Honda CB 300 R – A Great Roadster For Beginners

We are going to take a look at the Honda CB300R starting with a review, its specs and whether we think it is a good bike for beginners.

The Honda CB300R has been overlooked, when in fact what it offers to the market is a solid machine, ready for most tasks. Let’s start at the beginning when it was first introduced in 2017.

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Honda CB300R Review

The Honda CB300R was designed and built in 2017 ready for 2018 (replacing the CB300F). It was designed to fill a gap that the CB250 (which was discontinued in 2003) had left behind.

2018 Honda CB300R is an ideal beginner motorcycle
The 2018 Honda CB300R

The CB250R which turned into the CBR300R had sort of filled the role but once turned into a fully faired sportsbike; there was no longer a naked bike in Honda’s range of the smaller capacity. 

There were different motivations for Honda depending on the market observed as to why a smaller machine made sense. In Asia small capacity machines run the roost and therefore throwing a bike in that could compete with the KTM 390 and BMW G310R made complete sense as it was likely Honda could undercut the competitors with their offering. 

Europe was beginning to see an upsurgence in smaller bikes too and continues with this, so why shouldn’t Honda get in on the action? 

Furthermore, the UK with many riders starting out with a license that only allows them to ride a 125cc bike before being able to move up; having a 300cc bike there makes the transition to a bigger bike easier. Many in the press and even Honda themselves described the bike as a ‘stepping-stone’ model. 

Given the bike has since been discontinued in the UK I am unclear as to how successful that strategy actually was – perhaps Honda has something new in the works for that market; the Rebel 500 certainly seems to be flying off the shelves. 

My personal thoughts is that a few years ago Yamaha’s MT range was thriving, there wasn’t a day I wouldn’t see a MT of some capacity on UK roads. The MT-125 and MT-03 were particularly popular among young and new riders. Due to the Yamaha range’s popularity perhaps the Honda CB300R was simply overlooked as an alternative to a small capacity naked bike. 

Who knows? I am of course but a mere observer of all things two-wheels.

Now you know the background, let’s take a look at how the CB300R performs.

The bike is lightweight and yet seemingly holds its own on the road even at speed, this is comforting when on roads of 70mph, there is no fear that a truck is going to blow you off the road. This feature is an unusual one on small bikes. 

A quick side note: the bike is a naked roadster and as such you will feel the wind as there is no fairing or windshield to protect you. Around town and back roads this shouldn’t be an issue, but for longer rides and on the highway (70mph roads) this may become tiring. 

Rider Magazine when reviewing the Honda CB300R says “Honda says its focus when recreating the CB300 was weight savings, so just about every change interacts with that goal in some way. The biggest is the chassis, a two-piece design with a tubular steel main frame and a separate, strengthened pivot plate to which the rear shock mounts. A new shorter swingarm with a gull-wing design on the right side allows the new muffler to be mounted as far inboard as possible for mass centralization.”

The single-cylinder engine pushes out 31 horsepower and 27Nm of torque. It is responsive throughout the range. For a small capacity bike it is surprising that it is happy to sit at 75mph all day long if it needs to. The combined adequate power and lightweight chassis makes for a pleasant ride and you can easily forget that you are only sitting on 286 cc’s. 

There is plenty of power to overtake and get you out of any sticky situations, however the estimated top speed of 95mph is likely a bit of a stretch and not something you would want to endure or put the bike through for very long at all. Speed is not what the bike was built for. 

Those interested in the bike being the choice for a commuter you will be pleased to know from several reviews it seems the Honda’s fuel economy is 60mpg.

Showa forks on the front are non-adjustable but you can adjust the 5-setting preload on the rear to suit yourself. 

Brakes are linked with ABS, which is an IMU-linked system. 

Essentially a little computer brain kicks into gear if you brake hard and monitors how much pressure to apply to the front and rear disc in order to stop the bike safely. 

In terms of other tech you get an LCD dash which has a MPG and fuel indicator, however, there is no gear indicator on the CB300R.

LED lights are standard so you have a nice bright headlamp and indicators. 

It isn’t a physically small bike and looks bigger than it is which means that all riders should get on fairly well with the bike. If you are on the shorter side, the lightweight feel of the bike may make up for the fact you can’t flat foot the bike on both sides and therefore you will likely still feel comfortable and in control. 

Ergonomically it is a very upright position as you would expect from a naked bike, it is a natural seating position, wide bars, neutral foot-pegs all lead the rider to be in command. The bars do attract riders to hunch over the tank into an aggressive stance if so desired but it is not a requirement. 

Honda states:

“The Honda CB300R represents the perfect combination of features to support the way we’re riding today. It’s tuned to excel in real-world road conditions, with plenty of power and precise handling. The Neo-Sports Café style puts the engine and chassis hardware on display, for performance you can see.”

Honda has combined a selection of styles from Cafe-Racer with a modern twist and a nod to Sportsbikes in order to come up with the style of the Honda CB300R. Not sure there is too much of a typical Cafe Racer vibe in the design and it comes across as a more traditional sporty roadster.

However, the end package is not a bad looking machine, it doesn’t come across as a learner bike and Honda has paid plenty of attention to detail. This is despite the bike being built in Thailand as opposed to Japan or the US facilities. 

The only color option on the new bike is Matte Pearl Blue with the majority of the bike aside from the tank blacked out. It has an edge to it that is for sure.  

Oil changes are only to be performed every 8,000 miles thanks to the low friction piston rings and with the engine coming out of the tried and tested CBR300R, reliability (as with most Honda’s) will hardly be an issue.

Pillion’s are accounted for with a roomy pillion pad and footpegs.

The large swept up exhaust allows for plenty of ground clearance if you want to get into practicing those leans in bends.

Overall the CB300R is a perfectly capable, agile, stylish and fun machine that will hold its own in a crowd.

Rider Magazine “it should be on your short list if you’re a new rider or simply want something small, light and fun.”

MCN rated the bike 4 out of 5 stars on their scale, not a bad score from a UK publication used to reviewing much bigger bikes. 

2021 Honda CB300R Specs

Honda CB 300 R engine
The single cylinder engine delivers a crisp throttle response without being intimidating for beginners

Engine and Transmission –

  • Compact 286cc, DOHC four valve liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke
  • Bore and Stroke – 76mm x 63mm
  • Induction – Fuel Injection with 38mm throttle body
  • Compression Ratio – 10.7:1
  • Drivetrain – Six-Speed

Suspension and Brakes – 

  • Front Suspension – 41mm telescopic fork; 4.65 inches of travel
  • Rear Suspension – Pro-Link® single shock; 5.2 inches of travel
  • Front Brake – Single 296mm disc; ABS (anti lock braking system)
  • Rear Brake – Single 220mm disc; ABS (anti lock braking system)

Dimensions –

  • Rake – 24.70°
  • Trail – 93mm
  • Seat Height – 31.5”
  • Fuel Capacity – 2.5 Gallons
  • Wheelbase – 53.3”
  • Curb Weight Ready to Ride – 317lbs

Emissions – 

  • Meets current EPA standards; Models sold in California meet current CARB standards and may differ slightly due to emissions equipment.

Warranty – 

  • One Year Warranty – Transferable, Unlimited-Mileage
  • Option to extend coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®

Is the 2021 Honda CB300R a Good Beginner Bike?

As far as beginner bikes go the CB300R is as good as any. 

The best feature of the model for a beginner will be how lightweight it is. Whether you are moving up from a 125cc or the CB300R will be your very first. It’s weight will inspire confidence in all situations when learning.

Being able to master control at slow speeds and feeling comfortable at stop lights/or in traffic, will relieve a lot of the pressure that comes with learning to ride.

The fuel injection system delivers crisp throttle response from the compact 286cc DOHC four valve liquid cooled single cylinder engine.

The Neo sports cafe style riding position is also great for new riders as it is very upright, giving you great visibility of the road ahead and your surroundings. The layout will also be comfortable for most, unlike some ‘beginner’ sportsbikes where you are thrown into a hunched over race-style position. 

Handling is light, agile and precise, what this means for new riders is that mistakes are easily corrected as you won’t be wrestling with a big heavy machine to get back on track. Being able to get up to speed and feel confident putting some extra lean in the bends will serve you great for practice as your riding experience grows.

The lack of a gear indicator is perhaps something new riders will be irritated by. However, from my personal experience practicing the gears and knowing where you are in position just takes a bit of time; it will soon come naturally. It is better to have gear changes be intuitive from the get go rather than depending on an indicator to tell you what gear you are in. 

Anti lock brakes as standard is an awesome feature for all riders but particularly beginners. Should a rider grab more of the brake than they perhaps should, the smart ABS system will control how much brake is applied to the front and rear to bring the bike to a controlled stop. It is particularly great in wet weather. 

Taller riders won’t feel out of place on the Honda CB300R, so if you are a taller new rider you won’t feel like a clown riding a circus bike, or look like one. 

Overall styling, fit and finish is to a good standard and it is a bike that most would be happy to have sat in the garage. 

Pricing wise for a new rider it isn’t too bad. For the money you are getting a bike that could do a rider a decent turn and even be kept as their commuter bike for a long-time therefore the value for money is there. Being aimed at newer riders, there will always be a market for the bikes on the used market with people being willing to pay for bikes in good condition. 

Low service intervals and the bike generally being low maintenance also leads it to being suitable for new riders. Honda is renowned for its reliability and I would suspect that the CB300R won’t suddenly break this tradition. New riders need not fear therefore having to get the wrench out, instead they can stay focused on riding. 

Overall, I think the CB300R makes for a great all-round beginner motorcycle.

What is the 2021 Honda CB300R Top Speed

The CB300R 286cc engine produces a top speed of 95mph.

Where is the CB300R Made?

The CB300R is produced for the worldwide market at Honda’s manufacturing facility in Thailand.

However, for the Indian market the bike is imported via the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) route and is locally assembled at the company’s domestic facility in India.

How Does the CB300R Compare to its Rivals?

When it comes to rivals the Honda CB300R does not have as many, than say bikes that are in the 1000cc plus category. 

The niche of small-capacity machines (while growing) is relatively small and even more so when it comes to naked roadster type bikes. The three that stand out to me are the KTM 390, BMW G310R and the Yamaha MT-03.

Here is a quick glance of some specs compared to the Honda (Based on latest model year info):

Model

Price

Engine Capacity

Weight

Seat Height

Fuel Capacity

Top Speed

KTM 390

$5,699

373.4cc

329lbs

31.4”

2.9 Gal

113mph

BMW G310R

$5,045

313cc

362lbs

30.9”

2.9 Gal

89mph


Model

Price

Engine Capacity

Weight

Seat Height

Fuel Capacity

Top Speed

Yamaha MT-03

$4,599

321cc

373lbs

30.7”

3.7 Gal

100mph

Honda CB300R

$4,949

286cc

317lbs

31.5”

2.5 Gal

95mph

The Honda is neither the fastest or slowest of the bunch although Top Speed on these machines is not something you should focus on too much as it is just not what they are produced for. 

The CB300R has the tallest seat height and therefore if you are a bit shorter, you may consider the BMW as an option as they also supply a low seat to accommodate shorter riders. 

As you can see while the smallest in capacity the CB is also the lightest of the bunch which makes it very suitable for new riders. 

When compared to its closest rivals the Honda is priced reasonably within the market and there is a lot of quality packed into the package. 

How Much Does the CB300R Cost?

In the US a new model CB300R has a Base MSRP of $4,949.

In India a new model is expected to retail at ₹ 2.50 Lakh. The 2021 model is expected to be released August 2021, however, it is not yet clear whether the bike will be delayed until January 2022. 

The CB300R has been discontinued in the UK however, there is a healthy used bike market with prices averaging between £3,500-£4,000.

Verdict

I think it is a shame the CB300R is no longer available in the UK but as mentioned I think it will come back in some form or another, but with the Rebel doing so well I’m not convinced it is needed.

The bike is a solid choice for new riders and those that want a workhorse to get them where they are going without fail. It might be small but it packs a mighty punch and handles well in real world road riding.

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