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

Honda expands its Neo-Sports Cafè lineup with the new-for-2019 CB300R that brings more of the same cafè-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, so join me while I take my first look at this all-new machine from the Red Riders and see how it stacks up against some of the other current pocket-rockets.

Continue reading for my look at the Honda CB300R.

  • 2019 Honda CB300R
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    286 cc
  • Price:
    4649
  • Price:

Design

2019 Honda CB300R
- image 777207
Without any specific features to tie it into the cafè genre, 'sport roadster' is as descriptive a name as one could hope for.

Modern and edgy, the CB300R exudes a cafè 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 cafè racers were built, but it takes more than that to really qualify as a cafè. 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 to 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 cafè 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 help 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.

Chassis

2019 Honda CB300R
- image 777208
Steering geometry suggests 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, but deliberately kept the stock thin in order to keep weight down. It seems to have worked out well since the new 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 clocks 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, and it can be had with or without the Combined-Brake/ ABS protection.

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 Model: w/ ABS)
Rear Brakes: Hydraulic w/ single 220 mm disc (ABS Model: w/ ABS)
Front Tire: 110/70-17
Rear Tire: 150/60-17

Drivetrain

2019 Honda CB300R
- image 777205
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 CB, 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

Pricing

2019 Honda CB300R
- image 777213
MSRP puts it squarely in the budget-minded range at under $5k.

Come sometime in July of 2018, the CB300R will be available in the U.S. at $4,649, and the ABS version will roll for another three Benjamins at $4,949. Chomosphere Red and Matte Gray Metallic will be the inaugural colors.

Color: Chromosphere Red, Matte Gray Metallic
Price: $4,649 (ABS Model: $4,949)

Competitors

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
- image 735938
2015 - 2018 Yamaha YZF-R3
- image 750527
2018 Suzuki GSX250R
- image 710489
Honda could be in a good position once the riding public realizes that there is a viable alternative to the samey-sameness of the rest of the entry-level sportbike field.

Suzuki doesn’t quite have a match for the CB300R. It carries the GSX250R that is more of a full-fairing sportbike, but the smallest naked it has in the lineup is the SV650 which is much too much of just about everything. Kawasakii, too, jumps from the diminutive Z125 Pro to the Z650 ABS and bypasses the small displacement naked bracket entirely. Even the Tuning Fork Company falls short with only the admittedly fabulous YZF-R3 up for grabs that presents itself more like a pocket supersport than anything approaching naked. What’s this mean for Honda? Well for starters, it seems they’ve broken fairly fresh ground and could be in a good position once the riding public realizes that there is a viable alternative to the samey-sameness of the rest of the entry-level sportbike field.

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 looks to be easy and with the long service interval, that adds to its budget-minded appeal.”

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 Model: w/ ABS)
Rear Brakes: Hydraulic w/ single 220 mm disc (ABS Model: w/ 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: 313 lbs (ABS Model: 317 lbs)
Details:
Color: Chromosphere Red, Matte Gray Metallic
Price: $4,649 (ABS Model: $4,949)

References

Honda CB1000R

2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768583

See our review of the Honda CB1000R.

Yamaha YZF-R3

2015 - 2018 Yamaha YZF-R3
- image 750525

See our review of the Yamaha YZF-R3.

Suzuki SV650

2017 - 2018 Suzuki SV650 ABS
- image 664020

See our review of the Suzuki SV650.

Suzuki GSX250R

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
- image 708023

See our review of the Suzuki GSX250R.

Kawasaki Z125 PRO

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
- image 679840

See our review of the Kawasaki Z125 PRO.

Kawasaki Z650

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
- image 735929

See our review of the Kawasaki Z650.

Honda CBR300R

2015 - 2018 Honda CBR300R
- image 665253

See our review of the Honda CBR300R.

Honda Rebel

2017 - 2018 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 760185

See our review of the Honda Rebel.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: powersports.honda.com, kawasaki.com, suzukicycles.com, yamaha-motor.com

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