In 1978 Honda released the Super Dream 250 (the CB250N) and a 400 cc option. Both had a pretty good run with over 70,000 units sold in the UK alone.
The 250 entered an extremely competitive market at a time when young new riders were opting for the fastest thing available to them in the form of the Yamaha RD250, the CB250N offered a less hooligan esq alternative.
In 1980 it was the UK best selling motorcycle with 17,000 units sold throughout the year, over 315,000 units were sold worldwide also that year.
By 1983 the law changed in the UK to restrict learner riders to 125cc motorcycles as opposed to 250cc; so the 250cc class for road bikes largely tapered off, and 1986 saw the last of the CB250N’s roll out of dealers.
The 250 Super Dream never made it to the US officially, with Honda favouring to push the CB400N for the American market instead thanks to its larger engine being more suited for US roads.
Let’s get into the CB250N but first let me say you would hope with a name like Super Dream, the bike would live up to its moniker and on this occasion I think it does.
Honda CB250N Review
In 1969 the CB750 had taken the world by storm and is often argued to be the ‘World’s First Superbike.’ However, after this Honda developed very few new motorcycles, focusing more on their car division and letting the CB750 and its derivatives tick over.
In 1975 however, Honda released the Gold Wing. Soichiro Irimajiri’s design and long-distance touring in the US was now an option for anyone not wanting to opt for a Harley.
Irimajiri was put in charge of creating a line of lightweight bikes that would meet new emissions laws, offer superior handling, be affordable and revitalise the lightweight division.
The logical step for this – particularly to meet stricter emissions laws – was to return to a good old fashioned parallel twin, four-stroke.
The 400cc was the bike for the US whereas the 250 would take styling cues from the bigger bike but appeal to the Europeans.
The Honda Superdream 250 followed the Dream (known as the Hawk in America) which saw only 12 months production, as the European market feed back was that the styling was too American.
This initial 12 months period allowed Honda to nail down the motorcycle and perfect their engine design so that the Honda Superdream was ready to take on the 250 class with gusto.
Reliability & Build Quality
To start with the motor was an air-cooled twin with 3 valves per cylinder, the large bore diameter allowed for twin-inlet valves to be used.
The idea was that this would allow more efficient cylinder filling, increased torque for an impressive mid-range without sacrificing the top end.
The motor also featured the popular contra-rotating balance shafts, which minimised vibration and kept everything running smoothly.
Irimajiri purposely designed the engine to be compact, so it could be mounted higher and more central, to increase the centre of gravity, making for an agile motor cycle which was one of the main aims of the new lightweight range.
The exhaust system looked fairly traditional with it’s chrome plating, however the twin pipes were double-walled, fed into a power chamber behind the gearbox and exited through two silencers. This system is also attributed to the effective mid-range.
Power delivery through the 6 speed gearbox is like butter, and the throttle response is excellent, so all the work that went into the engine was well worth the end results.
It was also considered to be a pretty robust, reliable unit that was capable of pretty much anything the rider wanted to do with it.
Basic maintenance was easy to uphold and oil changes every 2,000 miles would keep the motor nicely ticking over.
The only downside was at the top end the bike would begin to feel a little breathless, and leave the rider wanting for more. This was particularly noticeable if you went from a 250 two-stroke to the Honda Superdream.
Chassis wise the motorcycle had a large 55” wheelbase, and the pressed steel frame encompassed the bulky engine unit, big boy looks were a huge feature of the Honda Superdream.
Comstar wheels used light alloy rims unlike the first Dream models which were steel.
Rear suspension was on the side of stiff, paired with the long wheelbase, overall weight, the bike felt very sturdy and balanced and despite the weightiness it handled very well and was easy to ride.
The Super Dream had just a touch of aggression about its design with a sporty riding position given to it, but not too much it would be uncomfortable for longer rides. To be too conversative would have been a mistake in an era when motorcycles were being built to look and go fast.
One huge plus for the CB250N was the fuel consumption with an average of 54mpg being considered to be pretty standard with the model.
Honda has a reputation now that has long been established as the builder of reliable motorcycles, often leaning on the side of being boring.
The CB250N was no exception and the build quality was up to par with the best of them. If not having to wrench on my bike every 100 miles is boring then so be it, I’d rather be riding anyway.
Honda Super Dream 250 Spec’s
Engine and Transmission
- Engine – Four-stroke, parallel twin, Single Overhead Camshaft, 3 valve per cylinder
- Capacity – 249cc
- Bore x Stroke – 62 x 41.4mm
- Cooling System – Air Cooled
- Compression Ratio – 9.4:1
- Induction – 29mm Mikkuni Carb
- Max Power – 27 horsepower at 10,000rpm
- Max Torque – 20Nm at 8,500rpm
- Transmission – 6 Speed
- Final Drive – Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Front Suspension – Telescopic forks
- Rear Suspension – Dual shock
- Front Brakes – Single disc (the 400 had twin discs)
- Rear Brakes – Drum
- Dry Weight – 166kg
- Fuel Capacity – 14 litres
Honda Superdream vs Rivals
The biggest selling point for the CB250N Super Dream was arguably that it projected that the rider was riding something bigger, more intimidating. The sheer size of the bike and near identical styling to the bigger 400cc version gave this impression.
It filled a gap for smaller capacity machines that weren’t two-strokes or race replicas.
New and younger riders weren’t all wanting to chase the red line at the weekend, some wanted a motorcycle to get them to work and around town; the Super Dream offered them that in a smart looking package.
You had the Kawasaki KH250 still available, Yamaha’s RD250 and the later RD250LC, the Suzuki X7 had just appeared on the scene and then the RG250 Gamma, outside of the UK Kawasaki’s KR250; but all of these were two-stroke race replicas that weren’t rivals for the Super Dream because they were bikes for different riders and purposes.
Suzuki produced the GSX250 which was a four-stroke parallel twin. However the Honda was and is still considered an overall better machine in terms of technical design and ergonomics for around town.
Kawasaki did have the Z250 but it wasn’t quite up to the same spec as the Honda.
The Honda Superdream led the charge for the four-stroke lightweight renaissance and so Honda did all they could to keep it at the top of people’s ‘wishlist’. The sales figures speak for themselves.
Honda Superdream Variations
There were several models from 1978-86
1978 – CB250N
1980 – CB250NA
1981 – CB250NB and the first Deluxe model
1982-85 – CB250NDC
From 1982 to 1986 there were only the Deluxe versions available.
There were no major updates however to the CB250N, with just cosmetic changes made such as paint schemes, mirror styles, seats etc.
Superdream Top speed
The top speed of the Super Dream was around 83/85mph, it wasn’t like the two-strokes of the time fighting each other to hit the 100mph mark. The bike would chase up to the 90mph point with very few claims that it could actually make it.
The CB250N was a heavy bike for it’s capacity, and physically about as big as any 650 on the market at the time, so speed wasn’t the aim of the game with it’s design.
It was a big lump of a parallel twin, four-stroke that would cruise at 70mph all day long with no issues.
There would be a little bit extra oomph for overtaking and having fun on the country roads but you would be mistaken to challenge any 250 two-strokes racing around at the time.
It was a different horse for a different course, a genuine honest workhorse that was ready for commuting, weekend camping trips, even some longer distance touring if you were into that.
It just wasn’t going to set the world alight in terms of speed records.
The Superdream would do the standing quarter mile in 17.5 seconds.
The CB250N is a pretty awesome quarter litre from Honda and the build quality, reliability, design, all led to it being one of the best selling bikes of its time.
Should the 125cc law not have been put into play in the UK, I think Honda would have continued with the Super Dream as it was a desirable bike for riders.
It was a successful step back into four-stroke lightweight machines at a time when emission laws were crippling two-strokes for the road.
The blueprint of these 70’s and 80’s lightweight machines can still be seen today in some of the modern-retro style learner machines, so they certainly made their mark.