It’s easy to consider the Honda CBR250R ABS as “just” an entry-level bike, a mere stepping-stone into the world of motorcycling. It is very much this, in fact.
But it is also a lot more. Our time with the littlest CBR was unfortunately short, but we made up for it with intensity. Our use ranged from daily commuting to long highway runs to hard-core trackdays and underlined the point that 250cc machines are fully capable of full-time duty.
A couple of 400-mile days convinced us an aftermarket seat was in order. While the counterbalanced single is generally smooth, freeway running at 70–75 mph caused some vibration felt through the stock seat, and a staffer complained of numbness in areas one normally doesn’t want to be numb. Saddlemen’s Track CF seat ($272.95) to the rescue. Its bicycling-inspired center cutout worked with “progressive density foam” and SaddleGel to cure the issue. The added firmness also gave better general support, as well as improved seat-of-the-leathers communication with the tires’ tiny contact patches. A slip-on passenger-seat cover matched texture to the rider’s saddle.
About those contact patches: The stock IRC RX-01 tires were replaced at 4,038 miles in favor of Dunlop Sportmax GP Unbeaten 02s ($299 a set). Although the stockers were wearing well and had quite a bit of tread left, the super-sticky, race-oriented Dunlops were magic on the track and worked great on the street, too. By 6,000 miles, the Sportmaxes had about had it. But their grip during that time made us glad we’d fitted SBS 828HS sintered front brake pads ($36.37), which dramatically improved brake power and feel. These easily installed pads were the best cost-to-benefit ratio of any change.
We added some fairly indulgent performance parts to the CBR. The Dynojet Quick Shifter was a big one ($399), but clicking full-throttle upshifts on street and track was enough fun (and even utility) to make it worth it. Hard to swallow on such a low-priced bike, though.
In a search for more power (in a post-Ninja 300 world), we installed a Two Brothers Racing M-2 Black Series V.A.L.E. Slip-On Carbon Fiber Canister ($559.98), which was much lighter than stock and significantly louder. Dyno results (with TBR Juice Box Pro fuel controller, $249.98) were good, with horsepower and torque boosted about 3–5 percent across the rev range, for new peaks of 24.13 hp and 16.69 pound-feet. All these changes gave the bike a very Moto3 feel, though one tester thought the CBR was actually louder than any bike on the grid.
In the 6,050 miles we ran before Honda repoed the bike, we had zero mechanical issues, despite a few trackdays. The fact is that, even in normal riding, the engine spent much of its life at 8,000-plus rpm. The one maintenance expense came at 4,000 miles: a multipoint inspection with clutch and idle adjustment. We checked the oil often, but it never needed a drop.
The CBR250R was light, nimble, fun, and reliable, all with a low MSRP. Trackday beginners enjoyed the bike, as did Editor-at-Speed Eric Bostrom. And while we were able to click off those long highway days, the best use of the 250 was, of course, just ripping around town with ease and efficiency. The forthcoming CBR300R promises all this with a nice boost in displacement.
|AVERAGE FUEL MILEAGE||64 mpg|
|PRICE AS TESTED (2011)||$4499|
|CURRENT BLUE BOOK VALUE||$3350|
|RELATED CONTENT||Honda CBR250R ABS – Intro|
|Honda CBR250R ABS – Update|
|FROM THE LOGBOOK|
|Don Canet: Best mod was the quickshifter, making for nice upshifts from second through sixth under any load. The CBR/Dynojet combo was smoother between gears while cruising at cracked throttle than any OEM shift-assist setup I’ve tried.|
|Mark Hoyer: Maybe it’s comical that I am 6-foot-2 and love riding small bikes. I really enjoyed the CBR250R, but I am glad Honda picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Kawasaki and is punching out the CBR to a 300. Now, no more mission creep. Let’s keep entry-level entry-level. Anyway, it must be comical because I am always smiling.|
|Matthew Miles: Kawasaki’s twin-cylinder Ninja 300 smokes the CBR on the dyno, is faster, and the price difference for the non-ABS models is only $600, but the Honda is a great little machine. The injected single is smoother than I expected, and thanks to the bike’s light weight and decent suspension, it goes around corners like nobody’s business.|