Road tests
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 performance.

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 corporate brochure.

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 sporting tool.
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 about it.
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
Comp: 11.5:1
Power: 40ps @14,500rpm (claim)
Torque: 2.4kg-m @11,500rpm (claim)
Weight: 158k dry
Wheelbase: 1345mm
Front tyre: 110/70-17
Rear tyre: 140/60-17
Fuel tank: 13lt
Top speed: 165kmh
Price: $9990
Detailed Specifications
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Article by Guy Allen

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