1. Honda’s CBR was visibly larger than
the rest in this comparison, with the
tallest gastank and widest handlebars.
Although its engine is the least powerful
of the group, it does get the best gas
mileage by a small margin. We liked
the bright red fairing, even though the
CBR300R’s face isn’t as pretty as the
older CBR250R’s, but it does front a roomy
cockpit. Although the Honda’s mirrors
don’t look very different from its rivals,
they are functionally superior,
with a decent rear view that
can keep you out of trouble.
2. Note how the CBR’s seats
are sculpted to match the contours of the human form. Both
rider and passenger accommodations are comfortable and
provide enough seat-to-pegs
room for longer legs.
3. The Honda’s braking equipment is basically the same as
the rest; single discs at both
ends with a two-piston front
caliper and a single-piston
rear. Control feel is adequate
for the bike’s light weight
(lightest in the test as 358 lbs.)
although quick stops require
a strong squeeze. IRC tires are
standard equipment, as they
are on the Ninja, and were not
up to the performance of the
R3’s Michelins; giving little
sense of grip and feedback for
handling or braking.
4. The CBR’s instruments are
very easy to read if not the
most complete in the test, with
a big analog tachometer on
top, a big digital speedo below,
plus a clock, fuel level and
coolant temp. gauges. But there is no gear
indicator or shift light like the R3.
5. The rear view of the CBR reveals the
smallest exhaust outlet in the comparison, a pea-shooter sized hole that emits a
muted sound. However, its taillight is one
of the biggest in the test, and gives plenty
of illumination. Plus, the stylish molded
handrails provide good support for the
Honda’s mantra for their 300? If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The
little CBR is a solid machine on all fronts: engine, tranny, clutch,
brakes, styling, and handling. It does everything sufficiently, nothing great, but more importantly; it does nothing badly–which is
really what this class is all about for many riders; small displace-ment/two-wheel practicality. Honda’s name stands for affordable
products that possess decent performance, solid build quality,
and legendary reliability, and the CBR300R is a perfect example.
It has comfortable ergonomics and a satisfying engine with good
fuel economy making it the best pick for commuter. That said, the
Honda is also capable of providing enough performance (in relation
to the category) for some weekend fun if so desired. The Honda
may be the most nondescript of the group, but we tend to forget
there are people who actually regard motorcycles as merely a facet of transportation. From that perspective, the Honda is a solid
choice for non-gear heads, and backed by a respected brand.
It rates third in my book. —Jeff Buchanan
If you didn’t ride it side-by-side with the others in this group,
you wouldn’t be disappointed with the CBR300R. It’s fun to ride,
works beautifully and looks sportier than it really is.
It has fully functional mirrors, a decent seat, comfortable ergonomics, a sweet gearbox and competent brakes. Plus, priced at
just $4399 without ABS, it’s an unbeatable bargain.
Its handling is good at responsible speeds, but while the KTM
and Yamaha tempt you to ride at a faster pace, the Honda suggests caution because its frame doesn’t offer as much stability
as their’s do, even though it is better than the flexi Ninja’s.
As we’ve learned to expect from Honda, the little CBR’s
virtues are thrift and dependability, making it an eminently practical choice for a new rider—a stepping stone to something larger
in the future. But now that Yamaha has produced a machine just
as welcoming to a new rider, but one not nearly as likely to hit the
want ads a year later, you’d need to be overly thrifty or immune to
temptation to want the CBR300R. —Dave Searle