Really More Of A ’Sport-Roadster’ Than A Cafè Racer

Honda expanded its Neo-Sports Café lineup with the new-in-2019 CB300R that brings more of the same café-tastic vibe that we got with the CB1000R, just in an entry level-size package. This naked little pocket crotch-rocket — or “Sport Naked” as the factory has dubbed the style — looks to pull in younger riders with a user-friendly, 286 cc powerplant and lightweight design. After a race to the bottom of the usable displacement range for the sport and naked genres, Honda is refining its bottom-tier rides.

  • 2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
  • Year:
    2019- 2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    286 cc
  • Top Speed:
    90 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    4949
  • Price:

Honda CB300R Design

2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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Without any specific features to tie it into the café genre, 'sport roadster' is as descriptive a name as one could hope for.

Modern and edgy, the CB300R exudes a café vibe, all without any specific features to tie it into the genre. Sure it’s got sporty looks, but without a bullet fairing, tail fairing, or any other classic bits, it’s really just a naked standard, right? Yes, the standard was the platform upon which the original café racers were built, but it takes more than that to really qualify as a café. So, what is it exactly? Well, I reckon “sport roadster” is as descriptive a name as one could hope for.

The sportiness starts off strong right off the bat with a tough, inverted front suspension that lends the impression of great strength and cornering stability. I suppose you could call the round headlight a classic touch — a tenuous connection, at best — but the LED emitters bring the cyclops assembly into the 21st Century with night-slicing brightness that helps you see and be seen.

A short-rise bar encourages, but doesn’t necessarily demand, an aggressive riding posture that pulls the rider over the tank. As for the tank itself, a bevel at the rear end tapers the tank to form a knee pocket not unlike that found on the old Triumph café racers that also leaves a narrow waist to give your thighs a break and leave room for body English.

Below the engine, a chin spoiler adds to the sporty looks quite handily and visually offsets the “weak corner” prevalent in stressed-engine designs. It seems the factory decided to move that thin spot to the upper trailing edge with a barely there subframe that juts up into empty space, and that seems to have the positive net effect of giving the bike something of an all-up-front look. An LED taillight comes tucked away inconspicuously below the pillion pad with a hang-down mudguard to mount the tag and winkers.

In a final bid for sporty function and panache, the factory kicked up the exhaust at a jaunty angle to keep it well clear of the tarmac and prevent anything other than your courage from limiting your lean angles. If you want to share the fun with a friend, you’ve got a wide pillion pad with aluminum J.C. handles and flip-up footpegs to keep them aboard. All in all, a very fun-looking little ride that taps into the exuberance of youth without crossing over into the sophomoric.

Honda CB300R Chassis

2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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Steering geometry lends very agile handling, but no adjustable preload in the back.

Honda went with a tubular-steel frame that uses pressed-steel components to finish the assembly on the CB300R, but deliberately kept the stock thin in order to keep weight down. It seems to have worked out well since the CB300R weighs in at only 317 pounds, wet. The swingarm continues along this vein with a sturdy pivot area and yoke-style construction that tapers down to the hollow axle that undoubtedly goes a long way to reducing unsprung weight as well.

Cast aluminum wheels do their part to help the suspension out as well, and while the 41 mm stems come with 5.1 inches of travel up front and monoshock gives up 4.2 out back, the system is plain vanilla as far as adjustments go. Spring preload out back, that’s all you get. Agility comes from the steering geometry that measures in with a 24.7-degree rake and 3.7 inches of trail over a 53.3-inch wheelbase. As light as it is, the 300 doesn’t really rate dual front brakes so the single anchor is plenty to keep it under control. Last year, you could take or leave ABS, but for 2020, ABS is the only game in town.

Front Suspension: 41 mm telescopic fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link® single shock; 4.2 in. travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.7°
Trail: 3.7 in.
Front Brakes: Hydraulic w/ single 296 mm disc, ABS
Rear Brakes: Hydraulic w/ single 220 mm disc, ABS
Front Tire: 110/70-17
Rear Tire: 150/60-17

Honda CB300R Drivetrain

2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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Electronic fuel injection goes without saying, as does the ignition, but all else is mundane, simple and easy to maintain.

Honda pulled the mill out of the CBR300R sportbike to power the CB300R, and it brings its fun little 30.1 horsepower and 20.2 pounds of torque to the table with a 71 mpg consumption rating that’ll give the 2.7-gallon fuel tank some long legs, indeed.

Know what else has long legs? The service intervals, that’s what. This engine calls for oil changes to be performed once every 8,000 miles, and I gotta tell ya, with the price of oil nowadays it won’t take long for the savings on maintenance to add up. Honda did away with the screw-and-locknut valve adjuster in favor of a shim system, a decision I’d normally criticize but concede is a non-issue since you can change these shims without pulling the cam, so I guess it ain’t that bad after all.

It’s a thumper, so you know it’s gonna’ vibrate some, but the engineers threw on a balancer to help mitigate the shake and hopefully, keep your hands and junie-cakes from going to sleep on you. As you’d expect, the factory kept the engine management system as simple as possible, and that’s okay; it’s an entry-level bike, and I maintain that it’s better to learn on full-raw, then transition to the electronic augmentations once the base skillset in built. Electronic fuel injection goes without saying, as does the ignition, but all else is mundane, simple, and easy to maintain.

Engine: 286 cc liquid-cooled 20° single-cylinder four-stroke
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 63.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: Fuel injection w/ 38 mm throttle body
Ignition: Full Transistorized
Starter: Electric
Transmission: Manual w/ six speeds
Clutch: Multiplate Wet
Final Drive: Chain

Honda CB300R Pricing

2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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MSRP puts it squarely in the budget-minded range at under $5k.

For 2019, the CB300R was available in the U.S. for $4,649, and the ABS version was $4,949. For 2020, only the ABS model is available, but the price carries over.

Color:
└ 2019: Chromosphere Red, Matte Gray Metallic
└ 2020: Matte Pearl Blue
Price:
└ 2019: $4,649 (ABS Model: $4,949)
└ 2020: $4,949 (ABS only)

Honda CB300R Competitors

2017 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R6
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2019 - 2020 Honda CB300R
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At the end of the day, the YZF-R3 has a predictable user-friendly demeanor similar to the CB300R.

Honda’s domestic foe, Yamaha, meets the challenge posed by the entry-level CB300R with its own small-displacement supersport; the YZF-R3. The YZF-R3 draws its design components from Yammy’s race-tastic R1 program to bring a bona fide race trainer to the table. It isn’t just about aesthetics either since the YZF-R3 has the intake port at the tip of the nose to take advantage of the ram-air effect for a quick-and-dirty boost to the volumetric efficiency. Like the Honda, however, it doesn’t really do much until you get up around 100 mph so take that for what it’s worth.

The suspension components provide the bare minimum of function even though I have to give Yamaha credit for opting to use inverted forks that are always going to be stronger than conventional forks of the same diameter.

Unlike Honda, Yamaha lets you choose between an ABS and non-ABS model, so you can take or leave it as you please, but I gotta’ say I’m not entirely opposed to ABS protection for new riders even if I can make arguments both ways on that.

Instead of a thumper, Yamaha runs a parallel-twin with the expected shift in power with more ponies (36 horsepower) and less grunt (19.8 pound-feet), but at the end of the day, the YZF-R3 has a predictable user-friendly demeanor similar to the CB300R. Honda scores a razor-thin win at the checkout against the $5,299 sticker on the YZF-R3 ABS though that narrow of a margin is unlikely to buy it any business based solely on the price.

He Said

“Like a trip to McDonald’s, I’m lovin’ it. There just something about the design I find appealing; a particular QWAN I can’t define, but I know it’s there. Kudos to Honda for expanding the bottom-tier sideways rather than hunting up and down the range for that elusive “perfect” displacement.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “If you want something like a Rebel 300 for economical commutes but don’t want a cruiser, this could be your Huckleberry. The price is about the same and you get a sportier look. Maintenance is easy and with the long service interval, that adds to its budget-minded appeal.”

Honda CB300R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 286 cc liquid-cooled 20° single-cylinder four-stroke
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 63.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: Fuel injection w/ 38 mm throttle body
Ignition: Full Transistorized
Starter: Electric
Transmission: Manual w/ six speeds
Clutch: Multiplate Wet
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Front Suspension: 41 mm telescopic fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link® single shock; 4.2 in. travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.7°
Trail: 3.7 in.
Front Brakes: Hydraulic w/ single 296 mm disc, ABS
Rear Brakes: Hydraulic w/ single 220 mm disc, ABS
Front Tire: 110/70-17
Rear Tire: 150/60-17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 79.5 in.
Width: 31.7 in.
Height: 41.3 in.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.9 in.
Wheelbase: 53.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 2.7 gal.
Curb Weight: 317 lbs
Details:
Color:
└ 2019: Chromosphere Red, Matte Gray Metallic
└ 2020: Matte Pearl Blue
Price:
└ 2019: $4,649 (ABS Model: $4,949)
└ 2020: $4,949 (ABS only)

Further Reading

Honda CB1000R

2018 - 2019 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
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See our review of the Honda CB1000R.

Yamaha YZF-R3

2017 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R6
- image 863076

See our review of the Yamaha YZF-R3.

Honda CBR300R

2015 - 2019 Honda CBR300R
- image 790254

See our review of the Honda CBR300R.

Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500

2017 - 2020 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
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See our review of the Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500.

Honda

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
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Read more Honda news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, yamaha-motor.com

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