Thursday, November 10, 2011

The CBR 250..

The CBR 250 is hot property these days. The damn bike is so scarce that I had to travel some 200kms to a neighboring town to test ride it (the dealers in the city had already sold off everything they could get their hands on; the test drive vehicle included).

So with that kind of effort, expectations are definitely high. Add to that Honda: a name that is synonymous with quality, refinement and perfection. Undoubtedly, the CBR 250 had a lot to live up to.

The looks are somewhat moderate. Sure, the huge front and thick profile tires do appeal to most red blooded males, but that’s about it. When I label the looks as ‘moderate’, I say so because of a couple of experiences I had. Allow me to elaborate. When a guy buys a bike, there are a number of things on his mind. While freedom, power, fun are important factors associated with a bike, ‘impressing chicks’ is a vital one as well. This is where the CBR 250 might just let you down. I told a lady friend of mine about Honda’s new bike and how it will propel riders to the sports bike category with its not so astronomical price tag. When I actually showed it to her, she said “That’s it? Ok.. Umm.. Doesn’t look like a very expensive bike though. I think the Pulsars and Yamahas look meaner.”

Let’s leave the debate on the looks for some other day and get down to the basics. The bike feels a lot lighter than it actually is thanks to the low centre of gravity and balance achieved by Honda’s engineers. The engine is a 250cc liquid cooled unit which generates 25 bhp and is coupled to a 6 speed gear-box. Though it offers plenty of power, it does seem a bit thrashy by Honda standards when revved hard. Of late, we Indians have been spoilt by those free revving engines from TVS and Bajaj, so reaching the 11k red line on the Honda was not something out of the ordinary. There is almost no one who can outperform the CBR 250, yet it does not inspire that brashness. City driving is pleasurable as the low end torque nullifies the need for frequent gear shift. The exhaust note is a bit silent and the power delivery is a bit too smooth for charged up riders. The gearbox is a class apart and the light clutch makes gear shifts a very pleasurable affair. I realized I was shifting a lot more than what was necessary thanks to the slickness of the entire operation. The instrument cluster is a amiable unit and the ABS brakes are a boon for our Indian roads where I’ve lost count of times when I’ve been forced to brake hard on our roads to avoid potholes, dogs, cows or humans.

What annihilates all debate is the price. The overall specs and price (Rs. 1,56,000 ex-showroom ) of CBR 250 help it carve a niche for itself in the market. It offers a mini-superbike experience at an acceptable price tag. If I were to deliberately compare it with other bikes in the market, I would be lost. For the baby Kwacker: the Ninja 250 is definitely a better performer than the CBR but it will ask you to shell out a lot more (2.5 lakh: ex-showroom). The other competitor: Pulsar 220 doesn’t pose much of a threat as it just not in that league. No wonder this bike is already a winner.

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