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CBF 250 - My New Bike!

Blog Date - 11 November 2013

Well it has been done. The old Fazer has been chopped in against a smaller, less powerful motorcycle. 

I've been agonising for well over 6 months about getting a new bike. A brand new bike. The CB 500 X really tickled my fancies but the 2 Honda dealers never quite put together a deal that made it all seem worthwhile. The Suzuki Inazuma ticked a fair few boxes but one dealer didn't manage to tempt me and the other one made me feel sick with his lack of product knowledge and downright lies. Because I'm so tight some people think I'm super rich. I'm not. I have enough money for a brand new bike but it would cripple my savings. If I were to spend 3 to 5 grand it needed to be something really special. 

After almost 5 years of ownership I'd tired of the Fazer. It was a most excellent machine. Smooth, powerful, completely reliable over the 37,000 miles I rode it for and able to carry inordinate amounts of luggage. Considering my 600 was 12 years old it returned 60 mpg which is still comparable to modern fuel injected 600's of today. There was nothing at all wrong with the Fazer but...but I never loved it. We are all quite unique and I know the FZS 600 is a much loved model but somehow it was...well...just...allright. I shall not hear a bad word said about it, it just wasn't endearing to me.

So to the CBF. I was losing heart in the search for that special deal on that special new bike. Then I spotted a CBF 250 for sale at the back-street dealer who's website I look after. G and C Motorcycles is not a shiny showroom filled with mint motorcycles it's a scruffy garage down a short dirt track. I knew the bike would not be tip-top and Callum clearly stated in the advert that it already had a "Cat-D" insurance claim against it. But for £1,500 it was cheap enough and not too big a risk. 

The CBF 250 puts out just a tad less power than the Suzuki Inazuma I'd been looking at. It weighs considerably less, tipping the scales at 154 kg fully wet at the kerb side. A brief look online suggests it ought to return 75 to 95 mpg and hold a steady 70 mph. That all suited me fine. A test ride on the bike confirmed a few more things. It's definitely not as quick as the Fazer!. It's a hell of a lot lighter and easier to ride. I love hearing that single thrumming away rather than the buzz of the four potter. It will do 70 mph and this particular machine seemed to ride straight and true. It also has massive tick-over issues.

A brief look online suggested carb problems or tappets. I suspected tappets as the tickover was rising as the engine got hot. I'll explain properly in another article one day. I knew this could be fixed but I've never actually done "shim" tappets before so I was apprehensive. Never the less Callum offered me a better than average exchange for the Fazer and I'd started to like the little 250. A deal was struck.

I enjoyed the ride home thoroughly. The goddam tickover needed adjustment at every stop and I missed the power on the motorway yet I relished the ride through my country lanes. It's so light! Corners are flicked around not piloted. The single pot motor may only produce a paltry 21 bhp but it's a determined little git that pulls like a shire horse up the steepest of inclines. It is rather like my CBF 125 that I already love but with that extra punch. Happy boy.

It now sits in my living room with the rocker cover off and the camshafts out. The tolerances on the tappets cannot be measured as yet...as there is NO gap!. Plans are in place to remedy this and give it a damn good service, something I think it's lacked in it's 10,000 mile life. I've been concerned about how much load it can carry. I need not be, the Fazer's rated at 173 kg, the CB 500 X is also rated at 173 kg, the sticker under the seat on the CBF 250 rates the maximum load at 175 kg. Go figure. Anyhow I'd better go, I need to see if I can find a shim small enough to at least calculate what size of shims I need...

black cbf 250 with the rocker cover off in a living room
Wellllll....it's cold and wet outside isn't it.

honda cbf 250 top end with camshaft and valves visible
It's all apart, just got to get the shims sorted out.

Reader's Comments

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You KNOW you wanna...
Latchy said :-
Hope you get lots of satisfaction on it mate, fancy a race over Belmont! Hope this link works.
http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/Honda/honda_cbf250%2004.htm

Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Latchy.

The blurb must have come from a Honda brochure. "...engine that starts quickly with the push of a button..." my arse! I know mine needs works but the one recurring issue on the forums is that they're a bitch to start and warm up.

I'll let you know when my tappets are done if it's a maintenance problem or a general issue.

Only time will tell what I make of it, but for £1,500 I was happy to take the risk. Ya never know until you try.

Tom McQ said :-
Let's start a CB250 Club :-)

Ren - The Ed said :-
Hey Tom! Good idea...how about we get yours running first eh?

John De ville said :-
I reckon that piece of string might have sumert to do with the bad tick over pal.................. other than that, good looking little bike.....:)

Tom McQ said :-
I'll drop it off at yours for fettling Ren.

Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm already out of room Tom. I'll come fettle it in your executive garage as long as free tea is provided.

Ren - The Ed said :-
John - That piece of string is an expensive genuine Honda service part (#HonStr006005667884). To be honest I would have expected to use a piece of wire but the genuine Honda manual INSISTS that their specific piece of string is used. Who am I to argue with Honda. As you well know I would NEVER bodge a job or do it half cocked.

Sharon said :-
Going to miss James the Fazer͵ I had a soft spot for him. He was so comfy and took us on some fantastic adventures togther. Goodbye James thanks for the memories.

Ren - The Ed said :-
Awwwww...! Ya making me sad Sharon. But things change, you've got your own bike now and "James" the Fazer was getting on.

Daf said :-
It's interesting to read about your adventures with your CBF250 and the issues you've had with the shims and carburettor. I'm a high milage CBF250 rider and the dreaded clearances on mine are just going out of spec enough for me to need to replace the shims. I also noticed that you go to Rivington a lot? I'm from North Wales, but am often in Lancashire. I might go to Riv this weekend.

Anway, keep writing, I think reading your blog is my new way of keeping some sanity in my life!

Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Daf

NO WAY! That's 3 CBF 250's I know of in the world! Now, if you happen to know where I can get an oversize pilot jet for the bike that'd be great.

As for Rivi...yip I go there an awful lot! As I live REAL close I sometimes use the CBF 125, sometimes the CBF 250. I dunno if you're on facebook but if you look for ren withnell you'll find me and we can meet at Rivi sometime. Either that or I'll come to Wales and you can make me a brewski.

Daf said :-
Yes way! There may not be too many of us about, but it seems that CBF 250 riders are a tough lot... I'm actually on my 2nd one (so now have a spare engine lol). Good news as I'm doing about 12K miles a year. Have you come across the workshop manual for it? I have a copy if you need.

I've added you on facebook mate, I'm in the area at the moment as it happens. You should pay North Wales a visit and come for a ride out with my mates in Llyn Bikers!

Out of interest, how similar do you find the 125 vs the 250 CBF? Are the engines similar or related units? Thinking of parts commonality... I know the 125 is an SOHC unit. Erm... Maybe re the pilot jet... There's a Brazillian version of Ebay that sells a lot of parts for the 'CBX 250' - AkA the CBF's Brazillian designation... Can't remember the address (and you'd need to use google translate to buy) but I'll look it up after monday if you'd like?

Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Daf

I reckon I'll cover about 8k miles on the 250 this year, plus another 10 or 11k on the 125. I've got a digital copy of the workshop manual that's been translated from Brazilian I think. It's got what I need.

Got the FB add, cheers.

There are absolutely NO similarities between the CBF 125 and the CBF 250, other than "CBF". The 125 is fuel injected, twin shock, completely different in design throughout and runs like a well oiled sewing machine, with about the same power.

I'd love to find the Brazilian site. I believe the 250 is made in Brazil (the 125 was made in India, now in Thailand) and that they are much more common there, in Portugal and Australia too it seems.

Daf said :-
Yep, that's decent milage... it's nice to see someone who A) doesn't need a litre bike to be a real biker, and who B) doesn't fall into the camp of '15 grand and 1500 miles and look what a biker I am' camp!

Yeah, that's the manual I have... bits of it are a bit lacking in translation - don't make as much sense as they should.

Hmm, that is surprising actually. Oh well, that's Honda's logic for you!

I'll get you the link when I get home on monday night when I have access to my main computer again - I don't know if the sellers on there will do postage to the UK though - there's nothing I've really needed big enough to justify trying yet, though my exhaust downpipe has seen better days and probably won't go through another winter. Just flakes away no matter how much wire brush time and paint I put on it!

Dave said :-
Hello all, I'm struggling to find a good resource of parts and info on the cbf250, so thanks for sharing this. I too ride it all year and have come to terms with its many "features". One thing new to me is the start of what sounds like knock / detonation. I bought the bike with zero exhaust valve clearance from a mate who is religiously averse to maintenance, and when I reshimmed it, I noticed that there is some valve and seat damage. 10k later, I'm starting to hear a bit of detonation with full throttle... I'm going to take it off the road to do a load of winter work anyway - calipers, replace the rusty downpipe etc, etc. so I was tempted to sort out the head... but I've never put new valve seats in. Any advice?

Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Dave

I've never put in new valve seats either! Tell you what though, I'd love you to send me some pictures and images and maybe some details when you do it all. I'd love to add it to the website for other readers!

Dave said :-
No problem... looks a bit daunting from what I've seen on the internet so far but things are always a lot easier once you've got the thing in bits and on the workbench. I'll try to video all of the jobs as I do them over the winter.
Funny little bike really, super addictive... I bought it as a cheap knackered runabout while I stripped my TDM down, now it's my only bike.. I just wish it had a bit more engine capacity to help on the motorway without having to go to the complexity of a watercooled twin like the '500.

Daf said :-
I'd be very interested in more information on reconditioning the valves/replacing valve seats. I've got 36,000 miles on mine, and before I bought it I don't think the clearances had been looked at... So the valves may not be as gas tight as they used to be. So a video would be really helpful, thanks Dave. Out of interest, what is the expected lifespan on these engines??

 

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