Joy For the World? A look inside Honda’s new CBR250R

. By Lance Thruxton
Bikeland takes an in-depth looks at Honda’s newest CBR and the strategy behind it

By Jon Row

New info on Honda’s 2011 CBR250R sport bike proves it’s more than a response to Kawasaki’s popular Ninja 250. The new CBR is part of Honda’s global marketing plan to bring more people into motorcycling with an improved product and overall experience.

A Global Bike
The CBR250R project, known inside Honda R&D as “Sport Quarter for One World”, was implemented to create a small sport bike worthy of CBR status and also give new riders a better alternative to current entry-level machines. The CBR250’s specific goals: deliver more capability, affordability & fun.

The 2011 quarter liter CBR was jointly developed between Honda R&D Japan and Honda’s Thailand factory. The Thai plant, established in 1967, produces up to 1,500,000 lightweight bikes and scooters yearly. To build CBR level technology, Thai Honda received special support from Honda’s state of the art “mother factory” in Kumamoto Japan. Fit and finish on two pre production CBR250Rs that Bikeland previewed show Thai Honda is up to speed. The CBR250R will be exported to a variety of high volume markets with India slated to produce its own version.

For the U. S. and other developed markets, a single cylinder sport bike design might seem risky. To ensure success, Honda R&D pulled some impressive tricks out of their legendary technology hat. Despite its low price target, the CBR250 engine and chassis incorporate plenty of innovation and techno creativity. An impressive 27 patents were filed during development.

Honda doesn’t cite HP figures but the little CBR’s design elements clearly show the focus on performance. Aggressive valve sizes, crankshaft and piston design along with advanced cooling and friction-reducing features demonstrate Honda’s extra effort to optimize output from a 250cc mill.

The carbureted twin cylinder Ninja will probably still have a little more peak power but the compact, fuel injected CBR, purportedly 15-20 pounds lighter may have a better power to weight ratio. Honda reps cite strong mid range power with a 7,000 RPM torque peak and light, “intuitive” handling from the CBR's mass centralized weight and short 53.9-inch wheelbase.

Honda’s engine goal to improve rider experience in everything from clutch lever pull to fuel economy, to routine maintenance is laudable. The cleverly counter balanced, DOHC design will keep weight, production cost, and service requirements down. A unique, split rocker arm, four valve head with shim-over-bucket layout allows the short stroke motor to pull a 10,500 RPM redline. Removable rocker arm shafts provide easy valve shim access, 16,000 mile adjustment intervals and a potentially convenient explanation for friends as to why you didn’t buy a Ducati!

New riders are sometimes skeptical of smaller displacement machines, but the CBR250R might prove an exception. Honda is hoping the CBR’s styling, engine and chassis features will attract a wider range of new buyers and provide performance they won’t quickly outgrow. The 30.5 inch seat height and bar-seat-peg ergos are suitable for riders up to six feet. A wide, light, clutch engagement and carefully calibrated E.F.I. with IACV should make smooth riding technique easier to master and also yield good MPG numbers.

ABS Option
At $3,995 MSRP the standard CBR250R offers good value and the category-first ABS equipped model is even more impressive. Honda’s latest “Combined ABS” design also allows purists to use the front brake independently. Combined ABS fetches an extra grand on bigger models like the NT700. On the CBR250, it’s a surprisingly affordable $500 more. Honda is serious about improving worldwide m/c safety with ABS and the price structure reflects it.

If you plan to buy:
The CBR250R should be available in March. The MSRP is attractive however one Honda dealership Bikeland talked to did note Honda had reduced the dealer margin 25% on this model. We also expect Honda to bring in conservative quantities so don’t wait too long or expect much discounting from list prices.

Click the link below to view many more pictures and technical diagrams, and view our video coverage of the intro below.
[2011 Honda CBR250R pictures]

See videos from the press intro below the specifications.

Engine Type: 249.4cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 76mm x 55mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI, 38mm throttle body
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance
Transmission: Six-speed
Front Suspension: 37mm fork
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link single shock with five positions of spring preload adjustability
Front Brake: Single 296mm disc, Optional ABS
Rear Brake: Single 220mm disc, Optional ABS
Front Tire: 110/70-17 radial
Rear Tire: 140/70-17 radial
Wheelbase: 53.9 inches
Rake (Caster angle): 25.0°
Trail: 95mm (3.74 inches)
Seat Height: 30.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gallons
Color: Metallic Black, Red/Silver
Curb Weight*: 359 pounds / 368 pounds (ABS)

*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel--ready to ride.
Meets current EPA standards.
Models sold in California meet current CARB standards and may differ slightly due to emissions equipment.

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