The Honda CBR 250R is an entry-level sportbike with more power than you’d expect on a 250cc motor.
Its liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor is renowned for its reliability.
That said, as there have been a few cases of CBR 250R owners reporting similar issues, we made it our duty to snake through the CBR forums to bring you the three most common problems with the Honda CBR 250R.
Table of Contents
1. Stalls When Downshifting (3 Examples)
We’ve encountered a myriad of 250R owners who complained that their motorcycle would randomly stall after disengaging the clutch and downshifting.
All reports specify that the bike comes back on as soon the rider pushes the starter button.
Over time, explained one rider, the frequency of the stalls seems to increase. Anytime he downshifts or pulls in the clutch, and the revs drop to idle, his 2011 250R bike dies.
For this rider, the issue ended up being a vacuum leak and a faulty fuel pump—more on vacuum leaks below.
Another rider we heard from reported that their 2012 CBR 250R had this problem from the get-go. They’d pull the clutch in, and the CBR breaks, begins to downshift, then the engine turns off. The electrical panel and lights stay on, but the engine stalls out.
The 250R owner brought it back to the dealership at about 400 miles for the break-in tune-up, and the dealership adjusted the valves per the tune-up and was then unable to replicate the problem.
Once back on the road, however, the engine stalled just like before, so it was straight back to the dealership.
However, this time, as the dealership could not replicate the problem, the rider replicated it before the mechanic’s eyes. At this point, a Honda regional representative got involved, bringing with them a special diagnostic tool.
Here’s where it gets weird.
While the Honda rep attached the tool, they were unable to replicate the problem. In fact, diagnostically, the CBR 250R checked out fine. As soon as he took the bike back, it stalled out during a downshift, twice in a row.
We’d love to report that this was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the case.
A 2012 CBR 250R owner was cruising in 6th at 45 mph with a hot engine, far away from the stall-out territory. This rider reports approaching a yield sign on their way to turn right to enter the on-ramp to the highway.
They pulled in the clutch to coast around the corner and downshifted to 4th. When they started to let out the clutch, the CBR 250R owner noticed that the engine had stalled, and their dash display died.
Thanks to their awareness of the infamous downshift-stall-out problem the CBR 250R is known for, they knew just what to do.
The rider yanked the clutch in immediately, keyed the starter, and the bike fired right back up. This is a dangerous situation to be in, losing power in the middle of kicking down two gears and rolling onto the highway without power.
The owner of a 2013 CBR 250R claims that the engine stalls out when downshifting regularly, specifically at the point when the throttle is released and the clutch is disengaged. They note that the frequency of the downshifting stall happens at least once a week. As at the time of writing, the engine stalling had occurred 4 times in the past 4 weeks.
They purchased their CBR 250R brand new in 2013 and reported that they took it back to the dealer multiple times. But the dealer couldn’t diagnose the problem since they couldn’t reproduce it. Therefore Honda couldn’t do anything.
Please also read our article about how long the Honda CBR 250R lasts.
3 Possible Causes of the Mysterious Downshift Stall on the CBR 250R
The mystery downshifting stall-out has been discussed in the forums since 2011, but Honda has never officially addressed the issue or issued a recall.
The forums claim that Honda chalks it up to be a few isolated incidents continued by internet rumors.
We have no intentions of disputing or confirming their claim. I only bring it up to disclaim the following theories as information I picked up from home/non-Honda mechanics.
Keep that in mind when reading the following two theories on the cause of the CBR 250R’s problem of stalling out while downshifting.
One mechanic states that the CBR 250R’s fuel injection shuts off the RPMs rocket above a specific number, and the throttle is closed. The injector kicks back on once the RPMs drop below a set value, something around 2,000 RPMs.
His theory, then, is that the injection isn’t kicking back on when it should. If this first theory is correct, Honda would need to flash the fuel computer with a safer RPM Value map for the initial injection.
Another possibility is that the “rest setting” of the idle air valve is too low and that Honda needs to change the idle air valve.
These are both big asks from a company like Honda, as any changes to fuel control will require recertifying the emissions.
Another home mechanic we encountered thinks that the culprit is a bad sensor signal. EFI systems equip sensors that tell the ECU about the environmental conditions of the engine, such as:
- air temp
- coolant temp
- throttle position
- manifold pressure
- crankshaft speed
- crankshaft position
A vacuum leak is one of the most common situations that can throw off a sensor.
Anywhere on the bike where rubber boots and hoses are fastened to intakes by clamps can leak. If the CBR was assembled in haste, this could happen before it even leaves the factory.
The official CBR 250R service manual has tests for these intakes and adjustment procedures.
Make sure to also read our article about common problems with the Honda CBR 1100XX Blackbird.
2. Metallic Grinding Noise Coming from Engine
This section aims to address a less common issue, but there are certainly enough complaints about grinding noise coming from Honda CBR 250R engines to warrant including it in this article.
Now, to be clear, the little single-cylinder clangs and bangs to a mild extent, as many motors do; some engine noise is normal.
What we’re talking about is when a new grinding sound develops over time. The first CBR 250R owner I ever heard mention it claimed that their bike hit the 5,000 miles without the metallic noise. Once he cleared 5K miles, though, a grinding metal noise started at all revs.
Because it didn’t start until 5,000 miles, the rider felt that the sound was far from “normal.”
This “common” sound tends to indicate isolated incidents, not a defect or even a trend.
Still, let’s take a look at how to track down the culprit, and then we’ll examine the most common cause we’ve heard.
What to Do If Your Honda CBR 250R’s Engine Makes a Metallic Grinding Noise
Ideally, you’d want to seek out an expert diagnosis.
Aside from that, here are a few troubleshoots others have used in the past to isolate the issue.
- Always check your oil levels first! More on this below.
- It never hurts to check screws, nuts, and fasteners for looseness. Putting your wrench on all your components is more than just security; it might reveal a loose part that’s grinding against something else in a way that isn’t intended. Putting your wrench on all the fasteners is a part of routine maintenance on any motorcycle, regardless, but it is vital for a single cylinder.
- If the grinding noise happens while idling after fire-up, let the bike idle in neutral while still on the side stand. Walk around the bike, listening for the source of the grinding sound. This will give you a better idea of what sounds are standard and where precisely the sound is coming from; a good start for providing helpful information towards a mechanic down the road even if you can’t resolve the issue yourself.
Now, presumably, you’ve checked your oil levels first. The reason we suggest this?
What’s the Most Common Cause for the Grinding Noise on a Honda CBR 250R?
A lack of lubrication due to low oil levels is the most common cause of the grinding noise on a CBR 250R. This isn’t a defect or a poor design, but due to owner negligence.
The CBR 250R is a small beast that doesn’t hold much oil, and if the level gets low, it doesn’t take much time to starve your oil pump. That grinding noise is often the result of friction between parched metal components.
If ridden past this point, you will cause engine damage. It could be anything between extreme heat on the rod and crank and scouring on the piston or an overheating engine that eventually needs to be rebuilt.
Also read our article about common problems with the Honda Shadow 750.
3. Electronic Related Malfunctions
Again, these are a series of isolated incidents, but we’ve included them to expedite your troubleshooting. A few riders have complained about malfunctions related to the Honda CBR 250R’s electronics.
An owner of a 2013 CBR250R, for example, claimed that his gas tank quit registering its contents correctly a year after he got the bike. His tank always shows full, he reports, even if it’s half full or near empty.
Another CBR 250 owner reported a broken ABS sensor and a faulty dash light, meaning that the backlight of his dash display no longer functions.
That second issue doesn’t affect the bike mechanically. Still, the rider reports not seeing their speed at night and claims it’s a common problem and that it was expensive to fix, but we were unable to find any official statements that confirmed this information.
One could theorize that it’s the result of failing sensors due to leaks, as outlined in the theory above, but without input from a Honda engineer, this remains a theory.
General Pros and Cons of the Honda CBR 250R
Here are some pros of the CBR 250R:
- The CBR 250R boasts a water-cooled, 249cc, single-cylinder motor that’s easy to work on.
- It’s a fuel-injected bike, a unique feature in a beginner bike.
- The CBR 250R has an internal counter-balancer that smooths out the single’s operation.
- It’s got a decent mid-range, so you don’t have to spike it to 10,500 RPM between shifts like on other starter bikes.
- Not to mention, this little ripper has style.
The following are common issues with the CBR 250R:
- Stalls When Downshifting
- Metallic Grinding Noise Coming From Engine
- Electronic Related Malfunctions
What Do the Reviews Say?
In the 6,050 miles we ran before Honda repoed the bike, we had zero mechanical issues, despite a few track days. The fact is that, even in normal riding, the engine spent much of its life at 8,000-plus rpm. The one maintenance expense came at 4,000 miles: a multipoint inspection with clutch and idle adjustment. We checked the oil often, but it never needed a drop.
The CBR250R was light, nimble, fun, and reliable, all with a low MSRP. Trackday beginners enjoyed the bike, as did Editor-at-Speed Eric Bostrom. And while we were able to click off those long highway days, the best use of the 250 was, of course, just ripping around town with ease and efficiency.
What’s the Resale Value on a Honda CBR 250R
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.