I was excited to throw my leg over the Honda CBR250R, maybe more excited than I should have been, considering I had just gotten off my ZRX1100. I’ve enjoyed many miles aboard small, light motorcycles though. Some of my fondest motorcycle memories are camping trips I took on my Kawasaki Ninja 250, or a spirited ride through the twisties, keeping up with the “big boy bikes.” You see, many people underestimate just how fun a little bike like this can be to ride. Sure they aren’t super fast or anything, but they are so light and easy to handle, get one of these on a curvy road and you’ll be grinning, I guarantee it!
Having spent a lot of time on the Ninja 250, and recently having the opportunity to ride the new Ninja 300, I was curious to see how the Honda would stack up. Kawasaki uses a parallel twin engine configuration that builds power and has a satisfyingly high redline. The Honda, on the other hand, uses a single cylinder that redlines at 10,500rpm – so I was very curious to see how this engine felt. I’ll admit, I was expecting it to be a bit dirt-bike like. Boy was I wrong – the 250 single in the Honda is smooth, a far cry from the traditional 250 thumper found on most dirt bikes. Climbing into the cockpit, I found the seating position to be very comfortable, even for me at 6’ tall. Flat footing was easy, as you’d expect for someone my size, but even if you are considerably shorter, the light weight of the bike and relatively low seat height make this bike feel very manageable.
A light clutch pull and enough power down low made getting off to a start smooth and easy. While stalling a bike is inevitable for any newbie, this bike is forgiving in that the clutch has a very good feel – and of course there isn’t so much power that you’ll loop it if you dump the clutch (unless you are REALLY ham fisted). What I love most about these little bikes isn’t how beginner friendly they are, although that is nice, what I love most is how utterly capable they make you feel in the corners. Put a good rider on a good set of tires on this bike, and he could keep up with anything on a good curvy road (or a tight race track). And more and more people are getting into racing these little 250’s. Low cost of ownership, easy on the wallet in the tires and parts department, and a whole ton of fun – what’s not to like?
Of course for the street they make a great little bike as well. Returning well over 70mpg will save you money at the pump, and makes long days on the bike that much more enjoyable. There’s something satisfying about going on a big group ride and knowing you spent half of what some of the other guys did on gas (and they couldn’t even shake you in the corners). And the corners are where this bike just shines. A 140 rear tire and the light weight (357lbs wet) of the bike make turn in lightning quick. Conserving momentum is the name of the game though – slow down too much and you’ll be spending the next few corners just speeding back up. A small bike like the Honda CBR250R rewards the smooth rider. Smooth braking, smooth turn in, and a perfect line through the corners will reward you with a fantastic riding experience.
So how did it compare with my old Ninja 250? Seat of the pants feel – the Honda feels like it has significantly better suspension, much tighter feeling and more sure footed. (To be fair, the newer Ninja 300 feels significantly better as well). In the power department, the Kawasaki 250, and obviously the 300, do have an advantage. On the freeway, the CBR250 struggled to get me up to 70mph if I was sitting up straight. Once I got into a good tuck it sped up ok, but for much highway riding I would want just a little bit more than what was there. That’s really the only fault I can think of with this great little motorcycle.
If you are looking for your first bike or just a great lightweight Honda to commute on or toss around a race track, the little CBR 250 is a great platform to go with. Below you can watch the full ride video – make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel too – Weekly Rides with Reuben are uploaded every Wednesday!