Launched in January this year, Honda CB300R added a new style of motorcycle to Honda's India lineup. Honda calls it the Neo-Sports Cafe, but what does that mean exactly? To be quite honest, I don't really know but I'm guessing it's a hint of classic and a dash of modern, but what I do know is that it does look good. Honda has been playing in the quarter-litre segment for years now with the CBR250R. In fact, it was one of the only two proper quarter-litres in India when this segment began about seven years ago. Now, Honda 2Wheelers is expanding its portfolio and things are looking good. However, the CB300R is entering a segment – a price bracket if you will – which has really strong players, so the question is, will it overcome the competition?
The very first aspect of a motorcycle or anything else at all really, is what meets the eye. Honda CB300R has that covered very well with a compact appeal that gels well with a streetfighter style motorcycle design. One look at this motorcycle and you're thinking 'hmm, this must handle well'. But does it? We'll get to that.
The CB300R gets all LED lighting which only makes it look better as the sun sinks below. The fuel tank has creases that should help if you do wish to scrape your knee, however, I'd say that the switchgear quality could be better.
Stance and comfort
The second aspect you tend to notice about a motorcycle is how you feel on it once astride. Honda CB300R promises a comfortable riding stance with a relaxed posture for the arms and legs. However, it is only when you set off you realise, the footpegs hinder leg movement while in very traffic jams. If they were very slightly rear set, they'd help in the riding stance as well. The positioning of the handlebar instills a committed riding stance but is not supported by the positioning of the foot pegs.
Moving on to the most important bit – what's it like to ride? To put it in a nutshell, the Honda CB300R does not instill the rider into aggressive riding. It wants to be taken easy and smoothly. What impressed me the most of this motorcycle was the way it handles – very nimble, very light and agile on the handlebar and so it makes filtering through traffic quite easy.
Honda CB300R is not particularly a fast motorcycle or a very quick one at that. However, that's the point, the Neo-Sports Cafe aims to deliver comfort over speed, so you can go longer distances on it with ease. The engine is very refined in lower RPMs and delivers exactly what I expect from Honda. However, in mid- and higher RPMs, the vibrations tend to turn into quite a concern.
|Engine||286.01cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder|
|Power||30 hp at 8000 rpm|
|Torque||27.4 Nm at 6500 rpm|
|Fuel system||Fuel injection|
|Ground clearance||151 mm|
|Kerb Weight||147 kg|
|Seat height||800 mm|
|Fuel tank capacity||10 litres|
|Brakes (front)||296 mm|
|ABS||Dual channel ABS|
|Tyres (front)||110/70 R17|
|Suspension (front)||USD telescopic|
|Price||Rs 2,41,329 (ex-showroom, Delhi)|
The CB300R is capable of speeds of up to 150 km/h and a bit beyond as well depending upon the weight of the rider and how correct you get your gears. Point being, it can go fast if you need it to. The exhaust note is rather subdued but it does make an effort in peak RPMs.
Suspension and brakes
Since we were on the subject of comfort, let's talk suspension setup and Honda CB300R's is on the squishier side of the spectrum and it absorbs slight undulations on the road rather well without transferring much to the rider. Brakes have ample bite in them and the ABS is effective without intrusion. However, braking can be improved on a lot with better tyres which would also instill more confidence on corners.
Speaking of cornering, the CB300R remains very planted and stable when leaned over but I still think that a better set of tyres will make the deal. The frame allows a sturdy disposition to the motorcycle under hard braking and while leaning.
The modern side of the Neo-Sports Cafe includes a fully digital instrument cluster which is very informative and remains clearly visible in daylight as well. It gets a dual-channel ABS (anti-lock braking system), which never really makes its presence known unless required. The headlamp, tail lamp, turn indicators are all LED, but the throw of the headlamp isn't very promising and could be a downer if there are no street lamps present.
Honda CB300R certainly delivers on the new when it comes to design and along with it makes for a very comfortable ride. It should make a great everyday commuter with the capability of heading out for longer distances at times, keeping a promise to keep the ride fun no matter in the city or while touring.
The CB300R is, however, competing with the likes of KTM 390 Duke which isn't all that expensive in comparison and is much more powerful with proven prowess in handling as well. I'd say the CB300R is not running on the same ground as its competition but a parallel one.
With better tyres, and improved engine refinement, the CB300R can be a product much better than itself and the next edition will surely have all these matters tended to. But until then, if you're looking for a motorcycle that looks sheer fantastic, is comfortable for every day and prolonged usage, isn't intimidating but even so is fun to ride, the CB300R fits the bill quite well.