All across America, many teenagers get their first driving experience behind the wheel of a Honda, whether it’s a hand-me-down Civic, or the parent’s CR-V. Well, much the same is true for aspiring motorcyclists, as many rookie riders cut their teeth on a Nighthawk or Rebel. Well, now Honda’s about to inject a little excitement into the beginner bike ranks.

BRIAN ROBINSON: Being the bike guy here at MotorWeek, I’m often asked ‘what’s a good first bike?’ for people looking to get into riding. Well most aren’t too happy when I tell them to find a 15-20 year old Honda Nighthawk, they’re looking for something a little flashier, something that looks cool, like this Honda CBR250R.

 This new baby CBR would indeed make a great first motorcycle for anyone. But, in actuality, like many recent compact car entries we’ve been testing here at MotorWeek, the 250R was probably designed with an eye more towards the rapidly growing Chinese market than ours. But that’s just fine, as all-new entry level bikes are few and far between, with most consisting of a lot of trickle down parts from larger bikes, or repurposed dirt bike parts, but the CBR250R is indeed all new.

And that includes the engine, which is a DOHC, water-cooled, 249cc, single. It’s also fuel injected which believe it or not, is still relatively unique in the beginner bike ranks, and has an internal counter-balancer that makes it surprisingly smooth for a single. Being a 250, obviously power is slight, but this little thumper does have a decent mid-range, so you don’t have to fully wring it out to the 10,500 RPM red-line between every shift. Spot-on fuel injection helps as well. 

With its full fairing and large silver muffler cover, it definitely gets points for style. Our test bike’s red, white, blue, and gold paint scheme makes the 250R look like it was designed for a superhero; and new riders will undoubtedly feel like one as the 250R is super easy to ride. Old-school cable clutch action is very light, gears of the 6-speed click through perfectly and weight comes in at only 366 pounds when you opt for Honda’s Combined ABS. My feeling on ABS is, while obviously a great safety feature for a new rider, learning how to deal with front or rear wheel lock-up is an essential component to riding a motorcycle safely. So, just keep that in mind. 

The seat is as comfortable as any standard, though your passenger might feel otherwise; and riding position sporty, but not intimidatingly so, as foot pegs are not mounted too high. Mirrors are sizeable and steady, great for new riders, while gauges feature a nice, big tach and digital speedometer. There’s also a small digital fuel gauge, but no gear indicator which will be a drawback for rookies. All switchgear and body components have the usual Honda quality feel. The 250R would also make a great commuter, as it runs just fine on Regular gas, and you can get 65 miles per gallon without even trying too hard. 

Pricing, at just 46-hundred dollars is also great, as most people think it looks like a sport-bike that costs twice as much. That’s cheaper than a lot of scooters. Skip the ABS, and you can knock 500 bucks off that price.

Obviously a 250cc, entry-level sport-bike will not appeal to everyone, but if you’re looking to get a fast start to your motorcycle riding future, the 2012 Honda CBR250R is a fine choice.