Honda CBR250R vs Bajaj Pulsar F250: The Best 250cc Bikes In The Segment Put To Test.
Article by Drivio | 28th Mar 23
The Bajaj Pulsar F250 is Bajaj’s latest bike based on the new venerable 250cc platform. We see if it’s good enough to challenge the segment’s current winner, the Honda CBR250R.
- The Honda CBR250R’s 249cc engine makes 26.5PS and 22.9Nm.
- Bajaj has tuned the F250’s 249cc engine to make 24.5PS and 21.5Nm.
- In terms of looks, the F250 is unmistakably a Pulsar, while boasting of some modern elements as well.
Bajaj introduced the first quarter-litre Pulsars, the F250 and the N250, in October last year. While the Pulsar N250 takes care of the streetfighter rivals, the Pulsar F250 faces a close rival from its family, the Honda CBR250R. So, to find out which one takes the top spot, we let the numbers speak for themselves.
Honda CBR250R vs Bajaj Pulsar F250: Design & Features
|Features||Honda CBR250R||Bajaj Pulsar F250|
None of these bikes particularly stand out when it comes to features. Where the Bajaj Pulsar F250 pulls ahead of the CBR is with its new semi-digital instrument console with a "infinity display." It has an analogue tachometer and a digital inset that displays speed, fuel level, gear position, and distance-to-empty readouts, as well as other standard information.
Unfortunately, no connectivity features are available, even as an option. This is also the first Pulsar to come standard with a USB charging port. These Pulsars were also disappointing in terms of fit and finish. The black surround for the fairing extends onto the tank unevenly, the panel gaps for the fairing panels were inconsistent, and all of the bikes had scuff marks on the headlamp fascia.
According to Bajaj, these issues will be addressed soon. So, while the Pulsar has been modernised, it isn't exactly modern, and the wow factor isn't breaking new ground.
The CBR250R, meanwhile, makes do with a semi-digital cluster, one that does look rather dated in today’s modern day and age. There’s a tiny LCD console under it, which is slightly hard to read under hard sunlight.
Honda CBR250R vs Bajaj Pulsar F250: Engine & Gearbox
|Specifications||Honda CBR250R||Bajaj Pulsar F250|
|Engine||249cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder||249.07cc single-cylinder 2-valve air/oil-cooled|
The classic Pulsar formula returns with the F250. It has an air-and-oil-cooled 2-valve, single-cylinder engine with a displacement of 249cc for its wow factor. The engine produces the same amount of power as the NS200, and its 21.5Nm of torque is the highest we've seen on a Pulsar to date.
Yes, the Pulsar only has five gears, but performance isn't lacking, so if you plan on riding long distances, even with a pillion, you'll find it allows you to relax on the motorway as well. With a tank capacity of 14 litres and a claimed fuel efficiency of 39 kmpl, you'll have usable highway range as well. The F has better highway wind protection, making it the better all-arounder. In other ways, however, they are comparable.
The Honda CBR250R, meanwhile, does feel a lot smoother than the F250. Its six-speed gearbox also means highway cruising is that much easier and the bike can do about 120kmph all day long.
Honda CBR250R vs Bajaj Pulsar F250: Suspension, Tyres & Brakes
|Specifications||Honda CBR250R||Bajaj Pulsar F250|
|Front suspension||Telescopic fork||Telescopic fork|
|Rear suspension||Monoshock||Gas-charged monoshock|
|Front brake||300mm disc||300mm disc|
|ABS||Dual-channel ABS||Optional dual channel|
The Pulsar, like the Dominar, has 37mm telescopic forks up front and a monoshock at the rear with 130mm of wheel travel. The tyres are also larger than the 220F's, and are a match for the NS200. This setup was taut, not plush, but it absorbed bumpy concrete roads with ease.
The braking system has also been upgraded, with 300mm front discs and 230mm rear discs. The Pulsar's major flaw is the lack of dual channel ABS, even as an option!
While Pulsars are designed to thrive on the street, they should also be able to compete on the track. The grit of the new Pulsars will be thoroughly tested on the track, as they will have to make the most of less.
The Honda’s braking system, on the other hand, feels pliant and impressive, especially mid corners. The slightly longer wheelbase also means that straight line stability is that much better.
Honda CBR250R vs Bajaj Pulsar F250: Dimensions
|Dimensions||Honda CBR250R||Bajaj Pulsar F250|
|Fuel tank capacity||13-litres||14-litres|
None of the bikes are particularly large on paper and they feel the same when you ride them too. The CB is slightly bigger in multiple aspects when compared to the F250 but it masks its weight rather well. Both bikes are quick on their feet and changing directions is a breeze, making commuting quite a joy.
Along with its performance, the Pulsar's practicality has contributed to its popularity. Its 795m seat height allows 5'6" riders like me to put both feet flat, and it feels slim. The rider and pillion are also given well-padded, spacious seats. While these are split seats, the pillion will not feel uncomfortable because the seat is only slightly higher than the rider's.
The rider still feels as if he is sitting "on" the bike rather than "in" it. Because the tubular handlebar is wider and farther away from the rider, the Frider's250 has a slightly sportier seating position. The clip-on handlebars on the 250F are astonishingly higher and closer to the rider, providing more upright, friendlier ergos for commuting. So there you have it.
The CBR250R, is just that little bit better when flipping from one side to the other, than the F250, whose steering geometry and overall feel is a little bit more lazy than the Honda.
Honda CBR250R vs Bajaj Pulsar F250: Price
|Price||Honda CBR250R||Bajaj Pulsar F250|
|Ex-showroom Delhi||Rs 1.65 lakh onwards||Rs 1.40 lakh onwards|
The Pulsar F250, when talked about the price, then comes off as the better price, doesn’t it? Well, yes, and no. You see, the Pulsar is very competitively priced but to achieve the same, Bajaj has cut corners as well. In terms of build quality and smoothness, the Pulsar F250 cannot match the CBR.
Talking about the CBR250R, it does cost a whole lot more than the Pulsar, but what it gives is a much better experience as well. And that does make it somewhat worth the experience that the bike gives.
One thing is certain: the F250’s engine is the star of the show. It has broad shoulders and easily handles city, pillion, and highway duties. Its grunt is also useful on the track. On the track and on the road, the F250 appears to be a complete package, as its price, looks, ergonomics, and performance distinguish it as the 220F's successor, and a fitting one at that.
Despite the years of delay in the arrival of the new generation Pulsars, it appears that these are content to rest on their past achievements rather than seeking new ones. So these are a new breed of Pulsars that won't wow or thrill you with segment-first features and benchmark-setting mechanicals.
The price, while reasonable, does not bring a Bajaj-esque VFM equation to the segment. As a result, these motorcycles toe a line that characterises them as rational rather than emotional. So, yes, the Pulsar is back, but not in the way we expected.
The Honda CBR250R, on the other hand, promises of a richer riding experience with its butter-smooth engine, slick gearbox and overall better versatility to handle different things better than the Pulsar.