2015 Honda CBR300R First Ride Test
After a one year’s absence, Honda’s Moto3 inspired sport bike returns as the 2015 Honda CBR300R. The big news is a 37cc displacement increase over the 250R it replaces, and the extra room in the single cylinder comes via an 8mm lengthening of the stroke.
One can’t underestimate the importance of even small displacement increases on bikes this small. The 2015 Honda CBR300R has noticeably more acceleration than the 250, making it a much more viable machine in traffic.
Our first ride, held under the watchful eye of Honda’s press department didn’t allow us an opportunity to hit the freeways or ride hard in the canyons, though we did do some throttle twisting and enjoy a few winding roads on Southern California’s Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Pulling away from traffic lights and stop signs, the pull of the CBR300R is enough to make you more than competitive in urban settings. You will want to be aggressive with the throttle, of course, but the power delivery of the still-oversquare (76mm x 63mm) liquid-cooled, DOHC, fuel-injected motor is gentle enough that it won’t spook a newer rider. Those with lots of time behind bars will tap into the top end, which has a redline over 10,000 rpm.
The CBR300R’s seating position is slightly forward, with the clip-on risers mounted above the triple clamp. You get some of the look of a supersport bike, without the discomfort in town that a full-on sport bike offers. Given the modest output of the motor, which is up 17-percent over last year per Honda, the ergonomics match the performance and handling.
If you’re above six feet tall, you’ll probably want to consider the CBR500R as an alternative, while shorter riders will be happy to know that the CBR300R’s 30.7-inch seat height can be dropped another inch with a Honda Genuine Accessories accessory seat.
With sporting IRC Road Winner tires, new riders will be able to test their ability to lean the bike in turns and not worry about pushing or other bad habits. Experienced riders will enjoy the light weight of the CBR300R (357 pounds wet, claimed, and add 7 pounds for ABS) and the responsiveness that comes with a 54.3-inch wheelbase and moderate 25.5 degrees of rake.
Cornering clearance is plentiful and will even satisfy those who will buy the CBR300R for the track, as there are a number of racing organizations sanctioning classes for this size bike. The six-speed transmission is well matched to the single’s power delivery, so there are no gaps in the ratios, and if you happen to be in second pulling away from a light, the torquey little single can handle it with a bit of clutch slipping (the dash has no gear-position indicator). In the suburban locations we had for this first ride, we couldn’t test for top speed.
While you can throw the Honda CBR300R around in turns if you like, it is a stable bike that doesn’t wander around in corners. The suspension is non-adjustable (save rear spring preload), but it works as it should for a bike of this type. The ride took us on the roughest portion of Palos Verdes Drive, which, due to land movement, feels something like a paved motocross track. The CBR300R didn’t balk, and absorbed the bumps with more poise than you’d expect from a $4399 bike.
Going fast means you have to have strong brakes, and the 2015 Honda CBR300R’s binder respond well. Initial bite is just as soft as you’d want for a bike new riders will flock to, yet if you continue to add pressure to the lever, it starts to get serious. While it’s only a single 296mm disc with a four-piston non-radial caliper, the bike doesn’t weigh much. The rear brake is also usable, though riders who want to use it frequently should go with the ABS version of the bike for an additional $500, as it will skid under heavy use, even on dry pavement.
The 2015 Honda CBR300R will open a lot of doors for new riders. Some will look to upgrade to a CBR500R or CBR650F after they put in the miles necessary to learn the sport bike ropes, and others might graduate directly to the CBR600RR, much like the jump from Moto3 to Moto2.
Regardless of where a Honda CBR300R eventually lands, and he may just decide to stick with the CBR300R if he lives in a fully urban area, it is a fun motorcycle that has the panache of a true sport bike with all the forgiving nature you expect from an entry (or re-entry) machine. Much has been made by the manufacturers of growing the sport, and the 2015 Honda CBR300R will do its part to achieve that goal.
Photography by Kevin Wing
Helmet: Arai Signet-Q Basilisk
Jacket: Icon Citadel Mesh
Gloves: Axo Sport ST-X
Jeans: Sliders 4.0
Boots: Sidi Traffic Air USA
2015 Honda CBR300R Specifications
- Engine type: 286cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
- Bore and stroke: 76.0mm x 63.0mm
- Compression ratio: 10.7:1
- Valve train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
- Induction: PGM-FI, 38mm throttle body
- Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistor with electronic advance
- Transmission: Six-speed
- Final drive: #520 O-ring-sealed chain
- Front: 37mm fork; 4.7 inches travel
- Rear: Pro-Link single shock with five-position spring preload adjustability; 4.1 inches travel
- Front: Twin-piston caliper with single 296mm disc
- Rear: Single-caliper 220mm disc
- ABS: Optional 2-channel
- Front: 110/70-17 radial IRC Street Winner
- Rear: 140/70-17 radial IRC Street Winner
- Wheelbase: 54.3 inches
- Rake: 25.5°
- Trail: 3.9 inches
- Seat height: 30.7 inches (29.7-inch seat optional)
- Fuel capacity: 3.4 gallons
- Estimated Fuel Economy: 71 mpg
- Colors: Black, Red, Pearl White/Red/Blue, Matte Black Metallic/Yellow
- Curb weight (full tank): 357 pounds (364 pounds w/ ABS)
2015 Honda CBR300R MSRP:
- $4399 ($4899 w/ ABS)