Monday, January 17, 2011

Latest Honda VTR 250 Motorcycle

onda’s VTR250 first appeared on Aussie roads in March of 1999, and with its light weight, light controls, low and narrow seat and sharp styling, it immediately struck a chord with learners, and more than a few commuters, too.

Honda VTR 250 Motorcycle
Honda VTR 250 Motorcycle
Honda VTR 250 Motorcycle

With its V-twin engine, lack of a fairing and tubular steel trellis frame, its lines hark back to a certain Italian model that can lay claim to founding the modern naked streetfighter niche (the Ducati Monster), and the while the VTR’s quarter-litre performance might not be in the same ball park, that’s no bad thing for the bulk of its intended audience – the entry-level market.
While it shares little with its litre-class namesake, the VTR1000F Firestorm, other than a V-twin engine format, the VTR250 is a nimble, agile performer, even if its horsepower output isn’t going to see its rear Bridgestone Exedra placed under too much pressure.
Honda got the VTR250 right first go – for proof look no further than the fact the model has received very little in the way of changes since its introduction, other than colour options, until now. Even the latest VTR250 isn’t a major deviation from the original equation, although it does now benefit from electronic fuel injection and updated styling.

However, the biggest question for the VTR250 today doesn’t concern the quality of the bike itself, but its place in the now very much broader learner motorcycle category. Specifically, how will its sales stack up under the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS) framework now in place everywhere in Australia, bar WA?
With riders now able to look beyond the 250cc market to a wide range of bikes up to 660cc (but complying with a maximum power-to-weight ratio), the VTR250 will need to rely on its charms more than ever before…
The VTR250 comes in a very basic, no frills format, and – for learners in particular – that’s actually a big part of its appeal. A compact liquid-cooled, 250cc, DOHC, four-stroke, 90-degree V-twin is held by a tubular steel truss-type frame, with its power put down to the ground via a cable clutch and a five-speed gearbox. Chain final drive feeds a relatively skinny 140-section Bridgestone tyre.
Stopping the show is a single 296mm disc with twin-piston Nissin caliper up the front, mated to a 220mm disc with single-piston Nissin caliper down the rear, while the suspension is also fairly basic – a conventional non-adjustable front fork and a rear monoshock, the latter adjustable for preload via a threaded collar, accessed by removing the seat and pulling back a rubber flap.
With a lack of fairing and nothing in the way of gadgets or gizmos, there’s very little here to distract from the ride itself. The analogue speedo and tacho are complemented by twin LCD displays, the left showing either one of two trip meters or the odometer, the right showing the time. The regular idiot lights complete the spartan instrumentation package.
Our test machine was fitted with Honda’s factory optional flyscreen ($207.20). The VTR250 is priced at $8490 (manufacturer’s price, excluding dealer and statutory costs), comes with a 24-month/unlimited kilometre warranty and is available in Italian Red/Accurate Silver Metallic or Graphite Black/Accurate Silver Metallic.
Off and rolling the little VTR is a pure delight, as it’s always been. This is grass roots stuff – an engine, a frame, two wheels and some basic controls – and that’s perfect for the entry-level brigade.
The moment you throw a leg over the VTR you feel completely secure and in charge. Its 775mm seat height will be low enough for most to get both feet to the ground, especially as the seat is slim, so it doesn’t splay your legs. I found the padding wasn’t especially compliant, however, although the nature of the bike will undoubtedly be attracting backsides and rider weights a little less than mine. It’s fine for around town stuff, but a sheepskin or inflatable Airhawk seat will pay dividends on interstate hauls.
That’s right, this might ‘only’ be a 250, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t tour on a VTR if the mood took you. Sure, there’s no bodywork to hide behind, and you’ll be pulling decent revs at highway speeds (100km/h in fifth equates with 6500rpm), but the VTR’s upright ride position will be a bonus on longer runs, and the nature of the engine means you’ll probably be keeping speeds to 100km/h or under, where the wind’s blast isn’t such a factor.


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