Honda announced today that their CB300R lightweight sporty-standard will be coming to America, as an early 2019 model hitting dealers in July 2018. Funny, because we’re currently testing KTM’s excellent, bad behavior-inducing Duke 390 right now (stay tuned!) and a recent staff meeting in the most luxurious conference room here at World Headquarters included an agenda item about how there’s not really a serious competitor for the li’l Duke here in the US.
Honda’s press release says the R is “pared down to the essentials,” and that it honors “the CB line’s unrivaled heritage,” while “embracing the future in a way that appeals to younger riders.” They also say the bike offers “capable performance,” and “boasts premium features like an available inertial measurement unit-based ABS, LCD display, and full LED lighting.”
You may doubt whether the 300R’s capable performance will provide the Duke’s level of lawbreakin’ fun, and ye olde CityBike will be the last to proclaim that based on just a press release—but check out the specs here: high-tech ABS, inverted fork, radial-mount front brake, all-LED lighting, and most importantly, Neo-Sports Café styling.
You may observe a bit of sass in that last one, and you’d be right, but if you caught our January 2018 issue you may recall that I thought the big dad of Neo-Sports Café, Honda’s CB1000R, to be one of the most-interesting bikes at IMS Long Beach last fall, and certainly the coolest thing in the Honda booth.
Despite Honda’s “Neo says woah” nomenclature, the new 300R looks legit. In other words, your granny, cube-mates, and the soccer moms at your local coffee-n-chill spot won’t know you’re not rolling the 1000.
Both the big and little Neo-Sporties (assuming H-D hasn’t trademarked that) are great-looking motorcycles that balance modern, aggressive styling with another design concept called “still looking like a motorcycle.” And even though it’s unlikely the CB300R will have you running from the law as often as we’ve heard some people must on Duke 390s, the trade-off—in addition to staying out of jail—is a nice light weight (313 pounds, or 317 with ABS), a reasonable 31.5″ seat height, and presumably Honda reliability. Plus, look at the red one. It’s gorgeous.
By the way, “inertial measurement unit-based ABS” is tech-speak for anti-rear wheel lift: the IMU detects dive induced by heavy braking, and will slightly reduce braking pressure to keep the rear wheel from lifting off of the ground. Not quite cornering ABS, which first came to us on KTM’s big adventure bikes and is still largely a premium-bike thing—but still a big development for a bike in this price range. Come this summer, you’ll be able to buy the R with IMU-based ABS for just $4,949, but if you prefer a bike with what we call “hardware supermoto mode,” AKA no ABS, the CB300R with ABS powered only by your brain is just $4,649.
Our appreciation of small Hondas is well-documented—we own two of the best set-up CRF250Ls in existence—so you can bet we’ll be getting our hands on one of these as soon as we can. In the meantime, here’s the spec-y stuff from the press release.
Tubular and pressed-steel frame offers optimized strength and reduced weight
Swingarm designed to provide high longitudinal rigidity and control torsion without being harsh or heavy, for confidence-inspiring feel while cornering
41mm inverted fork offers smooth ride with compliant damping and supple spring rate
Lightweight aluminum wheels underpin Neo Sports Café styling and aid in lightweight handling
New intake and exhaust design reduce air resistance, contributing to more linear throttle response
User-friendly, 313 pound curb weight (317 pounds with ABS) attained through strenuous weight-saving measures
31.5-inch seat height provides great sense of control
Radial-mount Nissin 4-piston front brake caliper with 296mm floating disc provides optimum stopping power
Blacked-out hardware compliments Neo-Sports Café styling elements
Lightweight, full-function LCD display adds a premium feel
All-LED lighting brings modern flare to retro styling