A Sub-$5,000 Thrill Ride Purpose-Built for Beginner Riders
Ahh yes, the CBR300R – a lightweight, easy to maneuver, easy to maintain, fuel-sipping, beginner bike prodigy. That may sound like a lofty description, but the CBR300R has been that since its introduction in 2013 (on sale since in 2015). The CBR300R has successfully cemented itself in the hearts and minds of the entry-level faithful. The 2020 CBR300R is no different.
I have a love affair with good entry-level bikes, and not just because they are generally affordable and paired with an undeniable bang for your buck fun factor. Bikes like the Ninja 500R, Ninja 650R, FZ6, and SV650 are all considered the cream of the crop among new riders, but if your sights only focus on 500cc’s and up, you lose out on some incredible sub-500cc bikes that should not be overlooked.
Bikes like the Yamaha R3 and the more recent KTM 390 Duke are prime examples of how you can make a sub-500cc an opt-in thrill machine. I say opt-in because you have to make the choice to ride them that way… but isn’t it nice that the choice exists.
And, if you’re sitting on a 2015+ Honda CBR300R, you’ve got the same choice.
Our Take: Should You Buy a Honda CBR300R
Whether or not the CBR300R is the right bike for you depends on your priorities and, crucially, your dimensions. This bike is ideal for smaller riders, as it itself is a bit smaller than the average sportbike. With a single-cylinder four-stroke 286cc engine, the CBR300R enjoys a hair over 30 horsepower, and you can get one with ABS to make your braking life a bit easier.
Where larger beginner bikes are weighing in at 450lbs or more, this nimble Honda motorcycle comes in at just under 360lbs. That reduction in weight relative to other, larger bikes makes the CBR300R feel positively spritely by comparison.
So, it lacks the same get-up-and-go of some larger machines, but it is more nimble and athletic in the corners. If you’re primarily a city rider, the CBR300R will absolutely shine on every winding road, sweeping turn, and overpass/underpass… while sipping fuel along the way.
Bottom line: The CBR300R is a fuel-miser, corner-carving, docile-unless-otherwise-asked sportbike. You can ride it sanely, you can ride it slowly, and you can whip it around corners with impunity. For a new rider, this combination is rare and thrilling; for experienced riders, it’ll bring you back to the core of what riding is all about: fun.
Reasons to buy the CBR300R:
30 horsepower is plenty for new riders
Its smaller size and light wet weight make it easy to maneuver
Excellent fuel economy
You don’t mind upgrading after a couple of seasons
Reasons not to buy the CBR300R:
You are already pretty confident in your riding ability and want to start on something with a bit more power
You want a bike for several seasons
Production Run & Notable Model-Year Changes
Production Run & Model Generations
The CBR300R actually began life is the CBR250R, a 250cc single-cylinder starter bike. Like the CBR300R, the 250R was sporty, nimble, and ideal for city riding. After increasing competition from Kawasaki and Yamaha, Honda upped their game for 2015 with the release of the larger-displacement CBR300R.
The CBR300R has been in production since 2015.
Differences Between the CBR250R & the CBR300R
These two bikes are nearly identical, save for a few choice mechanical changes (not to mention the aesthetic differences).
The styling was revised to look more in-line with Honda’s RR lineup of motorcycles
Revised front and rear fairings
Revised front fascia and windscreen
New seat and side covers
Larger 286cc engine (still a single cylinder)
New crankshaft and connecting rod
Extended stroke to 63mm (from 55mm)
Fuel economy reduced to 71 mpg (from 77 mpg)
Owners Review of the Honda CBR300R
Press & Magazines
2019 Model Year Review
“Few bikes have inspired the two-wheeled mentality like that of the Honda CBR300R. The proverbial trunk of the motorcycle family tree, most riders can trace their roots back to the faithful Honda CBR300R. Entry-level bikes have been a popular segment recently for me, and it’s only been within these last few months that I’ve begun to understand the mass appeal. These lightweight, low cost, highly capable machines check all the boxes for me, and the 2019 Honda CBR300R stands tall on that list. With Honda reliability, impressive economy, a powerful single, and a $4,699 base MSRP, you’ll struggle to find faults in this modern classic.”
“Honda’s challenge with this bike will be saving it from being overlooked as bikes like the Ninja 400, the Duke/RC390, and even the Rebel 300 steal the attention in the beginner market. The 300R also battles all those small used bikes on the market, ready for beginners to drop, stall, and sell a year later. But Honda’s hidden gem offers something different for today’s rider. That’s the danger of refinement, though. Not everyone notices.”
“Overall, the new Thai-built 2015 Honda CBR300R represents a significant upgrade to a proven platform, and while it may not make you go out and sell the trusty 250R already parked in your garage, it does beg a closer look, especially if you’re in the market for a CBR500R.”
ABS – ABS on a bike is so dramatically better than non-ABS bikes that it’s hard to articulate the difference.
Affordability – At under $5,000 out the door for a brand new CBR300R, new riders can get into the sport without having to drop a ton of money. Nevermind the awesome 71mpg fuel economy rating…
How it looks – The CBR300R looks every bit as sporty as its big brothers, and only people following Honda’s sportbike lineup would know that it’s a “beginner bike”.
What I Don’t Like
Top speed – A hair over 110 km/hr top speed means this bike is effectively relegated to city riding (riding at or near the CBR300R’s top-speed has the engine spinning at more than 7,500 rpm)
The Bottom Line
If you’re under 6 feet tall and weigh less than 190lbs, the CBR300R is an excellent first foray into motorcycling. While it doesn’t have a lot of power, its 30-horsepower engine is more than sufficient to where it is best suited: city riding.
In the city, the CBR300R returns an insane fuel economy and has a pretty good range. Thanks to its 71 mpg rating, the 3.4-gallon fuel tank affords more than 220 miles of range. So, it may not fare well on the highway, but it’ll get plenty of mileage around town.
Honda CBR300R Competition
If you’re looking at a CBR300R, you may also want to check out these other bikes: