Auto Review: A beginner bike and then some

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., Jun. 30, 2011
- Contributed Photo

One of the more important aspects of starting to ride a motorcycle (after receiving the proper training, of course) is picking your first motorcycle. A really clean used bike is a beautiful thing, but if you can afford to purchase a new one, I strongly recommend it. This way you’re certain to get the latest in safety and performance items, and you’ll also be starting with a bike with a clean history. By this I mean you’ll know it’s never been down and damaged in ways you can’t see easily, and if you start anew, you can make sure all the proper maintenance is performed in a timely manner (even more important than with a car). If you are getting a new bike, then, the question is, are there any out there that are not only good for learning the art of riding, but also interesting enough that you’ll want to keep it around after you become an experienced rider?

Honda has a new machine that may just be the ultimate beginner/experienced rider motorcycle. Not only that, but it is also a seriously fun bike to ride and fabulously frugal with fuel. The motorcycle is the CBR250R, and it is powered by a 249cc liquid-cooled Single that is mated to a six-speed transmission. This is a small, light engine to be sure, but there’s plenty of grunt to scoot effortlessly through traffic, thanks to intelligent gearing and the fact that both peak horsepower and torque develop well before you reach the 10,500 RPM redline. There’s quick, smooth response from the Programmed Fuel Injection system, and even though there’s just one piston pumping away in the crankcase, a gear-driven counterbalancer shaft makes this engine a very smooth runner, even when tootling along at 65 mph at 7,000 RPM. This was one of the many pleasant surprises I encountered when riding the 250R, and others included the fact that even though this is a light motorcycle (with a curb weight of 357 pounds), it feels like a solid, substantial ride that isn’t easily blown around on the highway.

The riding position is very neutral, in that it’s neither a hard-core sport bike crouch nor an overly laid-back cruiser posture. Instead, it’s fairly upright and ideal for cruising around town and commuting, with a broad, comfortable saddle and a well-calibrated suspension. Even though this is an entry-level motorcycle, ABS brakes are available, which is an excellent addition for beginning riders and veterans alike.

Which brings us to the bottom line: this is a bike you can learn on, and yet may well enjoy riding so much that you’ll keep it around for many years without feeling the need to trade up to a larger motorcycle. Gas mileage is regularly in the 50-60 MPG range, which makes it an excellent choice for anybody looking to cut down their fuel bill. Build quality of this Honda is impressive, especially for the price, with an excellent instrument cluster that includes a digital gas gauge. The 2011 Honda CBR250R has an MSRP of $3,999, and ABS adds $500.


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