Honda Elite 250 (CH250)
Honda Elite 250 (CH250)
The Elite 250 is one of the easier ones to live with as it’s a very simple yet rugged design that typically requires little attention once it’s running well.
Highway cruising speeds
Some issues with exhaust manifold cracking
Limited storage space
Front drum brake
High speed handling
The Elite 250 (CH250) was sold from 1985 – 1990 in the USA (’85 – ’88 in Canada) and is considered by many to be the grandfather of modern maxi scooters. The Elite 250 spawned the awesome Honda Helix scooter, which was a clear inspiration of future maxi-scooters like the Suzuki Burgman, Honda Silverwing and Yamaha Morphous.
When the Elite 250 was introduced, it was the largest scooter ever to hit American shores. Previously, the largest scooters sold here were the Lambretta X200 (1966) and the Vespa Rally 200 and P200E. At 250cc, the Elite was capable of comfortably cruising at highway speeds. This new ability was half of the equation for modern maxi-scooters. The other half of the equation came in the form of Honda’s Helix, with its long, low and comfortable design.
Overseas, the Elite 250 was sold as the Spacy 250 and the Freeway in various countries.
The original generation of Elite 250 was introduced for 1985 and lasted four years (1985 – 1988) before Honda released a second generation. The first generation featured styling that fit in well with the rest of Honda’s futuristic 1980’s scooters like the smaller Elite and Aero’s. This first Elite 250 was sold in many countries worldwide, including both Canada and the USA.
For the 1989 model year, Honda released a second generation to the USA market. Canadians weren’t so lucky as Honda opted not to import the new Elite 250, so 1988 was the last year for this scooter in Canada. The second generation of Elite 250 was virtually all new and featured all new styling and a new horizontal engine. The new styling was more rounded, much like the redesigned ’87 Elite 150. Like the new Elite 150, the new Elite 250 did not sell well. This slow sales were likely more a reflection of the overall state of the scooter market than a cool reception to this particular model. After 1987 the USA scooter market contracted and entered a stagnant period for a number of years.
The Elite 250 was ultra-reliable and cruised comfortably at 65-70mph with a top speed around 72 – 75mph. This might not sound like a big improvement over most 150cc scooters but the Elite 250 was designed for this high speed riding so it could cruise at these speeds all day without stressing the engine and while still maintaining great fuel economy. Fuel economy is typically 55-65mpg, which is solid performance for a scooter of this size. Some 50cc 2-strokes can’t do much better.
The first Elite 250 (’85 – ’88) used a vertical motor which it shared with the Honda Helix (’86 – 2006). This motor was liquid cooled and very low stressed, so it became a stalwart example of Honda reliability. If you’re pulling one of a dusty shed after 10 years of storage then you might have some kinks to work out, but once it’s running well it should provide satisfyingly reliable performance for a vehicle approaching 30 years of age.
The second generation of Elite 250 used a new horizontal engine. This mill was also 244cc and liquid cooled, but it was an all new design with a horizontal cylinder. Interestingly, Honda did not use this new engine in the Helix, so the Helix continued to use the older 244cc vertical engine right up until its final year in 2007. Honda did make a few tweaks to this motor for 1987 including bumping the compression ratio to 10.0:1 (from 9.8).
Design and Amenities
The Elite 250 featured a nice sized glovebox for keeping your smaller items. Unfortunately, the ’85 – ’88 models lacked storage in the main body of the scooter. Underseat/trunk storage was one big advantage of Honda’s other 250 – the Helix – as that longer design allowed for better stow room. With the new 1989 model Honda was able to add a generous underseat storage area. This was made possible by the less intrusive design of the new horizontal engine. The first generation of Elite 250 used a vertical motor that occupied too much space to allow any underseat storage.
One neat aspect of the Elite 250 was the digital dash. The Elite 250 has great instrumentation with not only a speedometer and fuel gauge, but also a clock, engine temperature gauge, trip odometer and even the ability to switch between km/hr and mph for those cross border excursions. Like all of the Elite scooters, the CH250 has a neat engine oil life indicator that switches from green to red when it’s time for an oil change.
As is too often the case, scooterists in North America were offered only the base model of this scooter. Elsewhere in the world, buyers got a front disc brake while Americans and Canadians were sold examples with drum brakes front and rear. The Elite 250’s sibling, the Helix, did get a front disc brake. The rear disc brake on the Elite 250 was foot activated, which some scooterists find to be a bit awkward but it’s something most people grow accustomed to.
As the Elite 250 closes in on its 30th anniversary, it has proven itself as a both an icon of the 80’s scooter era and a classic example of Honda reliability. While riding an older scooter might not suit everyone, The Elite 250 is one of the easier ones to live with as it’s a very simple yet rugged design that typically requires little attention once it’s running well. The typical complaints about an Elite 250 are the lackluster front drum brake, and the nervous handling at high speeds caused the small tires and short wheelbase. The Helix with its longer wheelbase, larger tires and front disc brake is the better scooter for regular high speed use.
With the underseat storage area and new engine, the final Elite 250 models (’89-’90) are the best ones to own, but they don’t have the same 80’s vintage look as the earlier generation. 1983 to 1987 was the peak years of 80’s scooter popularity, so it’s hard to find good examples of the second generation Elite 250.
The primary competition at the time was Yamaha’s Riva 180 / 200 scooter, which was offered from 1983 to 1991. The Elite 250 has a history of being the more reliable scooter, but there seems to be more examples out there of the large Riva’s. Top speed and milage is about the same, as the Riva’s were quite fast for their size. The other scooter to consider from this era was Honda’s Helix. The longer and lower design of that scooter meant it had more storage for long days on the open road.
- Highway cruising speeds
- Neat dash
- Very reliable
- Some issues with exhaust manifold cracking
- Limited storage space
- Front drum brake
- High speed handling
’85 – ’88 Elite 250 Service Manual – Great tech info for your CH250
’89 Elite 250 Service Manual – Great tech info for working on your CH250
MyScoot – Honda Elite 250 Performance modifications
MotorscooterGuide Forums – Visit the forum to chat about your scoot.
Tony Sander’s Video Review – Watch this….it’s a great review.
Elite 250 Owners Group – Good info on Yahoo!
CH250.Net – Good site with write ups on maintenance and repairs.
- 1985: Candy Orchard Red, Summer Blond
- 1986: Pearl Satin White, Pearl Gold Black
- 1987: Candy Ruby Red, Pearl Gold Black
- 1988: Myth Gray Metallic, Pearl Gold Black
- 1989: Starlight Blue Metallic
- 1990: Granite Blue Metallic
Key Specs: 1985 – 1988 Elite 250
- Engine: 244cc, liquid cooled, 2-valve, single cylinder, 4-stroke
- Compression: 9.8:1 (10.0:1 for 1987-1988)
- Bore x Stroke: 72.0 x 60.0 mm (2.8 x 2.4 inches)
- Power: 19hp @ 7500 RPM, 15.5 lbs-ft torque @ 5000 RPM
- Transmission: Honda V-matic variable ratio with automatic clutch
- Ignition: Capacitor discharge
- Starter: Electric
- Final Drive: V-Belt
- Tires: 4.00 x 10 (front and rear)
- Width: 43.3”
- Wheelbase: 49.6”
- Seat height: 28.7”
- Weight: 278-280 lbs (dry), 293-298 lbs (wet)
- Fuel Capacity: 8.3 litres / 2.1 gallons
- Wheels: 10” cast aluminum
- Front Suspension: Bottom link
- Rear Suspension: Swing unit, dual shock
- Brakes: Drum / Drum
- MSRP: $2398 (1988)
Updated for 2021
200cc to 350cc class scooters offer a great combination of agility and speed. They are fast enough to use on the freeway, strong enough to easily carry a passenger, and still offer better fuel economy than most Maxi scooters. The scooters we have included in this class range from 200cc to 350cc and include models with more traditional styling and models which look more like their larger brothers in the Maxi scooter class.
Sadly, while these faster 250cc class scooters are well suited to American life, they are underrepresented in the market, with only a handful of available models. The Honda Forza, which was one of the best, has been discontinued. So has the Genuine Blur 220i.
The best remaining option in the class is likely the 2021 Yamaha Xmax ($5,799), which features a 292cc 4-stroke, fuel injected, liquid-cooled powerplant, yet still tips the scales at less than 400 lbs. It includes a 3.4 gal fuel tank and gets an estimated 75 MPG. It features large 15-inch front and 14-inch rear wheels for enhanced handling, and it includes both anti-lock brakes (ABS) and a traction control system.
From Suzuki comes the 2022 Burgman 200 ($4,999), which, although slightly smaller than its rivals at exactly 200cc, still offers a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine that accelerates smoothly. Suzuki’s Burgman line has perfected the Maxi scooter game, and this smaller Burgman shares its larger siblings’ style.
An expansive powersports dealer network is a valuable bonus when buying a scooter from Honda, Yamaha, or Suzuki.
Sym also has a powerful middleweight scooter available. The 27.9 HP, 278cc 4-stroke fuel injected, liquid-cooled Citycom S 300i. The Citycom has a top speed of 83 MPH and gets an estimated 84 MPG. If you are fortunate enough to have a SYM dealer in your area, this one is worth a look. (No MSRP is available at this time.)
Piaggio’s BV 350 ($6,699) scooter is a competent competitor, albeit a bit pricier than its rivals. It’s 350 cc 4-stroke fuel injected, liquid-cooled engine delivers 30 HP while still offering a more classic style compared to the mini-maxi style embraced by many in this class.
From Kymco comes the 2021 X-Town 300i ABS ($4,899), a mouthful of a name for a well-appointed and affordable option, if you happen to have a dealer in your area. The X-Town’s 275.6cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled engine delivers 24.1 HP and 64.9 MPG to the 407.8 lbs scooter. Kymco advertises the X-Town as Powerful enough for the highway, but nimble enough for urban riding. While no doubt accurate for this scooter, it’s a fair description of the whole class. Still, Kymco offers good value for its specifications.
In addition to five options listed above, you’ll find some choices from Vespa, though with significantly higher prices (and smaller tires) than their rivals. The GTS 300 ($7,099) and GTS 300 75th ($7,949) are powered by a 23.8 HP 278.3 cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled engine, which nets 73 MPG. That’s less power than most of its rivals for thousands of dollars more.
Despite adding “super” to the name, the GTS Super 300 family doesn’t improve on those specs, just offers some different styling cues. You can choose from the GTS Super 300 ($7,199), GTS Super 300 Sport ($7,299), GTS Super 300 Racing Sixties ($7,299), and the GTS Super 300 Tech ($7,749). You can also get the Sei Giorni 300 II Edition ($7,749), but it too has the same engine. These are competent scooters, to be sure, but the Vespa name still carries a financial premium.
Any of these 200cc – 330cc class scooters would be a fine choice for a broad range of uses. They will last you for many years of fun on two wheels.
Note: All prices given are MSRP and do not include tax, license, registration, destination charges, or dealer-installed options.
The Honda CN250 is a scooter introduced by Honda to the United States market in 1986. It was marketed in the US as the Helix and in other parts of the world as the Fusion or Spazio. It was so successful that, as of 2009, it was still in production in Japan.
In the early 1980s, Honda introduced a line of scooters known as the CH series, comprising the CH50, 80, 125, 150, and 250 models. In the US, these were known as "Elite" scooters but overseas they were marketed under the "Spacy" name. The CH250 could reach highway speeds and be used for long-range touring.
Honda then introduced the CN250 or Helix. This model lengthened the CH250 by 14 inches (360 mm), placed an integrated trunk in the rear of the machine and lowered the seat. The added length allowed a feet forward seating position and a smoother ride than that of previous models. The top speed of the machine was limited to 70-75 mph (about 113–121 km/h) but the drivetrain was of an under-stressed design allowing extended running at or near top speed.
The Fusion CN250 found instant popularity in Japan. In Europe, the Japanese put Italian makers under pressure to improve their scooters' capabilities and reliability. In the U.S., the Helix was a hit with middle-aged and older people. The Helix attracted customers that desired long-range touring capabilities, but did not want to shift, were unable to shift, or did not want a large, heavy conventional motorcycle. The CN250 was a capable machine complete with trip odometer, fuel and temperature gauges, glove compartment and trunk.
The Helix was in its last year in 2001 and was to be replaced by the NSS250. The NSS250 was marketed in the U.S. as the Reflex and in other countries as sanci as Vallelonga better and had a higher top speed than the Helix, but some Helix fans argued that there was a trade-off in seating comfort and ride. In the Japanese market the Helix had an aftermarket and cult following with the younger generation, not unlike sport bikes in America. Honda returned the CN250 (Helix) to all markets in 2004 as the customer base was still there. In the U.S., the Helix and the Reflex were discontinued with the 2007 model.
Versions and variations
Honda made very few changes to the Helix through its 20-year run. Aluminum rims replaced steel wheels in the early 90s, and a few emission controls were added to the engine. Apart from those changes, the machine stayed the same right down to its 1980s-style, multi-colored digital gauges.
The CN250 was also manufactured and sold within Canada as the "Helix" as the first "maxiscooter" of its kind to be offered in that country. However, production within Canada was halted after the initial production year of 1986. Canadian citizens could still purchase a Helix as an import from the U.S., and a majority of Honda dealerships in Canada did not even stock a "floor model" for display. Additionally, the purchaser will often be required to pay or finance upfront for their purchase, sight unseen.
It was the Japanese scooter "scene" that saved the Honda Helix/Fusion. Honda had intended to discontinue production in the late 1990s in favor of the "Reflex" and went so far as to cease production at one point. However, pressure from the members of Japan's now-outraged multitude of Fusion riding groups and modification enthusiasts pressured Honda into reinstating production with an announcement to that effect in February 2003, to begin production once again for the 2005 production year.
250 scooter honda
.Here's Why The Honda Helix Is The BEST SCOOTER Ever Made
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