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I eventually got around to getting a testride of the CBR250R. It might help to know that I'm a fairly experienced rider (about 15 years riding experience), 6'4", 190lb and currently own a V-strom 650, but have owned many other bikes mainly around the 600cc mark.

Went down to my local Honda dealer, asked for a testride and to my surprise the salesman handed me the keys - no paperwork to sign, nothing, he didn't even know my name. "Take as long as you like". Impressed with his attitude I set off. The engine started easily from completely cold. The engine is noticeably a single, emitting a nice "thrum" sound from the engine, giving a good sporty exhaust note particularly over 6000rpm. The gearbox is supersmooth and one of the nicest gearboxes I've used, it's even smoother than my V-strom, which like most Suzukis has a great gearbox. Overall the quality of the bike looks good with no obvious cost cutting on the finish of the bike. I think it looks great, it might even be mistaken for a 600, since it's just about the same size - bigger capacity sportbikes seem to be very small these days.

Off I went for a quick spin, starting with fast A-roads (60mph limit), moving onto motorways. The engine picks up up nicely from about 4000rpm and for a single it has a fairly wide powerband from there up to about 10000rpm, but there's not a lot of point revving the engine past about 9000rpm, where its making a nice howling noise. The most I saw was 86mph without much of a runup, which is probably about 80mph taking speedo inaccuracies into account. This may well be fast enough for many. The bike seems faster in 5th, no point in 6th gear to be honest, unless you're trying to save fuel. The fueling is spot on. If you combine this with the good gearbox, light clutch and predictable power delivery, then it's very easy to ride. Coming from a 650 you definately notice the lack of low down grunt but it's quite gutsy for a 250 four stroke (you'd expect a 2-stroke to make a lot more power than this bike). But it feels superlight, great for tight bends and roundabouts.

The fairing does an okay job, but there's a fair bit of wind noise, however no buffeting around the helmet. The brakes are very good, nice and progressive - not too sharp. Handling is exceptional for this size and budget, easy turn-in and I was looking for bumps in the road to test the suspension. No matter what I rode over, the bike soaked it all up, in some ways better than the V-strom - and that's what the V-strom is specifically designed for! So top marks for the suspension and handling. In fact I enjoyed the handling so much I rode straight past the dealers on the way back for some more miles and corners. At slower speeds the bike is also easy to handle, the low seat and light clutch would make this a good town bike.

I then took to some unclassified roads with lots of 90 degree turns, blind corners and nasty road surfaces. Again the bike handled these well, much better than a larger bike, but not as good as a dirt bike - good that this bike is, it can't do everything.

Downsides? Well there had to be some and for me it is the hard seat and the marginally cramped riding position. This has to be the hardest seat I've ever sat on (I've not owned any out-and-out sportsbikes so it's probably better than a Ducati). However after 20 miles I wasn't in agony even with the tucked up riding position. I have sat on many more cramped bikes and tall riders can at least sit on this bike without hitting their knees on the fairing and you can still cover the rear brake whilst riding.

So I rode back to the dealers much impressed and returned the bike, promising the dealer to "think about it". I enjoyed this bike a LOT, but riding home on the V-strom, it was just too comfortable to swap the Suzuki for the CBR. In many ways the CBR is a better bike (lighter, cheaper to run and faster handling) but until they put that 250 engine in a bigger more comfortable frame (supermoto or trail bike please) then I sticking with Suzuki.

In summary a very good bike. If I'd bought one without a testride, I wouldn't have been disappointed in the slightest!
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