The first Honda CBR250R came into the market in 2010, with a design that is inherited from the company’s VFR1200F Interceptor instead of the CBR line-up. Despite the VFR-like appearance, the mini CBR is not a V-Twin nor a V4 configuration design. Neither is it a Parallel Twin as it is just a liquid-cooled, 249cc single cylinder engine configuration, with 28hp at the rear wheel.
It had a facelift in early 2013, as well as a sibling – CBR300R. Both models share the new CBR-linage appearance, with dual headlights and sportier look, with the same chassis and specifications as the original. Engine capacity is boosted to 286cc for the CBR300R together with an increase of horsepower but the CBR250R remains the same for power delivery.
In Malaysia, only the CBR250R is available in the market as most local riders possessed the B2 license, which allowed them to ride any motorcycle, scooter and moped up to 250cc. To ride the CBR300R legally, one needs either a B1 or Full B license, of which such holders are in the minority. Then there’s the fact that most of the B license holders will go for a 500cc and above motorcycle rather than a 300cc so it is understandable why Boon Siew Honda decided not to have the CBR300R for the Malaysian market.
For 2017, the CBR250R has another facelift but this is restricted to just the new colours offering – with the main option being the Millennium Red, which is the standard for all the CBR-range in 2017, such as CBR500R, CBR650F, CBR600RR and CBR1000RR. The other colours are Black and Lemon Ice Yellow. Otherwise, the appearance and specifications for the 2017 CBR250R remain the same as the 2013-16 edition.
Malaysian fans of Honda motorcycles are somewhat disappointed that the single cylinder version still rules the market as they have been eagerly waiting for the debut of the new CBR250RR twin-cylinder machine. Since its debut in 2010, there have been some criticisms on the single cylinder bike, chief among them being the lack of acceleration and top speed against the competition, namely Kawasaki’s Ninja 250R twin-cylinder model.
Personally, I have never done any review on the original CBR250R of 2010. Neither did I review the facelift 2013 model. But I did have the experiences on riding both the single cylinder Ninja 250SL and its Ninja 250R twin-cylinder sibling previously. The Ninja 250SL is compact and agile while the latter is a bit on the bulky side but better with the acceleration. However, both Ninjas have surprisingly similar top speeds (according to their respective speedometers) of 170km/h but the twin-cylinder version gets there faster than its single cylinder sibling.
With the 2 Kawasaki bikes as the reference, I did my first journey upon collecting the CBR250R by riding it up to Goh Tong Jaya via the preferred Ulu Yam-Batang Kali routes. These routes consist of mostly long straights connected by a couple of bends in-between. It is not even twisty until the final segment where it is steeper and a little twisty. It made for a great evaluation of the CBR250R’s performance in acceleration and power delivery in riding upwards. For the most part, 4th gear is adequate riding from one bend to the next one, with the occasional 3rd needed to overtake slower vehicles on the straights. And 2nd gear is only required to gain momentum exiting a twisty bend to the remainder of the windy segment.
Once reached the main roundabout of Goh Tong Jaya, I decided to up the ante by riding it all the way up to Genting Highlands where the roads are more intimidating and twisty than the Ulu-Yam-Batang Kali routes. Riding upwards to the top, only 3rd gear was used with the occasional 2nd for the V-shaped corners. And the engine took all that in its stride without feeling strained by the occasional downshifting to 2nd for the extra power needed to ascend to the top.
Riding the CBR250R downwards after spending a short time at the resort area, the excitement was slightly different. There’s a choice of either 2nd, 3rd or even 4th gear but being a rider that tends to avoid braking if possible, I opted for 2nd and let the bike cruised itself downwards following the spiral design of the Genting road. Utilising 3rd or 4th would enable me to reach Goh Tong Jaya faster but that requires hard braking for the speed humps, of which there are quite a few, all designed to slow down the heavier vehicles plying the route.
Each time I ride a motorcycle up/down at Genting Highlands, the atmosphere near the top and mid-level zone is foul-smelling with overheating brake pads from heavier vehicles as those drivers mostly opted for the hard-braking routine. The front Nissin dual-caliper brakes of the CBR250R does its job well but as always, when I could get the bike to cruise itself downward without opening the throttle, opting for a 2nd or 3rd gear is preferable.
I prefer to review most motorcycles on twisty and bumpy surfaces to gauge their ability in handling such conditions. Instead of opting to ride the CBR250R back to Kuala Lumpur via Karak Highway, I rode it back via the alternative route, which is the twisty old Jalan Gombak that runs parallel to the former. This alternative route is filled with uneven surface, quite twisty with some of the bends lead towards the ravine should one ever overshoots it.
The CBR250R, with its default softer suspension, completed the stretch in my personal record of just over 13 minutes, decimating all the previous times I did when reviewing other (mostly bigger) motorcycles in the process! Of course, other factors helped the CBR250R – it is lighter than the bigger bikes, being of single cylinder design, it has a generous steering geometry and lighter to turn when negotiating the sharper bends! And the softer suspension for the front forks and rear absorber mean most bumpy stretches didn’t upset the bike’s handling at all.
Technically, it takes only 10 minutes to reach KL via the Highway for many bikers, but my usual cruising speed takes me approximately 15 minutes to complete that stretch. I need approximately 25 minutes to ride by the Gombak Toll Plaza (parallels) by opting for the twisty old road. But it is quite boring to ride on the Highway when taking on the old twisty road represents a better way to gauge a bike’s performance and handling.
In terms of overall handling, given its “mild” acceleration and 172km/h top speed, the CBR250R makes for an excellent daily commuting motorcycle despite its sportier appearance/design. Its acceleration is mild for any biker accustomed to faster machines but if you are upgrading from a 125cc scooter or moped, it is definitely faster, and more than adequate to overtake slower vehicles encountered on the roads.
The CBR250R features a fuel tank capacity of just 13 litres, which is 2 more than its closest rival in the class, Kawasaki Ninja 250SL. With a cruising speed at 120km/h, the CBR250R gives a consumption of approximately 32km per litre, resulting close to a figure approaching 416km mileage to the last drop! But I think it is safer to top up the bike when it is approaching 400km.
Technically-speaking, with just a full tank load and riding within the speed limit, one could reach Penang Island via 1st or 2nd Penang Bridge using the North-South Highway beginning from the Jalan Duta Toll Plaza in Kuala Lumpur with the Honda CBR250R – that’s how fuel efficient it is.