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ADV BikesThrowback Thursday: 1988 Honda NX250

Throwback Thursday: 1988 Honda NX250

 The little Adventure Bike never got the appreciation it deserved, until now.

Published on 03.13.2014
The Honda NX250 is a small Adventure Motorcycle you can actually buy in the U.S.

In 1988 the idea of an Adventure Motorcycle hadn’t really caught hold yet in the U.S., but Honda took a chance and released its NX line of Dual-Purpose Motorcycles in 125cc, 250cc and 650cc sizes. The bikes were built for both on-road and off-road riding, with a street bias. All were equipped with “Adventure Bike” features like a small windscreen, skid plate, luggage rack and low front fender. 

When they first appeared, no one really seemed to understand what the bikes were about. Many Americans passed them off as just heavy dirt bikes. Unfortunately, they were not strong sellers and Honda pulled the bikes from U.S. shores after only a few years.

Sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone and the NX250 was a real gem that was not fully appreciated. The NX250 stood out from its NX125 and NX250 siblings, because it offered sophisticated technology for the time. Honda gave the NX250 a uniquely designed water-cooled DOHC engine, while the NX125 and NX650 received SOHC air-cooled engines that were borrowed from their XR dirt bikes.


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The little 250cc engine produced a respectable 26 HP @ 8,500 rpm (not bad considering a 2013 Honda CBR250R sport bike with fuel injection makes only 23.7 HP). Honda also gave the bike a 6-speed transmission to help it stretch its legs on the highway. Another convenient feature was the use of an electric starter instead of a kick-start.

With a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds and top speed of 87 mph, performance was impressive for a 250cc motorcycle (comparable to a modern day Kawasaki KLR650). On the highway, the low front fender kept wind resistance down, but the bike was most comfortable when speeds did not exceed 65 mph. Gas mileage was reported to be in the 65-80 mpg range allowing the bike to travel long distances between fill-ups, even with it’s relatively small 2.4 gallon (9 liter) tank.

The NX had a dry weight of only 260 lbs. (118 kg) and small 19″ front and 16″ rear wheels, which gave it nimble handling. With a low seat height of just 32″ (820 mm), the bike inspired confidence off-road and was easy to pick up when you dropped it. While the bike was not intended for aggressive off-road riding, it was capable of handling most trails at a casual pace. Suspension travel was 8.7″ (221 mm) inches up front and 7.9″ (201 mm) in the rear.

Specs Comparison

Adventure Bike Models HP Torque
(lb.-ft.)
Dry Weight
(lbs.)
Top Speed
(mph)
Seat Height
(in.)
Price
(US $)
Honda CRF250L20.014.2314**8434.7$4,699
Yamaha XT25017.513.72777631.9$5,190
M1nsk TRX 300i26.016.6*3428631.3*$4.4k-$4.8k*
Honda NX250 (Used)26.017.42608732.0$1.5K-$3k
CCM GP45040.031.62879035.0$13,160
Kawasaki KLR65037.033.43869535.0$6,499
* Numbers based on the Zongshen RX3

 
Today, NX250’s make great city bikes because of their compact size and quick handling. They have good acceleration up to 65 mph and are capable of traveling on the highway at slower speeds. Many examples can be found online of Adventure Riders using the NX250 as an economical and reliable long-distance Adventure Touring Bike. Female and shorter male riders will appreciate the low seat height and light weight. NX250’s are also a smart choice for anyone looking for their first Adventure Bike on a budget, especially if you want to learn off-road riding skills.

Now that the Adventure Motorcycle craze has taken hold in the U.S., the little NX250 is starting to get some of the appreciation it deserves. They are fast becoming collector bikes, but you can still find them at reasonable prices. Considering the popularity of small displacement motorcycles is increasing in the U.S., we expect prices to continue to climb.

1988 Honda NX250 For Sale
We recently came across a clean example of a 1988 Honda NX250 for sale in the Los Angeles area for only $2,200. The bike had only 1,000 miles on the odometer.

Author: Rob Dabney
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20 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: 1988 Honda NX250

  1. Hello. I want to thank you for the very interesting information you provide about the Honda NX 250. I am a proud owner of a 1989 model with 30.000 miles. It runs every daybetter and better, goes great on all terrains and never fails even in the worst conditions. One of the best bikes i ever had. Best regards. Sergio Loch, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  2. Pingback: Old Honda NX250 Dominator

  3. Pingback: CraigB wants to be a biker... - Page 2

  4. just picked up my second one in 20 years – the first was sold after my BF asked me to let it go. let him go 4 years later. haha. found a clean sothern bike with 2400 miles. suspension is suckier than i remember and the front dash is a tad crooked indicating something was done up front….and the front end quivers at speed. but otherwise, i love it and it’s a blast to ride anywhere.

    • I have a 1989 white 250 in excellent condition with beefed up suspension only 6,000 miles for sale 2,500.00 or trade. Rides great starts first turn. New Michelin tires. call 304 426 4700.

  5. Pingback: 46 Years of Hondas - Bike-urious

  6. I live on an island in the Gulf of Thailand and I just bought an AX1. It’s the Japanese market version of the NX250 and came standard with some upgrades, including rear disc brake and taller cams.
    I’m so pleased to have stumbled across this article and the comments section. I feel even more confident in my purchase and can’t wait to get riding. She’s currently in a local custom bike shop being brought back to life and should be road ready in a few days.
    So looking forward to opening her up properly on the roads and getting off on to the many dirt tracks we have here. It gave me quite the spring in my step to see the generous power that the bike is supposed to have, a friend of mine just bought a brand new CRF250L and I think he will be a little winded when I leave him in the dust!
    I only have one small issue with the bike; I am 6’3″ and find there is not much room left for a passenger once I am sat comfortably. I may see about having a slightly longer seat made if it can be done without ruining the lines of that beautiful tail!

    • Sounds like you are enjoying your new AX1. We’d love to hear more about how it compares to your friend’s CRF250L. Although, the new 2017 CRF250L got a boost up to 24 HP so it may be close!

  7. Had a bike stolen on a 6-month adventure tour of Europe, Middle East and N. Africa, so we bought an NX250 in France for my wife. What an excellent and capable bike! At campsites near cities, we would park my big adv bike and tour city streets 2-up on the NX. Whenever in
    Asia, we try to rent AX-1s, which I like even more.

    • Hey Charlie. Yeah they are great bikes and you can still find them in good condition used from time-to-time for a good price. Tempting! I remember riding one when I worked at a Honda Dealer in 1990. Didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now I do.

  8. Pingback: Lightweight ADV – 1988 Honda NX250 | Bike-urious

  9. omg what a bike! my first… and im VERY CONTENT WITH IT. you can get a rear sprocket but a front is impossible. if you could, 1 tooth = 3 and if you can change the front gear ez! change for off road tires then Supermoto tires/ gears. the bike will do 100, or get VERY CLOSE. it gets moped MPG (70+/- 68w todays corn liquor gas. 11.1 cr i think) and in the same insurance group. the hp figures are skewed bc no one knows if honda measured from the WHEEL or crank. many incuding myself think it was measured wheel, so ad about 15% and you start to see things. If (stupid) Honda **NORTH AMERICA** would put this bike back into production theyd sell out! the bike was 20 YEARS ahead of its time and a pink elephant to sell. but no they gave us the JOKE air-cooled(?!?)230(?) cc 17hp, ”StupidMoto” . IheartmyNx!!! its light has a PEACH of a motor… and the 25deg rake is to die for! it handles telipathicly! you think it, it did it! but i put Kenda stree tires on it. the 16/19 HURTS tire selection and if i had the money id get a rear alum swing arm and DISC BRAKE, 17” Supermoto rims. THEY SHOULD FIRE THE CEO OF HONDA NA!! he sells death to 16yo kids because its LEGAL. todays crotch rockets are a number patch and track away from full-on racebikes! then you got the Nx tooling JUST SITTING THERE! see? but no, they gave us the STUPID 230SM? no wonder nobody bought it!!!