It's been a while sincehas had a model which could be a standout model in the 200 cc - 400 cc space. The lost steam ages ago and the company turned its attention to other areas. But with the new Honda CB300R, things are looking up and the segment itself is growing at a good pace, offering a good opportunity for HMSI to shake things up in the entry-level performance segment.
Cast a glance at motorcycle and you will definitely look back at it for a few seconds. The Honda CB300R is a handsome bike. Its design is inspired by its elder sibling, the Honda CB1000R, which was earlier the Neo Café Racer Concept. The round LED headlamp, sharp lines on the fuel tank, the step seat and the minimalist approach offer a lovely blend of retro and modern designs. The good part is that the motorcycle gets its share of brawn thanks to the 41 mm silver upside down forks and the radiator shroud with a brushed metal finish and blacked out engine and alloys. The underslung upswept exhaust with chrome bits looks good and gels well with the overall design. The Candy Chromosphere Red colour of our test bike further accentuates the looks of the motorcycle.
Under that retro skin, the CB300R is a modern motorcycle. There is a rectangular LCD display which reads out information such as speed, revs, fuel indicator, fuel consumption along with trip and odometer and so on. Although readability under the sun is an issue. The black background with light lettering makes it difficult to read info on the move too. Also, there is a non-switchable dual-channel ABS along with an inertial measurement unit (IMU) which helps keep the rear tyre on tarmac under hard braking and distributes the braking force between the front and the rear tyres effectively. And lastly, the CB300R gets all LED lighting which not only looks cool but have decent illumination too.
Honda has plonked a 286 cc single-cylinder motor in the CB300R which is liquid-cooled and pumps out 30 bhp at 8,000 rpm and 27.4 Nm at 6,500 rpm which is 1 bhp and 0.1 Nm lesser than the UK-spec model. This is the same engine which was first introduced in 2015 on the Honda CBR300R for international markets but has been very slightly de-tuned, possibly to run on lower grade petrol. Power to the rear wheel is sent via a 6-speed gearbox. As far as cycle parts are concerned, the bike is built around a diamond type trellis frame and sits on 17-inch alloys shod with Michelin Pilot Street rubber. The motorcycle gets fat 41 mm USD forks up front and a 7-step pre-load adjustable monoshock at the rear. Up front, the CB300R gets a single 296 cc petal type disc brake without a hub which is gripped by 4-pot callipers and the rear wheel gets a 220 mm petal disc.
Thumb the starter and the CB300R starts off with a typical Japanese whine. Sit on it and you will realise that the seat is higher than normal and that's because you sit 800 mm off the ground. The moment you sit on bike and take it off the stand, you immediately feel the lightness of the motorcycle and with a kerb weight of 147 kg, it is actually a light bike. Nonetheless, as you twist the throttle and start building speed, you wouldn't realise when you go past city speeds. That's because the response is crisp and the gear shifts are butter smooth. The bottom end grunt is likeable and it propels you past the 100 kmph mark in no time.
The Honda CB300R is stylish and with you on it, your style quotient too goes up a few notches. It will stand out whether on the move, or when parked somewhere. It is a good option for young riders and people who are returning to riding after a gap. The performance is par for the course when riding in the city but highway runs could be a little uncomfortable with the stiff suspension and seat. it is more affordable than its two biggest rivals, the KTM 390 Duke and the BMW G 310 R.