The sub-400cc segment has been gradually gaining momentum, and the arrival of the Honda CB 300R has only made things even more exciting for enthusiasts.
It’s an exciting time indeed for motorcycle enthusiasts. I still remember not too long ago we’d complain about the absence of enough entry-level ‘fun’ motorcycles for the masses in India. Well, today it’s safe to say that we’re spoilt for choice.
The sub-400cc segment is brimming with products from international manufacturers, such as KTM, Kawasaki, Honda, BMW, Benelli, Yamaha and Suzuki – plus, of course, all the Indian manufacturers. It’s bloody brilliant! And although more international brands arriving in India would certainly make things more exciting, things, nevertheless, are pretty exciting as they are.
Now, the KTM 390 Duke is without a doubt one of the best global products under 400cc, which has also tasted incredible success here in India. The BMW G 310 R isn’t bad either – it alone now accounts for a majority of BMW Motorrad’s bike sales across the planet. Let me also mention the fact that both these bikes are made right here in India. See, I told you – it’s bloody brilliant!
Let’s get straight to the point. Honda has now launched their little roadster in India – the CB 300R – which has certainly added some flavour to the sub-400cc segment. The CB 300R was first showcased at EICMA 2017, along with the bigger CB 1000R. The little 300 looks almost identical to its big brother, as both bikes share what Honda calls the Neo Sports Café design. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I can sure as hell say that the CB 300R is no café racer. In fact, the CB 300R looks more like an aggressively styled naked street-fighter.
It’s got agile dimensions, meaning it’s pretty small. I like the chunky upside-down front forks, round LED headlight, slim and sharp fuel tank, small 17-inch alloys and nicely designed turn indicators. The bike has certainly got a lot of character, but what I don’t like is the massive exhaust – it seems out of place – and the really boring side mirrors. Honda could have made this bike look like a pure-bred street killer with some clip-on mirrors and a slimmer exhaust. The bike, however, still looks really good and has really good road presence. Side note – it also gets disc brakes with dual-channel ABS as standard.
A single, you say?
Yes, the new CB 300R, to the dislike of a lot of people, gets a single-cylinder, 286cc engine. I don’t see what all the fuss is about considering that all entry-level sport bikes get a single-cylinder. Moving forward, the engine is actually quite impressive and can pump out 30bhp and 27Nm of torque. It feels incredibly smooth as you would expect from a Honda, with overall wonderful refinement.
The engine is mated to an equally impressive 6-speed gearbox with high ratios. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t believe these power figures to be impressive, but, trust me, this little engine packs a mighty punch.
If you’re a throttle-happy rider, and you happen to have a wrist that likes to be bent to the max, well then, this little roadster does not disappoint. The reason the CB 300R is so quick on its feet is that the bike only weighs 145 kilograms. That’s nearly 20 kilograms lighter than the KTM 390 Duke. Not only does the bike accelerate quickly, but also has an instantaneous throttle response, which means that you need to keep your wrist in check.
Seriously, I’ve never felt such immediate throttle response from any bike within this segment. Starting from a standstill, within 3 seconds you’ll be at 60km/h and in just 6.5 seconds you’ll be at 100km/h. This means that the CB 300R is less than a second slower than the 390 Duke to reach the 100km/h mark. So yeah, it really is a tiny pocket rocket. The engine rarely feels stressed and you can cruise easily at high speeds all day long.
Not only does the lightness aid acceleration, but it also assists the handling. The bike is so light on its feet that it’s incredibly easy to manage and is capable of making any rider feel confident. The riding position is upright, but your legs rest in an aggressive riding position. The wide handlebar also feels nice. The steering is light and easy, with great feedback from the front wheel.
What also helps in the bike’s handling are the Showa upside-down forks. The bike feels properly planted all the time and remains very stable. It’s stiff, but you can really throw this mighty little bike around as hard as you wish. Attacking corners is fun and easy, and flipping the bike from one corner into the next is enjoyable and liberating. In the traffic, it’s even better, as you can easily navigate through jams without much effort.
The rear monoshock is also on the stiff side, which means that it’s a bit firm on the rough stuff. But still, the bike offers great ride quality. It’s such an easy bike to ride that I really think that novice riders will enjoy this bike the most because of its willingness to entertain you, irrespective of your riding style.
It is expensive
₹ 2.4 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) is what this bike will cost you. You could get a KTM 390 Duke for that price. You could also get the new RE Interceptor 650 Twin for that price. That’s all true, but it’s also true that the CB 300R is far more comfortable to ride than the other two, and it’s also a lot more versatile. You can practically ride it every day and never get bored.
In terms of the quality of its components, it’s on par with the overpriced BMW G 310 R. And its Honda badge means that it’s probably the most reliable machine out of the lot. But what makes the CB 300R unique in the segment is its unbridled fun factor. This speedy little roadster will always keep you smiling, no matter when or where you’re riding it – and that’s worth every penny.
The bike has a lot of character, thanks to the upside-down front forks, round LED headlight, slim fuel tank & smartly designed indicators.
- Honda CB 300R
Engine: 289cc / Single-Cylinder / Liquid-Cooled
Power: 30bhp @ 8,000rpm
Torque: 27.4Nm @ 6,500rpm
Price: ₹ 2.4 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: This bike offers you everything, from sport bike handling and thrilling acceleration to brilliant ergonomics, comfort and Honda reliability.