What if Shamu and the CBR1000RR made a baby?

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This is Thailand’s new CBR150R, a budget sportsbike from Honda that clearly draws inspiration from both the VFR1200 and CBR1000RR. Word is, the European and Canadian market 2011 Honda CBR125R will look just like this, as will the all-new Honda CBR250R.

The CBR125R is a significant motorcycle because, in countries with a sensible approach to regulating motorcycle licenses, it’s learner legal, incredibly cheap, very well made and almost looks the business. Add in the naming and graphical relationship to Honda’s flagship sportsbike (clearly we’re talking about the CBR1000RR, not Shamu) and they’ve been on to a significant sales winner. It’s perennially the best selling bike of any kind in many of the markets it’s sold in. According to Visordown, the 2011 model won’t feature substantial mechanical changes, but will adopt these new looks.

Perhaps more interesting to riders in North America is the 2011 Honda CBR250R, a more or less direct rival to the Kawasaki Ninja 250. According to Canadian Motorcycle Guide, it’ll also look just like this and even stands a good chance of reaching Canuckistan next year.

Where the CBR125R makes a puny 12.5bhp in order to comply with European learner regulations, Motoroids reports that the CBR250R will use a 249cc, liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine capable of putting out 33bhp. Again, that power output is precisely pegged to Europe’s tiered licenses, 33bhp is the next step after 125cc. That bike will reportedly weigh around 140kg/308lbs meaning it’ll be appreciably lighter than the two-cylinder Ninja 250, which weighs in at 169kg/373lbs. Speculation indicates the CBR250R will be priced, in Europe at least, to directly compete with the Ninja. We guess Thai manufacturing can compete on cost with Kawasaki’s decades-old tooling.

Maybe more interesting than the promise of practical, desirable entry-level bikes is the design direction these bikes are taking. While we understand the appeal delivering a replica of a flagship sportsbike to teenagers holds, the mass appeal of $16,000, 591lbs “sport” tourers is slightly more questionable, especially ones as amorphously designed as the VFR. The presence of its flaccid headlight shape here probably indicates that some impressionable manager within Honda actually considers Shamu a legitimate flagship for the company that once made the RC30.

  • gkanai

    “a legitimate flagship for the company that once made the RC30.”

    Not to mention the NR 750.

  • panagiotis

    more like what if Shamu had a threesome with a CBR and a CG!! :D

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Eww.

  • JimSmiffy

    Wow. Its like Honda’s bike design is going back in time. Sleek likes are becoming abrupt, stubby and choppy. Pretty soon it’ll have a boxy tail section and a square front end and will look like a late 80′s/early 90′s sport bike.

  • swfcpilot

    Talk about a eye-catching pit bike.

  • mchale2020

    It’s leaps and bounds in how it looks better than the Ninja 250R. If Honda brought it over to the US market I would consider it for street duty since all I ride is back roads anyway.

    Honda does need to come up with a better looking flagship front end than the new VFR’s crushed beak.

  • cdsv

    Further proof that all babies are cute.

  • sgeechee

    Everything fine, except one thing: With 33 bhp and 140kg, it does NOT fit into (at least Germany`s) license regulations:
    If you`re between 18 and 25, you are limited to bikes with 34 bhp (=25 kW) a power-to-weight-ratio of max 0,16kw/kg.
    Therefore, with 33 bhp, it would have to weigh about 150 kg. (Dry weight).
    (if you`re over 25 and get your license, you`re free to ride whatever you like to)

  • MikeD

    Never been a fan of The Great but ” PUG FUGLY and SLATE Fairings” CBR1000RR. The SHAMU Headlite i can swallow it.
    Cool bike but i would take a Ninja 250 over it any day.
    Hope Honda gets it’s head out of it’s collective asses and bring the 250 version over to the States. Variety is the spice of life.

  • SPEKTRE76

    I like it now make a 250cc and send it to the US!

  • R.Sallee

    Looks nice. A 250 version would be more than welcome.

    However, I take issue with the line “in countries with a sensible approach to regulating motorcycle licenses…” It seems a common sentiment in the motorcycling community that the US should adopt tiered licensing. As a personal-freedom lover, I don’t like to see further restrictions on what we do when they’re not necessary. Especially when the ideas are coming from the mouths of people the restrictions wouldn’t affect (i.e. already licensed riders)…who themselves often didn’t follow a small bike – medium bike – big bike riding path.

    And for the record, I recommend everyone take MSF and strongly suggest starting on a small bike. I’m all for more training. Just not making it law.

    Love,

    The guy who still rides a Ninja 250 after two and a half years and near 30,000 miles

    • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

      Given the stats on young rider deaths in this country, I’d argue that restrictions are necessary. You don’t have to hate freedom to support common-sense restrictions keeping 16 yr olds off 1000cc sport bikes.

      • R.Sallee

        With all due respect, I completely disagree. 1) I don’t think there is any evidence that our youths are dying on sport bikes at an alarming rate, and 2) I will rarely if ever agree with a law intended to save me from myself. I don’t find them necessary and I do find them destructive to society and our sense of responsibility.

        • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

          This is a tough issue for me. I don’t enjoy extra laws, but I daily see the overwhelming forces of peer pressure and ignorance with new riders and it scares me for their sake. Should you protect scene vfm themselves, or embrace Darwinism?

          A lady at work took the MSF course and her boyfriend immediately bought her a Harley Softtail. She caught me in the parking lot, standing next to my bike amended I was talking to another rider, and proceeded to gush with enthusiasm about riding. I admired her passion until her ignorance overpowered it. After aspeech about how Harleys are the only real bikes, she went on to talk about how my bike was stupid because it looked sporty and laying down on the tank isn’t comfortable – she didn’t realize it was mine, nor that a Z1000 clearly has different ergos than an 1198. The other rider waited until she was done before letting her know the bike was mine, but that didn’t stop her monologue. Off she went about how badly she wanted to ride that day, but she needed to get her two kids from school. In the first week of riding, she’d put on 500 miles, visited several bars, and determined she had no need for safety gear beyond a half helmet. Her pipes were loud enough to ward off cars and Harleys are far safer than those darn street racin’ crotch rockets. It was all too much.

          She came up for air after 20 minutes, surely she missed her political calling, the other rider chimed in. He started talking about the importance of gear, an ironic topic since he nearly lost an arm due to not wearing a jacket and he continues not to. She explained that didn’t want to look like a dork with all those pads, but she had some chaps on order for a long trip. She wasn’t listening and he went for the gold, telling her that she needed the gear if she wanted to survive for her kids. It didn’t phase her. She was a great rider and Harleys were safe. He exclaimed, “You don’t know anything about riding after 500 miles other than how to go straight!” Though true, Dallas roads don’t demand a lot more skill in and of themselves. She wouldn’t hear anything he had to say and the two proceeded to bicker like angry birds until he walked off in disgust. I was alone.

          She turned to me and started in again, as if I’d be a sympathetic ear. I did my best to explain that the right gear doesnt look bad, but she couldn’t break the equation in her head that gear equals dork. She didn’t need a full face helmet because she had a windscreen. I asked her about her pipes and if she planned to make them louder. You’d think I asked her if she’d like a million dollars in unmarked bills. I tried to explain what’s happening in California law and how easily that could happen here, bit apparently this is Texas and everyone loves freedom. Talking to this girl was less productive than trying to convince a mountain to move itself. Eventually, she realized she’d more than doubled her 1 minute break and left.

          Here, we have a new rider with a big bike (I forgot to mention she didn’t start small because she didn’t want to just upgrade right away), no gear, bad habits, two kids, and delusions about her safety. Then, the other rider came back and explained that, in her first 500 miles, she had dropped the bike five times already. Despite that, she maintained that she was a great rider. I didn’t know what to say.

          I still don’t know what to say. I’d like to condemn laws that restrict freedoms, but then I see such terrible choices born of brainwashed ignorance. Or I think of a salesguy who, not realizing I had experience, wanted to sell me a Z1000 as a first bike. “Just twist less,” he exclaimed. I’m sure she heard the same. It’s a crappy situation. Damn if I’m not torn.

          That was a mess to type on a phone, so hopefully it came out right.

          • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

            Tons of typos. Ugh. “protect scene vfr themselves” = protect them from themselves. “bit” = “but”. “1 minute break” = “15 minute break”. Figure the rest out. Stupid fingers.

        • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

          Yeah, I don’t disagree with you on principal; trust me, typing that I support a law like that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. But learning to ride is a very dangerous thing, and I don’t think you can take the MSF course, go buy an R6, but ride it “responsibly”. With no clue of what you’re doing, how do you even know what “responsible” is? Drivers Ed for me was like a three month course, with plenty of time driving on the street with an observer. Yet the MSF course is one weekend, then “Good luck!” It just doesn’t add up. Restriction are a good way to make it easy for riders to get on the road (a 3 month class is too much, I’d say!), but keep people safe while they learn basic skills.

          When you get your pilots license, they don’t let you fly jets after you get your permit! You’ve got to start on a Cessna.

  • guerrila

    There’s been buzz in Canada that Honda was bringing in something to slot between the CBR125 and the CBF600SA. I was hoping for the VTR 250:

    http://www.tesztmotor.hu/images/stories/Botond/04_aprilis/Honda_VTR250/Honda_VTR250_02.jpg

    A watercooled, fuel-injected 250 V-twin would make a much more logical step up form the CBR125…and is a much cooler looking bike…great cafe-racer fodder too. Not everyone in North America is an middle-aged, orthodontist cruiser-jockey or jersey shore sportbike d-bag. C’mon Honda. You used to be cool.

  • CafeRacer8509001200

    As a group, we need to embrace smaller capacity bikes. Sure, there’s room for high bar piglets like the GZ250 and “please don’t look under the fairing or at the stickers” sportbikes like this. Ultimately, something like an SV250, Triumph Cub 250 or using the Blast motor in a stripped down bobber style would be more useful. Building learner bikes is easy. Making them their own culture is the area that the manufacturers fail at and as a group we scoff at. A gradient licensing system might just be the thing to save motorcycling in this country by bringing a whole new level of respect to smaller bikes. Faux libertarians and Ayn Rand rejects might scoff at this, but they’re a nutty fringe anyway.

  • 1chi

    I am horribly disappointed that this isn’t a rehash of the MC22. Easily the best 250 I’ve ever ridden.

    • pplassm

      What’s an MC22? Wasn’t that an Italian fighter plane from WWII?

      • pplassm

        OK, I found it. CBR250RR. That wouldn’t exactly fit in the context of the licensing regulations, now, would it?

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Those were awesome, but wayyyyyyyyy too pricey to manufacture to achieve any sales success outside of Japan. They were made there to serve the Japanese Domestic Market, which has some crazy licensing laws creating demand for high-spec 250s and a few were exported, but there’s just no mass market for a 600-priced 250 elsewhere I’m afraid.