The American motorcycle market is top-heavy with large, expensive bikes that are not only hard to justify buying in these sucky economic times, but difficult for new and returning riders to warm up to because of their intimidating performance. There are exceptions, such as Kawasaki’s evergreen 250 Ninija, which was the third-best-selling on-highway bike in the U.S. from June 2009 to May 2010, outselling four H-D FL models, Honda’s CBR1000RR and GL1800, and Kawasaki’s own ZX-600. The little Ninja proves there’s life in the entry-level class yet, and now Honda is joining the party with the new CBR250R.
The CBR250R is powered by a single-cylinder 249.4cc (let’s just round that off to 250cc, shall we?) engine with fuel injection and a counterbalancer. Based on manufacturers’ specifications, which typically are not to be trusted, the Honda is slightly down on power compared to the Ninja 250, and weighs a few pounds more. The CBR puts out its claimed 26 horsepower at 8,500 rpm; that makes it a bit of a plodder next to the 32-horsepower (claimed) Ninja, which not only willingly spins into the five-digit part of the tach but needs to in order to produce decent power.
The CBR comes with disc brakes front and rear, and is available with optional Combined ABS, which should come in handy for keeping new riders from having to be scraped off the side of cars. The U.S. market gets its CBRs in black or red, not the neat tricolor scheme shown here. Price hasn’t been announced yet, but expect it to be close to that of the 250 Ninja. —Jerry Smith