It’s easy to mistake the faired-in CBR250R for a larger capacity motorcycle, with styling that resembles Honda’s own VFR1200F. A front fairing extends downwards to shroud its engine bay, also serving to mount the rear view mirrors. The bikes curved visor provides first-rate wind protection at high speed. Neat attention to detail is apparent in the attractive steering head, as well as clip-on handlebars. We liked the 250R’s blue backlit LCD instruments arranged in an easy to decipher layout. An analogue tachometer dominates this bay and you also get a large digital speedometer, in addition to odometer, trip-counter, clock, fuel and temperature readouts.. Switchgear is comprehensive, with smart buffed alloy levers and nice palm grips also part of the latest Honda.
The tank looks classy, feeling equally nice thanks to perfectly sculpted knee grooves. Futuristic flank panels swoop back into the bi-colour tail, split grab bar and edgy brake warning light. Even the lower sections look dandy; beginning in a sharp belly pan, leading into a stubby silencer crafted from blackened stainless steel and neatly executed rider and pillion footrests.
Honda has developed this CBR’s 249cc, 4-stroke, dual overhead camshaft engine from scratch. The liquid-cooled, single cylinder powerplant is fuel-injected using Honda’s PGM-FI system, and employs generous cutting edge technologies to maximize efficiency.
The centrifugal cast, thin-wall cylinder sits offset 4mm from the crankshaft center towards the exhaust, reducing friction between the cylinder and molybdenum coated piston. Its cylinder sleeve exterior is textured for better heat dispersion, while the combustion chamber uses pent roof architecture. There’s an iridium spark-plug for enhanced durability, and a straight port layout with twin-beam fuel injection. A wet air-filter does duty, and the new engine uses four lightweight valves, with thin (4.5mm) stems. The world’s first roller rocker arms for a DOHC engine debut on the CBR250R, with tappet clearances being shim adjusted. Honda has built a recess into the cylinder head to temporarily accommodate the rocker arms, so mechanics need not labor to remove a camshaft when changing shims.
Bearings support the crankshaft journal in another first for any single cylinder Honda, while a balancer cuts vibrations. While peak power developed will be close to 25.8bhp at 8500rpm in India, a maximum torque figure of close to 2.3kgm at 7000rpm is expected.
The engine note is pleasantly gruff, still soft. Engine revs build with a willing thrum the instant you select first, open throttle and let out the well weighted clutch. Throttle response is crisp, the CBR250R enjoying a wide, thoroughly refined powerband even novices won’t hesitate to exploit. Rpm rises in a smooth, purposeful rush through an adequate low end, to meet a meaty mid range and frantic top end rush as expected from this short stroke powerplant (bore and stroke is 76mm x 55mm). You’ve six-gears to play with in the one-down, five-up pattern, each shift accompanied by a light, precise feel at the pedal. The CBR is good for effortless 120kph cruising, with maximum speed likely in the region of 150kph.
A diamond frame, with steel pipe trusses binds the CBR250R together, with 37mm diameter telescopic front suspension, a rectangle section swingarm and Honda’s Pro-link system with 5-step preload adjustment working at the rear. The riding position feels mid way between commuter-friendly upright and sporty. The CBR250R seat offers good padding, helping make this a comfortable bike.
Handling is light, street friendly and stable through the corners; suitable for an occasional track day, but feeling most comfortable as motorcycle better suited to daily use.
Honda is offering top drawer, combined ABS front (296mm floating disc) and rear (220mm) disc brakes, as a paid option. Both calipers use advanced resin-molded pads. The combined system is calibrated to intervene and allocate brake pressure to the front and rear brakes whenever you depress the rear brake, while the front brake lever works independently as on any motorcycle. Both brakes are ABS enabled, the system modulating hydraulic pressure to prevent wheel lock in every situation.
The C-ABS system works its magic without any drama, is not intrusive and does not call for a rider to alter his braking habits. This clever system will make a pro of most novices.
The practical and city friendly CBR250R is a superbly balanced motorcycle that is going to set a benchmark in India. The 250R launches in India in April 2011, poised to provide enthusiasts a fine combination of style, adequate performance, street friendly handling as well as advanced brakes, at a decent price. The base model CBR250R retails for Rs 1.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), with the ABS variant priced higher at Rs 1.8 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
A segment starting motorcycle from tomorrow, today, it’s going to be a while before we see another bike as good as Honda’s CBR250R.