Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) recently unveiled its all-new Moto3 machines – the NSF250R – which will be raced from 2012 onwards. As you would already know, the new Moto3 class, with machines powered by single-cylinder four-stroke 250cc engines, will replace 125cc two-strokes next year. The class is expected to be wildly popular and, indeed, aspiring racers will be able to buy the Honda NSF250R from December this year, for a mere 23,600 euros.
The Honda NSF250R Moto3 bike is fitted with a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, fuel-injected, single-cylinder, DOHC, 249cc engine that produces 48 horsepower at 13,000rpm and 28Nm of torque at 10,500rpm. The bike weighs a featherweight 84 kilos (kerb weight) and has a fuel tank capacity of 11 litres. Suspension components include a USD fork at the front and Pro-link monoshock at the rear. An aluminium beam frame and aluminium swingarm complete the racy little package.
As you’d expect for a machine that’s been designed for Moto3, the Honda NSF250R is fairly high-tech, with titanium valves for both the intake and exhaust, nickel silicon carbide (Ni-SiC) cylinder surface treatment for reduced friction, cassette-type close-ratio six-speed transmission and radial-mount callipers for the front brake disc. And yet, to us, the new NSF doesn’t look nearly as interesting as the early-1990s Honda NSR250R, which, along with the Suzuki RGV250 and Aprilia RS250 of the same era, was probably one of the best super-sport two-stroke 250cc streetbikes ever built.
The original Honda NSR250 made its debut back in October 1986, when it was unveiled as a 1987 model. It was nimble and quick and a ‘proper’ race-replica, and Honda made it even better in 1988 when they launched the first ‘SP’ (Sport Production) version of the NSR. Gradually, over the next few years, the NSR250R got bits like fully adjustable suspension, wider radial tyres, lighter magnesium-alloy wheels, bigger brake discs, dry clutch, racier styling and ‘Gullarm’ swingarm etc. In 1991, Honda also introduced an ‘SE’ version in addition to the SP and standard R models.
The 1992 Honda NSR250R SP was priced at 770,000 Yen and production was limited to just 1,500 units. The bike actually had a ‘memory card’ instead of a regular ignition key and bits like digital instrumentation and GPs-style ‘Proarm’ swingarm added to the cool factor. With about 45 horsepower from its two-stroke 250cc engine, and razor-sharp chassis and suspension, the Honda NSR250R was a proper scalpel for the street – on tight, twisty roads, it would easily leave bigger, more powerful sportsbikes gasping for breath. The bike remained popular until the mid-1990s, but Honda had to stop production in 1999 because of ever-tightening emissions norms.
Today, bikes like the Honda NSR250R SP, Suzuki RGV250 SP, Aprilia RS250, Yamaha TZR250R SP and Kawasaki KR-1S simply do not exist. In terms of outright performance, the existing Kawasaki Ninja 250R and new Honda CBR250R simply aren’t in the same league as their late-1980s/early-1990s predecessors. But the new Honda NSF250R could provide a gleam of hope. Maybe – just maybe – an enterprising specials builder will buy a batch of these new Honda racers and use those to build a series of street-legal machines? A street-legal Honda NSF250R with lights and turn-indicators, anyone...? :-)
1999 500cc world champ, Alex Criville in action on the new NSF250R...