Honda's CBR250R deserves some credit for reinvigorating the entry-level market in the past few years. The single-cylinder CBR was a breath of fresh air in a class that had become stagnant, and it's become a best seller for Big Red. Everyone who rode the CBR remarked how positively tiny it felt, yet the bike was also commended for its comfort thanks to a soft seat, supple suspension, and an upright riding position. Narrow between your knees and incredibly light at just 357 pounds with a full tank, the Honda is well balanced and flickable. Its small stature makes it unintimidating for beginners and absurdly easy for experienced riders to chuck around. Find yourself a tight downhill canyon road and the Honda will delight with its quick steering and mid-corner stability.
The Honda's chassis feels richer than the $4,199 price suggests. (Add $400 for the Repsol paint job or $500 for ABS; sorry, though, you can't have both.) The suspension is soft but well controlled and the brakes are the best here, with a gentle initial bite but good power and feedback.
In an urban environment, the CBR's torquey single is in its element. Newbies nervous about learning the basics of clutch control will love the Honda: Just release the lever slowly with the engine at idle and you're rolling. That low-end torque helps the Honda get off the line quickly, but out on the freeway the engine feels stressed—it sends an annoying buzz through the bars and tank sides despite being counterbalanced.
That Repsol livery helps distance the CBR from its VFR family ties, and the bike's fit and finish are really superb. There's a lot to like about the little Honda, but we've got a few nits nonetheless. Our testbike suffered from sticky shifting, and the removable gas cap and the bar bridging the fuel tank opening makes fill-ups a hassle. Thankfully, the CBR doesn't need to visit the pump very often; with an average of 59 mpg, the Honda turns fuel into fun with real efficiency.
Light, fun to ride, and refined, it's easy to see why Honda's CBR250R is in such high demand. It's a great value and an all-around terrific motorcycle for anyone looking to start out in the sport.