Road test: 2013 Daelim VJF250 RoadSport review

For under £3,000 can Korean manufacturer Daelim pose a threat to the competition?

YOU could be forgiven for never having heard of the VJF250 RoadSport. Launched in 2012 to little fanfare, it never got much attention from the motorcycle press.

To understand why, look no further than the badge saying 'Daelim', a Korean manufacturer best known for budget scooters. Actually it just says 'D'. Even they don't want to shout too loudly about it.

But the VJF250 is impressive on paper. It costs only £2,999 on-the-road. That's £1,200 less than a Honda CBR250R and £1,800 less than Kawasaki's Ninja 300. And it makes 25hp, only one horse less than the CBR.

Daelim has been around since 1962. It signed a licensing and assembly agreement deal with Honda in 1978, so it wouldn’t be mad to assume some of their know-how has scrubbed off.

No surprise then that the VJF250 gets a respectable finish, influenced no doubt by Honda’s standards and build quality. First impressions are good. Build quality is better than I expected at this price. Our press bike was a 2013 model and had already covered 2,500 miles. The VJF250 showed no signs of hardship though, with a thorough inspection of the bike setting off no alarm bells other than a small bit of rust on the steel sub-frame.

The 2013 model we rode is powered by a fuel-injected 247cc single-cylinder engine that makes a claimed 23hp and of torque. For 2014 it gets a small power hike to 25hp with torque remaining the same. Both models use the same five-speed gearbox.

At an indicated 70mph the engine sits in top gear at 9,000rpm, not far off its 11,000rpm redline. You wouldn’t want to keep it there all day, but the 250 doesn’t object to it and the soft seat numbs what little vibration there is. Flat-out, the VJF250 will nudge just over an indicated 100mph.

Filtering is the VJF's party-trick though. The flat bars, generous steering lock angle and upright riding position allow the bike to slip through most gaps and will make tight manoeuvres easier for both learners and experienced riders alike.

The Daelim has a claimed dry weight of 158kg and achieved 70mpg over our test route which included all kinds of riding, giving the VJF250 a theoretical range of 231 miles from its 15 litre tank. As you would expect from a single-cylinder, most of the power is down low, giving you little reason to explore the upper rev range. Still, the VJF250 was faster than I expected. In a short drag race, it wasn't left too far behind by the more potent 39hp Ninja 300. You can read more about that in a comparison test coming soon.

The suspension on the VJF250 is non-adjustable and comes with a very soft set-up. It gives adequate feedback and is a welcome addition when riding over inconsistent and pothole covered roads, but lends the bike no favours through corners and under braking, where it seesaws and wallows. It's nothing majorly bad, but don't expect sportsbike precision. Think of this more as a useful machine, both comfortable and practical, with a centre-stand, under-seat helmet lock and grab rails included. 

The 17” three-spoke rims come fitted as standard with red rim tape. The 110 section front wheel and 140 section rear are fitted with Korean Swallow tyres. Whilst clearly a budget option, we rode over 100 miles in the wet with no apparent lack of grip, and the bike is still in one piece.

There are few tell-tale signs as to where Daelim cut costs. The VJF250 comes equipped with purposeful looking front twin-disc brakes that suit the ambitious nature of the bike. Initial bite faded slightly throughout the day but braking power was plenty and impressive for a bike at this price. The VJF also gets a span-adjustable brake lever, something Daelim would be forgiven for not including at the price, and a nice touch.

With styling reminiscent of a 2002 Honda VFR800/2001 CBR600 FS lovechild, the Daelim is sizeable for a 250. The wheelbase is 1380mm and the seat height 780mm. You won’t feel emasculated or cramped, and the extra proportions come with useful additions like a tall screen that does a good job of deflecting wind over the rider.

Oddly, there’s no kill-switch on the bike, but a quick call confirms that this isn’t a legal requirement for a UK motorcycle. There’s little else in front of the rider. A circular analogue tacho and digital speedo showing a few vital signs, including a fuel gauge, is embedded into a wall of cheap looking plastic on the dash. And that’s about all you get to stare at. The VJF250 is definitely better to look at from the pavement.

The side-stand seems awkwardly positioned. I could never find it without looking down and leaning the bike over a fraction. There's a luggage compartment under the pillion seat but, oddly, to access it you have to remove a fiddly plastic panel rather than the seat itself. And all you find is a toolkit and a space barely big enough for a small disc lock.

Those appear to be the only downfalls when it comes to practicality, without nit-picking anyway. Otherwise, the VJF250 is a well put together machine that offers riders a fun and reliable introduction to cheap motorcycling.

Daelim is currently throwing in £250 of riding gear with the bike (Airoh Mathisse helmet, textile jacket and gloves) and a factory-backed two-year warranty. That's got to make it worth a test ride. 

Daelim say “The RoadSport is not just good for the money, but good full stop”. I’d have to agree.

That price tag does sweeten the deal though.

Model tested: Daelim VJF250 RoadSport

Price: £2,999 

Power: 23hp (25hp from 2014)

Weight: 158kg dry weight

Torque: 14lbft

Seat height: 780mm

Colours: White, Black, Red

Availability: On sale now

Contact: Daelim UK