Honda CB300R review, test drive
Back in BS6 form, the updated CB300R is now locally manufactured.
The Honda CB300R had a brief run in India before going on sale when the BS6 regulations came into effect. At that time, it became one of the nicest motorcycles you could buy, without a lot of people actually buying it. And that’s because the CB300R was sold here as a CKD motorcycle, which meant its price was very high. Now though, Honda has re-launched a BS6 version and this bike is locally made.
Even better, it also gets some minor but significant changes over the older model.
DESIGN AND STYLING
At first, all that seems to have changed is the paint job, with the CB now getting two new color schemes. But look a little closer and you’ll see that the exhaust muffler design is a bit different and the bike now gets a gold-colored USD fork. The LCD screen is also very similar, but now has a gear position indicator. This is very useful on this bike, as it has such a short gear that you will easily find yourself in the first three gears, even in city traffic.
As before, Honda has placed the horn switch where you would normally expect to find the indicator button and it will be a source of non-stop irritation. Luckily, the bike now has a side-stand engine shutdown feature, which we lacked on the previous model.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
The architecture of the 286cc 4-valve liquid-cooled engine is the same as before, but the engine is now BS6 compliant. Power is now increased by 0.6 hp to a total of 31.1 horsepower, although this is now produced 1,500 rpm higher at 9,000 rpm.
Peak torque hasn’t changed, but the bike now features a slip-assist clutch for its 6-speed gearbox. We also found that the bike sounded a little different, with a deeper, more brappy note coming out of that big exhaust.
The little CB is a real explosion around town with its fairly light clutch and energetic acceleration. But it can also be calm and relaxed as its super short gear means you can lazily ride at nice low speeds in higher gears too. Fuel efficiency is pretty decent, too, and our city and highway numbers were pretty close to each other, which is probably another effect of the short gearing.
Flat-out performance is where this bike punches well above its weight. The 6,000-9,000 rpm thrust is surprisingly peppy, and this bike is faster than many think. Top speed will be around 150 km/h, but the real fun is in the acceleration. The CB went from 0-100 in under 6.6 seconds in our test, which is way faster than any other bike that claims this kind of power. .
CHASSIS AND DYNAMICS
The big secret to the Honda’s fun performance and super nimble nature is its weight. At 146kg, it’s actually 1kg lighter than before, making it exactly the same as an Apache RTR 160 4V TVS. To give you an idea of the perspective, the latest generation KTM 250 Duke weighs well over 160kg and that is without fuel. That means this bike is nearly 30 pounds lighter and that’s amazing.
Although this is a rather small bike, Honda has done a great job with rider ergonomics. Shorter riders will appreciate the 801mm seat height, but taller riders will also appreciate the roomy saddle and a sporty but not horribly cramped footpeg position.
The international spec CB gets a new Showa Separate Function Big Piston inverted fork, but the Indian model’s fork is made by Endurance. It certainly doesn’t sound so fancy, but in reality, the suspension on this bike is very well balanced between sportiness and comfort. The bike has a firm damped feel, but it also handles rough roads quite well and the overall setup was very good for what this bike is supposed to be. It’s a similar story with the tires—this bike gets MRF tires against the Michelins on the BS4 model. But it was the Michelin Pilot Streets, which is a very average tire and the MRFs are just as good, if not better.
Overall handling is typical Honda – light, easy and very neutral. It corners with confidence, and while the bike is very light, its high-speed mannerisms are decently stable and predictable. The brakes are a similar Nissin setup to the BS4 model, and while overall performance is quite good, they could do with a bit more initial bite. As before, the bike gets a dual-channel ABS system that uses an IMU, or inertial measurement unit, for more precise performance.
Now that the CB300R has much more localized content, you would expect it to cost at least the same Rs 2.41 lakh as the BS4 model, if not less. Unfortunately, Honda seems to have gone down the same overpriced path as with the CB500X and Fireblade. At Rs 2.77 lakh, ex-showroom, it is more expensive than the TVS Apache RR 310 and BMW G 310 R, while being only around Rs 10,000 less than the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and KTM 390 Duke.
And that means our conclusion today will be similar to what it was three years ago. It’s a very nice bike and I suspect many people will find it smoother than its rivals. But you still have to be ready to pay an unreasonable amount of money for it. The only hope is that Honda has recently corrected the excessive prices of some of its bigger bikes, and hopefully that will happen here soon too.