Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Riding Sharon Carter: Honda CBR250R Review

Purchase Day: Sharon Carter
I have certainly mentioned my new bike enough. I figure that she deserves a review. I had intended to write this yesterday. I spent the morning mowing and weed eating. I took a trip to meet with a guy about selling my Explorer. I worked a bit on said Explorer. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon I decided to grab breakfast.
I hopped on Sharon Carter and shot up the road to Nease’s Deli. It isn’t even a 10 minute ride. I got there. I picked up my hot dogs and a bag of chips. I got everything stowed in my tail bag. I started the quick ride home… and the skies opened up. It rained hard until I was about a quarter mile from my drive way. I laughed hysterically and out loud almost the whole ride. I simply cannot ride this bike without getting rained on.
I tell that story up front because I think Sharon Carter must have some jet ski parts on her or something. When I rode Irene I had to make a point to go out and ride in the rain to gain wet riding skills. It is as if something up above sees me on the Ms. Carter and turns on the water. Sharon doesn’t mind. She handles just as well in the rain.

Irene & Sharon
Since I learned to ride on Irene ( a 2010 Kawasaki Ninja 250r) I draw lots of comparisons between the two bikes. There are some some differences mechanically but they are very similar.
  Ninja 250r CBR 250r
Year 2010 2012
Engine 249cc liquid cooler 4-stroke 8 valve DOHC parallel-twin 249.5cc 4-stroke, single cylinder DOCH 4 valve per cylinder
Induction 2 x Keihin CVK30 carburetors Electronic fuel injection PGM-F
Bore/Stroke 62.0 mm x 41.22mm 76.0 mm x55.0 mm
Ignition TCBI with digital advance CDI
Tranmission 6-speed constant mesh, chain drive wet multiplate clutch, constant mesh 6-speed, chain drive
Tires Front: 110/70-17M/C Rear 130/70-17M/C Front: 110/70-17M/C Rear 140/70-17M/C
Rake, trail 26 degrees 25 degrees
Wheelbase 55.10 in 54 in
Dimensions W 28.10 H 43.70in L 80.1 in W 28 in H 44.3
Seat Height 30.50 in 31 in
Wet Weight 375 lbs 355 lbs
Power 29.9 hp / 22 kW @ 10500 rpm 23.7 hp @ 9900 RPM 21.9 hp @ 8500 hp
Fuel Capacity 5.8 US Gallons 3.4  US Gallons
There is an important stat missing from that table. I did not include fuel economy. One of the primary reasons I ride a motorcycle is saving money on gas. The Ninja and the Honda are nearly identical in that category. They both pull in between 64 and 68 miles per gallon. Comparatively speaking my Hyundai Veloster averages a respectable 35 mpg on the same commute. The Ford Explorer only get about 19 mpg. This means that I have nearly tripled my gas savings versus what I was paying out at this time last year. If there is a practical selling point for riding a motorcycle, this is it.

Sharon’s Headlights
There is just something fun about the sport bike style of motorcycle. I don’t get that same riding excitement when I ride a cruiser type. Frankly, I don’t get the big deal about Harley Davidson other than the name and supposed outlaw image that comes with it.
I can tell you that there aren’t that many outlaws on bikes anymore. The guys riding Harleys now are white collar weekend warriors for the most part. They bounce from one tourist trap to the next feeling rebellious on their two wheeled stallions. Honestly, I see more Sons of Anarchy wanna be riders on Harley Davidson’s than anything else. That is a major turn off to the entire cruiser style for me. I want to enjoy my ride not impress soccer moms.
Dad’s Kawasaki and my Honda are both fun to ride. I think the Kawasaki is a little more agile, but the difference is very slight. I am more gentle with Sharon because she is faster off the mark. Irene tops out about 10 mph higher.
Sharon’s seat has MUCH better padding. I have done day rides on both bikes, and while the Kawasaki isn’t horrible I certainly get more distress to my tail end on it. I admit that when I am sitting longer rides I tend to bring along my Egg Sitter. Even with it riding back from the Dragon on the Kawasaki was pure misery. On our run to Maggie Valley weekend before last I had no stiffness or pain at all. As a matter of fact, I sat through Deadpool 2 the same day and had more trouble out of the theater seat.
You wouldn’t think an extra half inch of seat height would make a big difference, but the Honda fits my height just a little better. Most cruisers come in between 26 and 28 inch seat heights. The Honda and the Kawasaki are just shy of my inseam length. That puts a lot less stress on my knees when leaning at a stop. Sharon gets a slightly higher mark for that extra half inch, but again this is so minor.

Luggage Load out!
I can’t do a whole lot of compare and contrast with bike luggage. I never put any luggage on Irene. I will say that the Honda has a much taller tank. My male parts don’t always appreciate the snug fit. In fact, I once racked myself quite well on a quick stop. The bad thing there is I was practicing quick stops at the time. They are a life saving skill after all! Still, my fellas sure weren’t happy with the taller tank. Of course the Ninja has a Pro Grip patch on the crotch facing portion of the seat. I truly fear what a sudden stop with a pro gripped penis and/or testicles (depending on tuck and lean)results in.
As you can see above I have a put a tail bag and tank bag on Sharon. I am trying to both dumb down and maximize my ability to carry stuff on the bike. On a long enough ride a backpack can cause shoulder fatigue. It also produces some drag. I have always carried STUFF. Because of that finding a way to make carrying easy is important.
To dumb down what I am carrying I bought a cheap tank bag. I do mean cheap quite literally. I paid $45 for it on Amazon because I was not convinced that I even wanted a tank bag.
Boy, my reservations were wrong. I love the tank bag. It is large enough that I can slide comic books in (probably an odd consideration for most riders). I can carry all of my routine daily stuff in the large pouch. That equates to comic books,work badge, phone, charger, power bank, phone cord, gum, mutli tool, swiss army knife, organizer, pens & pencils, sketchbook, iPad, iPad cord, and any hard copy book I am currently reading.
The tank bag is not large enough for a full sized legal pad. It isn’t big enough for D&D books. I also wouldn’t want to carry my pistol in it. There just isn’t much organization to the bag and who wants to have their fun sliding all over Batman’s newest cover art? I also tend to leave the tank bag on the bike except during long stops.
The tank bag came with a nice shoulder strap so it works as a purse- *ahem*-sling bag. Nah, let’s be honest, carrying a bag that size over one shoulder makes it a man purse. My masculinity can take that level of self honesty. The strap is a little flimsy and short for me. Eventually I will replace it with a wider and more durable strap. It works for now though.
My Nelson Rigg tail bag is fantastic. It also holds comics and all of the above mentioned gear easily. I use it differently. It stays mounted to the back seat. It holds my rain suit (a thing I never thought I would bother with), gloves, helmet bag, cargo net, a pen, a sharpie, my registration, my insurance card, and often my cup. On longer trips I am not against shoving a lunch bag in there too. The only draw back to this bag is that it doesn’t mount and dismount quickly. It straps under the seat. I have considered a few different quick release systems of my own design, but to date I don’t want to do the sewing. I can say that being able to use my cargo net on top of the tail bag to hold my helmet when parked is handy. I also am not afraid to strap my gym bag in that way too.
Bikers may be wondering why, since I carry all this gear, I don’t just add saddlebags. Well, I haven’t found any for the sport bike that are practical and look decent. I am going to hold off on them for the time being. If I run across something amazing I may have to post an update.
The Honda CBR250r is a great bike. It is good for a starter bike. I am already outgrowing it in some ways. My eye strays toward dual sports or super motos more and more for their height and utility. Until I graduate from the Honda it makes a great commuter or weekend day trip rider. It has the agility and speed to be a fun bike with fantastic fuel economy.
I love the sport bike riding posture. It keeps me more focused and alert than the lean of a cruiser. I don’t think I am ready to lay down on one the way you would on a Hayabusa. The Honda is extremely comfortable for its size.
If I were starting over and had the cash for the Honda or the Kawasaki my money would go to Honda. Based on the merits of the bike itself I get slightly better fuel economy for my riding style. My butt and legs are slightly more comfortable.  I do think the electric blue for the Kawasaki is slightly prettier than my patriotic paint scheme. The Ninja certainly garners more interest and casual compliments. I want a bike to ride more than to be stared at.

Now I need to go find a test ride for a KLR650 and a Vstrom to figure out my NEXT bike.

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