Ever since the Honda CBR250R came on the scene, the beginner sportbike war has been hotly contested between it and the Kawasaki Ninja 250/300. While the latest Ninja has a bigger engine and an extra cylinder, the CBR20R has a nicer price. At $4,199, it undercuts the green machine by $800 – a not insignificant amount of change. For just over four large, the Honda provides a sprightly fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 249.6cc single-cylinder engine.
During our time with one, it put out 22.5 hp and 15.2 ft-lbs of torque to the wheel, the latter of which is only three ft-lbs less than the twin-lunged Kawasaki with more displacement. Now that Honda has announced a CBR300R (which sounds cooler than the CBR286R it might’ve been) will be coming to the U.S. in 2015, the performance gap between the two should be closer.
Throwing a leg over the CBR is simple, as the 30.5-inch seat height isn’t too high. For those with short legs, the narrow dimensions of the single-cylinder engine means the legs aren’t spread very far, making flat-footing easy. Honda is known for its refinement, and we found the CBR to be incredibly smooth, even at highway speeds, with little vibration and excellent fuel metering. New riders, which the bike is targeted towards, may not realize it, as they are likely more concerned with mastering the fundamentals, but those positive qualities go a long way towards instilling confidence as skills improve.
Those with more experience, like your esteemed MO testers, were also highly impressed with the CBR’s agile handling. At just 357 pounds, and with a tight 53.9-inch wheelbase, carving canyons with the 250 is a blast. Turn-in is achieved with a mere thought, and carrying momentum is the name of the game since power is limited. The single 296mm front disc and 220mm rear stop the bike well enough, but an extra $500 will get you linked ABS. To us, this is a safety feature especially beneficial for new riders.
Of course, a value proposition involves more than just the sticker price, as motorcycles inevitably need fuel to keep going. Honda says the CBR250R returns a whopping 77 miles to the gallon, and during our time with one we were shocked to see our test bike average a mightily impressive 74.4 mpg! It’s cheap to buy, cheap to own, fun to ride and backed by Honda reliability. At the end of the day, it’s hard to go wrong with the CBR250R.
|+ Highs ||– Sighs |
|Honda CBR250R Specs|
|MSRP||$4,199 / $4,599 Repsol edition / $4,699 w/ABS|
|Engine Type||Liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valve, single cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke||76.0mm x 55.0mm|
|Front Suspension||Telescopic, 37mm fork, 4.65 in. travel|
|Rear Suspension||Single shock, adjustable for spring preload, 4.07 in. travel|
|Front Brakes||296mm disc with two-piston caliper (three w/ABS)|
|Rear Brakes||220mm disc with single-piston caliper|
|Seat Height||30.5 inches|
|Curb Weight (claimed)||357.0 pounds|
|Fuel Capacity||3.4 gal|
|Colors||Black, Red, Pearl White/Blue/Red, Blue/Orange/White/Red|