Honda Hornet CB250F

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The CB250F (AKA 'Hornet') preceded the 600 but was never officially imported into the UK. The Japan only 250 is visually similar to the 600 but if the two are viewed side by side, it's obvious that the 250 engine has a smaller mass. The handling is good for a 1990's bike and 16” front wheel makes cornering lively. You can fit accessories from a Hornet 600 as there are a few shared parts. The high revving 250cc 'MC14' 40BHP 4 cylinder 4-stroke engine is a marvel of engineering which has been around in various guises since 1986 and also powered the bland looking 'Jade' and later CBR250. The engine produces a distinctive ‘whine' from the gear driven cams. There isn’t a cam chain to worry about which reduces maintenance. Revisions during production were minor and the 250 Hornet was discontinued around 2007 but some importers can still sell you a new one.

At tick over or low revs in a high gear the CB250F is quiet but as the revs increase the exhaust note increases sharply. The 250 is not massively fast nor will the acceleration stretch your arms, but it’s enjoyable when ridden along country roads. The 250 is capable of 100-115 mph and you can ride around town @4,000 RPM / 30-40 MPH in top gear. 90 MPH comes up quickly but you have to hang on a while before anything over 100 MPH is possible. The engine is very smooth even @14-16,000 RPM and invites the rider to use the 6-speed gearbox to the full. The clutch is light and the gearbox gives a slightly clunky selection into neutral with a positive action into the other gears. The riding position is neutral although the rider footrests are a little high in relation to the seat height. High pillion footrests make the 250 feel cramped during extended journeys with a passenger. 

Aftermarket exhaust cans, sidestand, rear disc, monoshock, seat, handlebar, footrests and rear wheel from the 600 will fit straight onto the 250. Parts availability from Honda is surprisingly good although you could wait several weeks for an order to arrive.

THE GOOD: The 250 has a lower seat height than the 600, low weight makes it fun to ride, it has a certain novelty value and does not look like a 250. The superb finish ensures that it will last and look good for many years coupled with 'boring' Honda reliability. The styling still turns heads and the 180 wide CBR600 rear tyre was a first for any 250. Low maintenance is standard but regular oil changes are a must. The handling and brake package makes for a fantastic buy even if you are a beginner or hardened veteran. 

THE BAD: Expensive parts include radiator, clocks and fuel tank. Lack of centre stand complicates servicing. Thinly padded seat, ineffective short front mudguard and service info that is virtually non-existent in English. Expensive brake discs that will set you back £180 from Honda or £170 from EBC. The rear mono-shock (adjustable for preload only) will give you a kick up the butt when ridden over speed humps. Eventually the rear mono-shock will lose its damping requiring a replacement. Spark plug access is awkward and adjusting / checking the valve clearances at 16,000 miles is an expensive dealer job. The 250 is fairly rare in the UK so prices are usually higher than the 600 and not many come up for sale at any given time.
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