“Motorcycle God’s from heaven above, guard me and protect me in my endeavors watch over me as I go into the streets, up and down the hills; make me seen as I will not have my life taken by someone not paying attention.
Provide me with quick acceleration and heavy braking; do not lead me into temptations from fakers or haters; do save me from all mishaps on and off the roads; forgive me for all the laws that I break for it is only for fun that I do so and not to harm anyone; in You I trust and believe. Glory be to You.. AMEN” (courtesy: anonymous biker)
This is what I pray everytime before I take my motorcycle out for a ride, as by now I’m quite familiar with the Indian road conditions. With 24,616 fatalities in two-wheeler accidents in the year 2010 in our country, I felt it would be wise to pray before I turn on my machine, which happens to be a 2012 Honda CBR 250R.
I’m Adarsh Jose, a final year medical student from Christian Medical College, Punjab. Like many of my college-mates I hail from the state of Kerala, which has become one of the prominent centers of motorcycle enthusiasts in the country in the last 7-8 years. Inspite of this fact I wasn’t that lucky enough to own a bike in my school days when many of my friends were able to.
I learnt riding when I was in 8th standard (I know it is not that early) on my uncle’s Hero Honda Passion, which according to me is a very easy-to-ride and comfortable bike. Since childhood I always had this passion for bikes which was fueled by various magazine articles and MotoGP championships that used to come on TV.
Being a great fan of Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini, I have always dreamt of riding superfast motorcycles. But when I asked my parents about buying me a bike, the answer was obvious, “NO, you are now in 10th standard and this is not the time for all these“. I didn’t ask again after that, until my 3rd year in medical college.
Why I needed a bike so badly
Passion, that was the only reason why I badly needed a motorcycle. It was not because a motorcycle is the most comfortable vehicle neither because motorcycles are the safest means of transport (well the reverse is true). But it was the sheer thrill of riding a bike, high speeds, all the wind that flows, the roar of the machine, various stunts and the fun in cornering. Riding was always a passion which came in actual practice as I got my own machine.
Why the CBR 250R?
During the 3rd year in my college, things were turning out in such a way that my days were going so boring and I was finding it difficult without a bike. Despite the fact that I used to ask my friend’s bikes for my needs (special thanks to my dear friend Ashish for giving me his Pulsar 220F for my short rides) I really needed my own machine.
So I presented the matter at home. The initial response was cold, but later I convinced them to the fact that “this isn’t the childish pleadings of a 15 year old boy but the genuine uncompromisable needs of a 22 year old man”. They agreed! But then the significant question arises, “which bike..?”.
I started reading articles, watching review videos on Youtube and other sites, asking friends and relatives etc. I must hereby mention the articles came in BikeAdvice especially the user reviews which were very useful for me. In short I almost did a research in this field and shortlisted three bikes,
- KTM Duke 200 – for its styling, the quality and the decent perfomance
- Bajaj Pulsar 200NS - for its new character and the presence
- Honda CBR 250R - for its a Honda (performance, race pedigree, looks and the ‘babyblade‘ image)
I went to all the three showrooms in Ludhiana and asked about the models. I was impressed by the KTM Duke 200. I also liked the Pulsar 200NS. But the choice of my inner self was the CBR 250R, for its performance, looks and of course its a Honda. Somehow I felt it can make me feel special everytime I ride it.
But again I was confused because of the price tag. As informed from the showroom the duke was Rs. 1.31 lakhs on road whereas the Babyblade was Rs. 1.60 lakhs and the Pulsar wasn’t in the market then. I wasn’t very sure of the fact whether I should ask my parents to spent Rs. 1.60 lakhs just to satisfy my passion for sports riding. So I thought I should go for the Duke.
So I went to the KTM showroom again, took few pics of the bike with myself sitting on it and then I mailed it to my parents. But what happened further wasn’t what I expected. My parents din’t like the Duke. They said its too small for me and that I looked pretty weird on it and then they asked me for its price and other bikes in that range.
I talked about the R15 and said that I would better go for the duke simply because it was more powerful and fast. Then I showed them the CBR 250R. To my surprise, my parents liked the bike and told me that it suited me the best. It was really a surprise when my dad said that he doesn’t mind spending this amount on it if I’m so sure about my selection. And thus the dream comes true.
4th July 2012- The day that made a difference
I had contacted a local Honda dealer in Ludhiana and I was lucky enough that they had CBR 250R candy ruby red in stock. I went to the showroom in the evening of 4th july, a Wednesday, and that was the first time I ever took a test ride of the bike. As for me, in short, it was awesome.
I was used to the Pulsar 220F of my friend and the CBR 250R was a whole new experience. The sports seating positon and the conservative yet classy looks had put a biggg smile on my face. As I turned the ignition on and started the machine the roar of the engine had set my heart racing. Adrenaline started gushing through my veins and thats all jet, set, gooo.
In a matter of seconds I did 100 kmph which was quite easy, I must say, due to the immense torque and power of the bike. Everything appeared slow as I was riding and the experience was breathtaking. After I came back from the test ride, I got done with all the paper work, payment and took my first bike ever for a ride.
Enough of story, Lets move on to the Review
Since it is a ‘re-view’ and not just a ‘view’, I will be expressing not only my personal views but also the expert’s comments on the bike. It is said that every motorcycle has an individuality of its own. This goes true in the case of CBR 250R too. Boy this bike has a presence in the street that will turn numerous heads towards it. And once you take it on the tarmac you will have a feeling of riding something really special; because it is special.
It is a guaranteed fact that this bike would make every amateur sports rider feel special. The Honda CBR 250R is an entry level sports bike (a sports tourer in practicality) which comes with good amount of power and torque figures. As rightly said in the brochure of CBR 250R, “Rev up the ignition to silence your buzzing thoughts. With every mile, you will discover something new“, well, I did.
The CBR 250R is the Honda way of showing just how the mid-weight entry level sportsbike segment should be addressed. It takes on the likes of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, Yamaha R15 and Hero Honda Karizma ZMR.
As it was mentioned in the world premier of the bike, this bike is capable of exploring the ‘unknown’ world with its modern sport-luxury styling and advanced racing technology. Honda had 27 patents for this bike which makes it even more special. It has got all the technology that defines it as an entry level sports tourer with lots of grunt and style. So lets move on to some details.
The CBR 250R has mixed styling, integrating both futuristic and conservative principles, not too aggressive as the Yamaha R15 neither too simple. It draws its styling from its elder sibling, the Honda VFR 1200. It has a very striking design and will turn heads wherever it goes especially with Honda’s newly adopted Layered Fairing design principle and the wide rear tyre.
Though styling is a very subjective matter, the ‘Babyblade’ doesn’t look odd from any possible angle. It looks a lot more classier than any of its rivals with its smooth lines and character. The integrated sporty front cowl adds to the CBR 250R’s sports-tourer image along with the aluminum muffler cowl and black-coated muffler with its pentagonal design.
The immense fuel tank along with its split seat adds to the sporty persona of the bike. The head lamp of the bike gives it a very unique appearance in the dark even though the tail lamp is similiar to that of Honda CB Twister. All in all, the CBR 250R is a very beautiful, aggressive, very classy and innovative design that has a special character of its own.
My Rating on Styling: 9/10
Instrument Cluster and Handle Bars
The CBR 250R has one of the best-in class instrument cluster with analogue tachometer (rev meter) and an LCD showing speedometer, fuel level, coolant temperature, clock, odometer (total kms covered) and trip meter. The LCD is clear and visible in day light and has a brilliant blue backlight which is quite appealing as well. The adjustment of the trip meter and the clock are pretty easy with the mode and reset buttons provided.
The instrument cluster also features indicators for Combined-ABS, PGM-Fi malfunction, turn indicators of both sides, high beam and neutral but lacks a service indicator or a battery charge indicator. The clip-on hanlde bars are provided with smooth grips which adds to comfort. It has a beautifully designed engine kill switch, pass light switch but lacks self cancelling indicators.
In the nutshell, the entire instrument cluster will put a nice smile on the rider’s face every morning he puts in the key and turns on the ignition and holds to the handle bars.
My Rating on Instrument Cluster: 8.5/10
Design and Frame
As mentioned earlier the CBR 250R’s design is based on ‘Layered fairing’ principle which adds to its stunning looks while enhancing its aerodynamics. The wind tunnel tests performed on the bike has enabled the designers to shape and position the front fairing as well as the windshield in such a way that in high speeds the wind is channelled properly around the rider without causing much of aerodynamic drag or lack of stability in cross winds.
It has a tough but flexible Diamond frame with Truss structure (in which the engine block is mounted very rigidly to the steel frame making it a part of the frame itself) which ensures stability and maneuverabilty for almost all riding conditions. With its design based on the “Mass Centrallization Form” the weight of its most components are focussed at the centre of the bike which adds to improved handling and stability at high speeds.
The elegant muffler cowl accentuates the side view of the bike and also provides protection from the hot muffler. The five spoke aluminum wheels with the H-shaped section adds to the sportiness of the bike. Unlike the Ninja 250R or the R15 V.2, the CBR 250R has got rear split grab rails for he/she to hold on to when you just do a stoppie..!
The bike has a sports riding position (more of a sports tourer type) which is stress free and enables easy handling for all types of riding conditions. The clip-on handle bars which is not as low as the Hyosung GT 250R also reduces the pressure on the palms and wrists during long rides.
The bike is designed for a pothhole filled Indian road but it can also do high speeds once you show it a level straight Indian highway. The design of the bike is compact enough to be handled easily. With a kerb weight of 167kg, it is not exactly a light weight motorcycle, but its lighter front end compared to the Ninja 250R adds to easy maneuverabilty in the streets making it a good commuter.
All in all, the design of the bike will ensure positive comments from chicks or even aunties (both of which happened in my case) and will definitely make teenage hotheads develope some serious jealosy.
My Rating on Design and Frame: 9/10
Engine and Gear Box
The CBR 250R has a 249.6cc, 4 stroke, 4 valve, single cylinder, oil-cooled DOHC engine. With a bore x stroke of 76mm x 55mm and compression ratio of 10.7:1, it is equipped with Honda’s patented Programmed Fuel Injection(PGM-Fi) which ensures enhanced throttle response and no starting issues in the winters.
The engine is liquid cooled and has a cassette type viscous air filter. It produces a peek power of 25 bhp @8500 rpm at the crank and a peek torque of 22.9 Nm at 7000 rpm, which in my opinion is adequate for Indian steets, riding up the hills as well as cruising in highways.
The PGM-Fi unlike the standard carburetter mechanism, controls the the fuel input into the engine through an Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which injects the fuel into the cylinder as a fine jet through the inlet valves. The ECU is preprogrammed digitally and this decides the amount of fuel that is to be injected into the cylinder depending on the input signals from sensors like the engine temp sensor, fuel octane sensor etc.
So the fuel pump pumps fuel from the fuel tank, amount of which is decided by the ECU, and then injected into the cylinder by fuel injectors. The PGM-Fi system doesn’t come with the reserve knob. Being a high revving engine with Double Overhead Cam (DOHC), the CBR 250R’s engine is liqiud cooled provided with radiator. A fairly small bore x stroke value of 76mm x 55mm means the CBR 250R has a high revving engine with the redline at 10500 rpm.
A very important aspect of the CBR 250R’s engine is its almost vibration-free performance. Honda designed this engine with focus on reducing the engine vibration, running friction and operating noise. And their effort has indeed payed off. The CBR 250R engine has almost no vibration even at rpms more than 10500 and the engine produces around 23.5 bhp at the rear wheel with very less frictional power loss.
The CBR 250R has a slick 6 speed, constant mesh transmission with a wet multidisc clutch, which is commonly used in supersport bikes and race bikes. The gear ratios are so adjusted to ensure high speeds and immense acceleration. Since the engine has strong top and mid range torque, city commuting is easier compared to the Ninja 250R ( which has strong high range torque), it requires less frequent gear shifts.
The clutch which is incredibly light with a freeplay of 1-2cm, ensures effortless gear shifts. In general, Honda’s are known for their engines and the CBR 250R has once again projected the Honda quality. Once the throttle is given this bike will cause some serious excitement in any rider.
My Rating on Engine and Gear Box: 9.5/10
Suspension, Tyres and Brakes
The CBR 250R features conventional Down tube forks in the front and Pro-link pre-load adjustable mono-suspension in the rear. I must say that the suspension doesn’t permit you to do a very sharp corner at high speeds. Though the bike feels pretty soft for race tracks but in the Indian roads it feels incredibly comfortable making it a grand sports tourer.
The front suspension is quite soft and bumps and potholes are not at all a problem, but the rear suspension is comparatively stiff, which then is needed for sports performance and handling. The pillion seat comfort of this bike is the best in class, thanks to the Pro-link rear suspension. The overall suspension setting is such that it is a perfect blending of comfort and performance with very good handling.
The bike uses 110/70 front and 140/70 rear ContiGo tyres provided by Continental Tyres. The tyres are very good but not excellent. They provide decent grip in both dry and wet road conditions and the wider rear tyre aids in better cornering abilities. This also helps in high speed stabilty of the bike. If you are looking for more speed and better handling in bends I would recommend Pirelli sport demon tyres.
Talking about the breaks, I dint go for the Combined-ABS version due to the considerable difference in the pricing (aound Rs.30,000). I got the non-ABS version which has decent braking ability. The CBR 250R features a 296mm single brake disc in front and 220mm single brake disc at the rear.
In my opinion the Ninja 250R has a bit better brakes in comparison but the CBR 250R is way better than Karizma ZMR. The brakes are very good for the Indian road conditions but when it comes to a track, you wont feel quite confident in entering a corner at a high speed comparing to a Ninja 250R.
Due to large momentum it is mostly required to use both the brakes when you intend to stop but again the stopping power of the brakes especially that of the front brake is very good. It will decelerate from 80-0 kmph in just 3.25 seconds which is a very impressive figure. Hence in my personal opinion Honda could improve the non-ABS brakes of the ‘babyblade’ but again these brakes are far ahead of the likes of Karizma, Pulsar 220 and even R15.
My Rating on Suspension, Tyres and Brakes: 7.5/10
Performance, Handling and Comfort
As said earlier the first time I had a ride on the CBR 250R was on the day when I actually bought the bike. If you havent ridden a bike with a price tag of more than Rs. 2 lakhs, trust me, when you first ride a CBR 250R, you won’t be having the guts to rev it over 6000 rpm. You will be surprised by the immense acceleration and the torque and the speed and the power of this mighty motorcycle.
With a quarter litre engine producing 25 bhp roaring in between your legs you will feel as if you rule the road. It is a total beast at higher rpms and you can actually scare children and girls with its immense presence and bass-boosted exhaust note (well I have done that, its quite interesting).
3 months after buying my ‘babyblade’ I gave it to one of my friends for a test ride, and he asked me “dude, how can you ride this bike under 60 kmph..?” He was right, your mind won’t allow you to ride at speeds less than 60kmph because the bike is so smooth and vibration free that you won’t feel you are doing 10 kmph more than the permitted two wheeler speed of Indian highways.
It accelerates from 0-100 in just 8.68 seconds which is as fast as a Rs. 45 lakh Mercedes E 200. I have managed a speed of 150 kmph on my ‘babyblade’ in the Ludhiana-Ferozepur highway at 2.00 am and the sense of safety persuaded me to give up. So I’m 100% sure that the CBR 250R can cross 160 kmph.
Highway cruising is a very pleasant experience as the bike is super smooth and vibration free. Overtaking is another very easy experience in the CBR 250R because of its massive torque. You will never need to make more than one downshift for a quick overtaking. This is the story about cruising in highways.
But when it comes to the city the bike is very composed and calm, like a gentleman and it likes to go around potholes and narrow city streets. Due to the strong mid range torque it is very easy to ride in the cities and the slick gears makes the shifting a remarkably easy experience.
With a kerb weight of 167kg, it is not exactly a light weight motorcycle, but its lighter front end compared to the Ninja 250R adds to easy maneuverability in the streets making it a good city commuter. It doesn’t feel that heavy is a very surprising fact.
The CBR 250R will blow away your brains by its super performance which owes itself to Honda’s racing pedigree. The more you try experimenting with your babyblade’s performance figures you might even end up losing your license. But again I seriously dont think police bikes are that fast.
When it comes to handling the bike handles very well in corners. The handling is aided by the combined effect of the tough but flexible Diamond frame, the Pro-link rear suspension and the massive 140mm rear tyre. With its design based on the “Mass Centrallization Form” the weight of its most components are focussed at the centre of the bike. This technique improves handling as well as riding comfort.
I found the bike’s handling quite satisfactory at corners especially at hairpin curves. Though the Ninja 250R will be a bit faster in entering the corner the CBR 250R will make a quicker exit owing to its more torque and wider rear tyre. In nutshell, the CBR 250R is a great handling bike with immense cornering potential in par with the much more expensive rival.
Talking about comfort, the CBR 250R is without doubt the most comfortable bike in its class, beating the Ninja 250R and the Hyosung GT 250R. The pillion seat is very comfortable as well. Both front as well as rear suspension ensures maximum comfort in potholes and over bumps and also the riding position is more of a sports tourer style which ensures easier long rides without any back ache or pressure to the palms or wrists.
No more discussion in this matter as Honda has taken great care in making a motorcycle that combines performance and superior comfort and they have indeed succeeded in their endeavor.
My rating on Performance, Handling and comfort: 9.5/10
The bike returns a decent mileage of 32 km per litre in the city and 37 km per litre in the highway which in my opinion is what I had expected from such a good value for money machine. I have done a total of 3700 kms since the purchase of my bike.
Trips with my babyblade
I have owned my CBR 250R for seven months now, I haven’t taken it for any big trips as such due to the fact that I’m a final year medical student and it’s not that easy to find time for wanderings. I have managed to go for a ride to the Bhakra-Nangal dam in Himachal Pradesh during September 2012, Kasauli which is a hill station in Himachal Pradesh during December 2012 and to Chandigarh during February 2013. I have added few pics of these trips.
The maintenance of the bike is not so easy. You have to be careful about servicing at the right time, oil changes, lubricant changes, chain, air filter element inspection and tyre pressure at frequent intervals. But I don’t think these are major headaches as the bike returns plenty of joy and satisfaction for all the care that is given.
The 1st servicing is after one month of purchase or 1000 kms. I was charged around Rs.1500 for the oil change. The 2nd service is 6 months after purchase and 3rd service after aa year of purchase. I found the dealership in Ludhiana quite responsible in matter of servicing.
Storage Space and Toolkit
The bike has a decent storage space for your documents, the first aid-kit and a tool kit. It also has the area for the helmet holder and the anti-theft locks.
- One important flaw which I noticed in my bike is the slight misalignment of some of the body panels. Though Honda has used the layered fairing principle, certain panels of the fairing are not very properly aligned. eg. the front cowl assembly as shown in one of the picture.
- Less capacity of the fuel tank – with just 13 litre of volume the fuel tank capacity is less for its outside appearance.
- The front mudguard which looks very sporty is a bit too short that it doesn’t properly cover the back of the front tyre. This results in huge amounts of dirt getting deposited on the hot silencer tube, the engine front, the radiator and the inner aspects of front fairing. This area is very tough to clean and is possible only with a high pressure water jet.
- Waiting period for the availabilty of spare-parts is yet another issue. Parts are available after giving orders for which the waiting period ranges from 1 week – 1.5 months.
- LED turn indicators can be included in the coming models
- Battery and service indicators should be included in the coming models
- Increased tank capacity
- Projector headlamps
- The horn provided for such a big bike sounds like that of Activa’s horn which is very inappropriate.
- Self cancelling indicators
Why you should go for a Honda CBR 250R
If you have managed to read the review till now then you have your answer. But still I will summarize it for you into small points;
- For its classy and innovative looks
- For its mind blowing performance
- For its awesome handling
- For the great presence in road and the most important fact that it will make you feel really very special
- Last but not the least, you can do some nasty stunts with it. Check pics.
Final Verdict and my Impression
The CBR 250R is a super value for money sports tourer which will suit all your commuting needs. It looks cool and classy, conservative and innovative at the same time; it performs like a proper Honda, ie. its fast, its agile and it handles well but at the same time its comfortable too.
One of the former MOTO GP champion describes motorcycling as “sex on two wheels”, which is absolutely true and you will remember this saying everytime you ride your babyblade. Its just an amazing piece of engineering.
My Rating for my babyblade, the Honda CBR 250R: 9.5/10
All the information that I have provided are completely true based on my riding experiences in various road conditions. So if you are really looking for a great bike under Rs. 2 lakhs, the Honda CBR 250R is the best option, possibly the only option. Trust me dude, it will really win your heart. Just go for it.