The Honda CB300R is beautiful to look at and it feels like a more expensive machine than its sticker price would suggest.
Who Is The CB300R Built For?
This is a brand new for 2019 design Honda has introduced to compete with other small displacement bikes hitting the market like Kawasaki’s Z400.
Although the CB300R is aimed mainly at the entry-level niche for new motorcyclists, it can appeal to veteran riders as well. I took the CB300R on a ride through heavy Los Angeles traffic and rode the long climb out of the Los Angeles basin on the interstate headed north.
The CB300R split lanes in the ferocious L.A traffic like it was custom built for that purpose. Then it happily maintained speed on the wide open interstate out towards Lancaster. The only time I wanted more power came when I hit a strong headwind on a long steep grade. Despite the need for speed I still maintained 70mph.
- 286cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
- DOHC four valves per cylinder
- PGM-FI fuel injection w/ 38mm throttle body
- 31 horsepower @ 8500 rpm, and 20 ft/lbs of torque @ 7500 rpm at the crank
- Electric start
- 6-speed transmission, wet clutch with chain final drive
- Brakes: Front single 296mm disc and rear single 220mm disc
- 31.5” seat height
- 313 lbs wet weight
- Suspension: Front inverted 41mm telescopic forks; 5.1 inches travel and Rear Suspension
Pro-Link® single shock; 4.2 inches travel
- 2.7 gallon ( 10 Litre) gas tank yielding approximately 75 mpg
- Wheels: front 110/70-17 and rear 150/60-17
Attractive Naked Styling
You can’t talk about the CB300R without mentioning its looks. To my eye, the bike is stunning. Naked (motorcycles lacking plastic fairings around the engine area) styled bikes have become really popular on the market in recent times and the CB300R is a new age version of that genre or classification.
You can’t park it without a backward glance as you walk away. It just begs to be gawked at thanks to its clean and minimalist looks.
Seat Height & Position
The seat height is a reasonable 31.5” and the foot pegs and controls all feel properly positioned even for someone sharing my 6’2” height. Although it rides like one, it doesn’t look like a small bike. It could convincingly pass as a 500cc machine to someone walking by it.
The highly stylized gas tank only holds 2.7 gallons (10L) so the ‘gas’ range is just about the same as the, ummm, ‘ass’ range. I saw almost 70 mpg on my ride which puts the range at just under 200 miles… give or take a bit if there’s a headwind or lots of hills to climb.
I did run it long and hard on the freeway so your mileage may be better with a corresponding bump in the range. It’s fair to say that there’s a decent balance between range and comfort.
Suspension & Brakes
I was impressed to see inverted front forks on the CB300R which explains why it feels so nimble and handles corners so well. The inverted forks provide less unsprung weight adding up to a better ride experience.
Having said that, the suspension provides a ride that could be a little firmer on larger bumps yet softer on small road imperfections. It’s not a top level suspension as that would send the price much higher and out of reach for the intended buyer demographic, so it’s made instead to handle the average rider’s weight best.
It handled my riding partner Jim’s 5’7”, 175 lb frame perfectly well but, it didn’t quite measure up to my err… shall we say high end of 200+ lbs the way I would have hoped.
The front 296mm diameter “wave style” rotor with radial mount Nissan 4 piston caliper has a great feel and provides strong stopping power for this lightweight (313lb) machine. It’s important to note that ABS is available as an option.
These stock Dunlop Sportmax tires are found on many smaller sporty bikes right out of the box from the factory. They’ve proven to be great handling sneakers on a range of motorcycles and the CB300R is no exception. At no time did I ever want for traction, even on sandy stretches of asphalt encountered in the Agua Dulce Canyon area.
I’m not certain how many miles you’ll get out a set of these tires, but I would guestimate at least 5000 to 8000.
Engine & Power
The liquid cooled, fuel injected single cylinder engine displaces 286cc and makes 30hp at 8000 rpm, but you don’t need to rev it that high to have fun. It pulls smartly from idle and the power delivery is very beginner friendly with a long torque curve.
The larger displacement and corresponding power bump in this CB300R is a notable improvement to the merely adequate power in the CBR250R.
Cost of Ownership
I currently own a 2015 Honda CBR250R, a very similar motorcycle to the CB300R in many respects. Using it as a reference I’m certain this CB300R will be pleasantly affordable to own. Easy on tires, brakes and other wearable components. My maintenance has been minimal with zero repairs and I’d expect the same from this bike.
Surprisingly the chain on my test bike stretched considerably over the day and a half I rode it to the point it was noisy out on the road and desperately needing adjustment. The Honda technician I spoke to about it when I returned the 300R agreed that this is fairly common when the chain is new and owners need to stay on top of its maintenance.
While riding in front of me, Jim remarked how bright the lights looked along with the turn signals. I gladly give full credit to Honda for choosing not to compromise on safety in order to save on cost.
I would have preferred a TFT display just because they’re easier to read and would have really given this bike a high-end look, but the LCD one it comes with does the job adequately in a no-frills kind of way. It provides 99% of what I would demand with the exception of the already mentioned gear position indicator.
The tachometer bar works in conjunction with a shift light to warn the rider it’s time to act right around 8500 rpm. Nicely done Honda!
I especially enjoy the “Let’s Ride” message that pops up when the key is first turned on.
It appears Honda installed a replaceable cover on the muffler in the event the bike falls over on the right side to minimize damage. The owner would only have to replace a damaged cover instead of the entire exhaust canister. This could make a big financial difference to a new rider having to spend maybe $40 after dumping their bike while learning the ropes of riding.
Mirrors & Vibration
My friend Jim was riding the 300R with me and noted how the mirrors vibrated pretty badly at highway speeds to the point the view was blurred.
He also said his feet went numb after spending more than an hour riding it on the highway. His feeling is this motorcycle is best used as a commuter or city source of transportation. It rides fine on the highway for short jaunts but isn’t a cross country touring specialist.
That goes without saying though and Honda didn’t build this bike with long rides in mind.
Located under the seat is a medium sized storage compartment big enough to hold some tools or an extra pair of gloves in.
There wasn’t a tool kit in the bike to my disappointment. I looked for one to see whether it could be used to adjust the chain and found none.
The F Factor (Fun!)
Riding the CB300R turned me into a bit of a hooligan.
I wheelied it (yes, when pressed hard, it’ll wheelie!) and pretty much looked for every opportunity to behave like I just broke out of prison. Driveway ramps and curbs became impromptu jumps and every corner looked like Turn 1 at Monza in my mind’s eye. It’s powerful enough to get a speeding ticket, but not rowdy enough to get a prison sentence. It should be respected but not feared, lending to its likeability and charm.
The CB300R feels light enough to be a dirtbike and performs a lot like one minus the long travel suspension. As you can see from some of the photos I couldn’t resist riding it off road a little bit. If you could find some dual sport tires to put on it this bike would actually perform quite well as a dirt road scrambler.
Final Verdict Scorecard
- Price 8/10
- Fun 9/10
- Performance 8/10
- Looks 9/10
- Manageable power suited for new riders
- Nimble, lightweight and confidence inspiring handling
- Beautiful design including the LED headlight
- Great sound
- Fun to ride
- Really fun to ride!
- Affordable fun
- No gear indicator on the dash
- The seat was a little too firm
- Chain slack may need more maintenance than expected
- No bungee points at the back of the bike
- Mirrors and footpegs vibrate noticeably at highway speeds
- Manufacturer: Honda Motosports
- Price (When Tested): $4649
- Made In: Japan
- Alternative models & colors: 2 colors with ABS model option
- Review Date: February 28, 2019
Co-authored by: Greg Phillips and Jim Pruner
A Little About Me… Greg Phillips
My name is Greg Phillips. I live in Canada and I’m physically 59 years old, but mentally 19 years old – really the best of both worlds. In my long riding history, I’ve won motorcycle road races (including a class championship on a Suzuki RG500 Gamma), been licensed by the FIA and NASCAR – and won races in both.
I’ve had the good fortune of making it to a racetrack several times a year since the ‘70’s – and I still win the occasional race in CHAMP car endurance racing. I still run track events and high-performance driving schools every summer. I’m playful, fun and am pretty much up to try anything.
I’m a big guy. 6’2” and just a few Big Macs shy of 300lbs. I still drag my knee around the race track from time to time and I have a pretty sweet fleet of motorcycles that range from a Moto Guzzi V7 Racer to a Kawasaki H2 – and I love to ride them all when winter hasn’t crushed my ability to do so. Oh, and one time, I drove 230.7 mph. Booya.