Honda CBR250RR (1999)
The 'Babyblade', as it's colloquially known, has become one of our favourite
quarter litre bikes over the years. It has lots of performance, with civilised
road manners that allow the learner to come to terms with its considerable
The Babyblade started arriving in this country in small numbers as
a grey import until Honda MPE took up the challenge and added it to the
UNDER THE SKIN
The heart is a high-stepping liquid-cooled four-stroke four, with four
valves per pot, that revs to a scary 18,000rpm. It's matched to a six-speed
gearbox, twin alloy spar frame and a monoshock rear suspension set-up.
Starting: Simple, but ride it gently for the first couple
of kays so it gets a chance to warm up properly.
Suspension: Quite basic ? minimalist forks, and a monoshock
with adjustment for spring preload only.
Brakes: Twin discs up front with two-piston calipers, and a
single-pot caliper on the rear disc.
Stability: Usually exceptional. We've ridden several examples
and they have generally been fast-steering (a little flighty at speed)
though entirely predictable. The 9000-plus-km test bike (that's a lot of
miles for a demo) felt less precise than we're used to with this model.
Fiddling with the tyre pressures and steering head bearing tension would
be the first ports of call then, maybe, a change of rubber.
Cornering clearance: How much would you like? You're only likely
to touch down on a race track.
Performance: More than enough to be exciting, with a genuine
160-plus kmh on tap. It's delivered in a linear fashion, leaving all the
decisions to the rider. It takes 4000rpm to get moving in a reasonable
way, 6000rpm for serious urge, while 100kmh translates as 9000rpm in top.
Rider comfort: Quite good, despite the sporty ride position.
Long rides can be uncomfortable, though a one-day play in the hills is
well within the satisfied zone. Seat padding is fairly thin and suspension
spring rates high, which is the price you can expect to pay for a serious
Pillion comfort: Forget it. The pillion perch is too high, with
footpegs that are bordering on fiction.
Vibration/harshness: There's an ever-present vibration happening,
but t's not intrusive.
Finish: Average. No clear spray over the decals, though the
fairing fit is good.
Looks: Aggressive, colourful and distinctive. Nothing subtle
Extras: The Dunlop K510 sport radials fitted to our bike were
premium kit, with lots of grip. We wonder if they contributed to the less
than ideal feel of the steering, but didn't have enough time with the bike
to be certain. One bonus of the high pillion seat is the capacious storage
under it ? enough to handle a set of wet-weather pants.
Value for money: Priced at $9999, the Babyblade is more expensive
than Suzuki's quicker RGV250 with its higher-tech chassis, which raises
a performance-per-dollar question.
We can think of no better performance 250 as a stepping stone to the
hot 600s, RGVs included. There's plenty of urge on tap -- enough to keep
the rider interested well beyond the compulsory 250 provisional licence
period. Avoid well-worn examples as the rebuild costs will be high. But
never make the mistake of underestimating the Babyblade as a sports bike...
Model: Honda CBR250RR
Engine: 4-cyl, 4-valve, liquid-cool, 4-stroke
Power: 40ps @14,500rpm (claim)
Torque: 2.4kg-m @11,500rpm (claim)
Weight: 158k dry
Front tyre: 110/70-17
Rear tyre: 140/60-17
Fuel tank: 13lt
Top speed: 165kmh
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