Honda’s quarter-litre bike makes a comeback with a BS-IV-compliant engine and cosmetic updates. But, how does it fare against the much newer competition?
Everyone was hoping for the CBR 300R to finally make its debut in India after the CBR 250R finally had to be phased out last year, as it was not BS-IV-compliant. However, it was not meant to be. Instead, Honda revealed an updated version of the CBR 250R with a BS-IV-compliant engine (and the same power figures as the older model), an LED headlight and new colour schemes. Other than this, the motorcycle remains unchanged since its Indian debut, back in 2011. This invites an obvious question – is this minor update good enough to put it up against its much newer rivals? For this specification comparison, we took a variety of bikes that match the CBR in terms of price and performance, as well as design and purpose. This list includes the Bajaj Dominar 400, Benelli TNT 25, Apache RR 310 and KTM’s Duke 250. Yes, the fully-faired RC 390 would have been a more appropriate rival; but with a price tag of Rs 2.35 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) it is considerably more expensive than the CBR 250R.
Where do they belong?
Honda’s CBR 250R is a sports-tourer with the ability to handle the occasional track day. It was one of the first affordable quarter-litre sports bikes in India and this has made it well-established. In terms of riding position, the CBR 250R is similar to the RR 310 – both aren’t all-out supersports, even though their styling might suggest otherwise. The Honda has the most friendly seat height and its riding position is neither aggressive, nor does it feel cramped, which would encourage you to ride over long distances.
The Dominar, on the other hand, is a naked power cruiser – a scaled-down Ducati Diavel flavour, if you will. The riding position ranks amongst the best we’ve experienced on any Bajaj, so far – a light lean into the flat bars imparting a nice sporty feel, further complimented by well-positioned footrests. This places the Dominar 400 in a nice spot and makes it more comfortable than its KTM street-going stablemates that have a more aggressive riding position. The Dominar is a power-cruiser that belongs on open roads but will also handle city traffic, with ease.
The seating posture on the TNT 25 is largely upright, with little weight reaching the rider’s wrists. Likewise, the foot pegs are positioned to support your knees in a comfortable angle. The Benelli TNT 25 is a naked bike like the KTM Duke 250 but lacks the sporty performance or handling that comes with it. The Benelli is worth looking at, if performance is not a big priority.
With its high tail and sharp fairing, the RR 310 features an aggressive supersport-like design. However, the motorcycle is not an all-out supersport, especially in terms of riding position. It has a raised handlebar and reasonably rear-set foot pegs, which should make it comfortable on the street, as well. The RR 310 has ample room on offer and this is of as much help with being comfortable on a high-speed cruise as it is while you experiment with increasing degrees of lean angles. The low seat height also helps and should keep most riders comfortable. The RR 310 is happy on long, open highways but will also handle twisting roads with glee.
The KTM 250 Duke is an all-out naked sports bike. Its chassis gives it impressive dynamic ability, making cornering almost intuitive. The wheelbase has been shortened when compared to that of the 200, which makes the 250 very flickable. Changing direction is easy – whether it is on back-to-back corners or while making your way through crawling traffic. Its seat height is quite tall, though, and may not be to the liking of all riders.
|Model||CBR 250R||Dominar 400 (ABS)||TNT 25||Apache RR 310||250 Duke|
|Engine||Single-cylinder, DOHC||Single-cylinder, DOHC||Single-cylinder, DOHC||Single-cylinder, DOHC||Single-cylinder, DOHC|
|Max power||26.5hp at 8500rpm||34.5hp at 8000rpm||28.1hp at 9800rpm||34hp at 9700rpm||30hp at 9000rpm|
|Max torque||22.9Nm at 7000rpm||35Nm at 6500rpm||21.6Nm at 8000rpm||27.3Nm at 7700rpm||24Nm at 7500rpm|
|Power to weight||158.6hp/tonne||189.5hp/tonne||176.7hp/tonne||201.1hp/tonne||186.33hp/tonne|
How up-to-date are they?
For 2018, Honda gave the CBR 250R a BS-IV compliant engine and an LED headlight. The other motorcycles to feature an LED headlight on this list are the RR 310 and Dominar 400. Like the older model, the 2018 250R can be optioned with ABS – which is missing on both, the TNT 25 and the Duke 250. However, the digi-analogue instrument cluster the bike is equipped with does look quite dated.
The Dominar is equipped with a powerful LED-headlight, a fully-digital instrument cluster that displays a variety of information and optional ABS. The Dominar also gets a slipper-clutch that isn’t seen on any other motorcycle on this list. Suspension duties are carried out by a conventional front fork and a rear monoshock.
The Benelli TNT 25 isn’t very well-equipped, aside from the fact that it rides on an upside-down fork, up front. Other than this, the bike gets a digi-analogue gauge that looks a bit dated for 2018. The bike features a petal-type disc brake up front but ABS isn’t on offer.
TVS has equipped the fully-digital instrument cluster on the RR 310 to display average speed, 0-60kph timings and a lap timer mode that can be toggled on-the-move, by pressing the headlight pass switch. It also has segment-first features like a numeric engine temperature gauge and features a highly accurate fuel gauge. The motorcycle also features an upside-down front fork and all-LED lighting. The Apache RR 310 is the only bike here that has dual-channel ABS as standard.
The KTM 250 Duke sits in between the 200 Duke and 390 Duke in the manufacturers’ line-up. This means that it misses out on a lot of features seen on the 390 Duke – like the full-colour display and LED-headlamp. However, the 250 Duke does get an upside-down front fork and a fully-digital instrument cluster, as seen on the previous-gen Duke. The 250 Duke also misses out on ABS, which is a big let-down.
|Model||CBR 250R (ABS)||Dominar 400 (ABS)||TNT 25||Apache RR 310||250 Duke|
Should you be interested in the 2018 Honda CBR 250R?
The newest update to the 250R has rejuvenated it a fair bit; but let’s face it – it doesn’t compare to the performance and features being offered on most of its rivals, aside from the Benelli (which doesn’t really stand out in any area). The Bajaj Dominar 400 isn’t finished as well as the Honda but makes for exceptional value for the performance on offer. Meanwhile, the Duke 250 is a tempting proposition, with more power than the Honda – while remaining more usable and far less manic than its elder brother, the 390 Duke. However, the lack of ABS on the KTM certainly is a turn-off.
That brings us to the much-newer TVS Apache RR 310. On paper, the RR 310 offers everything the 250R does and a lot more, especially in the performance department. The extra Rs 12,000 is very justified for what the TVS has to offer. However, the Honda will continue to offer a sweet mix of unstressed performance, good riding dynamics, comfort and ease of use. These are the very things that originally stood out about the CBR, all those years ago; and in that sense, it will continue to appeal to those with a similar mindset. For the rest – you simply have to accept that the TVS comes across as the more desirable machine.
|Honda CBR 250R (ABS)/(Non-ABS)||Rs 1.93 lakh/Rs 1.63 lakh|
|Bajaj Dominar 400 (ABS)/(Non-ABS)||Rs 1.56 lakh/Rs 1.44 lakh|
|Benelli TNT 25||Rs 1.93 lakh|
|TVS Apache RR 310||Rs 2.05 lakh|
|KTM 250 Duke||Rs 1.77 lakh|