Sold CBR250R. 20.000km review
Well, after almost a year of riding the 250 through all kinds of weather and racking up a grand total of a little over 20.000km (>12.000 miles) on it I have just traded it in for a 2015 cbr500r. I'm in love again, but at the same time sad to see the 250 go.
It was a perfect bike, just not perfect for my intended use (which I will get to).
Allthough I have only posted on here once, I have read many useful threads on here, so I have decided to share my thoughts on the bike in the past 20k km.
Buying: The hole buying process unfortunately was one of the biggest downsides of this particular motorcycle. I was looking for a cheap bike and found this 2013 CBR250r in tricolor scheme. It had 18.000 km on the clock (which I noted during a testdrive). I made a deal with the dealer which included new tires and a service, and much to my surprise he couldn't give me the bike for another month.
After a month I picked up the bike and found it had 22.000 km on the clock. Not just a minor difference. The dealer completely denied the earlier odometer reading I did during the testride and I suspect they have rented the bike in the month of downtime. They ended up doing its 24.000 km service for free (but as I found out afterwards, incompletely, they 'forgot' to change the oil). I didn't want to have to deal with them anymore and decided to just let it slip since I was thoroughly enjoying the 250. Noteworthy detail: Apparently during the valve clearance checks the mechanics had been really surprised since the valves were WAY out of spec. This, amongst other things, leads me to believe the bike has been rented and ridden HARD.
Usage: I used this bike to commute back and forth from my home to work and also took it for weekend rides. Of all the miles on it, I think 80% was freeway (>70MPH). The part that I really got wrong when thinking about my intended usage was my girlfriend. I thought she would only occasionaly ride with me. Turns out that the motorcycle is alot more fun than public transport and also a lot faster and cheaper. Of all my miles I think 50% of it was 2-up with A LOT of cargo (Books, laptops, clothes, etc). The 250 handled it admirably, but was, not suprisingly, a little tapped out at higher speeds.
Looks: This bike was a combination of love at first sight and a growing love for its unique look. The giant single headlight and the vfr-ish looks grew on me. I never thought this bike was particularly pretty, but it has a certain charm. Which, IMO, is a recurring theme with this bike. It's super charming.
Braking: One of the major things I had been looking for was a bike with ABS. I ride in all conditions, including filtering through traffic in the wet, and I don't want to have to hesitate when braking for some cager who's absentmindedly changing lanes whilst using his smartphone. The ABS on this bike (the few times I've felt it) seems to be really good. Although I've only felt it engage on my rear tire (I couldn't get the front tire to lock up no matter how hard I tried during some brake tests) I can say that this system is really quite wonderful.
Now onto a matter of debate, the combined braking. I personally got used to it really shockingly fast, but now that I'm driving the 500r I'm once again reminded of the joys of a separate back-break (no real fork-dive for instance). The system has its advantages too though: It is easy to use and allowed me to brake with crazy amounts of power for a back brake. The brakes on this bike are really one of the reasons I could live with it as long as I have.
Engine: According to many journalists this is where the real let down for the bike is. I don't agree. This bike has a wonderful engine that has a charming character and when you adjust your expectations (no 0-60 in sub 6 seconds etc.) you can fully enjoy the wonderful sport of motorcycling on this machine. 26bhp may not seem like much, but it's still enough to break any speedlimit we have in the Netherlands.
The single cylinder engine is wonderfully torquey and has a nice pull to just a bit away from redline. This motor really shines in city traffic and <60MPH speeds where it has an inviting power band and plenty of pull for normal (sane) solo riding. On my quest to make this bike a little more powerful (and because the stock muffler is a hideous boat anchor) I fitted a Delkevic 380mm slip on. This made the bike run SIGNIFICANTLY nicer. Not really faster, but it revved more freely, it would actually pull all the way up to redline and for some mysterious reason I gained another 500-1000 rpm in the lower revs of usable range. The real downside ofcourse was the noise this muffler makes. Even with the db-killer it was a little too much, but at the same time the gains of the system were not something I was willing to give up. So I lived with it.
The fuel mileage on this bike is one of the strongest pro's I can list. I have kept detailed records of the past 20k km and on average I have done 28km/l (roughly 66 mpg). The best I have reached 34km/l (80 mpg). This was solo, in the summer time, without any luggage. The worst I've got was 22 km/l (52 mpg). This was 2-up with luggage with a strong headwind on the highway. I was WOT for the full ride. Roughly speaking the bike runs at 30km/l in summer and 28 km/l in winter. 2-up costs around 10% of my fuel mileage (I usually drop to about 26km/l 2-up with luggage). Highway riding costs about the same. Whenever I was not driving on the highway I would quite easily reach 30km/l (>70 mpg), even 2-up.
A quick summary of the rev range (IMHO):
0-3000 RPM: What are you doing in this range? The bike HATES this range
3000-5000 RPM: At least it's running, but no power whatsoever.
5000-7000 RPM: Run in this range all day. This seems to be what the bike is made for. Love this range
7000-10k RPM: Only really used when WOT from a stoplight, which was like 50% of them, since city traffic
in the Netherlands is crazy and tries to out-accelerate any bike that filters to the front. Still, really nice
top end pull, especially with the slip on.
Comfort: When I first sat on this bike at the dealer I was a little suprised at the firmness of the seat and honestly I was a little sceptic of its comfort. One long freeway ride home (from the dealer to my home) resolved any doubts I may have had about comfort. The bike is really comfortable for me, with a perfect mix between a sporty position and upright comfort. The seat is just soft enough to soak up vibrations, but not so soft it makes you sink into the seat.
One big downside for comfort on this bike is its wind/rain protection, although this is to be expected with such a tiny bike. On the freeway in the winter I had a lot of times where my legs got uncomfortably cold despite all the layers of gear I was wearing.
According to my girlfriend the rear seat is surprisingly comfortable too. Ofcourse it's not a goldwing, but compared to other bikes we sat on at stores this bike is very roomy for its size. One downside was that the passenger peg vibrated quite alot after I put on another exhaust (which is ofcourse my own fault).
Handling: This topic can be kept very short. This bike has superb handling. The low weight combined with the skinny tires make for a machine that can keep up with just about anything. Even 2-up with luggage I routinely outcornered much faster, much more expensive bigger bikes. This bike taught me how to corner, and I love it for it. There is one notable downside to all this: stability. I never found the 250 exceptionally stable at high speeds. It wasn't UNstable, but because of the low weight and the small tires it had a habit of being blown around on the freeway.
Controls: All controls worked and where properly placed (I'm looking at you turn-signal and horn of the CBR500r). I've never had a single issue with any of them. My only complaint would be that the dash controls (SET and the other one) are not easily glove operable, but one could argue that you shouldn't mess with them while riding anyway.
One glaring ommision on this bike is some form of oil pressure light. I have done 2 oil changes during the time I owned the bike
and both of the times I was really just hoping I didn't do anything wrong. Maybe this is because I'm used to working on classic cars
that sometimes even have an oil pressure guage.
Summary: All in all I am sad to see the bike leave but this was really a case of bad judgement on my part. Riding 2-up on the 250? No problem, Riding on the freeway? No problem. Carrying luggage? No problem. All at once? Not such a good idea. This is one of the most charming motorcycles I've seen and ridden and has a wonderfully enthusiastic character. It always seemed eager to help but could be a bit
temperamental at times too (which caused us to give it the nickname 'little donkey', also because it was hauling TONS of stuff). I've now traded my little 250 in for a 500 (with 1000 miles on the clock). This bike seems to be everything I want in a bike and it seems to get
roughly the same mileage on the freeway as the 250 did. If anyone is interested I might post a review of the 500r too. I will really miss the bike, but I have a worthy succesor. I will always remember this bike as the one that got me into riding, taught
me how to corner and how to recover from doing stupid ******************** (like going into a corner too fast).
TLDR: Amazing bike. Good engine, good brakes, wonderful handling. Not enough 'bike' for 2-up on the highway with luggage on long rides.