Yes! 2011 Honda CBR250R coming to America

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Weighing just 162kg/359lbs, making 26bhp and available with optional ABS, this is the 2011 Honda CBR250R entry-level sportsbike. And, miracle of miracles, it looks like Honda heard the cry for more desirable small-capacity motorcycles, it’s coming to the United States!

Like we told when the Asian-market Honda CBR150R debuted last week, this 250 adopts the same Shamu/CBR1000RR styling. That’s a headlight shape based on the VFR1200 and side fairings somewhat close to Honda’s flagship sportsbike.

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Power comes from a 249cc single-cylinder, DOHC engine that’s equipped with a balancer shaft to smooth out vibrations. That 26bhp arrives at 8,500rpm and maximum torque of 17lb/ft is at 7,000rpm, likely indicating a flexible, easy-to-use engine. The gearbox is a six speed.

The CBR250R is a little less powerful than the two-cylinder Kawasaki Ninja 250, which makes 32bhp, but the Kawasaki actually makes a hair less torque at 16lb/ft and is slightly heavier at 169kg/373lbs. That means the Honda is slightly behind on power-to-weight with a .160:1 (bhp:kg) ratio to the Ninja 250’s .189:1 and slightly ahead on torque-to-weight with the Honda making .105:1 (lb/ft:kg), while the Kawasaki only manages .094:1. Expect Honda to try and rival the littlest Ninja’s $3,999 starting price, although no official price for the CBR has yet been announced.

The tiny Honda’s seat height is just 30.8 inches which should combine with that curb weight to make it super friendly for learners and the height-challenged. Fuel economy is listed at 63.4mpg (US gallons) in Europe, but hasn’t been run through the official cycle in the US yet. Equipped with a 3.4-gallon fuel tank, that should give it a maximum range of 218 miles at highway speeds.

The tri-color paint scheme you see above and in the gallery below won’t be coming to the US. Instead, we’re getting red or black options. Sorry, American Honda’s press site is being difficult this morning.


  • Mdynamic

    This good news! About time there is another entry level bike.

    • robotribe

      Good news indeed, but now it begs the question: Will enough Americanos get over the fact that it’s “only” a 250cc to make it a sales success? Plus, add to that the fact that Honda is rarely the less expensive option compared to other Japanese options.

      Price will determine its success or failure. Having come from a Honda 599, I have my doubts regarding price competitiveness.

      • Beast Incarnate

        The price issue with the 599 had to do with manufacturing in Italy – that won’t be a factor here. That said, Honda does enjoy their price premium regardless.

        By all counts, the Ninja 250 is a sales success. Hopefully, much of that will spill over for Honda.

  • HammSammich

    Hooray, it’s Baby Shamu!!! But seriously, this is exciting news. If it’s cheap, I would actually consider one of these as my commuter (I only live 3 miles from work, and my Triumph is barely warmed up by the time I arrive).

    • cdsv

      bicycle maybe? just sayin’

      • HammSammich

        I ride my bicycle to work infrequently, but I live on a hill that rises about 520 vertical feet over less than 2 miles. That makes for an easy ride to work, but the ride home is brutal since I’m no Lance Armstrong. It’s all moot now, because the weather is starting to change, and I’m going to be relegated to riding the bus as soon as the snow starts to fly.

  • vic

    this looks like a winner.
    i hope the engine is better than on cbr125r(they had the ballz to put an r at the in racing).
    the 125 had good ergonomics and equipment level but that engine was…well i once saw one ridden 2 up who didn’t manage to get up a hill,and a scooter just whizzed by
    i like the stiling(well except the muffler ).

    • 2ndderivative

      The 125s are indeed used for racing.

      • vic

        “”the race itself was in some ways a bit like watching a replay in slow-motion”"

    • Random

      Considering Honda CB300R Thumper (291 cc. in reality) reaches 80 miles/h and cruises with (reasonable) confort two-up at over 60, just like Yamaha’s counterpart, I bet it’ll have no problems going up a hill.

  • Dayyan

    It looks like a shamu and the cbr1000 have been doing the nasties…

    I’m a bit underwhelmed by the fact that is a thumper and not a parallel twin or vtwin while it still weights a considerable lot but less power than the 250r ninja.

    Don’t get me wrong, more choice is good, but I just think it is a fairly bad effort by Honda.

  • BN.

    Looks like it’s time to teach the wife how to ride.

    “Oh, you don’t want to learn how to ride? We should probably keep it so I- err… WE get some use out of it…”

  • cramer

    This is fantastic news. That Shamu on SlimFast front end makes it look like a bigger bike than the Ninja, in pictures at least.

    I wish they’d bring over the new VTR250. As it stands, I’ll probably stick with my ’89.

    • pplassm

      +1 on the VTR250.

      BTW, did you know you can pick up a new 2009 KLR650 for the same price?

    • robotribe

      ++1 on the VTR250. I’d hit it in a heartbeat.

  • michael uhlarik

    This is the most important new motorcycle of 2010/11. The CRB125 was the best selling bike in the UK, in all categories, and a top seller in most European markets for years. With strong success in the US with the Kawasaki Ninja 250, and now with Honda legitimacy, the 250 class is now open for business.

    Bring on the Yamaha YZF R250, and GSX-R 250… and bring on common sense.


    • cdsv

      Is the Ninja 250 that big a success? They went 21 years between updates.

      • Mark D

        “They went 21 years between updates.” – Exactly :)

      • Bald Shaun

        The little Ninja is Kawasaki’s best selling bike. Period. Has been for years. So yeah, I’d say it’s a success.

  • Mark D


    Surprise surprise. It looks great in silver and red, too.

    Given that its fuel injected (the ninja still has carbs), I’d bet its slightly more expensive, but so, so, so worth it. Ultimate urban run-about.

  • Owenth

    Its also FI vs the Ninja’s carburetor’s. It’ll be interesting to see a comparison test between the two.

  • R.Sallee

    That weight on the Ninja is significantly higher than Kawasaki published previously. It was closer to 330 lbs before dry–374 lbs must be wet. What are the chances Honda’s number is wet weight too?

    Single cylinder and peak power at 8,500 is a bit disappointing, too. The Ninja’s parallel twin revs past its 13,000 rpm limit, though peak power is around 11k.

    I’m really attracted to small bikes but I can’t see going after this with a Ninja 250 next to it. Yamaha’s YZF-125 is hotter. Still, glad to see the 250 market expanding, people need options.

    • Wes Siler

      Both weights are wet and straight from the manufacturer’s mouths.

    • ike6116

      The fuel injection is what really makes it for me, this is a super attractive bike to me, I am a new rider with an older bike which is needing maintenance regularly. It would be super appealing to be able to step up to something modern, that FEELS modern (no warming the bike up with the choke) but is also attainable for a post-college loan laden starting a career in a recession guy like me. I have long had my eye on saving forever and getting the BMW G 650 GS but this I could have much sooner and makes me evaluate what my needs are. No matter what Wes says, I am a real person.

      • Wes Siler

        It’s ok, with the release of this bike I think Honda finally just acknowledged your existence. Can you see the picture of you fading back in?

        • ike6116

          GREAT SCOTT!

      • Campisi

        This. I just put a deposit down on one earlier today.

  • MichaelMM

    Well, the CBR 250 is better looking than the Ninja 250. If it is down 6 hp when compared to the Ninja, that is quite a let-down. That CBR will be hurting to get out of its own way, let alone burdened with an additional 170 lb of rider and gear on-board.

    The CBR had better have sweeter handling or higher quality suspension to warrant a look past the Kawasaki.

    Another thing: is ABS really needed for a bike of this caliber, option or otherwise? The natural user of this bike will be Mr. Nooby Nooberton. Should Nooby really learn riding habits around a braking schema that has ABS at the core? I do not think that is a good idea. A big sport-touring bike is one thing, the CBR 250 is another. Even though it is an option, ABS brings a cost Nooby may not be willing -or able – to pay. Just food for thought.

    The more I think about it, the more I see the Kawasaki making a better case for itself than the Honda.

    At least the CBR looks nice, especially in red/silver.

    • Mark D

      I’ve ridden an ex250 a good amount, and while I love playing racer and reving the thing out to 13k, it gets real old in the city. Plus, it has bias-ply tires. Simple having, and being set up for, radials (plus FI) will likely make the Honda a superior, more modern-feeling bike. Now will it be worth the price different? Hard to say; after all, the Hyosung 250 has FI, a v-twin, and radials, too (and is cheaper than the Kawi too).

      • Mark D

        Whoops, that was in response to R.Salee

    • Random

      Riding Kawa’s small ninja in town is much more tiring than taking any other thumper around. You gotta rev higher just to get away from stops, sometimes with much more clutch action.

      Maximum torque and horsepower at low rpm is actually better for zipping around city traffic. Though at highways the little green beast’s crazy revving engine packs quite a punch (and it’s obviously better) if you stay in town you should really consider taking a thumper bike for a ride.

  • mchale2020

    This may have kickstarted the heart of the entry level bike market. Hopefully it’ll get some of the prices down on the used market too.

    Let’s get some competition going on here!

  • betarace

    another aweful bike that answers the question that nobody asked. 395lbs ??? maybe if it was 295!

  • Sasha Pave

    This is very cool, we need more entry level bikes. Bummer they didn’t use the VTR250 engine/chassis, but you can’t have it all.

    • Wes Siler

      It’s likely a cost issue. I’m finding out more about that right now.

  • Steve781

    And I just bought my wife a ninjette…

    The big news is for me is the FI. It is criminal that I had to put a jet kit in the ninjette, a brand new bike, just to get it rideable. Kawi should be ashamed of themselves for putting out such a poorly carbureted engine.

    Maybe the richer Honda pricing will give Kawi the room in their pricing to add in the FI?

  • guerrila

    I repeat my now tiresome refrain…the VTR250 would have been way cooler: images/stories/Botond/ 04_aprilis/Honda_VTR250/ Honda_VTR250_02.jpg v=xrBycoeFuIQ v=vyvJOqrZpME

    I would have bought one of these as a 2nd city bike in a heartbeat. this looks nice though. better than son-of-shamu would have had me believe.

  • Patrick from Astoria

    How soon before an aftermarket can comes out to replace the ridiculous muffler?

    Also: personal preference for a half-fairing. A full fairing makes it look like it’s trying to play dress-up like Daddy RR. Less plastic to replace post-tip-over, too.

    Otherwise, at $4k, a winner. Let everyone know.

  • parkwood60

    Why would they not bring the Red/White/Blue version to America? Anyway, how about a no fairing, tubular handlebar, round headlight naked version as well?

  • Kevin

    How long will an average new learner rider be satisfied with the performance of this bike? Why not implement the European standard of restricting power output on a graduated basis. Hornet 600 restricted to under 21 and then after passing a second test, removing the restriction. I think newbies would get bored by this bike in under a year.

  • Patrick from Astoria

    Follow-on consideration: How much aftermarket support can something like this get? Will the usual suspects come up with tuning kits, chips, exhaust systems, and the like for this like they do with the big ones?

    It’s not like there isn’t good precedent for a pretty hardcore 250 sportster:


    Now all we need is Yamaha to convert the YZ125R into a 250 and Suzuki to make a GSX-250R and we could have another AMA series and Clubracer event on Sunday’s. This is good news and a good report! Now I can actually get my son a bike and some more variety. I’ve shown him the Ninja however I’m sure he’d like this one better.

  • cadbury64

    My second bike in 1982 was a Honda CB250RS, a simple road bike that used a 250cc single from an XL250 dual purpose bike. This was a brilliant commuter, and a perfect bike for a novice. 26 hp should be plenty, but the weight is much too high. Aren’t CBR1000R’s about the same weight? This thing should weigh no more than 120 kg.