Monday, January 3, 2011

Honda CBR250R First Impressions

For years now, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R has been the only sportbike-inspired street motorcycle aimed at entry-level riders. Despite the fact that the Ninja 250R has sold so well over the years, no other Japanese manufacturers have entered into the class with a bike that would compete with the Kawasaki - until now that is. Honda’s recent release of the 2011 CBR250R means that Kawasaki may now have some stiff competition in the lightweight division.

While the Honda may at first seem conventional at best, a quick look at its spec sheet proves otherwise. In fact, the Honda plays host to a number of innovative tech features that set it apart from the Kawasaki - despite being one cylinder down. Many of the features, including the fuel injection and optional ABS (more on that later), were incorporated into the lightweight machine’s design so that the bike was easier to ride and easier to work on – something all entry-level riders will appreciate.

The DOHC liquid-cooled single-cylinder 249cc engine of the 2011 CBR250R is an all-new design that was erected specifically for this bike – as was the chassis. The power plant plays host to a counterbalancer for reduced vibrations, roller bearing-equipped rocker arms that activate the valves and a spiny-sleeve cylinder that will keep the engine’s temperatures down. An interesting side note is the fact that the rocker arm design of the single-cylinder engine allows for valve shim adjustment without removing the cams. And speaking of valve adjustments, Honda says valve adjustment intervals are right at 16,000 miles – which is similar to the intervals of the 250’s larger CBR relatives.

As previously mentioned, the chassis of the CBR250R is an all-new design that was constructed specifically for this model. The steel frame features a diamond twin-spar design that uses the engine as a stress member. In terms of suspension, the CBR250R offers a 37mm non-adjustable conventional fork and Pro-Link rear shock. And while the seventeen-inch front wheel is mounted with a 110/70 series tire, the seventeen-inch rear wheel is mounted with a 140/70 tire.

When designing the bike, Honda engineers worked meticulously on the CBR’s rider triangle. The result is a bike that features a 30.5-inch seat height and is surprisingly comfortable – even for riders topping the 6-foot mark such as myself. The upright bars puts the rider in a comfortable seating position with little to no weight put on the rider’s wrist or arms.

Needless to say, we at Sport Rider were excited to try out the CBR and see if it was as capable and innovative as its spec sheet made it out to be. Thanks to Honda’s press intro, we finally had the opportunity to do just that.


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