Hello Everyone! My name is Sherman, and this is the story of my new baby, the black Baby Ceeber aka CBR 250R (ABS). I’ve been following this site for over a year now, and I know for a fact that these reviews have helped out countless folks (hell, I’ve been there too!) I’ve always wanted to contribute, but never really got around to doing so. You know what they say- the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. But Deepak’s Ownership Review Contest No.10 was like a shot in the arm to a lazy bum like me, so here I am, and without further ado, I now present to you, the one, the only. Baby!
Wait a minute. “Baby?!” That’s what you must be thinking, right? Who in their right mind would name their bike “Baby”? Well, I have thought of a hundred different names before I honed in on this one. The Black Widow? Nah, that’d mean I was dead. The Black Panther? Nopes, it reminded me of Bagheera from The Jungle Book. Black Devil? Noo! I thought I was beginning to sound quite strange by then with all the weird names, and when the name Dark Temptation actually popped into my head, I knew I was on the totally wrong track (For all those who have forgotten, Dark Temptation is the name of the chocolaty fragrance launched by Axe deodorants some years ago).
It was time to just look inside my heart and call her what I knew she was to me. And it struck me – Baby. She’s my baby. She’s gonna stick with me, and stand by me, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, till rust do us part. It just sounded perfect. Baby. And as we all know, nobody puts Baby in a corner (the famous line from Dirty Dancing). Even then I thought I’d jazz it up a bit by tweaking it to “Babe”, but for some obscure reason, it kept reminding me of a cute and fat little pink pig and that was the last straw. My Baby she will be.
Before I get into more details, I’d like to start with how all this actually came to pass. I had struck a deal with my Dad that in return for not riding till I was 18, I would be presented with a bike when I turned a major in 2004. It was difficult, but I kept my word. It was going to be a second hand bike to start with, I knew that. You see, there is this unspoken rule in my family that the first vehicle is always a second hand one. I guess it’s because if you can learn to care for it when it isn’t new, then you’re really worthy of having a new ride. Or something like that. I just thought it was a brilliant excuse for my folks to not spend extra cash. Anyway, I chose a secondhand Caliber 115 Hoodibaba! in excellent condition (she was a 2004 model). The rationale being that I would rather have a bike which was simple yet stylish and could go on and on than have a Pulsar (which was all the rage then) that I would have to park in my garage and say goodbye to every morning before walking off to school because of the paucity of cash to fill her up (I knew a lot of friends with such issues). And even years later (I still have my 115); I have never once thought that I made a wrong choice. She was my first love. But enough about her, I will save that for Review No. 11 (Deepak, are you listening? Anyway, with the Indian biking scene finally opening up, I knew it was time for me to take the next step.
I was mulling over buying the Ninja 250R, but once I saw the pics of the baby Ceeber, I just could not decide which one I wanted, that is, until the C-ABS tilted her in my favour. Finally, I knew what I wanted, and thankfully, I didn’t have to rob a bank to have her. Thank you Honda!
So I booked her in January, as soon as bookings were made open, at Haiku Honda in Domlur (Bangalore). Turned out I was only the 2nd person to book the C-ABS model there. And from then on began an unending wait.
Being an MBA student, I had to go to Europe for a study tour in April, and then to California for my internship for the next two months, and even while I was drooling over the Ducatis and Harleys. I couldn’t help thinking about when I’d get my Baby. It had been over 5 months since I booked her, but seemed more like 5 years, not helped by the fact that no one from the company could even offer a tentative date as to when the bike would be out. It was during one such bright and sunny day in California, that I got a text on my phone. It was Haiku Honda, asking me to call them back urgently. I did so, and imagine my anguish when the lady said, “Sir, your bike is ready; you can come now and collect it.” It felt like my heart just shattered into a thousand pieces. It was a struggle for me to tell them that I wasn’t in the country and it would take me at least 20 more days to reach Bangalore- could they hold it for me until then? “Sure sir, no problem, we’ll sell this bike to the next person on the wait-list and you can buy it when you come here, if it is available.” She said that very sweetly, that much I’ll admit, but she could’ve told me just as sweetly to jump off a cliff. Which was precisely what I felt like doing right then.
But life goes on, and I was back in the country in 20 days, and I popped into the showroom to enquire about my chances and get a test ride. I was a little apprehensive, for I had never ridden any bike above 150cc before, and certainly not one with the 1down, 5up gear sequence. But the CBR surprised me- I didn’t find her in any way difficult to ride, in spite of having almost exclusively ridden a 111cc bike for the last 6 years. And all that power between my legs just felt awesome! Yes, I’m still talking about the CBR, so please focus people!
“Sorry sir, your model hasn’t yet come”, was the reply I got upon my enquiry. OK, I said, and booked a holiday trip to my hometown of Mangalore to drown my sorrows. The following Monday, I got a call, “Sir, your bike is here, if you can come now for the formalities, you can take it tomorrow.” Deja vu? But this time citing some emotional excuse (I don’t even remember what I said that time!); I got them to hold it for me till Thursday, when I would be back in Bangalore. On Thursday, when I went there, I was shown my bike. Only thing was- it wasn’t my bike! It was a silver non ABS version. Imagine being pointed to someone else’s wife saying you could have her- that was exactly how I felt! I raised a hue and cry, and told the person in charge there without mincing any words that if they didn’t have my bike there within the week, they could keep the deposit and cut my name off the list. And if they did that, I would write a review so scathing, that people would think twice before even stepping foot into the showroom. An image of an angry Hulk kept popping into my head, and I told myself it was time to calm down, and taking a few deep breaths, I left the showroom.
Luckily, God heard my prayers. Or maybe it was the manager who heard me. In any case, I was told in a couple of days that my model had arrived. I couldn’t take it anymore- I rushed to the showroom, and there she was, a Black CBR250R, her silver spots gleaming under the spotlight. I just wanted to get astride her and ride away into the sunset like a prince from all those fairy tales I read when I was a kid. But I was brought back to reality when I was told that if I paid the cash today, she could be mine the next day. What?! The next day?! Man, this couldn’t be happening to me!
In spite of all my entreaties and curses, they would not budge. So I paid a hefty advance, submitted my documents and began counting the minutes to when I would finally take possession of her. The next day, I got the long awaited call, and off I was again. I took a few friends along, and was made to wait while the bike was being spruced up. But it was all worth it. When she was finally presented to me, boy oh boy, was she gleaming! She cost Rs. 1,97,651 on road plus a few hundreds more for the number plate and a Teflon coating. And I was smiling from ear to ear listening to all the praises she was getting, and when I did ride off into the sunset, the looks of admiration I got from everyone on the road just made my day. I would like to take this moment to thank my Dad for making this possible- thank you Dad, for this awesome ride.
Up until the first 500 kms, it was a struggle not to take her to her limits- I mean, come on, mine was a filmy love story so far, and now finally, against all odds, me and my Baby were one. But I restrained myself commendably, well, except for 3 occasions when I just lost my head and rode like the wind, hitting 130 kmph without any fuss. I did feel a little guilty later, but hey! I deserved it!
One of the first things I did was to equip myself with a DSG riding jacket and Axo gloves, the first time I’ve ever used riding gear. Now we look like we’re made for each other, the black & silver combination on my Baby mirroring the black & silver on me. Do you remember the old series in the 90’s that used to air on Doordarshan, called Street Hawk? Well, I kinda feel like that when I’m attired.
After 500 kms, it was time for the first free service. I don’t know why they call it a “free” service, when I was charged 1,048 bucks for it. I should shoot off a mail to Honda I guess. But performance-wise, she became even smoother after the service. Smooth as butter.
I have had her for two and a half months now, but managed to cover only 1,500 kms during the period. Actually, considering the situation, I’d say it’s pretty good. I stay at my college hostel and my classrooms are just a 5 minute walk away. And so far this year, I didn’t get a chance to go on long weekend rides, so when you realize that the entire stretch of 1,500 kms is ridden purely within the city of Bangalore; you know that’s an achievement!
I’m not going to mention the specifications of the CBR in my review; you can look them up from the company website. I will, however, tell you about my actual experience with the CBR 250R, which I think will be more useful to a potential buyer looking for actual user knowledge than a list of specifications on paper. Like I said- been there, done that!
She lets herself be handled quite well, and the only problem I have with her on that front is the turning radius. It is HUGE! I mean, on my Caliber, I could almost bend the handlebars back towards me and take a V-turn backwards (only slightly exaggerating, of course), but the turning radius on my Baby is almost like an Avenger. It takes a majestic U-turn, no doubt, but the fairing prevents it from minimizing the radius. But once you get used to it however, you will have no problems judging turns to perfection.
Rider fatigue- nil. I find her comfortable to ride or stop (thanks to the C-ABS), with no backaches whatsoever. There was a slight ache in my wrists for the first few rides, but it went away after that.
And of course, I am yet to answer the eternal Indian biking question- Mileage? Ah, yes, I had forgotten. I think the mileage is pretty good for a bike of this calibre, it gives me around 35-40 kmpl quite easily, maybe a little more. I would like to remind you again, that this is under pure city driving conditions, which does not include long rides, and also considering that I’ve hit a top whack of 151 kmph on her.
And what a ride that was! It was on the elevated toll way on a well illuminated night, with not a vehicle in sight. Let me tell you how she speeds up first. The meat of her performance lies within the 4.5 to 9k range on the tacho. Under 4.5, I won’t say she’s sluggish, it’s more like she’s modest and doesn’t want to show her capabilities off to the world. Only you know, with a hand on her throttle, of the fury she can unleash if you let her. But between 4.5 and 9k, man, is she in her elements! One moment the needle’s on 4.5, and I swear, in a blink of an eye it’s on 9 and it’s time to upshift! The sheer acceleration is simply brilliant! After 9, even though it can go all the way to 11.5, it’s rather boring compared with the adrenaline rush you just got getting there. The 6th gear is for cruising I feel, because you can get to 135ish in 5th gear without any problems, but when you upshift into 6th, your speed keeps increasing at a diminishing rate, just like the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. Sorry, no academia in a bike review. 🙂
After 135 kmph, you need a lot of road, patience and belief to finally get her to 150 kmph, but if you can persist, she will get you there. On that ride, I had a weighted backpack on me which I could feel was creating some drag in spite of me bending over, so without it and with some more road. I reckon I could just squeak up to 155kmph on the speedo, but that’s the maximum possible. It’s still pretty good for a bike actually, considering my good ol’ Hoodibaba could barely make it to 100 kmph after some major engine tweaking. And the good thing about it is- Zero Vibration even at such intense speeds.
Now to the Pros & Cons
- The envious stares you get from everyone else on the road because of her killer looks.
- Raw power on tap till 135 kmph, top speed in excess of 150kmph on the speedo.
- Smooth and vibration-free handling at any speed.
- The comfortable riding position; you can actually choose your riding posture (upright for normal travel and bent over for speed).
- C-ABS. This is the single best feature I love most in my bike. In fact, just minutes into my first ride back from the showroom, a tempo cut across in front of me and braked. I too slammed on my brakes instinctively, and with a sinking heart, as the distance was just a few inches between both vehicles. But in spite of my reaction time to brake, she came to a halt well behind the Tempo. And what’s more, I was in total control the entire time! C-ABS saved my bike a few scratches and dents, and saved me a broken heart. Ever since, I think it’s a great piece of technology that every bike should have, especially on slippery roads. On the flipside, I sometimes feel unsafe on other bikes now upon hard breaking at higher speeds.
- The headlines are normal 12V 60/55W H4, but they’re pretty bright – no need to upgrade them I’d say.
- Comfy seats for both rider and pillion- long distance travel is not an issue.
- The ignition responds with the lightest touch- some say that not being able to kick start it might be a problem, but I’m OK with having just the electrical start. Only time will tell who’s right.
- The tyres are pretty grippy too, never once have I felt them slip even under acute cornering.
- The saree guard just doesn’t gel with the rest of the bike, so I got it removed on the very first day. You would be mad to sit on it in a saree anyway, so no big deal.
- The front fairing is styled in such a way, that any water on the road along with the dirt stuck with it is all over your shoes and your jeans, unless you’re travelling under 10kmph. And if you are, the vehicle overtaking you is gonna splash you with a lot more muck, so it’s a lose-lose situation in any case.
- And just so the pillion doesn’t have a smug smile on his face at the ordeal of the rider, the (lack of) rear mudguard will make sure that enough water/muck is splashed over the back of the pillion’s shirt too. Hence, it is always advisable to ride with a waterproof jacket that is easy to clean. And if the pillion’s got a backpack on, well, Lord have Mercy is all I can say.
- Another tiny niggle I have with the Ceeber is the positioning of the brake. On my Hoodibaba, I could keep my foot on the footrest, resting lightly on the brake pedal, and press down when required to brake. On the CBR however, the seating position is such that the footrest is a little lower (or the brake pedal extends a bit higher). Thus, resting your foot on the pedal means that the brake will be slightly activated, but not enough to hinder speed. Still, I found it quite uncomfortable initially (maybe because I have no prior experience on such bikes?), and my ankle felt quite sore for the first few rides. Used to it now.
- The engine radiates heat quite easily, even in city traffic where you don’t get a chance to speed up. You can feel it on your legs when you’re in traffic, and then the cooling system does its job. However, the engine gives off a peculiar smell when it heats up. Initially I was concerned thinking my engine was overheating, but the mechanic at the service centre told me not to worry, it was probably the paint on the engine wearing off. Even after 1,500 kms it still gives off that smell, but now only after high speeds, and the intensity has reduced.
- The horn is a puny one compared with the size of the bike, but I’d still go with it in the name of preventing unnecessary noise pollution.
- No centre stand- not a problem for me though, coz I never use it anyway.
- Last but not least, the very stares of admiration I keep getting are now becoming a source of irritation. Riders actually switch lanes all of a sudden when they see the Ceeber, just to ask me how much she cost, and what’s the mileage and what’s she like, etc- all this when I’m still riding. When this first happened I couldn’t help but think that I must be on the hitlist of some biker gang, but now I’m used to it. It still irritates me sometimes though, but in a good way.
The list of Cons may appear larger in size than the Pros, but to me they’re just minor niggles. I’ve just stated whatever I could think of in case it comes in handy for those looking into my review to make up their minds about the CBR. I mean, is a normal-sounding horn really a Con? Some may feel so, I don’t. Even if it is, it isn’t a make-it-or-break-it deal for me. But it might be for others, you never know.
The bottom-line is: I knew what I wanted. I knew it was time for me to upgrade from a 111 cc bike to the next level (my long-term aim is to own a Harley Davidson Fat Boy). I was clear that I wanted looks, power and safety, and in high doses. I don’t do wheelies. I don’t drag race. I don’t stunt and I do not take part in on-track races. I wanted a bike which was as comfortable in the city as it would be outside it. One on which I wouldn’t have any problems pottering about in traffic or speeding up on the highway. One who would set my heart aflutter every time I saw her, and who would keep me safe even under most intense braking at high speeds.
I got what I wanted, and a lot more, when I bought my Baby. If these are your needs, you couldn’t go wrong with the CBR. Don’t expect everyone to understand, though. Even today, a lot of guys come up to me and tell me that I’m a fool to buy the Ceeber when I could’ve had an entry-level car at this price.
I don’t even bother answering them. I just smile and walk off to my Baby. After all, who can explain true love?