Honda’s new-for-2018 CB300R is one of those bikes that is easily overlooked.
The 286cc single is ostensibly a bigger engined version of the CB125R, and sits somewhere between that £3989 learner legal bike and the A2 compliant, £5469, CB500F. With 31bhp on tap and just 143kg to haul around, the £4429 CB300R looks (on paper at least) to be an awesome city bike that’s got plenty of style and enough performance to head out on the highway every now and again. To find out how the latest little Honda coped in the real world, we borrowed one for a few days to see what it’s like as a day-to-day commuter.
Having ridden the CB125R at its world press launch at the start of the year, the CB300R felt very familiar. Climbing onboard the CB feels a little strange at first. The near 800mm seat height is a little taller than you might expect from a small bike, but it’s very narrow which, combined with the bike’s low weight, makes it easy enough to manoeuvre for smaller and less experienced riders. It’s a well proportioned machine too, and it that looks substantial, particularly when viewed from the side on.
The key qualities of the 125 were its lightweight, agility and the superb quality of fit and finish. I was also rather taken by the elegant retro/modern café racer styling, which echoes that of the bigger CB1000R and which is the antithesis of the brutish streetfighter look that’s become the norm on naked bikes these days.
Put a 300 next to a 125 and you’ll have a job telling them apart. Take a seat and it’s the same deal. Personally I thought that the riding position felt a bit weird, sat too high and too far forward, at standstill but on the go it became quite natural. Barring the engine, the two bikes are, to all intents and purposes, the same. Even the colours, mature black, white or red options, are the same on both bikes, although the 300 can be specified in a silver option to the 125’s darker grey.
The spec belies the price tag, with a small but comprehensive LCD instrument panel telling you almost everything you need to know, only a gear indicator is missing. In front of you, the lovely Showa branded fork tops look like they could (almost) have come straight off a Fireblade, although they lack any adjustability. There’s also full LED lights and IMU-controlled ABS brakes. Impressive for a budget bike.
Twist the throttle and the motor is lively enough. The rear shock (adjustable for preload) is a bit bouncy and low spec, but the Dunlop Sportmax rubber is better than you might expect on a bike like this. I recall having a lot of fun on a CBR300R a few years ago, but felt that it was somewhat limited by its low spec IRC tyres on the twisty stuff.
I would go as far as to say that my ride down the B664 in Rutland, a road I ride pretty often, on the little Honda was one of the most engaging rides I’ve had this year. The nice thing about little bikes like these is that experienced motorcyclists can have fun wringing their necks without scaring the bejeezus out of themselves. It’s not necessarily what they were built for, but they are really satisfying to ride on the twisties, although the downside of living life on the rev limited is that the vibey single does get really buzzy. In particular I found myself getting numb feet as a result of the gentle vibrations going through the footrests, although thankfully there was nothing going through the handlebars to effect my hands or the mirrors. The 300 delivered around 70mpg in my time with it and had enough oomph to keep up with dual carriageway traffic. A friend told me that you can see over 90mph on the clock. I believe him…
Back in the city and you barely notice the vibrations. What you do notice is how incredibly light and agile the CB300R is at cutting through the traffic. This is its natural environment, where the narrowness and relatively tall riding position come into their own.
I’ve often wondered who is buying these inbetweeners, bikes bigger than 125s but not using the full power allocation allowed under A2 regulations. In the UK, I suspect they’ll never truly catch on, but they’re big business in Asia and increasingly popular on mainland Europe – hence an increasing number of new models entering the market each year.
The CB300R is priced competitively with the likes of the BMW G310R, KTM Duke 390, Kawasaki Z300 and Yamaha MT-03 and although it gives up a little in performance to its main rivals, it is more than able to hold its own in terms of specification and build quality.
Its main competition may come within though. For many riders the CB500F may be worth spending another £20 a month on. That bike is a ‘full’ A2, with most of the user friendliness and a bit more performance, but either way it would seem that the kids are alright. The CB300R is one hell of a cool bike for new and experienced riders alike.
Honda CB300R Technical Specifications
|Type||Liquid-cooled single cylinder|
|Engine Displacement (cm³)||286cc|
|Bore and Stroke (mm)||76mm x 63mm|
|Maximum Power Output||31bhp/8500rpm|
|Carburation||Electronic fuel injection|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||10.0L|
|Fuel consumption (claimed)||85mpg|
|Clutch Type||Wet, multiplate hydraulic clutch|
|Type||Steel diamond frame|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||2012mm x 802mm x 1052mm|
|Type Front||41mm telescopic fork, 130mm stroke|
|Type Rear||Monoshock damper, Pro-Link swingarm, 107mm travel|
|Tyres Front||110/70R17M/C 54H|
|Tyres Rear||150/60R17M/C 65H|
|ABS System Type||Two channel with IMU|
|Front||296mm hubless floating disc with radial-mount Nissin four-piston caliper|
|Rear||220mm disc with single piston caliper|