While screaming litre-4′s are still in high demand, the once neglected small capacity market is undergoing a much-needed revival. Here in Australia where restricted licenses make these bikes the norm for beginner riders, an astute observer would have noticed the flurry of activity in our dealerships and the second hand market. A little under two years ago we had the famous Kawasaki-Honda price war (which followed Honda’s introduction of the fuel injected single CBR250R), the evolution of the Hyosung saga (beginning initially with quality control problems, these bikes are now a common sight in the streets of Melbourne), and the introduction of a huge number of cheaper Chinese bikes of varying reputation. Amongst all this chaos I entered the world with only a year’s experience on the road, buying my first brand new motorcycle. A shiny black Daelim VJF250.
Like me, Daelim was new to the Australian market. The VJF had only been available for a a couple of years (first reference I could find was in April 2010), and it seemed the bike had gone more or less unnoticed by the online community. There were a few reviews on a website here or there, but it seemed for the most part the commercial outlets had simply glossed up the specifications with flowery prose rather than actually ride the bike. Those that did discuss it online took the traditional tone of ‘Korean crap’ without giving further details. Though in recent months this has begun to change, those of an older, finer vintage than I might remember a similar attitude to the Japanese bikes of the 1970′s. Thus it was with little more than a few pictures and numbers that I set out to trial this bike.
I tested it, loved it, and bought it. I have owned the bike now for over four months, and in that time tallied an impressive 7,000 km (4,300 miles) on it, including a 1100km round camping trip. It is exactly what you’d expect from a 250 sports bike: reliable, nimble little bike fitting into the price range without sacrificing quality.
The appearance and finish of the bike is extremely modern and sporty. Instrumentation is a hybrid, with an analogue tachometer and digital display featuring the speedometer (with imperial or metric modes), odometer/trip meter, fuel and temperature gauges and as a bonus, a clock. Much like the iconic ‘manbag’ (helmet/beer storage) of the Suzuki Across, these minor extras might not seem much at first, but their usefulness cannot be overstated. Many a time I have been saved the embarrassment of turning up late to a lecture or meeting by that clock. The whole setup is backlit with a passive blue light, giving it a very cool ‘tron-like’ feeling at night, while being totally invisible during the day.
The one oddity with this bike is the omission of a kill switch on the handle bars, a standard feature on most bikes in Australia. In it’s place under your right thumb you’ll instead find a lighting switch – again an uncommon feature. It gives the option to ride without running lights of any kind- though some would argue the danger of reducing your visibility by doing so. Nonetheless, the option is there for those who would wish to use it, and the lack of an engine kill switch is no great loss when the ignition key is but a few centimetres away.
When sitting on the bike for the first time, the first impression one gets is that this is a bike for distance. The synthetic seat has plenty of give without sacrificing support, and the peg placement allows for a much more upright seating position than many in it’s class. I have spent many hours on the highway glad that I picked this bike over something sportier like a CBR or a Ninja. The comparatively low seat height (780mm) will also appeal to many smaller riders, without disadvantaging the taller riders (I’m about 5’10, and have never had any issues).
At a touch from the throttle, you’re underway. Despite it’s slightly heavy weight, the bike takes off with minimal engine input, and continues to respond extremely well throughout it’s rev range. Those who want a thrill won’t be left out either- hold the bike at the higher range (between about 7-9000 RPM) and the engine will unleash it’s reserves of power with a throaty growl. Brand new the bike will seem slightly less than it’s specs, but given time and care in the first 500-1000km, it will really open up to it’s full potential. Though not as powerful as the CBR250R, the difference isn’t noticeable on the road though the track may be a different story. Loaded with cargo or a pillion, the bike soldiers on admirably. My trip to Wagga Wagga earlier in the year saw me packing all sorts of camping gear, food and clothing practically anywhere it would strap down, without affecting my ability to hold pace on the highway. Likewise my girlfriend has been spending many hours on the back seat with little complaint.
The braking power is where this bike really shines. The bike features duel 290mm discs up front and a single disc out back, and this can put a first time rider in a little bit of trouble if they are overenthusiastic on the front lever. With no ABS and both discs, a lock-up is certainly possible for an inexperienced rider. However with due attention and discipline, the extra stopping power is extremely welcome, even on this smaller bike.
The fuel economy on the commuter is excellent, with my own record (tracked on www.fuelly.com) averaging 3.6l/100km (65 miles to the gallon for our American readers), though this varies depending on how excited you get. This pegs it more or less on-par with the CBR250R, the fairest comparison one can make on the current market. The 15 litre tank gives the bike plenty of range, and when combined with the digital fuel gauge, it sets itself up nicely for any long distance trips you might want to make.
Overall the VJF is exactly what you’d want from a small capacity commuter. It’s size allows it to accommodate most riders without discomfort. The seating style prevents soreness both to your wrists and back end. It is hardly an angry stallion begging to slip it’s reins and tear off down the street, but that’s not what a 250 is about. It gets up and goes without fussing about, and is an absolute joy to flick through corners. Whether you’re negotiating traffic or hammering through twisties, it is a bike that will show you a good time without taking control away from you.
At a Glance
|Dimensions (mm)||2,025 X 764 X 1,180|
|Wheel base (mm)||1,380|
|Seat Height (mm)||780|
|Ground clearance (mm)||150|
|Dry weight (kg)||165|
|Bore X Stroke (mm)||73 X 59|
|Fuel Tank Capcity (l)||15|