I agree completely. I find that small displacement (notice I didn't write "beginner"?) bikes are just more fun to ride. And I'm not the only one. However, there seems to be a social norm that suggests small bikes are "beginner bikes" and in North America there is a tenacious myth that obtaining a big bike is the ultimate end-goal and an "upgrade" from smaller, lighter, better-handling bikes.I had an rz350, and did touring and it was great, so I got a venture royal when it was still 1300cc. It had great torque, bags, radio, intercom, everything. it was also very near 800 pounds. After a while it got more like a 2 wheeled motorhome feeling. I did not have that freedom on a motorcycle feeling. I like the smaller bike feeling, and when I get mine I will eventually take it across a few states here in the U.S.
I also used to like to drive the original air cooled VW bug. they were low on power, but comfortable and fun to drive and inexpensive. You have to anticipate hills and passes, and I forsee a little of this with the 250.
I also always thought a ducati bevel drive single would be fun, but parts are hard to find, expensive, and I would rather ride than wrench. So here is a modern 250 single that looks like it can satisfy all of the usability and fun requirements, I am all for it.
One cylinder, 1/4 the maintenance. This bike is overdue. I think it is very limiting to label this a beginners bike. It is obviously a very good choice for beginners, but I have had bikes since 1978. I am offing a honda vtx 1300 right now. I took it a few states ride, and mostly wished I was back on my KLR650. If the cbr was a 400 or 450, that would be more ideal, but 250 is good. I am hoping to get mine in the next week.
I currently own a Yamaha WR250R and a CBR125R. I have toured with the CBR125R. Last summer I did a 3200 KM trip on it. No joke. Loaded with saddlebags, tailbag, and tankbag - camping along the way. Big bike riders said it couldn't be done. I felt that claim needed to be challenged. They were wrong. I had a blast. Travelled on the Trans Canada highway just fine, kept up with traffic, and even passed some of it. Less can be more. Keep it simpler and lighter. I plan to tour on my CBR250R this summer as well.
Here is my trip report with the CBR125R. Complete with photos and details. All 5 pages and 3200kms of it.
Trip Report: 3200 KM Camping Trip - Part I - Honda CBR125R Community Forum
Here is something I wrote on another forum that captures why I want a CBR250R and feel that purchasing a big bike would be a "downgrade" for me. I used the Yamaha R1 to illustrate my point because that is the kind of bike dealers wanted to sell to me, but you could replace "R1" with any large displacement multi-cylinder bike and I believe the meaning of my comment would still hold true. Here it is:
"I might be part of Honda’s demographic. I’m from Canada. I grew up riding dirtbikes and purchased a CBR125R last year as an affordable and fun way of getting back into riding. The interesting thing is that I could have purchased a Yamaha R1 if I had wanted to. Dealers were eager to start me off on one. A “real bike” they said. The problem for me was that a “real bike” could not perform at the level I required. It really all came down to a lack of performance. For instance, it:
1. Was hard to find a new R1 for $2599. It wasn’t up to the task. I was underwhelmed by its cost performance.
2. I really wanted an R1 that weighed 280 lbs wet. It was unable to perform in this area for me. It’s a pig in terms of weight. I was crestfallen by its poor weight performance.
3. I tried desperately to find an R1 that could return 110 mpg (city) and 92 mpg on the highway (These are real figures from my CBR125R by the way – in imperial gallons). The R1 couldn’t offer this kind of fuel economy performance. I was very disappointed.
4. I wanted an R1 that would cost me $250 per year for insurance. Not possible. Once again I was left disillusioned. It simply couldn’t perform in this area either.
5. I wanted a bike that was incredibly flickable and fun in the twisties – with quick turn-in ability. The R1 is too stable and not as flickable. Sure out on the open road the stability of the R1 would be great. But one might as well be driving a Mustang convertible if they enjoy open motoring on straight highways. It’s the turns that make riding fun. Once again the R1’s handling performance left me cold.
6. I wanted a bike that was easy, simple, and cheap to work on. Nothing more simple than a single cylinder engine compared to an inline four. Parts are incredibly affordable too. I actually started to feel bad for the R1 at this point, as it was evident that it lacked many performance attributes that were important. I was completely disheartened.
7. I wanted a bike that I could ride in the city or on the highway and in both settings feel the excitement of extracting all the bike’s grin inducing performance – to feel like a racer – without the threat of losing my licence. To get this kind of fun from the R1 I would have to ride around in 1st gear all the time and even then I would be at risk of losing my licence in the city. And what fun would that be? Not to mention the stress on the bike. Once again, the R1 just couldn’t offer the same level of fun performance. Like it has been said many times – it’s more fun to ride a slow bike “fast” than it is to ride a fast bike “slow”. And perhaps unlike many people who ride large bikes, I actually want to have fun riding.
8. Finally I secretly yearned to be worshipped as a hero by my fellow riders on large bikes. These “seasoned” riders have all at one time asserted that riding a low displacement bike on the highway is unsafe, as the power wouldn’t be there to get out of danger if needed. Wow instant “street cred” right there! They’ve all conceded that they have been (or would be) “scared $hitless” when riding a small bike on the highway not to mention the absolute terror of being blown around in your lane or being blown off the road by tractor trailers. I could simply explain to them that if these bikes were truly unsafe, there would be road statistics to back this up and hefty insurance premiums that aptly addressed this supposed issue. However, I’ve preferred to stay quiet and let them continue to believe that I am a hero – a renegade, maverick rider with boundless courage and better physical conditioning that enables me to ride under conditions that they would be far too afraid to ever attempt or at least ever attempt again.
While it is evident and incontrovertible that the R1 is glaringly lacking in a number of key performance areas – I would definitely consider downgrading to an R1 from my CBR125R if its cornucopia-like list of performance decrements could be addressed, as I’ve heard (anecdotally) that it is a much faster bike. But would it be worth it to get a one-trick pony R1 just to improve on one aspect of performance? I am anxiously awaiting the introduction of the 2012 Yamaha R1. I figure that if Yamaha can knock $10,000 off the MSRP, remove 100 lbs of weight, and double the fuel economy, this might make it competitive enough in terms of performance with the CBR125R that I just might be convinced to ride blue. Otherwise – I’ll just buy a 2011 CBR250R (with ABS and in black please), as it will come much closer to meeting the criteria I’ve outlined above."