Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So, I Have *Another* Obsession...

So, I've been doing the commute that will be my morning and evening bane for the foreseeable future for the past couple weeks. It's really not that terrible - sure, taking an hour to go 20 miles is pretty craptastic, on its face - because its all highway traffic. No more winding through backroads and waiting at stoplights, just stop and go on the highway.

One of the things I've noticed is that the HOV lane moves faster than the rest of the road. You need at least one passenger to legally ride in the HOV lane - or be riding a motorcycle. I can see bringing the Harley in a few times a month, but what really caught my eye was this:

Honda CBR250R. 77 mpg. HOV lane accepted. MSRP of $4,199. I've seen used ones (like 2011) for mid-$2K. Even new, that's money I could make back pretty quick over the gas mileage in the truck: At 12 MPG (what the Earthf**ker gets in traffic) compared to 77 mpg, that's over 3 gallons of gas vs. barely half a gallon in savings. Each day. The Honda will save over $9 a day in gas with gas at $3.25/gallon. It'll pay for itself in under 500 days of riding. If I took it three days a week and rode it ~ 9 months out of the year, it'd pay for itself inside of 5 years...

Yes, I know, I'm rationalizing...

If I could find one that someone bought and got bored with, that'd really be something. I understand that a 250cc bike is going to be small - that's kinda the point. At 350 pounds wet, it's going to be a snap to maneuver around town, or in the garage. And if I have to stuff it in a shed for December through February, it's not going to break my heart. I think in the spring I'll keep an eye out for a used model, and keep an eye on any open houses that the local Honda dealer might have...

Because I want to keep the Harley ready for weekend exploring, mind you...

That is all.


Mopar said...

Speaking from experience, both my own and with my wife's starter bike (Yamaha 250 Virago), you might want to consider a few things. First, 250cc bikes are small. They look normal in the picture, but that 300-500lb weight reduction isn't just the engine. They don't fit big guys. While the 250 fit my 4'13" wife pretty well, when I rode it I usually ended up sitting on the passenger seat so my arms and legs could be positioned normally.
Second, while on the weight thing, a 300lb bike is downright scary on a highway! Those Dodge Earthf*ckers will move ya around, and tractor trailers are a more exciting then any roller coaster.
Last, your H-D should also be good to go in the HOV lane, and if you really rode 3 days a week, rain/shine/snow/cold, the difference in gas between the H-D and that Honda is only $250/year or less. It would take at least 10yrs of that to break even. Just ride the Harely. At least you'll be comfortable, have some storage space, and at least be a little more visability.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't wait till spring. Buy it now. When the weather sucks, nobody is shopping for bykes.

The best time to buy is Dec-Feb, on a VERY cold day, when it's raining.


Dave H said...

I understand Borepatch is looking to upgrade, and he currently has a 250. (I think it's a Rebel.)

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

I'm not an expert at all, but I expect that you'll want more power than a 250 can give you when you're dealing with NoVA traffic. Acceleration can be just as important as braking and maneuverability when you get in a pinch because somebody else does something stupid, and I doubt a 250 has enough oomph to get out of the way in a pinch.

Alien said...

Broaden your search. Honda makes a "sort of" off-road bike, the XR650, which needs only street tires (although the universal trials tires it come with work fairly well on the street), and it's only a couple grand more than the CBR250 new. Gas mileage is about the same. Used, they're in the $3-3.5K range.

Advantages: much broader torque curve, making it easier to ride. The 250 crotch rockets are nice bikes, but you'll wear a hole in your left shoe shifting it to stay in power band - there's a reason it's a 6-speed. Seating position on the XR650 is more upright, offering better visibility. The 650 is air-cooled, the 250 is water-cooled, so with the 250 you're doing cooling system maintenance every couple of years.
FYI, a Honda-sponsored 650 won Baja a while back (IIRC, the second one finished pretty close to the front as well; operative word there is "finished." Baja is pretty darn tough on equipment).

Disadvantages: smaller fuel capacity, 2.8 gallons on the 650 vs 3.4 on the 250. There are aftermarket tanks for the 650, though, and a few luggage racks.

On the CBR250 you can be Randy Racer, not so on the XR650. But if I had to pick one to always get me there and back, it'd be the XR.

AndyN said...

Talk to your insurance agent first. I thought about this a few years back, and I was stunned by the difference in price they quoted me between a 250 Rebel and a 250 Ninja. I'm sure it was partly because they're on the hook for more body work if you wreck a sport bike, but also because the numbers tell them people who buy a Ninja or CBR are more likely to ride like morons than people who buy cruisers.

If you keep the Harley and get a multi vehicle discount it might not matter, but for me the cost of the bike plus insurance would have eaten up anything I saved in gas.

Mopar said...

I still say, since Jay already has a (big, comfy) bike, unless he finds some AMAZING deal, it's not going to be a significant savings. Jay's current bike is rated for somewhere around 45/55mph highway. I know that's not real world, but it's a reasonable and equal comparison to the EPA ratings of other bikes. Going back to his initial example of 20 miles each way, 3 days a week, 9 months a year we get 4320 miles a year. Going by the EPA rating, that's 56gal of gas for the Honda 250, and about 86gal for his Harley. That's a difference of 30 gallons a year. at $3.50/gal, that's $105 a year savings, and you have to offset that by the cost of insurance for a 2nd bike since he wants to keep the first one. Financially it doesn't make any sense at all.
Now, never let me be the one to put money before toys, so if ya WANT one, buy one. Just don't do it to save money.

Borepatch said...

Two points, per Dave H's comment.

1. This looks like it might be more comfortable than my Rebel (upright seating configuration). However, I haven't ridden one, so can't say for sure. And everyone's taste is different.

2. A used Rebel is easy to find in the $2000 price point. Makes the break even about 9 months.

3. (yeah, I know I said 2; sue me) My Rebel is more than a little scary at 70 MPH - the wind buffeting is pretty intense because the bike is so light weight. Might be a bit better with a fairing/windscreen, but maybe not. However, if you're in NOVA traffic you're probably going 30 MPH.

Also, not sure I'm buying Mopar's figures. I'm saving ~ $75/month riding the Rebel rather than driving the Jeep. The Jeep looks like it gets twice the mileage as your truck. I'd think it'd be a slam dunk for you to save $150/month, which will get you a used Rebel in a year.

Oh yeah, riding in July/August will suck. 95 degrees and 95% humidity, and breathing hot exhaust fumes. However, you can probably ride all winter except for January.

Borepatch said...

One other thought: Honda claims 85 MPG for the Rebel 250, and I don't see that. My riding is around town, but that's sort of like the I-495 stop and go.

I do think I get north of 70, though. Literally, YMMV.

Jim said...


Find a good used Suzuki GS-500-F, or the older E model (no fairing), if it's in pristine condition.

Big enough to fit you, enough power to do the commute. Mileage within +/- 5mpg of the 250.

One of the most solid, reliable and simple bikes Suzuki has ever made. Even has better than decent handling.

Given that I'm a HARD CORE Honda fan, giving the 'zook that praise IS High Praise, to the max.

Dig one out of a multi state Craigslist search. They're pretty common.

If you get one, I've no doubt you'll thank me later. Box of cigars would do nicely!

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Mopar said...

Borepatch, my numbers were comparing the honda 250 to the motorcycle he ALREADY owns, not to his truck. Using his 120 mile a week estimate, there there is less then 1 gallon a week difference between the 2 bikes. $3 a week difference between a tiny, uncomfortable and underpowered bike with no storage and a big comfortable ride with lots of storage and a stereo.

Laura said...

i would never, EVER ride a 250 in Baltimore traffic. a 250 in DC traffic is suicide.

RollsCanardly said...

Hi, Jay. Take a look at something like a Suzuki DRZ-400SM (a dual-sport with superbike tires and brakes - mine weighs about 300 lbs and gets 72 mpg) or a Suzuki DR-650 dual-sport. They're both tall enough that you can see over most other vehicles, have good throttle response and great brakes at commuting speeds, and get good mileage. The only drawback to the 400 is the small gas-tank (have to refuel about every hundred miles) and the seat, which is about as wide and comfortable as a pressure-treated 2x6.

Firehand said...

Current-version 250cc bikes are generally a lot more powerful than the Rebel I had- Lord, nearly 20 years ago! It would take me(6', about 185) down the highway at 60, but not much more; newer stuff I'm told is a lot better on that.

I'll throw in that around-town riding, that Rebel was wonderful; do the basic maintenance and it would run and run and run; I think I generally got about 45-50mpg. And, as you say, small & light is very nice for parking and such.