Duke 390 vs CBR 250R: Which one should you buy?



Duke 390 vs CBR 250R

In our quest to tell you how awesome the Duke 390 is, I have already pitted it against the Royal Enfield Continental GT and the Ninja 300. Needless to say, the Duke whacked both of these beauties out of the park and is now ready for more. There is absolutely no competition for the Duke as far as the capacity segment is concerned, so we decided to base it on money, for lack of other things.

The Honda CBR 250R is a brilliant bike. Dr. Arnob Gupta drove it from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 78hours, if that doesn’t say how comfortable and quick it is, nothing will. The full-faired beauty has vastly more appeal against the naked streetfighter of the Duke, especially to the Indian people. At over 2 lacs, the Repsol ABS edition costs as much as the Duke 390, looks equally jazzy and has superior stopping power. Time for a showdown then? 

Duke 390 vs CBR 250R: Performance

As always, we will start with the performance figures. I know there isn’t going to be much of a competition here, in any imaginable way, but what the hell.

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So, yup. The Duke just kicks ass in the performance department. The CBR does well for a 250cc bike, but its weight doesn’t help much.

Duke 390 vs CBR 250R: Comfort

Finally some good news for the CBR! Comfort over long distances and bad roads is not the Duke’s forte. The suspension is extremely hard, so is the seat. So even the smallest potholes feel like you are tumbling inside a washing machine. The CBR on the other hand, is extremely comfortable on long distances. The riding position is the best one out there, with a cushy seat and soft suspension that can absorb even the worst potholes.

If I had taken the Duke to Ladakh, my hands and feet would have fallen off before crossing Manali. So yes, the CBR wins hands down in the touring and comfort department.

Duke 390 vs CBR 250RDuke 390 vs CBR 250R: City rides

I take my Duke to office everyday, in Mumbai traffic. It is extremely flickable, so no traffic jam is too difficult to cut through. The bike weighs nothing, so is very easy to push anywhere. It does heat up a bit, but nothing that will give you third degree burns.

The CBR on the other hand, with its full fairing and bulk, is not the best candidate for traffic maneuverability. It isn’t too hard to pull through traffic, but neither as easy nor as fun as the Duke.

Duke 390 vs CBR 250R: Cornering

The results here are also kind of expected. The Duke 390 with its stiff suspension and awesome Metzeler wheels hugs the asphalt like a leech. The lighter weight also helps give it total control.

The CBR feels a bit bulky around the corners, with an uncertain attitude that doesn’t inspire as much confidence. The tires also don’t do much justice to the machine. Both bikes have awesome ABS systems, which help give the rider so much confidence. As far as cornering fun goes, the Duke 390 is the king for sure!

Duke 390 vs CBR 250R: Looks

Looks are subjective. I love how raw the Duke looks, some people find it too flashy. Generally speaking, Indians love anything that looks big and has a plastic wrapped around the engine, so naturally most people find the CBR as more appealing.

But I am simply in love with that orange trellis, naked madness and no-nonsense attitude. The Duke is an eye grabber for sure.

Duke 390 vs CBR 250R: Range and mileage

Both bikes hover around the 30Kmpl mark as far mileage is concerned, which is weird, considering the huge capacity gap between the machines. The Duke lags behind in the fuel capacity department, with a paltry 11liter tank. This severely limits its touring range to roughtly 230Kms.

The CBR sports a 15 liter fuel tank, so you can go over 300Kms without problems. As far as range is concerned, the CBR definitely wins.

Duke 390 vs CBR 250R: Verdict

This is not going to be contest with a clear-cut winner. Both bikes have their own specialties and their own set of problems. But which one should you go for?

If you are a tourer, CBR would be your best bet. On the shitty roads of India, the Duke 390 will give you a lot of trouble. The CBR is the real mile muncher.

But if you are looking for city fun and the occasional hill rides, the Duke is an incredible package. You get vastly more power, control and fun at the same price, which is just genius.

I do feel that the CBR 250R Repsol ABS is a bit overpriced, a sub 1.70lacs tag would make more sense. But then again, what do I know what goes in Honda? One more thing I would like to say is that CBR 250R is an awesome machine, just brilliant. It can give any bike a run for its money. So when I say the CBR isn’t too good around the corners or bad in any other area, I am comparing it to the Duke. If you are used to driving a Pulsar, you will feel like Valentino Rossi on steroids with the CBR.

RiderZone recommends the CBR 250R for hardcore tourers, and the Duke 390 for everyone else.

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  1. Hey the CBR250R’s fuel tank is 13 liters, not 15. The CBR has managed to deliver almost 40 kmpl on highways maintaining speeds around 120-130 kmph.

    1. Pradeep Kumar

      HI , I am confused between cbr250r and this beast(duke 390). Would u recommend to buy this bike . I need comfortable ridding for 100Km per day maximum and very very rare case of touring ,low maintenance and decent cruising speed around 80 to 90 with no effort from wind and at last i need decent mileage . I like the specification of duke 390 if it is comfortable for a short run of 50 KM per trip and if it doesn’t affect the spine i will go for it . BUt i afraid that people say like in duke the suspension is hard and wind blast will be high . Please give some suggestion.

      1. AK

        Whatever your requirements maybe, Duke 390 is a far superior machine than the CBR. Yesterday I did 176 kmph on mine, wind blast is definitely there, but it didn’t really affect me much!
        CBR is a dying product. Last month only 79 units were sold. Go for the 390, no worries.

      2. Rajesh Kumar

        -_- is ur duke still alive??no issues of loss of power or pinging or frying pistons yet????how do u even get RON95 petrol in india for ur duke 390???

        1. AK

          Never used premium fuel, always normal. There are plenty of weird noises, but still works well. Been beating the shit out of it lately, track and off-road.

          1. Aniket Sarsolkar

            liked ur reply bro haha

  2. Mohak Adav

    Note that CBR 250R has 13 litres of fuel tank

    1. AK

      I think it is 13 liters + 2 liters reserve Mohak. That’s the information I’ve found on the internet, don’t own the bike so can’t tell for sure.

    2. Hari

      its 13litre total. 35-36 kmpl is easy on highways @ 100-110kmph

  3. Sreeprakash Baskaran

    i am 6 feet so whether cbr or duke bike will suit me ?

    1. AK

      CBR will look better, Duke will be too small for you.

  4. Nikhil Dalvi

    Hii guys, I just want your advice , my height is. 5.4 which bike is suitable for CBR 250, or ktm duke 390

    1. AK

      Height is irrelevant. Buy the 390.

      1. Nikhil Dalvi

        Thanks AK…

  5. Ratna Joshi

    CBR is best for ugly indian roads.