2011 Honda CBR250R

Ninja Killer?

Cheap, efficient and eminently practical, Honda's all-new CBR250R seems right on the mark for America's post-recession economy. Powered by an easy-to-manage single and selling for around $4000, the ultra-accessible, quarter-liter sportbike should meet the needs of entry-level riders and frugal-yet-fashionable commuters alike.

Unlike Kawasaki's carbureted (in the USA) parallel-twin Ninja 250R, the CBR250R is powered by a fuel-injected single. The all-new, liquid-cooled, 249cc engine uses a modern, four-valve, DOHC head and a counterbalancer to reduce vibration. The CBR's claimed peak output of 26 bhp and 17 lb.-ft. of torque is in the ballpark with the Ninjette's 25.6 bhp and 13.1 lb.-ft. as measured on our rear-wheel dyno.

The claimed 359-lb. curb weight is likewise comparable to the Ninja's measured 377-lb. weight. A simple tubular-steel frame forms a solid foundation, tied to a box-section steel swingarm by Honda's Pro-Link rising-rate linkage. The 37mm fork is non-adjustable, though the single shock offers five spring-preload settings. Honda's Combined ABS is optional, a first on a bike this small.

Such favorable specifications suggest the makings of a sales success. The smaller sibling CBR125 is consistently one of the best-selling bikes of any displacement in Europe-the best-selling motorbike of any size in the UK, in fact-and Kawasaki's Ninja 250 was one of the very few bikes that posted decent sales in America through the recent economic downturn. Here's hoping this new entrant blows the quarter-liter sportbike class wide-open in America, and we'll be looking at a Suzuki GSX-R250 and Yamaha YZF-R2 in the near future.