Review of "Honda CB250RSA"

published 16/08/2004 | dobieg
Member since : 31/01/2003
Reviews : 256
Members who trust : 34
About me :
I'm a miserable old git. I'm ashamed to say it's been a **** very **** long time since I reviewed my "trusts", have sought to rectify this by going through every review I've written in the past couple of years, if you feel hard-done-by, drop me a note.
Pro Light, easy to ride, excellent bike
Cons not many good ones left now
very helpful
Customer service

"Wen bikes was bikes, and I was a lot lighter!"

Nicked this picture from the net, mine was the same tough!

Nicked this picture from the net, mine was the same tough!

If only they still made them today!

I look upon the time I owned a CB250rs with great affection - for me it was the ideal machine, and if I could get my hands on a good one, grab it without a second thought.

You don't see than may 250s nowadays - at the time, the 'one part test' allowed any learner to use a 250cc bile with 'L' plates and a normal provisional licence - considering it was entirely possible for such a machine to break every speed limit in the country, it was only a question of time before something had to be done about that!

The RS came out in the early 1980s, and was pitched as a road alternative to the 'classic but ugly' Superdream.

The machine was designed around an old trail machine (the XL-250) but was heavily restyled for road only use, and had a few tricks up it's sleeve.

The engine was a single cylinder 250, with a four valve head - singles have a reputation of being a bit prone to vibration, and Honda got around that by building in a couple of counterbalances on the cam chain drive. This allowed them to increase the power to 26 horses, which doesn't sound a lot, but with a moderately lightweight frame, gave it plenty of poke at the lower end of the rev scale.

Even though this was a single, the style gurus in Japan insisted on giving the bike a dual exhaust! - the suggestion was that this reduced exhaust velocity, but it was complete nonsense! Yes - it looked OK, but it really wasn't practical, and the original chrome work (rusting quickly) meant most guys invested in a 2 into 1 pipe before very long.

Top-end speed wasn't that great, at least not when compared with the racing tow-strokes which were around at the time (Yamaha RD250LC being the cafe racer's preference at the time) and at 70mph on the flat, it wasn't going to end you up in *too* much trouble on the motorway - and you had to watch out when overtaking, if you pulled out of a slipstream, you could feel as if you'd been thrown backwards at 20mph!

My mates, who all went for 'real men's bikes' after they passed their tests used to take the wee-wee out of me relentlessly, but then again, mine ran in the rain (unlike their Itallian machines) and tended not to land on the deck as often (like their LCs, with the 'power band' and 7500 rpm)

In town, however, the bike was another thing entirely.

You could outrun anything on 4 wheels (not to say I did that very often) but if you wanted to make the point to some soul-boy in a Ford Capri at a set of traffic lights, you could be a dot on the horizon before he's managed to get out of second gear.

The RS came out at just about the same time that designers moved away from chrome, and went for plastic - mudguards, chain guard, indicators etc got the treatment, and I found this especially welcome, as road salt had seen the looks from by previous bike ruined in it's first winter!

Other features included having the engine casing held together by hex-headed bolts, as you had to remove the right hand sump cover in order to clean the oil filter, this made a huge difference from the crosshead screws used in earlier bikes of the time.

Looks wise, it was an absolute winner - the angular lines of the Superdream 'eurostyling' gave way to a more organic set of curves, the square headlamp looks a little dated by nowadays standards, but went well enough with the square instrument dials and indicators.

Wheels were (even in 1982) 'retro' styled spoked jobs, although alloy rims meant they didn't rust up, and they were certainly a lot more reliable than the 'comstars' fitted as standard on Superdreams made out of pressed alloy (one whack and they were warped beyond recognition)

Petrol consumption was around 75 miles to the gallon, which being a student at the time, was very welcome.

Honda had the reputation at the time (and still do, to an extent) for producing bikes which, if the truth be said, tended to be rather more concentrated on styling and reliability than all-out performance, up until the RS came out, they were also said to be as easy to handle as a drunk pig on roller skates.

The latter was a little unkind, if you got a half decent set of tyres, the handling improved dramatically, however they still tended to be a bit top-heavy, especially on a full tank.

The RS avoided this by having Bridgestones fitted as standard, mine lasted about eighteen months, after that I went for Dunlops, and whilst they didn't last as long, felt a lot safer, even if I was being silly and showing off.

The back shocks were adjustable, FVQ units (the joke was it stood for 'Fades Very Quickly) the front shocks only had one setting, carbs and brakes were unbranded (front was hydraulic disk, back drum brake was operated by a steel rod), but did the job. The foot pedals were partially rearset, although you could reckon to have to hammer the brake flat again if you dropped the bike on it's left hand side.

Transmission was still a bit of a problem, a single tends to have a fairly heavy 'thump' which gets passed on to the chain and sprocket - even with regular oiling, you could get through a chain in six months, and a set of sprockets in a year.

The bikes were very economical to use, especially in the Urban circuit - the Post Office used them for their 'datapost' service, as did many couriers, although, interestingly enough, they tended to replace the original engines (when they burned out at 26,000 miles) with the original XL-250, lower powered, but built like a tank.

Nowadays, I'd probably be a bit on the fat side to cope with a bike like this (I was nine and a half stone at the time, twenty years on, countless pints, and I'm touching 13)

The original models were kick-start only, later an electric starter was introduced, but by the time that came along, I had a girlfriend, and a car.

They don't make bikes like these any more - more is the pity, I paid £800 with a part exchange with a CB100n (now *there's* a bike with an identity crisis!), and after about seven years (three spent in a garage) had it nicked - I hope whoever did it fell off & really hurt themselves!

If you find one, and it's running, check the frame is OK - the engine was a stress bearing member, and dropping it hard could knock the whole thing off, other than that, you couldn't go that far wrong!

*************** Update 2015 ************
Well eleven years on from the review I've finally done it, and bought myself what I'm hoping to be a "good un" - cost £500, adding to the insurance was only 100 quid or so, I'm not any lighter (ahem!) so may struggle going up hills, to add insult to injury, it's now classed as "vintage", hope I'm looked upon with equally generous affection!

Check soon to see if it lives up to my hopes!

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Comments on this review

  • bsquiggle published 26/01/2006
    I bought one of these (1981) a few months ago. It promptly passed an MOT needing no work, and has basically kept going right through winter. can agree with tyres, as I know mine needs updating. Nice review, and fair I think
  • joebloggs321 published 19/08/2004
    Top bike, my mate had one of these. I had a two stroke that kept stopping in the rain!!
  • mumsymary published 17/08/2004
    you sound like my husband he dreams of the days he used to own ride a bike. his was only a smaller one than his friend they used to take the p... out of it . Ahhhhh you boys and your toys ~ :-)
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Product Information : Honda CB250RSA

Manufacturer's product description

Road Bike

Product Details

Long Name: CB250RSA

Bike Type: Road Bike

Type: Motorbike

Manufacturer: Honda

Stroke: 4


Listed on Ciao since: 30/11/2003