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Arnob's Cbr250R Detailed Long Term Review


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#1 arn

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 01:50 AM

Andheri Shahpur Murbad Malshej A'Nagar Aurangabad Malegaon Nashik Andheri 820 km. I'd chosen this route as the first 250 odd km would have been quite slow, with a constantly varying throttle. It was not just slow, it was VERY slow, and it was all on account of the surface almost all the way to Nagar. They could call it the pothole highway or something catchy like that.....anyways, that was supposed to be followed by a brunch halt at Aurangabad after about 100 km of dual carriageway, then onwards to Dhule, and check out the speeds etc after finishing the run in.

The whole thing was supposed to have started at 4 am but a truly hectic day  (I barely got time to read the manual once) coupled with  bedtime at 1:00 am meant I started at the slightly more humane (but only slightly!) hour of 6am. This delay meant that it would be Malegaon instead of Dhule, so as to reach  home by 7pm. However after what happened at Nashik, I got back only at 9pm. The WHOLE of Nashik + some 50 km north is a construction zone, something like the Andheri Kurla road only a lot longer and dustier, and with much more heavy traffic. Go there at your own peril. If on a bike expect it to take 2 1/2 hours. Car, 5 hrs. S'fun.

I wanted a whole day with the bike before posting this first impression as stuff like suspension, seat, riding position etc can have VERY different perceptions, depending on whether a machine has been riden for 20 minutes or 12 hrs.

I don't work for any auto mag, don't need to suck up to anybody for their ad revenue so am not going to go goo goo gaga over stuff that does not merit it - instead this will be a very critical look at the bike.

LOOKS:

Like it or leave it. Personally I don't much like the front end treatment but the rest of it looks nice. This bike also boasts the ugliest saree guard on the planet, bar none. It looks like a bent piece of railing bolted onto the frame, with the designers having taken pains to ensure it is in COMPLETE and ABSOLUTE disharmony with the rest of the bike. It isn't even the right size.....about 20% bigger overall than it needs to be. Next to this abomination, the guard on the R1 looks good.

Sadly, unlike the ZMA the mount points are fitted only on one side, so any ideas of fitting anything else (racks etc) bilaterally will not work unless you are prepared to weld on the frame on the other side.

What I really like about the looks: It draws very little attention only a handful of people even noticed it until somebody recognised it and pointed it out. I still remember seeing a new Comet where the owner had to shoo away  a bunch of ugly little morons who were trying to pass their time rubbing every available surface with their grubby fingers smeared with body fluids, which till just a few moments ago had obviously been in some body orifice or the other. Every time the owner would turn away to talk to us the ULMs would be at it, the switchgear being their clear favourite.

It's been 2 days, but I've not had to shoo anybody away yet. I think the silver looks cool, but again, thats a pesonal thing. I know exclusivity is important to some, it's just that I prefer to blend in


FIT and FINISH:

Not impressed.

I rolled out of the showroom and opened the throttle expecting to hear the engine what I heard instead was something rattly and vibratory in the front fairing instead, which instantly took away the otherwise smooth and refined feel of the bike. I got the chance to listen to it throughout the trip. I'm sure it is a small, easily adjusted thing, but it is a shame.

The front panels seem quite good, but the rear panels appear to have been put on as some kind of afterthought, complete with gaps.

The clip ons too have a somewhat cheap and unfinished appearance. The instrument panel looks nice and has most of the information one would need (km to empty would have been nice, but budgets.... I guess). However the angulation is not good as you get to see your own reflection in it when the sun is shining on you, but this is nit picking.


HOW IS IT IN TRAFFIC?:

I was a bit worried about this initially. Need not have. Those two mirrors act like a cats whiskers, as the bike is a rather narrower than them. Get into a gap, crack the throttle open - and the gap is now behind you. The torque from this engine is everywhere, so even if you are in the wrong gear at that moment, the bike will still pull without you having to rev it to the moon. Something like the 220DTS Fi, but in larger doses. Added to this is the extreme flickability of the bike, equal to or better than the RTR, and this makes for a very potent traffic cutter. You could be pootling around at 4K rpm, but the moment you see that gap, it's just point and squirt. Don't bother to downshift. If anybody else has the same idea about that gap, he will follow you. It's that simple. Having shot through the gap, you can then resume loafing the engine, until the next gap comes up. The wide tyres also allow the bike to keep it's composure over bad surfaces, it's one less thing to worry about.

The mirrors do not vibrate, however they do move a bit at speed, but the image is still usable. One of my mirrors was loose, it kept losing the setting, but as the other one worked flawlessly, I guess it would just be a simple adjustment to rectify things. Visibility is good, with very almost no blind spot astern. Very useful in traffic.

Id say the bike far exceeded my expectations as far as handling in traffic is concerned.


to be contd.

#2 sdsmy

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:49 AM

View Postarn, on 06 May 2011 - 01:50 AM, said:

Andheri Shahpur Murbad Malshej A'Nagar Aurangabad Malegaon Nashik Andheri 820 km. I'd chosen this route as the first 250 odd km would have been quite slow, with a constantly varying throttle. It was not just slow, it was VERY slow, and it was all on account of the surface almost all the way to Nagar. They could call it the pothole highway or something catchy like that.....anyways, that was supposed to be followed by a brunch halt at Aurangabad after about 100 km of dual carriageway, then onwards to Dhule, and check out the speeds etc after finishing the run in.

The whole thing was supposed to have started at 4 am but a truly hectic day  (I barely got time to read the manual once) coupled with  bedtime at 1:00 am meant I started at the slightly more humane (but only slightly!) hour of 6am. This delay meant that it would be Malegaon instead of Dhule, so as to reach  home by 7pm. However after what happened at Nashik, I got back only at 9pm. The WHOLE of Nashik + some 50 km north is a construction zone, something like the Andheri Kurla road only a lot longer and dustier, and with much more heavy traffic. Go there at your own peril. If on a bike expect it to take 2 1/2 hours. Car, 5 hrs. S'fun.

I wanted a whole day with the bike before posting this first impression as stuff like suspension, seat, riding position etc can have VERY different perceptions, depending on whether a machine has been riden for 20 minutes or 12 hrs.

I don't work for any auto mag, don't need to suck up to anybody for their ad revenue so am not going to go goo goo gaga over stuff that does not merit it - instead this will be a very critical look at the bike.

LOOKS:

Like it or leave it. Personally I don't much like the front end treatment but the rest of it looks nice. This bike also boasts the ugliest saree guard on the planet, bar none. It looks like a bent piece of railing bolted onto the frame, with the designers having taken pains to ensure it is in COMPLETE and ABSOLUTE disharmony with the rest of the bike. It isn't even the right size.....about 20% bigger overall than it needs to be. Next to this abomination, the guard on the R1 looks good.

Sadly, unlike the ZMA the mount points are fitted only on one side, so any ideas of fitting anything else (racks etc) bilaterally will not work unless you are prepared to weld on the frame on the other side.

What I really like about the looks: It draws very little attention only a handful of people even noticed it until somebody recognised it and pointed it out. I still remember seeing a new Comet where the owner had to shoo away  a bunch of ugly little morons who were trying to pass their time rubbing every available surface with their grubby fingers smeared with body fluids, which till just a few moments ago had obviously been in some body orifice or the other. Every time the owner would turn away to talk to us the ULMs would be at it, the switchgear being their clear favourite.

It's been 2 days, but I've not had to shoo anybody away yet. I think the silver looks cool, but again, thats a pesonal thing. I know exclusivity is important to some, it's just that I prefer to blend in


FIT and FINISH:

Not impressed.

I rolled out of the showroom and opened the throttle expecting to hear the engine what I heard instead was something rattly and vibratory in the front fairing instead, which instantly took away the otherwise smooth and refined feel of the bike. I got the chance to listen to it throughout the trip. I'm sure it is a small, easily adjusted thing, but it is a shame.

The front panels seem quite good, but the rear panels appear to have been put on as some kind of afterthought, complete with gaps.

The clip ons too have a somewhat cheap and unfinished appearance. The instrument panel looks nice and has most of the information one would need (km to empty would have been nice, but budgets.... I guess). However the angulation is not good as you get to see your own reflection in it when the sun is shining on you, but this is nit picking.


HOW IS IT IN TRAFFIC?:

I was a bit worried about this initially. Need not have. Those two mirrors act like a cats whiskers, as the bike is a rather narrower than them. Get into a gap, crack the throttle open - and the gap is now behind you. The torque from this engine is everywhere, so even if you are in the wrong gear at that moment, the bike will still pull without you having to rev it to the moon. Something like the 220DTS Fi, but in larger doses. Added to this is the extreme flickability of the bike, equal to or better than the RTR, and this makes for a very potent traffic cutter. You could be pootling around at 4K rpm, but the moment you see that gap, it's just point and squirt. Don't bother to downshift. If anybody else has the same idea about that gap, he will follow you. It's that simple. Having shot through the gap, you can then resume loafing the engine, until the next gap comes up. The wide tyres also allow the bike to keep it's composure over bad surfaces, it's one less thing to worry about.

The mirrors do not vibrate, however they do move a bit at speed, but the image is still usable. One of my mirrors was loose, it kept losing the setting, but as the other one worked flawlessly, I guess it would just be a simple adjustment to rectify things. Visibility is good, with very almost no blind spot astern. Very useful in traffic.

Id say the bike far exceeded my expectations as far as handling in traffic is concerned.


to be contd.  

nice write up. photo please

#3 sheelpriye

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 10:15 AM

Please bring on the rest. Waiting eagerly.

I am sure silver blends well with the surroundings & doesn't attract. Looks sweet though.

(What about the other bike in the garage, the red one?) I am waiting for that to be fired up.
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#4 jayaramk1983

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 10:35 AM

Nice first impressions doc. Will wait to hear on the other aspects of the bike you mentioned. Hooked to the thread now.

Regarding the looks , I dont think looks matter as long as the bike itself is good or usable. However, people especially children tend to notice new stuff and try to fiddle with them. But the CBR anyway doesn't catch that much attention so its good.

The torque factor itself is good from what you said. What is the rev limit of the CBR and what is the powerband of the bike?

#5 Revmaster

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:35 AM

Pardon my Indianism, but, Kitna deti hai?  :)
Eagerly looking forward to hear about the bike's handling and suspension. Would also be interesting to know how comfortable the seats are for a long haul. How good or bad is the night riding experience, with special focus on the the headlights.
I am more than sure this is going to be the most exhaustive thread on the bike in the whole wide world, knowing Doc. A reason why I changed the topic name to a more apt one.

PS: Doc, please let me know if you want it to be altered

#6 pulsurge

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:52 AM

Awesome awesome Doc! Straight on the face review...eagerly look forward to the rest of the review :)
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#7 pulsurge

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 12:13 PM

Amitbhai, this thread needs to be put on the main page i.e. where all the news headlines are highlighted.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR TRAFFIC

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#8 arn

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 01:36 PM

View Postjayaramk1983, on 06 May 2011 - 10:35 AM, said:



The torque factor itself is good from what you said. What is the rev limit of the CBR and what is the powerband of the bike?

The power starts to come in from about 3.5K itself, though the real thrust begins around 5. I think the setup for the new bike is such that the engine cannot be revved too high - I did not cross 8.5 k which is still 2K short of the redline.


View PostRevmaster, on 06 May 2011 - 11:35 AM, said:

Pardon my Indianism, but, Kitna deti hai?  :)
Eagerly looking forward to hear about the bike's handling and suspension. Would also be interesting to know how comfortable the seats are for a long haul. How good or bad is the night riding experience, with special focus on the the headlights.
I am more than sure this is going to be the most exhaustive thread on the bike in the whole wide world, knowing Doc. A reason why I changed the topic name to a more apt one.

PS: Doc, please let me know if you want it to be altered

The title is fine but I don't think it will remain stock too long. There are a lot of things to be done to bring it to touring spec as ar as I am concerned.


Coming back to the review.

BRAKES and TYRES:

The big disc in front scrubs off speed without any drama, having a R 15ish feel to it. It does not have the sharpness and modulation of the old 220 Fi unit (the present ones are far inferior), but the end result is still sharp and precise braking as desired. I did not lock up even once, and travelled over a lot of crappy surfaces. Confidence inspiring. This bike is the non ABS version. The ABS version has the huge disadvantage that it cannot be switched off and considering our roadbuilding practices such as covering the newly built road with a layer of gravel, it could be a big problem as the bike will simply not brake properly on it. I covered at least 20 km of such surfaces  on this trip itself.

The tyres are Continental. Never having used this brand, I was a bit cautious, but am glad to say that they feel as planted as the best I have used so far. Great dry grip and they do not tramline over broken surfaces either. Their width means than they iron out road irregularities pretty well too, something that a bike with narrow tyres just cannot do. There were only a few times that I felt the rear drifting - while turning with a very stiff crosswind. The bike holds it's line superbly no matter what the crosswind, there is no twitchiness, but take it around a corner and you know that the rear is not tracking true... not really a problem,  but there.

The rear brakes feel slightly "weak" but then thats how I prefer it anyways as it reduces the chance of lockup

A thumbs up to both these systems.


THE TOURING PERSPECTIVE:

RIDING POSITION:

The low seat and clip ons allied with the high footpegs means the riding postion is definitely more cramped than most bikes with the exception of the R15. Is it a dealbreaker. No. You get used to it. But after a day of riding it becomes clear that bad surfaces tend to be rather heavy on the arms and shoulders. Different people have different perceptions on this (ride comfort) so it is a bit difficult to say whether it will suit you. The big plus of the low seat - putting both feet flat on the ground is no issue for somebody of average height. The other plus with the position is my perception that the slight forward lean makes for better control.

WIND BLAST:

Once tucked in, and crouched, aerodynamics are fair. However, nobody tours like that, and when upright, the wind hits at helmet level. At 120 kph there is a lot of wind noise. Not good. This bike needs a more effective screen, existing one not upto the mark for managing the wind at speed when upright.

#9 Revmaster

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 02:20 PM

View Postpulsurge, on 06 May 2011 - 12:13 PM, said:

Amitbhai, this thread needs to be put on the main page i.e. where all the news headlines are highlighted.

Deepak, even I am very keen on putting it up there, but dont have any pics to go with it. Waiting for Arn to put some up - are there any, yet, doc?

#10 spinz

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:48 PM

Good Review Doc. I have booked a Red one, wonder if I'll be able to knee down...

#11 kamikaze

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 06:41 PM

Congratulations Doc for the purchase.

Just got a bike delivered for a friend. First impressions were very similar to yours. Finish is not Honda quality. Especially the wind screen which is very flimsy. R15's windscreen in comparison is rock solid. Did not cross 5k mark and distance ridden was very small so can not say anything about the performance. However, riding stance is pretty comfortable for touring. My friend's bike's rear view mirrors also needed tightening. However, they are useful atleast, unlike my 220's ;)

Small tank means, more frequent refueling stops.
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#12 arn

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 06:54 PM

View PostRevmaster, on 06 May 2011 - 02:20 PM, said:

Deepak, even I am very keen on putting it up there, but dont have any pics to go with it. Waiting for Arn to put some up - are there any, yet, doc?

I haven't yet had time to read the manual again or even look at the toolkit and the full day today got wasted trying to get the thing serviced (couldn't!). You'll get all the pics you want on Sunday, but for shots in motion it will only be next weekend as it appears that the service is not going to happen till Wednesday. I'll come to that later.

Coming back to the riding impressions. Having had a test ride himself, Deepak (Pulsurge) was not too thrilled with the riding positions as the knees are bent more than say, the ZMA. While highway pegs would definitely be a welcome addition (have to find a hardpoint once the fairing comes off for maintainance), I think a large part of the problem is the increased pressure from the kneeguards on the kneecap, perhaps making an annular insert out of heatlon or EVA foam should solve that problem to a great degree - I'll only come to know when I test it out...


ELECTRICALS:

With 294W of power being produced at 5K rpm, this is far higher than the output of the ZMA (188) or any other DC bike, RE included. The dashboard lights are clearly visible even in direct sunlight and visibility of the brake lights and indicators is not an issue at all. The 55W headlight is OK in terms of throw as a 55W unit goes, but it is just about barely adequate on a dual carriageway at night, and hopelessly inadequate if oncoming traffic is on the same side of the road. How does it compare to other bikes here? I'd say it is a bit better than the stock ZMA (35W) and definitely inferior to the projector setup on the P220. As with all Indian bikes, the light is way too dim for even the flasher to convice oncoming Mr dual headlights to dip. This is the third thing that needs to be modded on the bike in the interests of safety.

After careful search of the lowest bidders, some Honda engineer (possibly the proud designer of the saree guard) finally picked the most apologetic horn he could find in the interests of reducing noise pollution. I mean, a little more sloppiness and the fairinng could probable have been designed to rattle louder than the horn! Ok, I'm kidding, but this horn sucks big time, that apologetic 'dweeb" sound is not going to be heard by a truck driver any which way, and even pedestrians have to be within 3 feet before they realize that something behind them is making these wierd bleeping noises.

This will be the second thing to go, in the interests of safety.



THE SEAT:

Ok for city running, the rear portion is quite wide. It's quite flat unlike most other bikes here where the broad base tapers to something narrow on top to create the sitting on a wall (narrow) kind of experience. Unfortunately this is the only plus point it has, and you are not going to notice it's deficiencies if you plan to ride just 5km daily, over smooth roads. Any more distance than that or bad roads and you realize how thin the foam is as it slaps your bottom savagely and continuously, This is not a suspension issue - it's just a horribly inadequately padded seat. Sliding onto the front portion is no help as there is a raised hump there inside, which competes with the RTR experience. This  is the FIRST thing I will change - I like to enjoy my ride!!!



@Noni, you'll like this bike and am sure you will get the knee down as the tyres are good and the chassis suspension  combo is nice and taut.

@Kamikaze, Yep, the screen is cosmetic really. Being too close to the dash means there are very big cutouts to clear the handles. It would have been a lot more effective if it were further in front - and higher

#13 Anup

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:05 PM

Considering your view point was a must for me before i really go in for the bike, just another question
Karizma or the CBR, forget everything even the price, whats your take?

I have been in love with the karizma ever since it launched, never had the money to buy it then, i think i could afford a bike now, so what would you recommend for simple touring here and there

Regards
Anup
P.S: Your opinion counts!! Always admired your touring and Blitzkriez abilities with the bike

#14 arn

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:33 PM

THE ENGINE:

I think the engine is still performing below it's full potential as it seems reluctant to go beyond 8500 rpm, whereas it should not have a problem going till at least 10000. I suspect things will change once the valves are set (after bedding in during the run in period). All the same, it is pretty grunty at low rpm, and happy to haul the bike along at 120kph without much strain. Overtaking even on the highway is not a big deal as the power slingshots you out ahead of other bikes and cars. Munching miles at 120kph, the only fly in the ointment is the wind noise. There is still grunt in reserve, and you can pick up very cleanly again as low as 60kph without having to shift down.

Overall the engine has a very ZMA ish feel about it - except that it packs a much harder wallop when you twist the throttle and feels a lot smoother and less strained above 6K rpm. Coincidentally 100kph comes up at 6200rpm... High rpm vibes are small enough not to matter - they are there, and have an RTRish feel to it but it is less in amplitude, the engine just lets you know that it is working, and of course  the vibes are almost nonexistent at idling rpm which stays rock steady at 1500 rpm regardless of the heat, how long you have been running, etc. The heat the engine throws out gets noticeable once you get stuck in traffic, but the temp indicator stays in exactly the same spot, regardless of what you have been up to. Once you start moving though, that sensation of having a heater for your ankles is no longer there.

While it can no doubt cruise faster if flogged, 125 kph should be maintainable all day without difficulty. I was not trying to do any speed testing but could easily go up to 132 (ran out of road), while accelerating in 6th from 90kph, Im sure it can pick up a lot faster in 5th, but I was not interested in revving that high for the time being.

I like this engine. Flexible and good for both city and highway, though the lack of horses means it will not really be too fast on the highway, but enough to move safely at a decent clip.



THE SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS:

The bike comes with the suspension set as soft (one step away from softest) from the factory, but make no mistake, it is pretty firm even at that setting. It's not hard, just firm, and you need that at speed = a soggy suspension will not follow the road as well as this does. As speeds pick up it feels a lot more pliant, but low speed running - it's not the softest. Ditto the front end. The chassis is petty rigid too, and I discovered this unintentionally when I suddenly ran into a collection of potholes at 80 kph. Where most of our regular bikes would have started to hop around a bit, this ate up the potholes as though they were just minor irregularities and remained rock stable and did not even hint at changing direction, But then, a trellis type frame that the CBR has is bound to be a lot better than the development of the bicycle frame that most of our other bikes come with.

In a few words, the ride is firm, but gets better with speed, and the frame is a large improvement over what we have been used to so far.


THE TANK:

13L. WHY!!!? 3.5L is supposedly left when the last bar on the gauge comes on and that should be good for at least 100km.  My run was not geared towards economy, and included rush hour type stop and go traffic for at least 150 km of the total, but I think I'll get about 30 kpl. Perhaps running at 125kph on a sustained basis will turn out worse mileage figures, but the FI is a miser with the fuel....

All the same, another 5L capacity would have been very very welcome

#15 razorBlades

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:20 PM

That's an amazing review doc! ;)

so when are your customizations starting :D
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