Comparison test: 17 hp motorcycles


Comparison test, Honda CB Two Fifty, Honda CMX 250 Rebel, Kawasaki Estrella 250, Yamaha XV 250

17 hp motorcycles

Because of the sports boom and chopper wave: The small 250s with 17 hp are currently experiencing a real flood.

He’s gone: the motorcyclist, the one and only. Not enough with the fact that he comes along more and more often as a driver, developed into an enduro rider or athlete, no, he also hides in a highly differentiated performance society. As if there was still need for proof, the quarter liter with 17 hp are now establishing themselves at the lower end of the market, where nothing was going on for a long time. “17 PS”, scorn questioning undertones by those who set the tone above. The little ones sell really well and often cause their importers less worries than super burners with 100 horses, which can stand like lead because of the wrong color.

Suzuki had played the last of the Mohicans for many years in the class in which German greats such as NSU, BMW or DKW once clashed. A small margin was picked from the contingent of the GN 250, which is currently becoming a status symbol in China, and offered it to the local price-conscious public. Then Kawasaki’s character bike Estrella 250 and Yamaha’s XV 250 brought a fresher consumer wind to the class, and meanwhile market research from Yamaha importer Mitsui found that people often pick up small ones for practical reasons. Keywords: weight, handling, costs. “In addition,” says press spokesman Karlheinz Vetter, “an above-average number of women use the XV 250, and many customers are over 40.” So a clientele that hardly succumbs to the charms of super athletes or hard enduro bikes, but is so numerous and affluent that now also Honda – with two straight wins – would like to win.

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Comparison test: 17 hp motorcycles

Comparison test
17 hp motorcycles

Kawasaki Estrella with its pretty single-cylinder engine, and the quite full-grown smallest Virago, the XV 250. Of course with V-twin-cylinder, but unlike the other Yamaha choppers with chain instead of cardan to the rear wheel.

However: When it comes to classifications, the little ones don’t take it too seriously. For example, only the XV keeps what chopper optics and antler handle promises. It alone is expansive enough to allow adults to enjoy freedom. Including the really big ones. It alone has an engine that conveys that minimum of sovereignty that freedom simply demands. The fifth simply stays longer than the competition, be it through town or (small) inclines. In certain speed ranges, the Viertele produces – who would have expected that – even good vibrations.

And the Honda? To cut a long story short: it is too small, the seating position is far too uncomfortable for people taller than 175 centimeters, and its engine is too nervous. Chopper eligibility failed. The small two-valve engine, known in this country in an early and pre-form since the 1970s from the CM 185, definitely has its strengths. They also come out big in the CB Two-Fifty: Even at low speeds, it hangs neatly on the gas and turns extremely willingly beyond the rated speed. The fact that it can be shifted easily and precisely, that it works quietly and in a civilized manner is almost self-evident in a Honda engine.

That leaves the only single in comparison. First of all, it gets the beauty prize, because of the timing chain slot that is wonderfully integrated into the cooling fins and the external oil riser pipe to the cylinder head. Then follows a small rebuke because he still has his choke lever on the carburetor. Finally, the sober assessment that this long-stroke engine was not a miracle of pulling and turning, but a good, only moderately vibrating unit, which, thanks to cleverly selected gear ratios, achieved an unexpected partial success on the test section. Yes, the single escapes the twins both in the sprint and at top speed.

But sometimes all the fame does not help: If the Estrella pilot weighs only a few pounds more and is a few inches taller than on the Twins, then he follows. Of course, body weight and height influence the performance of the 17 hp rider much more clearly than with more powerful engines, and so the measurement results of this comparison should be read with caution. A two hundredweight man doesn’t even come close to the values ​​determined by MOTORRAD. The final recommendation to the more difficult came out on the autobahn: the two-fifty for touring athletes, because with its high revs better conceal the lack of torque than with the Kawa. And the fat rebel took up the XV, which looked absolutely tired in Hockenheim, but could withstand weight or inclines better on the road than the CMX.

Which does not mean that on this Virago one can let the pig out. This is very effectively prevented by the protective bars, which are supposed to protect the engine and foot pedal from damage from a fall, but touch down so early, suddenly and brutally that they permanently risk the well-being of the entire machine and the driver. Red card for this nonsense, which – just like the moderately practical panniers and the windshield – sneaked into the test machine as an extra at a surcharge. After all, the Yamaha rider with underdamped shock absorbers, weak springs and an average front brake already has enough handicaps to impede the brisk locomotion. Especially in two-person operation, even smaller waves show the limits of the chassis.

It is precisely in this discipline that the much smaller Rebel of the Yamaha can lead. The pillion rider sits really badly, but at least the front brake works well and the suspension doesn’t hit the ground all the time. With moderate rebound damping you also have to deal with the Rebel, and even fast soloists notice how the entire frame twists in long, wavy curves. Of course, this causes considerable unrest, which, although never malicious, can seriously frighten newcomers or those returning to work.

The sister model Two-fifty also knows this evil, but otherwise appears noticeably more precise. It certainly plays a role that, thanks to the touring handlebar, it is easier to direct than the CMX with its giant antlers, but even in comparison with the Estrella, it is noticeable how precisely the CB turns. The high position of the footrests hampers comfort, but improves the freedom of lean angle enormously, and so the CB shows everyone how much sport is possible with 17 hp. Especially when the needle of the only rev counter oscillates around the nominal speed of 8000 rpm.

The Estrella presents itself as the pursuer, the best suspension elements help her in this endeavor, but stands that protrude far cost a few hundredths in a sharp left turn. It shreds terribly. When turning, the Kawa – just like the old British – requires a light hand, otherwise it looks a bit wobbly. The front brake just surpasses the old island standard, responds a little delayed, but can be helped out by an excellent rear disc brake. Armed in this way, brisk madnesses for two are stopped, and that’s a good thing because the Estrella – like the two-fifty – assigns the pillion an appropriate place, and because its chassis – unlike that of the Honda – holds out bravely: it doesn’t bottom out , hardly twists.

Great, great, that’s not how fun a motorcycle is. Reason also produces joy. And yet everyone would have liked to have it untroubled and therefore asks why the Kawa people have to spoil this pleasure with ancient fittings. Why is it that all candidates do not express enough in terms of equipment or chassis components that their prices are damn close to those of a CB 500. Reason or not, even joys require value.

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