Review of the new "fastest made in India" bike.. the Honda CBR250R
The CBR250R from Honda was a sweet surprise to the bikers of India. Manufactured in both Thailand and India and sold all over the world, the CBR250R is a clear sign of the serious Intent that Honda has for the Indian market.
For a price sensitive but burgeoning market like ours, this is the way forward that other companies like Yamaha & Suzuki need to follow. i.e.
"Develop: By keeping the Indian customer in the mind, Manufacture: In India to keep costs down & Sell: In India at a reasonable price and export to other markets and still make a good margin".
Posted below is my Review of the Honda CBR250R after spending one full day with the bike.
Styling: “It’s a mini VFR but with a CBR branding”
Before the CBR250R made it to India physically, there were many guys who posted on xBhp.Com (India’s premier motorcycle online community) that they had spotted the CBR250R in Mumbai..!! It later became clear that what those enthusiastic guys spotted was the Honda VFR 1200F. Yep, the CBR250R is that identical to the VFR1200F..!!
Honda VFR 1200F
The VFR1200F is a 4 cylinder, 1200 cc, behemoth Sports Touring bike which by the way has been launched in India for sometime now for anyone who cares to shell out around 18-20 lakhs of Indian Rupees.
Coming back to the CBR250R, it really is a miniaturized VFR1200F. The shape and proportions of the headlamp, fairing and the rest of the bike and even the “Red+Silver” color combo is anything but a miniature Honda VFR1200F. Honda is even promoting the CBR250R as a touring bike. More about that later but in that case the “CBR” branding on the bike is a bit confusing.
Till now Honda had globally reserved the “CBR” branding for the “Super Sports” category of bikes from its stables. Therefore it is surprising why Honda would want to name a bike which looks like a VFR1200F replica with the CBR tag.
But at the end of the day.. CBR is a brand that belongs Honda, the bike has been developed by Honda, so they (Honda) can do whatever they like with the bike or its branding.
Styling is subjective what might appear unpalatable to someone might appear irresistible to someone else. But fit & finish is something which anyone can appreciate.
Fit & Finish: “Disappointing for a Rs. 1.6-1.8 Lakh bike”
The CBR250R retails for 1.6-1.8 lakhs which (in 2011) for a middle class Indian is a princely sum. After all one can get a brand new Tata Nano car (Top Variant) or a well maintained used Maruti Alto for that same amount.
The CBR250R might be considered an entry level bike in developed countries like the U.S.A (even at nearly double the price at India) but in India it is considered nothing less than a “premium” product. An Indian customer would expect nothing less than “premium” touch and feel from the product.
It is here that the CBR250R “surprisingly” disappoints. When seen from a distance and in photos, the lack of quality on certain parts is not apparent. But when seen closely, the lack of quality finish certainly did disappoint me.
I had posted earlier on how the black plastic on the side panels of the bike looks and feels hard, how the material of the seat cover appears a cost cutting exercise. After spending a day with the CBR250R I could even notice other details like the foot peg rubber looks from a bike 1/5 th the price of the CBR250R. Even the fit of the fuel cap was uneven. In a nut shell the CBR250R did not give me the feel of a “Premium” product from its “touch and feel”.
But my disappointment soon evaporated after swinging my leg over the bike, switching on the ignition key and giving a twist of the throttle.
Ergonomics, Riding Stance: “Sportier than the Pulsar 220 but relaxed than the R15”
The handlebars on the CBR250R are set close to the body and one doesn’t have to extend one’s arms too much. Coupled with rearset footpegs, the riding stance is not as committed as the Yamaha R15 but nevertheless it is towards the sportier side.
The seat is slightly firm which a good thing as it would be comfortable over longer riding hours. The seat height of the CBR250R is taller than that of the Ninja250R. At 5 ft 5, I can ride the Ninja250R with both feet flat on the ground, but on the CBR250R, I had to kind of tip-toe slightly.
The fairing mounted rear view mirrors are functional and provides a good view of what might be creeping up behind you. The switchgear is comprehensive and the CBR250R becomes the first made in India Honda to feature an “Engine Kill Switch”..!!
Since Honda is promoting this bike as a “Touring” bike, I would not have minded the bike getting slightly taller handlebars which would have been the ride more comfortable over longer distances. Especially when riding continuously for 2-3 weeks or when riding downhill, an upright riding stance is most preferred even on a “Sports Touring” bike.
Nevertheless the slightly sporty stance does put you in a “ride faster” attitude.
Clutch & Gearbox: “Ultra light clutch, gearbox feel could improve”
The CBR250R doesn’t have a kick start. On thumb starting the bike the bike settles into a hassle free idle, the credit for which goes to the PGM-Fi (Fuel Injection) system. The clutch on the CBR250R is very light. Am not sure if a very light clutch is detrimental from a performance point of view but for someone riding in traffic there won’t be any complaints.
The gearbox on the CBR250R had a slight lifeless feel. Not that it was bad in any way or that there were any false neutrals but compared to the gearbox on bikes like the Yamaha FZ16, it could certainly improve in terms of positive feel.
Engine performance: “Smooth & Torquey gem, makes the CBR250R the new Fastest Made in India bike”
Despite having a 4 valve per cylinder (like the Pulsar 135LS, R15 and the Ninja250R) the engine of the CBR250R has been tuned for a better mid range response than top end rush. The engine snatches slightly below 3000 rpm but once it crosses that mark, the rush of torque is thick till around 9000 rpm.
Due to the generous amount of torque available in the mid rpm range, overtaking other vehicles is a breeze. But unlike the Pulsar 135LS, R15 and the Ninja 250R which have an engine that feels like they have "power in reserve" at high rpm levels, the CBR250R feels a bit out of breadth at the high rpm range. But by then the bike will be easily doing 130 kmph plus speeds..!! Although the twin cylinder Ninja250R feels slightly more refined, the refinement of the CBR250R’s engine is quite good as well for a single cylinder thumper.
I managed to see a speedo reading of 141 kmph on the CBR250R and it felt like the bike could do a few kmph more given a straight patch of road. The CBR250R certainly beats the Pulsar 220F in straight line speed. Thus becoming the “Fastest Made in India Bike”..!!
Mileage/Average/Fuel Efficiency: “More than acceptable for a new Fastest Indian”
I did not check out the fuel efficiency of the CBR250R that I got to ride but guys who are riding the CBR250R are quoting fuel efficiency figures of around 35-40 kmpl. Which I have to say is pretty good for a fast (by Indian standards) bike like the CBR250R.
Handling: “Surprisingly flickable in traffic but not as sharp as the (benchmark) Yamaha R15 around corners”
On paper the CBR250R has a Kerb weight of 167 Kgs and a long (by Indian standards) wheelbase of 1369 mm. I was therefore expecting a slow turning but stable bike. But I was surprised by the way the CBR250R handled in traffic.
Maybe it’s got something to do with the steering geometry of the bike but it was almost like riding any other street bike. The bike was very flickable in traffic. Also thanks to the torque spread at mid rpm levels, the weight of the bike is not felt at all.
The CBR treads stable in a straight line but unlike on the Ninja 250R, where the bike remains so stable that there is almost no sensation of high speed till you hit 120-130 kmph, on the CBR250R once you cross 100 kmph you do feel that you are beginning to ride fast.
Also the CBR250R doesn’t inspire the same confidence around corners like the Ninja 250R and the R15. Not that handling is bad, it’s just that it is not as confidence inspiring as the other two bikes both in a straight line at high speeds or around corners.
Braking: “Outstanding + ABS experience an eye-opener”
The braking on the CBR250R was simply outstanding. Thanks to the CBS (Combined Braking System), the front brakes gets activated if the rear is engaged. Moreover the ABS unit remains “ON” at all times, which makes locking either the front or rear wheel near impossible. Making the CBR250R one of the safest made in India motorcycle to ride.
I intentionally tried to slide the rear wheel and also tried to lock the front wheels on a road with gravel and loose surface. The ABS does it job well and it just doesn’t allow the bike get out of line. I could feel the typical ABS “pulsations” on the front brake level as the ABS unit was doing its job of keeping the bike in line while braking on a gravel filled road.
But I also felt that if I become too used to riding with ABS, riding and braking on non-ABS bikes might become a bit dangerous.
Conclusion: “It’s a Fast (by desi standards) Street Bike with a Full Fairing”
The Honda CBR250R packs quite a punch for its pricing. The lack of finish on certain cycle parts is a bit disappointing but then the smooth, torquey and fuel efficient engine makes up for it. Handling is flickable in traffic but the special feeling of riding a “Big/Stable” bike which the Ninja 250R and even the R15 (thanks to its “Deltabox” perimeter frame) provides is certainly missing in the CBR250R.
Agreed that Honda is promoting the CB250R as a Sports Touring bike not as a Super Sports bike, but the feeling that I got after spending a day zipping up and down the city + highway roads was that..
"The CBR250R essentially is a fast city bike with a full fairing..!!"
Honda CBR250R Photos:
Honda CBR250R Price:
Around 1.60 lakhs (on road) for the non ABS variant and
Around 1.85 lakhs (on road) for the C-ABS variant
Honda CBR250R Technical Specifications
Type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 4-valve DOHC single
Displacement: 249.4 cm3
Bore x Stroke: 76 x 55mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7: 1
Max. Power Output: 25.36 Ps (25 bhp) @ 8,500 rpm
Max. Torque: 22.9Nm @ 7,000 rpm
PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Throttle Bore: 38mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 13 litres (including LCD-indicated reserve)
Ignition System Computer-controlled digital transistorised with electronic advance
Battery Capacity: 12V/6AH
Headlights: 60/55W (H4)
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate with coil springs
Clutch Operation: Mechanical, cable-actuated
Transmission Type: 6-speed
Final Drive: ‘O’-ring sealed chain
Type: Diamond; steel twin-spar
Dimensions (L x W x H): 2,030mm x 709.5mm x 1,1p27mm
Caster Angle; 25°
Seat Height: 784mm
Ground Clearance; 148mm
Kerb Weight: 167kgs
Type Front: 37mm telescopic fork, 130mm stroke
Tye Rear: Pro-Link Monoshock damper, 104mm axle travel
Tyre Size Front: 110/70-17
Tyre Size Rear: 140/70-17
Front: 296 mm disc
Rear: 220 mm disc
- Honda CBR250R Vs. Kawasaki Ninja 250R [by Motorcycle USA] [Feb 2011]
- Honda CBR250R Video Review of the First Impressions [Autocar India] + Official specs [Nov 2010]
- Honda CBR250R: First Impression, Fit & Finish [May 2011]
- What is "ABS" in simple English
This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.