Not too long ago, 250s were just buzzy, ugly beginner bikes riders couldn’t wait to grow out of. But times have changed – the small-bore sport bike market is booming, and now they have looks even liter bikes would be jealous of – like this one, Honda’s all-new CBR250RR!
The 250cc market isn’t exactly known for its sexy or badass motorcycles – traditionally, the segment consists of homely-looking starter bikes with buzzy single-cylinder engines and bare-bones features that riders couldn’t wait to move up from. But that’s been changing dramatically the last few years, as manufacturers have been injecting heavy doses of supersport DNA into their small sportbikes, and now the class been totally transformed.
These are “starter bikes” no more. Instead they’re fully performance-oriented sport bikes built to attack the track, just with smaller engines – you might say, “RR” (race-replica or race-ready) versions of the small-bore sport bike. Incidentally, that’s exactly what Honda is calling it’s all new small-displacement supersport, the CBR250RR, which was just officially released in Indonesia (where it will be built.)
The aggressively-styled, all new Honda CBR250RR is here – and it’s sexy.
The CBR250RR is a special bike because, like other bikes in Honda’s lineup that carry the “RR” moniker, it carries all the features normally reserved for true race-ready bikes, but with an engine displacement size you normally don’t see with that level of styling or features.
For starters, one glance at the new bike and you know you’re not looking at a typical 250cc “beginner bike” – this thing could be parked in a row of late model superbikes like the Ducati Panigale, Aprilia RSV4, and Yamaha R1, and look right at home (in fact, the Honda appears to have taken some styling cues from all of them in its design.) Styling of the CBR250RR is modern and very aggressive, and it even has features like LED headlights and a fully digital instrument cluster, things typically found only in top-end motorcycles.
The CBR250RR in black and yellow.
Other features found on the CBR250RR also blow the traditional 250cc sport bike out of the water – things like beefy inverted gold Showa forks, large diameter disc brakes (310mm front, 240mm rear), a 5-step adjustable rear shock, and a steel-truss frame – all features straight from the parts bin of top-tier sport bikes. Apart from the size of the engine, the CBR250RR is built and designed for pure track-ready performance.
That brings us to the heart of the new bike, the 250cc powerplant that powers it. Again making a huge departure from previous 250-300cc “R” models, the CBR250RR gains a cylinder and a lot more revs – 14,000 total, to be exact – to make what is the first ever twin-cylinder engine to bear Honda’s “RR” moniker. The liquid-cooled 8-valve engine is small, but powerful, cranking out somewhere between 34-37 horses (exact figures have not yet been released) through a 6-speed transmission. Best of all, the powertrain features ride-by-wire throttle control and three electronically controlled selectable riding modes.
A modified version of the CBR250RR with full carbon fiber bodywork, to give ideas about how this bike can look all dressed up!
All these features combine to make what is a thoroughly performance-oriented machine with all the DNA of a track ready bike, and even though the engine is a size normally reserved for little beginner and commuter bikes, it will have the personality of a true, larger supersport.
That’s what’s revolutionary about the new crop of small-bore sport bikes – despite the small engine size, everything about them is engineered for corner-carving race track performance.
The new Honda is exciting, but not without some already impressive company in the segment; Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 was the first to become aggressively sporty in the small sport bike market, followed by the surprisingly track-ready Yamaha R3, and the truly “ready to race” KTM RC390 (a small-displacement sport bike that is so race-oriented, it even has it’s own road racing series, the KTM RC Cup!)
The CBR250RR was released alongside modified two heavily customized versions to display the platform’s potential – and they look incredible!
But the CBR250RR is also important because of where it falls into Honda’s lineup, which will soon be absent the long-time sport bike staple, the CBR600RR. Honda is doing away with its legendary mid-displacement sport bike, ostensibly due to the difficulty of getting the existing model to comply with approaching Euro4 regulations – but in reality, the bike, along with other 600cc supersports, has been declining in sales for years (as I discussed in last week’s article, The Slow Death of the 600cc Supersport.)
Oddly, there’s been a divergence of the formerly healthy 600cc supersport market, into top-tier superbikes – which in many cases cost only a few thousand dollars more – and small-bore sport bikes, which offer much of the thrills of sport riding and superbike styling, but at a much more affordable price. The CBR250RR may have less than half the displacement of the outgoing 600RR, but it will actually make up half of Honda’s future “RR” lineup – the other half being the new flagship superbike, the Honda CBR1000RR – so it has big shoes to fill in terms of performance.
The new Honda CBR250RR in red.
But based on what we’ve seen, and the bike’s specs, it looks like this new small-bore supersport will deliver the goods, and look sexy as hell doing it – especially if, like other manufacturers have done, Honda delivers an even bigger-bore version of the bike to North American shores for us to enjoy (CBR300RR, anyone?)
What do you think of the new CBR250RR and the new direction Honda is taking with their super sport lineup?