Is the Honda CBR250RR Returning?

Could the legendary Honda CBR250RR be returning to the market? The answer is yes, but not in the way perhaps we would have all hoped for. The original CBR250RR was an incredible machine that still has a place in many a rider’s heart today with its inline-4 engine capable of spinning up to 19,000 rpm.

The return of the CBR250RR badge will coincide with the release of a new parallel-twin entry level bike to take the fight back to Yamaha, Kawasaki and KTM with their learner friendly machines. Since the release of the CBR250R back in 2011, competitors have released more powerful and sophisticated machines, relegating the now CBR300R to the back of the pack performance wise.

It had been rumoured since late last year that Honda would heavily overhaul their entry level offerings by swapping the existing single cylinder engine out for a brand new parallel twin. Today Honda announced they would be showing off a concept bike at the Tokyo Motor Show called the Light Super Sports Concept. Other than the lack of any headlights or indicators on the concept (shown below), it’s otherwise production ready and not that different to the current CBR300R shape.

Given that Honda is making this machine to better compete with the likes of the Ninja 300 and R3, it’s not a great stretch to assume that the bike will have a minimum capacity of 300cc once it hits western markets.

Is the Honda CBR250RR Returning?

2015 Yamaha R3 Review

The brand new Yamaha R3 is the latest learner friendly sportsbike to hit the market. Given that Yamaha has had longer to work on their entry into the now ultra competitive beginner bike segment of the market, does that mean that the R3 is the best choice for new riders? Can the Yamaha R3 better the Honda CBR300R’s comfort and practicality or the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s outright performance?

If it seems like we’ve been reviewing a lot of smaller entry level machines of late it’s because that so many have been released in the past six months. Consider that only four years ago, the Ninja 250 was all on its own but now is joined by faired and naked bikes from Honda, Suzuki, KTM and Benelli, with BMW joining the party later this year. Alongside the popular adventure bike segment, learner bikes are the biggest gig in town for motorcycle manufacturers.

Not only are they cheap, but they offer the consumer a gateway to the brand. Yamaha no doubt hopes that first time riders who buy an R3 will over time upgrade to an R6 or even an R1. And they may well be very tempted to do so, because Yamaha has made a nearly perfect little motorcycle.

The Yamaha R3 is powered by an all-new 321cc inline twin cylinder engine. According to Yamaha, the development concept behind this new engine was to create a ‘supersport machine you can ride every day’, and the architecture of the new powerplant is designed to ensure good rideability in the low to mid-speed range, together with a strong and responsive character at higher rpm. Thankfully, they’ve nailed it.

While the Yamaha has a small horsepower advantage over Kawaski’s Ninja 300, it’s not really noticeable in a straight line drag. What is noticeable is that you don’t have to continually keep the engine at high revs to access that power – power delivery is available across the rev range and makes for a very rideable machine. That means there’s a good amount of roll on acceleration and you don’t necessarily have to bang down one or two gears to overtake – an impressive thing for a low capacity bike.

The two-into-one exhaust also elicits a nice note and the aftermarket pipes from Akropovic that are already available sound absolutely brilliant. The engine has been mated to an excellent gearbox – shifts were smooth and the gearbox didn’t hesitate once. The fueling of the bike is excellent too – none of the jerky throttle response that earlier CBR250R’s suffered from. In fact if anything, the throttle response is slightly too soft – when throttle blipping on downshifts I really had to twist the right grip to get the engine to rev. This is a very minor criticism of what is an otherwise near perfect setup.

The brakes on the Yamaha R3 are another highlight. Both initial bite and progression were excellent and there’s a good amount of feedback provided for such an entry level machine. Depending on where you live will dictate whether you can get ABS or not. In Australia it sensibly comes standard and in the UK it’s available as an option. For some extremely strange reason, Yamaha USA decided that they wouldn’t even offer ABS – a frankly baffling decision for a motorcycle aimed at new riders.

Up front there’s a 298 mm disc attached to a 2 piston caliper, with 220 mm disc at the back. Our bike launch was hosted on a track with over 20 corners and the brakes felt great throughout – no fade was noticeable. And it was also noticeable how well the front end performed under heavy deceleration with minimal front end dive.

In fact, the bike felt composed all day. While the suspension is hardly groundbreaking it did a good job in providing feedback as to what was happening where the rubber met the road. Perhaps this is Yamaha’s greatest achievement with the R3 – it feels like a small racebike when on the track but on the road manages to be a comfortable commuter. They’ve somehow managed to combine the best of the CBR300R and the Ninja 300 into one package and have done it successfully.

That perhaps is partly due to the fact that our test bike was fitted with Dunlop Sport Maxx tires and not the Pilot Road rubber that comes standard. Unfortunately, those Pilot Road tires aren’t what you’d expect – they’re apparently specifically designed for the Yamaha R3 and use ancient bias ply technology. While we didn’t ride with them, the general consensus is they’re pretty poor. Yamaha’s not alone in taking the cheap option on tires – both Honda and Kawasaki fit bias ply tires to their beginner bikes too and it’s a practice we’d love to see cease.

That is probably our only real criticism of the Yamaha R3. Looks wise, it’s a beauty. The fit and finish is top notch and Yamaha have produced a bike that looks more expensive than what it actual. They also haven’t tried to mimic the appearance of either the R6 or R1 – it has a style and character of its own. Even the stock exhaust doesn’t look too bad, a rarity of late.

Overall, the Yamaha R3 ticks all the boxes. It’s lighter than the Ninja 300 and more powerful than both it and the CBR300R. Its suspension is better sorted than the KTM RC390 and it seems to offer a better riding experience both on the track and on the road than the competition. Yamaha may have been late to the party, but they made their appearance count.

 

Honda Looking To Change CBR300R to a Parrallel-Twin

You never would have guessed that five years ago there would be so much competition at the smaller capacity end of the motorcycle spectrum, but the latest news we’ve discovered shows that if anything, things are heating up even more. There are strong indications that Honda is looking at replacing the current single cylinder engine in the CBR300R and replacing it with an all new parallel-twin power plant.

Honda has continually been playing catch-up with Kawasaki when it comes to the performance of their entry level bike and has also been leapfrogged by both Yamaha and KTM with their R3 and RC390 respectively.

The new engine is being developed first and foremost for markets like Indonesia where there’s heavy taxes to be paid on motorcycles with capacities of greater than 250cc. But like before, don’t expect such a bike to be kept away from the west for too long. It’s very likely that Honda will release a 300cc powered CBR as soon as possible which would take the Ninja 300 head on.

This information appears to be very credible as even last year it was known that Honda was looking at ways to catch up to its competitors in the entry level market in South East Asia. Previous reports were that Honda was looking at modifying the existing v-twin from the VTR250, but the performance characteristics of that engine probably weren’t up to scratch.

It’s understood that Honda is quite far along in the development of this new engine, so much so that an announcement could come from Honda later this year. Production will likely occur either in Indonesia or Thailand.

 

 

300 cc BMW ‘K03’ Spotted Testing in Germany

British motorcycle tabloid MCN has gotten hold of some photos of the motorcycle that will spearhead BMW Motorrad’s big push into the small displacement market. Code named K03, the motorcycle is being developed as a partnership between BMW and Indian motorcycle company, TVS. The agreement between BMW and TVS began in 2013 and was entered into to help BMW develop smaller capacity machines for the western market and TVS to make larger capacity machines for their markets.

The agreement set out plans for the two firms to develop machines in the sub 500 cc class, so its no surprise that the first machine they jointly collaborate on will be one for the increasingly heated circa 300 cc market.

Based on the photos, it’s a single cylinder water cooled engine – just like the Honda CBR300R. Forks at the front are inverted and look like the same forks from the TVS Draken (a concept bike shown at the Indian Auto Show last year) and straightforward shock absorber at the rear – nothing unexpected for what will need to be a keenly priced bike in India. While it can’t be seen in the pictures, ABS for any bikes sold by BMW will obviously be standard but perhaps not for TVS sold machines.

Given however that BMW has strong intentions to sell these entry level machines in western markets, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some enhancements in certain areas of the bike like suspension before it goes on sale here though.

MCN also suggests that in addition to the naked bike caught in the pictures here, BMW will also release sportsbike and GS style adventure bike on the same platform.g shipped from Europe to Bangalore for testing in India. It’s expected the first of these motorcycles will be officially unveiled at Intermot later this year.

 

 

Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs Honda CBR300R Specification Comparison

Yesterday, the Yamaha R3 was officially launched, meaning there is now three serious learner bikes available which previously included the Kawasaki Ninja 300R and Honda CBR300R. In the neat future, the KTM RC390 will be widely available but in the interim, if you’re in a country that has stricter learner restrictions, these three bikes are what’s available if you want a beginner sportsbike.

Previously, we’ve test ridden both the Honda CBR300R and Kawasaki Ninja 300, with the green Ninja being our pick. While Honda may market the CBR300R as a small capacity sportsbike, in comparison to the Ninja it is definitely more of an all rounder. And despite it’s recent capacity increase, it’s still well down on the power figures of Kawasaki’s machine.

The Yamaha R3 therefore seems to be aimed squarely at the Ninja. It’s capacity of 321cc is 26cc more than the Ninja 300 and 35cc more than the CBR300R. And that translates to figures of 42hp for the R3, around 39hp for the Ninja and 31hp for Honda’s bike. Those figures are even more in the Yamaha’s favor when weight is taken into account. The lightest of the three bikes is the CBR300R at 364lb (wet), but the R3 weighs only 4lb  more with the Ninja at 383lb (that said, the Ninja 300 does have the largest fuel tank).

Obviously we haven’t ridden the Yamaha R3 yet, so it remains to be seen whether it can match the Ninja’s handling. However, reviews of the Yamaha R25 (the Asian version of this bike which has been available for some time which has a 250cc capacity) have been very favorable. And with the Yamaha R3 coming in slightly below the Ninja 300 in price and only $100 more than the CBR300R, Yamaha may soon reign supreme in the entry level market.

For now, check out the comparative specifications for each bike below.

Honda CBR300RKawasaki Ninja 300Yamaha R3
Engine
Engine Type286cc 4 stroke, single-cylinder296cc 4 stroke, parallel twin321cc 4 stroke, parallel twin
Bore And Stroke76mm x 63mm62mm x 49 mm68 x 44 mm
InductionPGM-Fi, 38mm throttle body32 mm x 2 keihin with dual throttle valveTCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Compression Ratio10.7:110.6:111.2:1
Valve TrainDOHC; four valves per cylinderDOHC, 8 valvesDOHC, 8 Valves
Horsepower30.50 hp @ 8,500 rpm38.89 hp @ 11,000 rpm42 hp @ 10,750 rpm
Torque20 lb ft @ 7,500 rpm19.91 lb ft @ 10,000 rpm21.18 lb ft @ 9,000
Drive Train
TransmissionSix-speedSix-speedSix-speed
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front Suspension37mm fork; 4.65 inches travel37 mm telescopic fork41mm KYB telescopic fork
Rear SuspensionPro-Link single shock 4.07 inches travelUni Trak with gas charged shock and 5-way preloadKYB single shock
Front BrakeSingle 296 mmSingle 290 mmSingle 298 mm
Rear BrakeSingle 220 mmType Single 220 mm petal discSingle 220 mm
Front Tire110/70-17 radial110/70-17 M/C 54S110/70-17M/C 54H
Rear Tire140/70-17 radial140/70-17 M/C 66S140/70-17M/C 66H
Dimensions
Rake25.30 degrees27 degrees25 degrees
Trail98mm (3.9 inches)93mm (3.66 inches)94mm (3.7 inches)
Wheelbase54.3 inches55.31 inches54.3 inches
Seat Height30.7 inches30.9 inches30.7 inches
Wet Weight364 lb383 lb368 lb
Fuel Capacity3.4 gallons4.5 gallons3.7 gallons
Price
$4,899$5,299$4,990

Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs Honda CBR300R – Beginner Sportsbike Comparison

So you’re looking to start riding and want an entry level sports bike.  Well then the Ninja 300 or the CBR300R are pretty much the choices available to you at the moment (at least until the Yamaha R3 and KTM RC390 hit the showrooms). But which one is better? Are both the Ninja 300 and CBR300R pretty much the same thing except for the badges? Is one more suitable than the other depending on what your expectations are? Are you only interested in performance or are do you want a bike that’s comfortable and good for city traffic? Let the Ninja 300 vs Honda CBR300R battle begin.

What the Ninja definitely has in its favor is history. The little sports bike was first released in 1986 and had virtually no competition in the market until Honda came in with their CBR250R in 2011. In response, Kawasaki increased the capacity of the Ninja to just under 300cc with Honda responding in kind this year (though the CBR300R is actually only 286 cc).  And while both bikes are squarely aimed at the beginner market, they do take a different philosophy and approach as to how to achieve their desired aim.

Of the two, the Ninja 300 is definitely the sportier of the two. In fact, when it comes to performance the Ninja 300 is more closely in competition with the Honda’s other entry level bike, the CBR500R. Its straight twin engine puts out 38.89 hp (29 kw) @ 11,000 rpm and 19.91 lb ft (27 nm) @10,000 rpm.

Ninja 300

Acceleration 0 to 60mph: 5.60 seconds
Acceleration Quarter Mile: 14.50 seconds @ 90.58 mph
Top Speed: 112 mph

Despite its recent upgrade, the Honda CBR300R is still down on power and torque compared to the Kawasaki. It’s single cylinder engine outputs 30.50 hp (22.7 kw) @ 8,500 rpm and 20 lb ft (27 n) @ 7,500 rpm.  That’s a power deficit of around 22 per cent and it shows in the figures below:

CBR300R

Acceleration 0 to 60mph: 7.80 seconds
Acceleration Quarter Mile: Not available
Top Speed: 100 mph

As far as weight goes, the CBR300R is 364 lb (165 kg) with all fluids compared to the Ninja 300 which weighs 383 lb (174 kg) wet.  And this is one of the CBR300R’s greatest strengths.  That lightness translates into a much better bike to ride when it comes to city traffic. If you live in a place where lane splitting and filtering is allowed (or you do it anyway), the CBR is much easier to weave through cars on. And it’s weight isn’t the only reason for that.

The Honda CBR300R’s ergonomics are much better suited to the suburban landscape. The Ninja 300 is designed as a beginner sportsbike that is much more at home on the track or in the mountains, whereas Honda has designed the CBR300R as more of an all-rounder. It’s a relaxed bike to be on, and while the seat height of 30.7 inches is only slightly lower than that of the Ninja (30.9 inch), leg room is much more expansive with lower pegs.

Power delivery down low is also smoother on the CBR300R and more readily available. While the Ninja is more at home at higher RPM, the CBR gives you almost full power just north of 6,000 rpm.  Fueling on both bikes is good, though I’d give a slight edge to the CBR.

Once you get out into the open road, the Ninja claws its way back and definitely outperforms the Honda.  That extra power and top end make a huge difference on the freeway.  The little single of the CBR starts to strain once you go north of about 120 kph, whereas the Ninja keeps on accelerating. The same can be said when you’re going for a spirited ride in the twisties. You really notice the power difference in both bikes. Where the Ninja will quite happily head up inclines with only a single downshift, you have to hammer through the box on the CBR300R to get it motivated.

And the Ninja is definitely the better handling of the two when it comes to riding closer to the limit. Directional changes are swift and you just feel more confident on the Ninja 300. That’s not to say the CBR300R handles poorly at speed, it’s just that its all-rounder composition starts to show. You’re more comfortable on the CBR, just not as quick in a corner. Having a slipper clutch is also a great benefit and is unheard of in an entry level bike. Brakes on both are good and come with ABS as an option (which should be standard on a beginner bike) but I would marginally give braking performance honors to the Honda just due to their better feedback – something you want whether you’re a novice or a pro.

From reading all of this, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that the Ninja 300 is the faster and more sports orientated bike, while the Honda CBR300R is a better everyday bike. And that’s correct. And it’s because of that I would choose the Ninja 300 over the CBR300R. Why?

Because this is a comparison of two entry level sports bikes and to me it’s clear as day that the Ninja 300 is superior as a sports bike. If you’re after an all-round beginner bike then the CBR300R is fine – great even. But while it may look like a sports bike, it’s a term I think that loosely applies. And trust me, when you’re stuck on a learner approved bike for a year or more, you’ll want all the performance you can get.

Honda CBR300RKawasaki Ninja 300
Engine
Engine Type286cc 4 stroke, single-cylinder296cc 4 stroke, parallel twin
Bore And Stroke76mm x 63mm62mm x 49 mm
InductionPGM-Fi, 38mm throttle body32 mm x 2 keihin with dual throttle valve
Compression Ratio10.7:110.6:1
Valve TrainDOHC; four valves per cylinderDOHC, 8 valves
Horsepower30.50 hp @ 8,500 rpm38.89 hp @ 11,000 rpm
Torque20 lb ft @ 7,500 rpm19.91 lb ft @ 10,000 rpm
Drive Train
TransmissionSix-speedSix-speed
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front Suspension37mm fork; 4.65 inches travel37 mm telescopic fork
Rear SuspensionPro-Link single shock with five positions of spring preload adjustability; 4.07 inches travelUni Trak with gas charged shock and 5-way preload
Front BrakeSingle 296mm discType Single 290 mm petal disc
Rear BrakeSingle 220mm discType Single 220 mm petal disc
Front Tire110/70-17 radial110/70-17 M/C 54S
Rear Tire140/70-17 radial140/70-17 M/C 66S
Dimensions
Rake25.30 degrees27 degrees
Trail98mm (3.9 inches)93mm
Wheelbase54.3 inches55.31 inches
Seat Height30.7 inches30.9 inches
Wet Weight364 pounds.383 lb
Fuel Capacity3.4 gallons4.5 gallons

 

Honda CB300X – Adventure Version of CBR300R On The Way

New patent images obtained by AMCN seem to indicate that a ‘soft’ adventure version of the entry level Honda CBR300R is expected to be manufactured in the near future. Likely to be titled the Honda CB300X, the bike appears to share all the components with both the CBR300R and CB300F, save for longer forks and a higher seat. It also features indicators integrated into the barkbusters. Like the CB500X, this will be an adventure bike with little to no capabilities to go off road.

The basic design for the Honda CB300X was actually first shown in February this year at the Auto Expo in Delhi, India. No technical details were forthcoming at that time, but it makes perfect sense for Honda to replicate the success of it’s 500 series which includes a faired sports bike (the CBR500R), a naked (CB500F) and the adventure styled CB500X. Out of those three, the CB500X is often declared the best of the bunch due to it’s great riding position and ergonomics.

With the new Honda CBR300R (see our review here) now hitting showrooms worldwide and the naked CB300F following shortly, it would give Honda an enviable entry level bike lineup that would appeal to all tastes and styles. There’s no indication of a release date for the Honda CB300X though it would likely be in the middle of next year.