Honda VTR250 Cafe-Rat Fighter
BEHOLD! A custom 1989 VTR 250 Interceptor: fully prepped for the season and ready for a new rider. This is the thoughtful person’s 250 - a punchy v twin with a 14000 rpm red line and a 6 speed transmission capable of highway riding even with my 6’3 200+ pound frame.
It’s also lighter than the cbr250 and ninja 250, while making more power and handling better. I’ve ridden all 3 and while they are great bikes and in many respects more refined (idiot lights, ABS, a speedometer) this bike’s combination of sound, riding position, power delivery and nimbleness cause instant giggling in all who ride it.
The crusty patina and sticker bomb tank aren’t for everyone, but if you don’t like the power ranger/ricer/newb aesthetics of most new small displacement bikes, and don’t want to deal with setting points or other vintage headaches, this is a good option. I built it as a fun 2nd bike for the city and close in twisties, but I’m downsizing my fleet and taking offers. The bike is currently in the showroom at DUNN LEWIS, 2007 Fenwick Street NE in Ivy City for viewing during shop hours.
Work includes fresh oil and brake fluid, carb rebuild and rejet, drilled/deresteicted airbox, open exhaust (loud but not totally ear splitting thanks to the collector/resonator box under the bike), new tires still with nipples and chicken strips, upgraded brake master cylinder and Goodrich stainless brake line, LED headlight and tail, clip on bars, new from Japan CDI ignition box ($$), custom minimal wiring, petcock, custom lithium battery pack, minor tail chop/detabbing and much more I’m forgetting to list.
I’ve owned the bike for a number of years in different incarnations, have ridden it all over DC, even did my first track day at summit point on it a few years back. It’s not going to “outrun a 600 in the corners” or whatever nonsense people like to spout about little bikes, but it is good fun and you won’t get totally dusted by your friends on it if you get good at throwing it around. You can also run around the city wide open all the time.
For those who don’t know the model, it was only imported to the US for 3 years, but it had a much longer run in Australia and Japan where it’s regarded as a great little sport bike. Affectionately known as the “chickenhawk” or ”babyceptor” after its big brothers from Honda (gt650 Hawk, Vtr1000 Superhawk, VFR500, VFR700, and VFR750 Interceptors) it came to the states in super ugly 80’s colors and never sold very well.
The mods I’ve done were intended to de-Barbie the bike and make it a bit easier to live with as a daily rider. The rust prone and basically unobtainable stock tank was replaced with a Cbr600 f2/f3 unit, one of the most common and easy to find tanks on eBay, the plastics are gone, and lots of other junk was stripped and serviced.
The riding position is pretty aggressive - high seat angle and low bars - but as a result it handles a corner extremely well. It also doesn’t have a horn or a speedo, though they could be rigged up if you need to pass inspection, but in the DC area you either don’t need inspection or can tag historic to avoid it in MD and VA. A few other little things to be aware of that I can explain to a serious buyer.
Photos by Scott Bradley