You don’t have to be a novice rider to enjoy the 2015 Honda CB300F. With an inseam-friendly seat height, upright seating position, low curb weight, and an easy to manage power delivery, the CB300F is perfectly aimed at fledging riders, with styling that doesn’t label it as such. That is a good thing, as the CB300F is more than capable of delivering a fun ride to seasoned riders, as well.The key to appreciating the 2015 Honda CB300F is all in your right wrist. The small displacement engine requires a generous hand on the throttle to find the meat of the power, and as long as you understand this, you and the CB300F will get along famously. Twist hard, shift fast, and you can rocket away from a stop in front of the traffic without anyone knowing you’re on a bike with a 286cc single-cylinder engine, albeit one that is liquid cooled, DOHC and fuel-injected, and Moto3-inspired.
Well, okay, maybe not rocket, but you won’t get swallowed up, and once you and the 2015 Honda CB300F have gotten well-acquainted, you’ll be surprised at how much can be wrung out of the oversquare engine when you keep the revs up.The upside of the small displacement, of course, is that there’s less trouble to get into for those who haven’t yet developed their riding skills. Power off idle is soft, and the short gearing of the CB300F’s six-speed transmission won’t get you far in first gear. You’ll need to shift up to third before the end of the block to move along with moderate throttle input and keep up with traffic; it’s unlikely a ham-fisted neophyte will be spooked on the 300.The upright seating position and neutral ergonomics make the CB300F a great about-town bike. Controls are within easy reach, and a flat-footed stance at stops is achievable to many with the 30.7-inch seat height, and a one-inch lower accessory seat is available from Honda.The bike’s narrow physique and perfectly placed mirrors (sitting in the sweet spot above most car mirrors and under SUV mirrors) make it embarrassingly easy to scoot between vehicles, but the 300’s easy-going personality doesn’t encourage any kind of delinquent behavior. Instead, it’s quite satisfying to tool through the city, checking out the latest revitalization projects, and people-watch while waiting for the light to change. A minor complaint: the otherwise perfectly behaved transmission is sometimes cranky shifting from neutral into first at a stop.When you’re finished sightseeing and ready for a more energetic ride, the CB300F is happy to oblige. Between 6500 and 7500 rpm, the bike sheds its conservative nature and is ready for action, just be prepared to work the throttle and gear box regularly. Acceleration is convincing in this range and you can have quite a blast along winding roads in the canyon, knees comfortably tucked against into the slim tank.Handling on the CB300F is quite good, as long as you keep in mind the intended audience. Although the bike is willing and able to push a fast speed, there is a hint of twitchiness through moderate turns, reminding you of the necessarily narrow width of the standard IRC Road Winner RX-01 tires.And while the bike is nimble, and wonderfully light with a claimed curb weight just under 350 pounds, it isn’t as easy to flick through turns as I would have expected from a short-wheelbase bike (an inch shorter than the Kawasaki Ninja 300) with a fairly aggressive rake (over a degree tighter than the Ninja).Suspension on the 300 can be a bit harsh, and at higher speeds on well-worn roads you will be reminded that this is not a bike outfitted with top-notch suspension. For casual riding it is fine, however, and that’s the kind of action the CB300F will see most of the time.Braking action at the front lever is appropriately dialed — powerful enough to confidently slow the bike quickly, without any over-zealous bite. The rear disk brake is on the weaker side, but is fitting for novice riders who are developing finesse at the controls.Despite the small engine, the CB300F is freeway-worthy and feels stable well past the posted speed limit, the IRCs even getting along with the rain-grooved pavement. I did find myself trying to shift into a non-existent 7th gear several times, to drop down into a more typical 5500 rpm range, but that’s not how the CB300F rolls. If you’re in a hurry, it’s going to sound and feel like it.Surprisingly, there is not as much windblast off the naked bike at high speeds as I would have expected, but, even so, the CB300F is more enjoyable at a relaxed speed. If you don’t need to tangle with highly aggressive urban freeways for long distances, the 300 is a perfect commuter bike. With a 3.4-gallon tank and a claimed 70+ mpg, you might get through the week without stopping to fill up.Honda has done a commendable job with the 2015 CB300F, delivering an easy to handle, non-intimidating, stylish bike to the novice crowd, at a price point that is hard to argue with — just $800 more than the Honda Grom 125. The CB300F has a wide enough powerband to keep a developing rider satisfied long after he’s mastered the basics, which keeps the bike entertaining for the experienced rider who’s on a budget or wants an outstanding urban bike.Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE Helmet: HJC IS-Max BT Sprint Jacket + Gloves: Fly Racing CoolPro II Ladies Jeans: UglyBros Guardian-G Boots: Sidi Livia Rain2015 Honda CB300F Specifications Engine Type: 286cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke Bore and Stroke: 76mm x 63mm 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: O-ring-sealed chain Suspension Front: 37mm fork; 4.65 inches travel Rear: Pro-Link single shock with five-position spring preload adjustability; 4.07 inches travel Brakes Front: Twin-piston caliper with single 296mm disc Rear: Single-caliper 220mm disc Tires Front: IRC Road Winner RX-01 110/70-17 radial Rear: IRC Road Winner RX-01 140/70-17 radial Wheelbase: 54.3 inches Rake: 25.5° Trail: 98mm (3.9 inches) Seat height: 30.7 inches Fuel capacity: 3.4 gallons Estimated fuel economy: 71 mpg Color: Red Curb weight: 348 pounds 2015 Honda CB300F MSRP: $3999
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!