Honda NSR 250


Driving report, Honda NSR 250

Honda NSR 250

Fans of fiery two-stroke engines can look forward to: With an effective catalyst, ex-racing driver Hans Becker makes the super sporty Honda NSR 250 socially acceptable again.

In the battle for the Japanese motorcycle market, Nippon’s engineers will not shy away from anything. Slender 4oo four-cylinder engines with penny-sized valve plates compete with the 250 two-stroke engines. All disguised as deceptively real replicas of successful super sports cars, the dwarves serve as a technical status symbol of the 250/400 class, which is hotly contested in Japan. Or as a tribute to the world championship racing machines that, with a few Italian exceptions, dominate the world’s racing tracks.

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Honda NSR 250

Driving report
Honda NSR 250

NSR 250 from Honda, which not only flaunts the external attributes of the successful RS 250 production racers. Strict emission values ​​in this country make it difficult for the uncompromising two-stroke engines to pass the approval hurdles. But where there is a will, there is usually a way, and so the former GP driver and two-stroke specialist Hans Becker supplies the sworn two-stroke community with the icing on the cake from the Far East. Becker prescribes an unregulated catalytic converter in the rear muffler for the smoking racers, which in some cases reduces pollutant emissions well below the legally prescribed values ​​(see box on page 49) and thus brings the high-performance two-stroke engine, believed dead in Germany, back to life.

Under the slim plastic Honda NSR 250 R dress, the modified V 2 engine of the 1992 production racing machine ensures crisp performance. Of course, the water-cooled two-cylinder has all the refinements of modern high-performance engines: electronic flap control on the two-part exhaust duct, digital ignition system, quick-change gearbox, electronically controlled flat slide carburettor in front of the six-blade diaphragm inlet.

For the Japanese market trimmed to 45 HP, which is suitable for a driver’s license, the Honda engine breathes freely after the Becker treatment. A strong 60 hp propel just 155 kilograms, so there is no need for any further explanations on the subject of maneuverability and driving dynamics – just a real bicycle. But do not worry, the little Honda doesn’t lapse into nervous fidgety, but rather follows the ideal line in every situation. A sense of balance is only necessary when anchoring, when the compact Honda comes along with the powerful bite of the double disc brake with a floating rear wheel.

This is also the reason why the flyweight occasionally has to give way to obese big bikes when competing on the race track, in order to make up for the lost meters in the fastest way seconds later in an acrobatic incline. Despite the somewhat too soft basic set-up, the NSR 250 is by no means lacking in directional stability and steering precision. On the slim 110 and 150 17-inch tires, the flyweight willingly lays itself in the deepest lean position, which only comes to an early end with sparking sparks at the massive pivot point of the side stand. Attempts with a wide 160 mm slipper brought an increase in ground clearance, but robbed the NSR 250 of much of its cornering ability.

The Honda owes its superior stability to the combination of a solid aluminum bridge frame and the extravagant single-sided swing arm. The fact that this is a mirror image of the counterpart of the factory racer is due to the fact that the drive of the RS racing engines in 1993 was unusually relocated to the right side of the gearbox. The advantages of the one-arm construction compared to conventional two-arm swing arms: more space for the exhaust system on the right-hand side and a quick wheel change. The disadvantage: relatively stiff axle bearings due to large bearings and Simmerrings and a higher weight compared to an equally rigid two-arm swing arm.

The Honda technicians demonstrate perfection in the tuning of the NSR engine, which starts purring from 2000 rpm without hesitation and marches through with powerful torque into the red area. Creaking drops in performance, such as those exhibited by the 250cc RGV engine from Suzuki or Aprilia, are completely alien to the Honda two-stroke engine. In addition, the NSR pilot benefits from the tightly stepped, but somewhat bony shifting six-speed gearbox. The two-stroke engine masters inner-city traffic jostling discreetly and quietly at moderate engine speeds. No annoying jerking, no speed orgies, no annoyance. Only the tingling engine vibrations cannot be suppressed even by an elastic rubber mount that decouples the engine from the chassis. In contrast to the current RS racing engines, the V-engine works without a vibration-inhibiting balance shaft.

A pleasant surprise then at the petrol station: after 100 kilometers of full-throttle operation on the race track, the NSR engine requires 10.5 liters of unleaded, in mixed country roads it is just under six liters – almost economical for two-stroke conditions. The Hondas NSR 250 shows its best side on winding and bumpy country roads. The adjustable spring elements sensitively absorb patches of all kinds. Neither bumps nor longitudinal grooves force the Honda from the targeted line. Even if the seating position is clearly characterized by sportiness, the NSR driver is spared from unreasonable agony. Only the passenger has nothing to laugh about on his rock-hard snack board. In terms of equipment, the Honda corresponds to the current state of affairs. Perfect switches and fittings, digital speedometer and, as a nice gag, the so-called key card, a small, encoded plastic card as a key replacement and entry ticket to the conspiratorial club of two-stroke freaks.

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