The new Honda CBR300R isn’t due for release in the United States or much of the world for another few months, but it has just come out in its country of manufacture – Thailand. And we’ve had a few days to ride Honda’s new beginner bike and bring you the world’s first ride review.
The new baby CBR has been a while coming. It was announced back in October 2013 and its release was expected early 2014. But for unknown reasons the bike was delayed by around six months, perhaps due to demand for Honda’s new in-line four middleweights (the CBR650F and CB650F) or perhaps because of Thailand’s troubled political climate.
It’s therefore a rather belated return of fire from Honda, who felt their hand was forced by Kawasaki announcing the release of the Ninja 300, the first capacity change for the Ninja 250 in almost 26 years. The Honda CBR250R was never really in the same league as the little Ninja performance wise, as Honda’s entry into the beginner sports bike market was more an all-rounder rather than a focused track bike. But given the even larger gap created by the upgraded Ninja 300, Honda probably felt they had little choice but to make a move.
Despite the capacity upgrade, the CBR300R is still an also ran compared to the Ninja 300 when it comes to straight line speed. Firstly because the Ninja still has the capacity edge – the CBR300R is actually only 286cc, which is a displacement increase of 37cc from its predecessor. It’s the exact same single cylinder engine as before, but it contains a new crankshaft and connecting rod to create a longer engine stroke (up to 63mm from 55mm).
The other major mechanical change is the exhaust, which bears a striking resemblance to the cans on the bigger brother CBR500R. It features an increased internal volume to also help with increasing power. Don’t get too excited, it still sounds like a single cylinder engine. To Honda’s credit, weight for the bike remains exactly the same as the 250R meaning none of that extra performance has been lost from gaining any extra pounds.
So how does all that add up in real life?
The upgrades are good without being amazing. Our tests saw the bike hit 100kp/h (62 mph) in just under 8 seconds with a top speed of 170kph, which is definitely an improvement over the 250R, but not by a huge amount. However, you definitely feel the increased capacity lower down the rev range. With the CBR250R, you constantly needed to downshift one or even two gears to get the speedometer moving in a positive direction, now the engine feels much less anemic.