very nicely done and is very tight, but knowing Honda, you are left wanting that last bit more.

Well, there's is no doubt what so ever that the Honda CBR 250R is a winner for Honda and would spell the same charm as the Ninja 250 has been doing for Kawasaki for the past 20 years. The bike is a amazing upgrade for anybody who's wanting to graduate from the ZMRs, the R15s and the Pulsar 220s. It's very gentle to the new rider, it does not have much power that would give you the chill down your spine and it's meaty mid range would gobble up miles without much fuss, which is very much unlike the top end happy Ninja 250, which does need some skills to juice out it's parallel twine engine. The single cylinder engine of the CBR 250R does the job and does that amazingly well and that's why it's the perfect entry level quarter liter at a very very affordable price tag.

The bike is available at an on-road price tag of
  • ₹1,52,560 for Standard variant, Gurgaon
  • ₹1,78,975 for C-ABS variant, Gurgaon

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  1. Great review bro,

    Inclusion of ABs is a very much welcome feature.. just wish Honda not incorporated the "Combines' feature..

    From your review and also from reading on international publications, it must feel wierd when every time one press the rear brakes, the front suspension dives.

    Also wish you got more opportunity for a bit of corner carving :-)

  2. The dude sitting pillion (he's the same one who gave us the R15 and FZ test ride) was shit scared when I finished the test ride and said that he so wished that he should have given me the test ride solo ;)

    Well I'm working towards it and would soon get that happening.

    Though I was not able to full get the bike scraping it's foot pegs, but I did enough to gauge that the CBR 250R is a very busy customer when it comes to corners.. specially flicking the bike in traffic is a bliss with all that fairing on.

  3. I like the new Ducati Diavel models. Use to have a Honda VFR-400 miss it but love the Ducati.

  4. Boston Motorbike,

    Thanks guys for dropping by.

    The Diavel sits up real high on the food chain... no comparison what so ever the with the CBR 250 :) Even I (being a Sports genre person) totally love everything about the Diavel.

    What are your thoughts about the CBR 250?

  5. The engine has a very powerful mid-range and there's a distinct change of engine's character from being naive to becoming confident


Item Reviewed: 2011 Honda CBR 250R - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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