By the numbers: 250cc road bikes

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With the release of the Honda CBR250R and Cleveland CycleWerks Misfit, we suddenly have a surprisingly robust 250cc class here in the land of bigger-is-better. No less than six 250s will be widely available in America in 2011, offering beginners, tightwads, short people and fans of riding slow bikes fast an unprecedented level of choice. Which one is right for you? Maybe crunching their numbers will help you decide.

Update: Hyosung GT250 added (d’oh) and the Misfit got a new weight so some of it’s numbers changed.

If it’s all about saving money, then the CCW Misfit is the bike for you. It offers competitive performance figures for $800 less than the next least-expensive competitor, the Suzuki TU250X.

Performance more important to you? The Yamaha WR250X has a clear advantage in both power-to-weight and torque-to-weight, but you’ll pay for that advantage. It’s $1,590 more than the next most-expensive competitor, the Honda CRF230L.

How’s the tried-and-tested Kawasaki Ninja 250 stack up? Being in production largely unchanged since 1986 helps keep its price low despite a reasonably (for the class) high specification. 25 years later, it still has a performance advantage over the Honda CBR250R.

You’ll find a larger version of the spreadsheet and images of each bike in this gallery.

  • R.Sallee

    FYI, newer (2008+) Ninja 250s top out at 95 – 100 mph. I’d need a big hill and a tail wind to hit 110, and I’m pretty average size.

    • seanslides

      I had a 110mph ticket on my 03. I still maintain that it wouldn’t go that fast… In any case, the cop was thoroughly impressed with my speed.

      • R.Sallee

        That’s believable. I’ve not ridden a pre-’08 bike, but supposedly there’s more top end. The newer bikes got choked out a bit by either emissions or the “more mid-range power” they advertise now.

  • Holden

    I would like to get my wife into riding, and the 250cc class is where she would start. That nice-looking Misfit could be just right.

    I’d be scared to buy one of the first CCW bikes, though. They say they trust the Chinese factory, but I don’t. Not yet. There will be bugs at first.

  • ken

    Couple of missed bikes here one that come s to mind is the hyosung gt 250. From what I have read its not a bad little bike

    • R.Sallee

      The Hyosung is a fantastic looking bike. But it’s a bit heavy, and reviews always mark it down for build quality though I don’t know how much of that is prejudicial bias or based on actual problems reviewers experience. I’ve never talked to anyone that owned a Hyosung long term.

      • seanslides

        I rode one for a few days, and it felt cheap and unrefined when compared to my crashed and weathered EX250.

      • Gregory

        I rode a Hyosung GV250, the cruiser model, from about 2001 to 2005. It’s a brilliant bike. It was reliable, trustworthy, zippy and fun. I put on many thousands of kilometres. I took two-person tours up and down Korea. I commuted daily about 8km across Seoul, snow, rain, sun, heat, cold, whatever. I hooned about through Seoul traffic. It was, in short, the perfect vehicle. I would almost take it over my current KLR 650, just ’cause it was so much smaller & more user-friendly.

    • Ducky

      Might as well throw the Magelli 250R in there too

      • Wes Siler

        Is the Magelli on sale in the US? QLink’s website only shows a 250 crappy cruiser thing that looks like it came from Wal Mart.

        • Ducky

          Yep, it’s not under the Qlink brand. The VP of that company left and started his own distribution business, so it’s sold as a Bennche Megelli 250R

          • Wes Siler

            Ah, hence the confusion. I’ll look into it.

    • Wes Siler

      Added the Hyosung in, sorry, must have been more tired than I thought this afternoon.

  • BeastIncarnate

    Great comparison chart! It’s awesome that there is finally a good variety of options in this cluster. Some other bikes that might fit in: Honda Rebel 250, Yamaha XT250, V Star 250, and Suzuki GZ250.

    Nitpick: Difference between the Misfit and the Suzuki is $600, not $800.

  • Denzel

    The Kawi KLX, somewhat lost in anonymity in the chart, redeems itself in the looks department in its KLX250SF supermoto trim…especially black…

  • stephan

    gotta say the honda looks like a great city bike. to bad the wr250x is so damn pricey

  • Ben

    I’ve logged nearly 8,000 miles so far on my 2009 Ninja 250. It’s been a good first bike. Do I long for more power? Occasionally. Do I NEED more power? Nope.

    What I NEED is heated handgrips.

  • adrian

    I wish they offered the Honda FTR223 in the States (uses CRF 230L engine). I’m stationed in Okinawa where there are tons of sweet JDM <250cc bikes. The FTR is the coolest of the bunch. There are some other cool ones too; Suzuki makes a Steve McQueen Husky knock-off that looks the part, and there are lots of tricked out TW's. Wish we Americans could get over the size is everything mindset, or that the man would limit newly licensed riders to smaller displacement bikes.

  • Stefan

    I’m onto my second bike in this list. I started riding on the Ninja 250 about 10 years ago. I still have a soft spot for that bike.

    Recently I got a WR250X. I’ve been lusting after a supermoto for a while, and found a good deal on one. It’s been a blast to ride around San Francisco. I no longer give a crap that SF streets are 85% pothole. Freeway performance is not great, but I didn’t really buy the bike for that.

  • Charles

    How does the older EX250 Ninja stack up against them?

    Good to see more interest in this category.

  • Caleb

    Get the old inline-4 250s on there! 45hp, 19ftlb, and ~160kg wet. Capable of 120mph and better mileage than the carbied ninja 250. Not that you can really get one in the US though. I reckon if a manufacturer released a similar inline-4 250 today it would sell like wildfire outside the US where tiered license schemes prevail.