The illusive Honda MVX250 quite often draws blank looks from all but the few in the know and there are only a few motorcycle geeks aware of the ins and outs of the MVX 250.
Released in 1983 and pulled in 84, it was actually the first road-going two-stroke that Honda produced which was a whopping 34 years after their first racing bike was produced.
Some would say late to the party, but others would say it was an innovative ground-breaking foray into the world of two-stroke motorcycles that was just the very beginning of Honda’s road bike story.
I lean towards the latter, for those that don’t know and even those that do let us get into the lost diamond that is the Honda MVX 250.
Honda MVX250 Review
The Honda MVX250 came at a time when manufacturers were doing everything within their means to fulfill every race class, capacity, style possible and they wanted to be the best in each of those categories.
The competition was intense and thriving, with each marque pushing each other forward to catch on to the next best thing, whether that be the fastest or the most technically advanced.
In 1983 Freddie Spencer took on Kenny Roberts in the 500cc Grand Prix on the all new NS500. This would later evolve into the NSR500. Honda had cracked two-stroke GP success and so to capitalize they focused on a 250cc using the same technology.
The NS500’s engine was described as a V3.
It was an all new across the frame three-cylinder with the middle cylinder slightly tilted to the front and the other two leaning slightly back hence the rough V shape. It only lasted for a short period of time but the NS500 was easily the best bike available at that moment.
The MVX 250 was to follow the NS500’s engine design to a point with a V3 engine.
The positives Honda had taken from the V3 design was that it improved the centre of gravity, by the engine mass largely leaning back centrally with just the one cylinder protruding to the front.
While at the same time allowing for optimum airflow around all the cylinders, with the middle cylinder out the way, air could reach all round the back two equally.
However, the Honda MVX 250 would do the opposite arrangement with two cylinders lying forward horizontally and the middle cylinder sitting vertically upright.
The principle remained the same however, with excellent airflow and with the cylinders lying flat and the middle vertically straight, the centre of gravity was spot on.
The engine was capable of 40 horsepower which wasn’t a bad figure. However, the weight of just over 150kg meant that the bike wasn’t going to be winning any speed awards compared to competitors.
The 90 degree V3 layout led to some serious vibrations on the road. It wasn’t too much of a bother on the track, but having built it as a sports commuter, the vibrating nature of the engine was a bit too much to be comfortable.
Honda’s solution was to build a thicker connecting rod for the vertical cylinder; it was also heavier than those used for the horizontal cylinders. As a result it became somewhat of a balance shaft and the system worked dampening the worst of the vibrations.
However, it also became a weak point in the system and the conrod of the vertical cylinder when used in real world riding would fail leading to catastrophic engine failure.
Under normal circumstances for a bike that would have a production run of a few seasons this could have been resolved, but the Honda MVX250 would not live long enough for Honda to bother setting out to resolve the issue.
Honda had gone out of their way to provide a really practical road-going machine, addressing one of the worst issues of the day, poor disc brake performance in wet weather.
The disc was fitted on the outside, with the caliper gripping it from the inside and the whole system was enclosed inside a ventilated metal contraption. The enclosed disc brakes featured on both the front and rear.
It certainly improved wet weather performance, however, it was quite a weighty addition. The handling was impacted as unsprung weight on the front never does anything positive for handling.
Honda had mis-timed the release of their first road-going two-stroke as it directly clashed with the RD250LC from Yamaha, a firm favourite of the day.
It was a good looking machine in Honda’s signature red, white and blue, with a lovely blue dual seat. I would suggest it was one of the best looking 1980’s two-strokes.
The MVX250 was only ever sold in Japan and shipped to New Zealand and Australia to be sold in dealers. The bike never officially made it to the US or UK shores.
Honda MVX 250 Specifications
- Engine – Two-Stroke, 90 degree, three cylinder (V3), Reed Valve Induction
- Bore x Stroke – 47mm x 48mm
- Capacity – 249cc
- 40 horsepower at 9,000rpm
- Final Drive – Chain
- Frame – Tubular Steel
- Front Suspension – Telescopic Forks
- Rear Suspension – Pro Link Monoshock
- Brakes – Front and Rear enclosed single disc
- Wheelbase – 1,370mm
- Dry Weight – 138kg
Honda MVX250 Top speed
It is rumored the top speed of the MVX 250 was around 90mph.
Buying Honda MVX250
The biggest problem you will have is not the price of an MVX 250 but finding one. They are rare machines, having only been produced for one year and never exported to the US or UK they were often overlooked as being worthy of doing so.
$5,000 in the US and around £5,500-£6,000 in the UK will pick you one up but it will take some searching to find the right one.
Raresportsbikes are showing one advert from 2017 where the asking price was $5,800.
There is also one MVX 250 available in the UK for £5,995 advertised on MCN, only imported to the UK from Japan in 2020.
Looking to Japan to import an example is your best bet. However, you have to weigh up whether the bike is worth it compared to picking up a Yamaha or Suzuki two-stroke of the same era.
The MVX 250 is so obscure that its value is unlikely to rise beyond what it is now.
I know for a fact that Honda knew what they were doing with the Honda MVX250F. They had a plan, to test the water, and try things out, based on the Grand Prix success of the NS250.
I like to think that they knew what they were doing by only testing it in New Zealand and Australia outside of Japan too. Had the bike reached European or US shores would it have been a success having to compete with the RD250LC and RD350LC?
Watching the sales success of the LC models likely meant Honda knew they couldn’t compete and therefore didn’t want to waste any further resources into the model, instead switching the focus elsewhere.
At a time when manufacturers were trying to fill every gap in the market, Honda could afford to test new models and quickly switch when they got the vibe they weren’t going to be successful. It was the way to play the game to win and make money.
I like the Honda MVX 250 because it is a complete outcast, a project. I would like to get my hands on one, tinker with it and see if there is any underlying potential there, I strongly believe there is.