Honda NSF250R coming stateside

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The utterly gorgeous Honda NSF250R Moto3 competitor isn’t going to be reserved just for GP-level competition, but will be available to teams and privateers racing in the US too. Priced at $28,599, the single-cylinder 250 will be legal in USGPRU and WERA and Honda plans contingency payouts in those series.

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“Now riders have the option of buying a purpose-built race-ready motorcycle right out of the box, as an alternative to modifying a street bike—all at a reasonable price,” explains Honda. “Just as off-road riders can purchase and race one of our full-on CRF450R or CRF250R motocross bikes, now road racers have the means to buy a race-ready track bike.”

If you want to race one next year, you’ll need to hurry. Orders must be in prior to September 2 and deliveries are scheduled for February 2012.

The highlight technical feature of the NSF250R is a reverse cylinder, which locates the intakes at the front and exhaust at the rear to maximize gas flow through the engine. It’s the same size as the outgoing RS125R.

Where the four-stroke NSF250R can’t match the two-stroke RS125R is, unsurprisingly, weight. The old bike weighed 71kg, this new 250 weighs 84kg or 185lbs. The minimum total weight for bike and rider in Moto3 is 184kg, leaving room for a 220lbs rider or, more likely, a fair amount of ballast.

To centralize that mass, that single cylinder is canted back at a 15-degree angle. It develops 47.6bhp at 13,000rpm and 20.6lb/ft of torque at 10,500rpm. Rules limit maximum revs to 14,000rpm. That compares favorably to the 43.3bhp at 12,200rpm and 18lb/ft at 12,225 of the old 125. That’s right, a four-stroke 250 makes power at higher revs than a two-stroke, 125 GP bike. This class should be pretty exciting after all.

As you’d expect, that engine is pretty high-tech. Titanium valves are claimed to reduce friction as well as weight and the cylinder is offset to decrease frictional losses. You can read more about offset cylinders here. Friction is further reduced by a nickel silicon carbide cylinder coating. The gearbox is a stacked cassette item, reducing engine length and allowing easy ratio swaps.

Honda is also claiming significant aerodynamic gains for both efficiency and cooling.

  • aristurtle

    The thing weighs less than me. I am literally salivating.

    • Barry

      People watch me load/unload my Moriwaki MH80R, and I usually just pick it up by the bars to turn it around on the rear wheel because it’s so light and has the turning radius of an oil tanker. Nobody believes how fast a little GP bike with 25hp can be until they have a hard time keeping up with my wide butt on a 600 and watch me pass people on the outside at will. Less weight always equals more fun IMO. A NSF250R is definitely in my “dream track bike” garage, but my $3000 Mori has to be a lot more smiles per dollar.

  • Sean Smith

    If the cost was comparable to a 250 MX bike and the motor stayed together as long, this would be a killer bike and I’d be scrambling for a way to buy one.

    But for $28k, I could by a new 600, tires, a truck, spares and spend the rest on gas and track fees.

    My prediction is that 8 lucky kids with rich parents will get their hands on these bikes and all will be business as usual.

    The only way I can see this working out as a success is if Honda pays out real contingency money. I don’t imagine that a 43.3 hp 250 single stays together very long and I know from experience that Honda’s titanium valves tend to wear out fast and cost an insane amount of money to replace. There’s also the question of crashability. What happens when you lose the front end at 50 mph? Are you out $28k or are you buying bodywork, bars and rearsets?

    • Ducky

      I’d wager that since these are all for funded privateer teams, the costs are fairly reasonable. If you priced out a 2-stroke 250GP bike, the costs can be pretty insane as well. These kinds of bikes really aren’t for regular folks and amateur weekend racers, though the fact that you can “afford” a bike that will compete on the international stage if you don’t buy that second car for your household is saying something.

      • Sean Smith

        It would be like buying a $28k Ferrari. The cost of keeping it running would destroy you.

        • Case

          Yeah that’s what I was thinking. The $28k initial cost would be more palatable if you could get extensive mileage out of the engine. (Still way beyond my budget.) But that’s not happening. Entry-level costs might seem lower, but long term maintenance costs will be absurd.

          It will be a fun toy for the wealthy.

          It’s interesting that unlike in the Moto2 bike, Honda pretty much ignored engine life in favor of power output. The Moto2′s make less power than the WSBk supersports, but they last longer. Or so I’m told.

          edited to add: I desperately want to own/ride one of these 250s.

        • Ducky

          Of that there is no doubt. Again, not really for the everyman. But I don’t think “for rich kids” is really a fair way of putting it either, since it is a race bike meant for race TEAMS after all. Of course it’s also true that some of the Moto3 contenders have well-off parents…

    • michael uhlarik

      I love how no product is ever enough. This is a RACING motorcycle, and no, it has NOTHING in common with a 250 MX machine costing $7K.

      One day, people will wake up and realize that this was the golden age of motorcycling, before safety and emission legislation got in the way, before giants like Honda and Yamaha gve up on entry-level racing (racing altogether?), and when machines as simply astonishing as this were available for the price of a generic family sedan.

      It is not cheap to run, like any professional product in any field. Nor does the performance envelope come even close. If you think that some prepped 600 street bike can come close to this level of track tuning for the same money, you have participated in racing at a high enough level.

      There are too many people out there who want cheap, easy to use professional grade products, but do not want to invest the time or money to learn how they are used to their fullest. My prediction is that Honda will make sell many of these, and help dozens of future champions hone the craft.


    • rohorn

      Sounds like you need to spend a day at a USGPRU event and do some research, to include some track time and pit time. I know it would be time away from more fun and interesting things, but it is work you really have a duty to perform for both HFL and subscribers.

      And if you don’t get enough information in one day, then go as often as it takes to get a full article together. Don’t make someone else do it.

  • Gene

    I’m with Sean on this one. The guys I know even close with that sort of bucks are all rabid “real 250cc race bikes go ring-ding-ding” two stroke fans.

  • Liquidogged

    Hottt. Want.

    Who here has an urge to sell everything they own, and beg/borrow/steal whatever it takes to give up their current profession and ride this for a living?

    … surely not just me?

    • CCarey

      I’m right there with you, I wonder what I could sell my parents house for in this market? Surely they don’t need it as much as I need a 250cc racing career right?

  • pplassm

    I wonder if an engineless chassis would be available? I can think of some things to do with it.

    • aristurtle

      I can’t. I asked this last time around and the answer was depressing. The chassis is pretty closely designed around the engine packaging, and the engine packaging is weird. It’s got the exhaust in back and the intake in front and a 15 degree angle that’s mandatory if you want the front fork to actually fit and such.

      I’d like a race-replica version with a detuned engine with maybe half the horsepower and service intervals that are measured in “thousands of miles” rather than “laps”. But that ain’t happening either.

  • tomwito

    There is no way that that thing should cost twice as much as a CBR1000. Think of all the parts that are left off of it since it dosent need to be street legal. You telling me thay Kawasaki can develop and sell the new ZX10 with the hottest traction control and ABS for $14K (friend just got one for $11k OTD) but a stripped down 250 that doesn’t have to pass any road safety or noise requierments is $28,000? If it was $11,000 they would probably sell a million of them.

    • Charles

      Economies of scale, and spectacularly machined, spectacularly expensive components.

      They might make a couple hundred of these, ever, before the NSF250R-B that’s completely different comes out. They’ll make 50 thousand CBR1000RRs this year, and between 2008 and the next mostly-new bike they’ll have made a couple hundred thousand of them.

  • Charles

    On the other hand, if enough people like them and send them letters, and the CBR250R sells well, they might do a $6000 CBR250RR that makes 30 hp and loses 30-40 lbs. And if that does well they might choose the “super light, high-end” direction for the next US/Euro/Japan 250 series.