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The prodigal son returns home…. Honda CB250RS after 32 years and 38k miles

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As soon as I clicked on the Craigslist posting for “collectible Hondas” my eyes popped wide open. The Honda CB250RS 250cc street bike, which I had imported from the UK in 1980, was staring back at me, now for sale about 8 miles from my home. I owned the bike for a couple of years, and then traded it off at the local Honda dealer for the all-new 1983 VF750F Interceptor Sports machine. I think I recall listing the bike on the Cycle Trader magazine, but by the time that a young woman contacted me about it, the deal was done. Not to be deterred, she marched up to the Honda dealer and made a deal on it with them. I’m sure they were relieved to be able to sell it so quickly, as it is really a one-of-a-kind bike in the US.

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I was in England for vacation when I discovered the new CB250RS models being released over there. I contacted a dealer who offered it at a good price and instructed him to ship it to me in California, which he did gladly. In order to get it past Customs/EPA I had to sign a waiver that the bike was going to be used for racing purposes only and never be registered for the street. At the time I was in good graces with the local Honda dealer, so I gave them the paperwork and pretty soon I had a clean CA title for the bike and a license plate. I applied for a personalized plate CB250R and was granted that shortly thereafter.

The bike’s biggest adventure with me riding it was a trip to Laguna Seca for the GP races, with a side-trip to Craig Vetter’s place in central CA, where he was organizing one of his famous motorcycle economy runs. Several of the major manufactures were building streamliner bikes out of their Skunk works departments (not factory sanctioned), including Honda that year. There was a $100 prize for each class of participants and I entered with the CB250RS in the 250cc class. Before leaving for the event, I had given the bike a full tune-up, leaned out the main jet one size, geared the front sprocket up a tooth and added Mobil 1 synthetic oil to the engine. With 35 psi in the tires, I was ready to hit the highway.

I found Vetter’s place and wound up sleeping in a side-room Friday night, in preparation for the Saturday morning run up Hwy 1 to Carmel. We fueled up at a local station and had our fuel caps sealed, and then off we went. I had my sleeping bag and other travel gear strapped to the back of the seat and decided to just lay down on the fuel tank and keep the speed at 55mph for the whole run. Other than a big windy corner at Big Sur, which actually blew down one or two of the streamliner entrants, the ride was uneventful. I stopped at the final destination and topped up the tank. The calculation came out to about 91mpg! Surely, I must have won that class with those numbers, I thought. Apparently, not, however as a ratty old Kawasaki 250 street single claimed the first prize at 106mpg!

I slept out under the stars on Saturday night and watched all the racing on the Sunday schedule. About 4PM, I decided that I had better head home as I was due to work on Monday morning at 9AM. I lit out for the Highway and cranked up the throttle to about 75 mph and just held it there until I reached home about midnight. I only refueled twice on the return trip and the bike ran flawlessly. Top speed on the bike is about 90mph, where it gets a little skittish due to light weight (275lbs dry) and a short 52” wheelbase.

I was contacted a couple of times by the new owner, who wanted to know how to contact the Honda dealer in the UK to buy some spares as well as a luggage rack for the bike. The last time we had spoken, the bike had gone on a trip out to Utah and beyond with the miles racking up into the 20k range.

The CL posting included three bikes from the woman’s collection, including a 1966 CB160 and a 1967-ish CD90 in nice Scarlet red with about 3k miles showing on the speedometer. One of the series of photos showed the speedometer/tachometer gauges of the CB250RS… at 42,000+ miles! I contacted the seller, who turned out to be the brother-in-law of the owner who had put all the bikes in storage about 10 years previously. The posting information stated that none of the bikes ran and all had been in deep storage for a decade. After a couple of emails and phone call, I choked down my morning oatmeal and hit the freeway for the quick 15 minute drive to see the bikes. I was warned that someone was headed in from Orange County, so I hope to be there first to have a look at all the bikes. As it turns out, I was the first one there and checked them all over briefly. The CB160 was a complete bike with some pitting on the chrome and some 11k miles showing on the speedometer. The little CD90 was cute, but rather boxy and utilitarian rather than a fun little speedster like its S90 cousins.

I focused on the CB250RS when the out of town visitor made his assessment and an offer on the other two machines. Once they made their deal, the seller turned back to me to confirm our previous negotiated price and I left to go get cash and a pickup truck. After more than 30 years, my little baby CB250RS was coming back home again and I was a happy guy!

Check back for status updates on the bike, as it is resuscitated and rejuvenated back into a running machine after a 10 year sleep.

Bill “MrHonda” Silver

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