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2015 Honda CBR300R First Ride

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Honda’s smallest CBR got a little bit bigger and better with the release of the 2015 CBR300R. Last year, the CBR250R was absent from Honda’s lineup, but not because the 250’s sales were lacking. Rather, Big Red was busy beefing-up the CBR’s Single and restyling the bodywork. Honda invited MotoUSA for an abbreviated test ride on the new CBR300R around the hills and coast close to its Torrance, California, headquarters.

In order to align with the rest of the CBR line, Honda restyled the curves and angles of the 300R. Gone is the single headlight, replaced by a dual-unit configuration resembling the CBR500R and CBR1000RR. Honda claims the styling updates allow entry-level owners to sport a more veteran look on their first-ever mount. And save for the slightly diminutive size and less aggressive rider stance, the CBR300R does look the part of a high performance repli-racer at a glance. I say wear your size deficit or newness to riding with pride, but more self-conscious riders can hold their heads high on the CBR300R. It’s a great looking little sportbike.

In the saddle of the 300R, the first thing that comes to mind is how low the seat feels thanks to the thinner midsection. Even though the seat height is just 30.7 inches, shorter riders should not struggle getting both feet to the pavement. Honda also offers a lower accessory seat that cuts another inch off the height.

Positioning of the clip-on bars is just sporty enough to allow for a slightly forward rider position, but not so aggressive that you’ll find pressure on your wrists like a full-on supersport. The pegs are just low enough for a comfortable position for my 5’10” frame, while still offering enough leverage when swopping through the corners.

In our last entry-level sportbike shootout between the CBR250R and the Kawasaki Ninja 300, the CBR carried a 47cc disadvantage and it showed. Even in the small bore world there are horsepower wars, and Honda has stepped up to plate with 37 more cubes in the CBR300R. The 76mm bore has not changed, but the stroke has been increased from 55 to 63mm for more power throughout the range. Honda's PGM-FI fuel-injection system has been remapped to match the increased displacement,and the restyled exhaust canister has a larger internal volume. Peak horsepower is 17% more than the outgoing 250.

On our short ride, we did plenty of stoplight-to-stoplight blasts and the CBR300R is more than capable of leaving four-wheeled traffic in the dust. While the horsepower increase is noticeable, it’s not a night and day difference. More impressive is the increase in torque that makes for less rowing through the reasonably slick six-speed transmission. You can chug down to just above 2000 rpm and still have enough beans to accelerate. This will make life for both beginners and experts easier.

The CBR300R’s handling is light and nimble around the mean streets of Torrance and Palos Verdes. In town, a less hunched-over ride makes for plenty of leverage to get the little Honda pointed anywhere you want it. While the curvy bit of the press ride consisted of five passes through two S-corners for photos, the 300R is a capable handler at speed. The IRC Road Winner tires go from upright to leaned-over smoothly and once in the corner you can alter the CBR’s trajectory easily and without fuss. The non-adjustable suspension – save preload on the rear shock – does a great job handling spirited cornering, even with my 220-pound frame. The smoother you are coming to the corner the better things work; push too hard or get sloppy and the rear will jump around a bit. In the hands of an expert, the littlest CBR can embarrass less skilled riders on larger and more high-tech bikes in the turns.

On the binders the CBR300R has a split personality. At slower speeds the single 296mm front disc and four-piston caliper feels soft, but give it a solid stab at speed and the power kicks and feels great. The rear is solid as well, but will lock up fairly quickly. For those that are newer or worried about a few skids, Honda offers ABS for $500 more. For 2015 the ABS is two-channel rather than being combined, which we applaud.

With a pricing increase of just $200 to $4399, the CBR300R is an excellent small-bore sportbike for any skill level. The new look and better fit for all riders combined with more usable power makes the CBR300R much improved over the CBR250R. Looks like it is time for another showdown now that the CBR300R is packing more of a punch.

2015 Honda CBR300R First Ride 

Positioning of the clip-on bars is just sporty enough to allow for a slightly forward rider position  but not so aggressive that youll find pressure on your wrists like a full-on supersport. Simple  easy-to-read instrumentation on the 2015 Honda CBR300R. On our short ride  we did plenty of stoplight-to-stoplight blasts and the CBR300R is more than capable of leaving traffic in the dust.
In order to align with the rest of the CBR line  Honda restyled the curves and angles of the 2015 Honda CBR300R. Gone is the single headlight  replaced by two units that resemble the CBR500R and CBR1000RR. Honda touts the styling as a factor which lets the owner look like a veteran starting with the first ride.
2015 Honda CBR300R First Ride
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2015 Honda CBR300R Specs
Save for the slightly diminutive size and less aggressive rider stance  the CBR300R does look the part of a high performance repli-racer at a glance.
Engine: 286cc liquid-cooled Single
Bore x Stroke: 76mm x 63mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Fueling: PGM-FI, 38mm throttle body
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistor with electronic advance
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: #520 O-ring-sealed chain
Front Suspension: 37mm fork, 4.65 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link single shock with five-position spring preload adjustability, 4.07 inches travel
Front Brakes: Twin-piston caliper, 296mm disc
Rear Brakes: Single-caliper, 200mm disc (optional ABS)
Front Tire: 110/70-17 radial
Rear Tire: 140/70-17 radial
Wheelbase: 54.3 inches
Rake: 25º
Trail: 3.9 inches
Seat Height: 30.7 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gallons
Curb Weight: 357 pounds; 364 pounds with ABS
MSRP: $4399; $4899 with ABS
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OutOfTheBox   August 24, 2014 06:31 PM
..them, too. But they make only two bikes that I care about at all. Let's complain now about restyling it so it looks just like the CBR500 and CBR650...so that "entry-level owners can sport a more veteran look on their first-ever mount" LOL hey if it works for Kawasaki then it'll definitely work for Honda, right?
Piglet2010   August 22, 2014 05:42 PM
OutOfTheBox - If you want to criticize, how about BMW using the same 789cc engine in the F650GS, F700GS, and F800GS?
OutOfTheBox   August 21, 2014 04:03 PM
Piggy I guess that my point just flowed all around you. It's not a 300. They're calling it a 300 when it is not a 300. That's the point. If they want to worry about taxes, or regulations, or fabrication costs, that's fine. But call it what it is. Don't market it as a 300cc bike to compete with other 300cc bikes, and then make it only 286cc. Is that hard to understand? And if it needs to be a 250 in certain markets, then sell the 250 in those markets and either make a real 300 for THIS market or just accept that it's only 250cc. All of this over a 36cc increase, good grief. By the way apparently KTM has the same problem the other way, undersizing the 1301cc motor in the 1290. But if you're going to error, then error on the consumers' side.
Piglet2010   August 20, 2014 08:28 PM
Does the CBR300R track rain-grooved pavement any better than an old Ninjette?
Piglet2010   August 20, 2014 06:00 PM
@ OutOfTheBox - I read someplace that 286cc was as large as Honda could make the engine without a larger cylinder barrel, which would be expensive to do. N.b. The bike needs to stay a 250 in certain markets for tax reasons.
OutOfTheBox   August 20, 2014 03:23 PM
yeah I'm sure it's all right and all, especially for $4500, but can't they make it a real 300? Is that too much to ask? At least the 250 was actually a 250. Why not just call it a 285, then? It just says a lot of bad things about Honda.
DanPan   August 20, 2014 03:55 AM
Nice Little motorcycle...... But not sure about the black yellow stripe TRON look......