|The arrival of Honda’s CBR250R is great news for novice riders
— By Trevor Hedge
Honda dealers are celebrating the arrival of the new CBR250R this month. Kawasaki’s Ninja 250R has been a stupendous sales success and the arrival of a thoroughly modern 250cc fully-faired learner bike to Honda showrooms has been eagerly awaited.
Built in one of Honda’s Thailand plants, the CBR250R brings modern styling and engineering to the learner motorcycle category. In the flesh, the Honda displays a high level of fit and finish. When previously testing the Thai built PCX 125 scooter, I noted the outstanding build quality of the bodywork, in some ways better finished than Honda’s much more expensive Japanese built larger scooters. It is obvious the Thai plant is striving to surpass Japanese build quality where they can.
Honda are out to win market share with this bike and have priced it accordingly: $5490 or $5990 with ABS. The CBR250R undercuts Kawasaki’s star performer, the Ninja 250R, by nearly 30 per cent. The Honda is also $1500 cheaper than Hyosung’s GT250R.
While we are yet to sling a leg over the new Honda, American magazines have already spent quality time with the new CBR250R and Sport Rider recently pitted the Honda against those aforementioned rivals.
On the dyno the CBR250R displayed a significant advantage over its twin-cylinder rivals in low and mid-range power, matching the Hyosung for top end power. The single-cylinder Honda boasts appreciably more torque than both its rivals with a particularly sweet spread of power between 5000 and 9000rpm. Until 9000rpm the Honda has a clear power and torque advantage over the Kawasaki, but over 9000rpm the Kawasaki clearly wins the power war. The Kawasaki had the least torque of all the bikes though with 17.3N-m at 9500rpm, compared with 18.7N-m at 6750rpm for the Hyosung while the Honda topped the torque charts with 20.3N-m at 6750rpm. During their testing the Americans also found the CBR250R to claim the fuel economy crown, with a 3.4l per 100km average, narrowly bettering the Hyosung but proving far more frugal than the 5.1l per 100km recorded by the Kawasaki. The result is not all that surprising, considering that Kawasaki still use carburettors and a manual choke lever, while their rivals sport fuel injection.
Sports Rider also found the Honda to be the lightest and most agile of the group, yet slightly hampered in top end power compared to its rivals. The Kawasaki rated the fastest and with a chassis almost as good as the Honda.
Testers complained that the Hyosung vibrated a lot, felt a little rough around the edges and offered the least comfortable riding position of the trio. Between the Honda and Kawasaki the Honda had the slimmest feel and most upright riding position, however, Sports Rider testers remarked that the Kawasaki was equally as comfortable as the Honda.
Honda’s fuel injection system was deemed a great benefit in stop-start riding, with the CBR250R most eager to jump off the line and combined with its single-cylinder torque advantage, made the Honda the most responsive mount around town. On the other side of the coin, during sporting mountain riding Sports Rider found the Honda’s lack of top end power made the Kawasaki the better sporting mount and the most relaxed ride on the open highway.
Sports Rider also took three novice riders with them on test. The young lady preferred the sound of the Hyosung or Kawasaki and said she would choose one of the twins, while both males chose the Honda. Sports Rider’s three expert testers all chose the Kawasaki, largely due to the top end power advantage, but rated the Honda best for novice riders.
It must be noted that in America, all three machines retail for $3999 while in Australia, the Honda is $2000 cheaper than the Kawasaki, giving the newcomer a huge price advantage over its competitors.
I am certain that Honda’s aggressive pricing strategy in Australia will force Kawasaki and Hyosung to sharpen their pencils and lower the price of their machines. And with that in mind, one thing’s for sure, the arrival of the CBR250R will be an absolute win-win for Australian consumers, especially now that petrol prices are once again heading north. (Addendum – 36 hours after writing this Kawasaki dropped the Ninja 250R to $5999; surely Hyosung will follow suit) (Addendum 2 – They sure did, the following week Hyosung alerted us that they had ‘realigned the price of the GT250R to $5990)
Honda are offering NSW riders the choice to try the new CBR250R on for size with free ‘Come and try it’ days at their HART rider training venues. (Victorians enjoyed their day last weekend). The fleet of CBR250R test machines arrive at their Sydney venue on April 9 before venturing north to Brisbane the following Saturday. HART St Ives can be contacted on 02 9144 5725 while the Brisbane office can be reached on 07 3341 5657. Riders who purchase a CBR250R prior to May 31, also score a $150 voucher to be used towards scheduled servicing.