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CBF 250 Review - In Response

04 March 2015

By Chris Onions

From Ren - The Ed. Chris sent me this response to my CBF 250 Review. I thought it was too good to simply stick into the comments. Over to you Chris...

Ren, your review of the CBF 250 is absolutely spot on in so many ways.

Three cheers for little bikes. Hip hip …. complete silence.

What is it with the biking world at the moment? Anything less than a litre seems to be barely worthy of consideration. The biking press seems geared heavily towards large mile-eating sportsbikes that make sense on the track where there are gravel traps and emergency services at hand, but not on the road where there are trees, walls, road furniture, diesel slicks, vehicles coming in the opposite direction and the nearest A&E is miles away. I have a Suzuki SV650 and was amazed to see it described in a bike review as a “little twin”. Motorcycling does not have to be about big numbers – cc, bhp, mph, gpm (gallons per mile)… A bend that can be taken at 40 mph on a big bike can be taken at 40 mph on a small capacity bike and is just as much fun. Big bikes will obviously pull away on straights and wide sweepers (and get you there faster if that matters) but in the real twisties a small bike is at no disadvantage. In the wise words of a mate of mine “most of the fun you can have on a motorbike can be had at speeds of 60 or less”.

Suzuki's SV 650 in a deep red. Complete with hard luggage and screen
A fairly ugly bike made uglier by adding a Givi rack and fairing. Still love it.

I am biased, I know. I live in Bridgnorth where to the West there are some lovely twisty B-roads which are almost empty apart from the odd car, tractor, horse and horsebox. There are also many country lanes, which are very pleasant to pootle along but where the list of hazards must be extended to include gravel, mud, farm animals and their effluent. Hazards aside, South Shropshire is perfect little bike country.

My “stable” consists of the aforementioned SV650, bought new 11 years ago and still much loved, a CG125 which I bought a couple of years ago having seen it on its side in the back of a friend’s estate car, and a CBF250 which I bought last December reasoning much along the lines of Ren regarding how to combine the advantages of bigger and smaller bikes. Having said that, I do not see the CBF displacing either of the other two as the garage is big enough for all three and they’re all a joy to ride in their very different ways.

A classic Honda CG 125 in red complete with top box and saddle bags for touring
The CG in full dress touring mode.

So what do I think of the CBF250? I think it’s brilliant. The engine is a peach but I would not go as far as “torquey”. It’s flexible enough and will pull slowly but uncomplainingly from 3000 revs in any gear. However in higher gears it gets a bit bogged down unless kept on the boil, which means in the upper half of the rev counter. This is part of the enjoyment of riding it as the engine revs willingly and the gearbox is slick. The other part is the very sure-footed handling which makes it as easy to steer round bends as any bike I’ve ever ridden, despite the lack of trick technology. The brakes are good too. I haven’t ridden it any really long distances yet so cannot comment on comfort but I can say the riding position is good for my 5’9” frame.

I have not had any major problems with the bike so far. However I thought I detected a bit of a camchain rattle once or twice when cold but it clears by the end of the road. (It was through googling this and reading about your camchain woes that I discovered the excellent BAT website.) Safe to ignore? The bike came with a centrestand which is so useful yet not standard, a Scottoiler which I asked the dealer to fit, and a Renntec rack to which I have fitted a Renntec box. I had some doubts about Renntec after reading the odd horror story where a rack has snapped but, to be honest, the thing looks sturdy enough and you do have to be sensible as regards what you put in a topbox on a small bike. I am thinking about fitting a screen for improved comfort and aerodynamics. Ren, you have a screen on yours so perhaps you can make a recommendation.

I intend to tour on it. That was part of the reason for buying it. The SV gets you there quickly enough but, once you’re there, is not the ideal tool for exploring the back roads, being quite heavy and not easily pushed around or picked up if dropped. The opposite is true of the CG – great on the lanes but takes forever to get there especially as motorways and fast trunk roads are an absolute no-no. (Mine is a tiny CG with just 4 heel-and-toe gears and a maximum cruising speed of 45mph.) So, from Bridgnorth Wales is all doable on the CG, but I’ve spent hours poring over a Travelmaster map trying to figure out a way of getting north of the Manchester conurbation without riding right through it or using the M6. On the 250 I hope I will be able to ride from the Midlands to the north of Scotland say, using motorways and trunk roads where necessary. Then, when I get there, I can explore every bit of public tarmac, no matter how narrow, twisty or steep, or all three. That’s the plan.

Honda CBF 250 in silver. All standard and very smart
The CBF 250

I also notice, Ren, that you have a mudflap on yours. How sensible. Why do manufacturers make mudguards so small? It must be because a larger affair is thought to spoil the appearance of a bike. Hunting for CBF250s in the run up to purchasing mine I saw many without a mudflap. I saw one or two bikes whose appearance was definitely spoiled by mud and road salt getting thrown up on to the exhaust, frame and engine, causing unsightly and damaging corrosion. One example with only 7000 on the clock had had a new exhaust downpipe fitted. CBF250 owners take note.

There are certainly plenty of CBF250s which have a hard life and are not looked after. The trouble is that many small bikes, including CBF250s, are owned and ridden by people for whom a bike is a workhorse, a cheap and/or convenient way of getting to work come summer and winter. Then there are the inexperienced riders for whom a 250 is a stepping stone to a larger bike, the tendency being to thrash the thing with scant attention to maintenance and care. Thus it is sometimes that sad sods like us, who love and cherish little bikes for their esoteric qualities, find ourselves running and riding machines which are not preloved but preunloved.

Chris Onions


Reader's Comments

Ren - The Ed said :-
Thanks for the review Chris. The screen is a Puig. It...helps a little but it won't transform the bike from a naked to a Gold Wing comfort levels. Click on the link below for a range of screen and other stuff for the CBF 250 at Puig
1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
The mudflap is my standard addition to most bikes. It is made from...ahem...er... It is made from an old oil container. You know, when you but 5 litres of 10W-40 the containers are the perfect plastic for the job. Bendy, flexible yet sturdy. Cut to shape, drill some holes, bolt it on, paint it matt black. Job done.
1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Latchy said :-
Excellent, your line up of bikes are almost like mine, except my biggest bike is a street triple but I did have a think about getting a Suzuki sv650 myself, you are right they are plenty big enough. My cbf250 is the same colour as yours and my cg125 is a built from scratch affair, hope getting my pics on here is simple so here goes, otherwise I'll send them to Ren .

Latchy's restored classic 1970's CG 125 Honda

Latchy's owns silver Honda CBF 250

Latchy poses next to his Triumph Street Triple on a benidorm beach

1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
No picture facility as yet Latchy...
1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Ben said :-
Hi Ren

I was just reading through this article and was somewhat surprised at your CBF 250's mpg figs.

As previously mentioned, I have an older 1997 CB250 nighthawk? which I used daily as a commuter bike to my place of work in Central London. This is a great little bike(needs a good clean!!) but lacks power, even are a recent service, nearly all scooters wiz away from me at the lights. I think that my Honda ANF 125 Innova is faster!!

Anyway, from the attached photos, you can see that I get an mpg fig of approx 120+ miles.(360 miles on 3 UK gallons) before I have to switch to the reserve tank, and thats around town, my 6ft 90kg frame probably adds to the drag :)

FYI I run the tyres at approx 34PSI

Honda CB250 1997
1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Ben. Aaaaahhh, the CB 250 Nighthawk, another one of Honda's great engines! I used to own a CD 200 Benly which the 233cc Nighthawk is based upon. I also owned the CMX 250 Rebel which is almost the same bike as yours just in a custom/cruiser style.

I'm super impressed at your mpg figures! I used to get about 90 mpg out of the Rebel and I thought that was good going. That said I used it 2-up quite a lot and did a fair amount of motorway work on it. Perhaps the London commute suits the engine better.

The reason I believe this engine is so efficient is the single carburettor and low state of tune. I think the mpg on the CBF 250 is "acceptable" rather than good. I think it's a little more highly strung you see.

I've never ridden the Nighthawk but it's been a bike I've hankered after for some time, it just never actually came to pass. Yeah, it might be a bit slow but it won't let you down and think of all the pennies you're saving on go-go juice. Enjoy!
1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Stu Lunn said :-
Hi Chris

I've just bought a 2006 CG125 and want to equip for carrying stuff generally and the idea of touring intrigues.

Your top box looks quite large, Chris, what capacity is it? I'm a bit concerned about getting one that's too big for the bike.

Also the saddle bags look great - looks like just sitting on them is all the anchoring needed, is that so? What make are they? Wonder if they'd hold my little 1 foot square by 7" guitar amp...

You may guess - I'm a late entrant to the bike world at 55, and this site. They say getting a dog is the best mistake you'll ever make but I think I might have found a better one. I'm getting a kick out of a 4 mile commute either side of the M25 - roundabouts... wow!

Worst thing so far is the weight of the gear - I was advised to get disk and chain lock, and man they're heavy - hence need for top box. And all this protective clothing is so dear, and bulky. I had an FS1E when I was 17 - things have changed.



Honda CG - my new baby
10/3/2018 1:12:48 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
CG125 - that's a proper bike that is.

What is this "I'm a bit concerned about getting one that's too big for the bike." that you speak of? How can a top box be "too big"?

I'm teasing. I have a CBF125 with a 45 litre top box and that's fine - BUT!! It's not particularly the size of the box that matters it's the weight of the items you put in it that will cause problems.

Most racks will come with a maximum recommended carrying capacity. Also you may find details on the maximum recommended for the CG125. Usually the max is low - about 5 kg in my experience. That'll be enough for your chain but then throw in a few cartons of milk, several tins of baked beans and your weekend supply of tinnies and you'll be VERY much over 5kg.

I'd suggest a box large enough for your chain, some waterproofs and maybe a loaf of bread should do the trick.

CBF125 with a lot of camping luggage on board
12/3/2018 10:50:43 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Nice tidy bike* and a good colour.....

In terms of top boxes, I find it useful to have one big enough to take my helmet as I hate carrying it around when off the bike.

*Stu's of course.......
12/3/2018 12:11:38 PM UTC
Louanne said :-

I have a cg125 nostalgia model and I cannot find a luggage rack for it anywhere!

What sort of size/fit did you have on your one pictured above? As my bike was modelled on this and looks fairly the same.

Many thanks,

10/4/2018 12:53:47 PM UTC
Rod said :-
Hi Louanne, It looks like a universal luggage rack will fit on your bike. Most Universal racks come with adjustable fixing points, and may just need a couple of spacers or washers to give a good fit.

10/4/2018 7:16:14 PM UTC
Rod said :-
I have had a quick look for a universal luggage rack.
Have a look at the link :- https://www.motorcycleproducts.co.uk/motorcycle-carrier-rack-twin-shocks-p-4840.html
10/4/2018 8:27:10 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I have one like that on my Guzzi and it fits quite well after some fettling.

11/4/2018 2:16:18 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm glad you guys could help as I had nothing useful to contribute...
11/4/2018 3:46:26 PM UTC
Louanne said :-
Hello guys,

Sorry for the extremely delayed response! I put my luggage search on hold for a while due to moving house, and other motorbike maintenance and repairs needed first but the search is back on!

Thank you so much, this is v helpful, the one you sent me in the link looks great. I was not aware of being able to use spacers so def a good suggestion.

Thanks so much!
12/9/2018 4:34:04 PM UTC
Rod said :-
Pleased that we could help.
12/9/2018 5:52:35 PM UTC
said :-
Cheers folks
12/9/2018 9:26:41 PM UTC

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