Honda actually built a naked bike from the CBR300R. Their goal was to catch up with the KTM 390 Duke and jump in front of the upcoming Kawasaki Z300.
The 2015 Honda CB300F looks just as attractive as its sporty sibling with prominent, stylish radiator cowls and a modern, Transformers
-style headstock. There’s an extremely high level of fit and finish with a tasteful use of nuts and bolts, clear-coat metallic paint, as well as higher-grade plastics than other bikes in its class.
Shapely and powerful
The CB300F’s beautiful proportions don’t make it seem like you’re dealing with a small bike at all. This feeling carries over when you straddle the seat: The riding position is much less cramped than on the 390 Duke (at least for my 5’8” frame). You’re leaning a bit more forward, though, but not as much as on a CBR300R, which helps you face highway winds.
The instrument cluster displays engine speed, vehicle speed, fuel level, and time. Unfortunately, there’s still no gear position indicator -- something that can really help beginners. The controls are ergonomically laid out, and everything is where it’s supposed to be. The brake levers can’t be adjusted, however.
Honda increased engine displacement to 286cc, so the new CB300F produces 31 hp (+5) at 8,500 rpm along with 20.2 lb-ft of torque. The result is smoother operation with reduced shifting both around town and on the highway. When the light turns green, you don’t need to rev the engine like crazy to separate yourself from traffic. Between 3,000-5,500 rpm, the single-cylinder generates adequate power to ride confidently in all conditions, while at higher revs getting out of a bad spot is never a problem.
CB300F handles like a big boy
The CBR300R-derived frame continues to do a nice job on the road. It is fundamentally sound with a perfect mix of stability and agility. The sharp, responsive front end brings a lot of fun to the action -- more so than the CBR500R and Kawasaki Ninja 300. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The dynamics of this chassis match those of a $10K bike. Firmer fork preload and rebound would be appreciated, though.
In terms of comfort, the 2015 Honda CB300F rivals larger competitors starting with the CB500F. The narrow seat is nicely sculpted and close to the fuel tank, and the footrests are not too far back, meaning you can ride for relatively long periods of time without exhausting yourself. The soft fork and progressive rear shock also improve ride quality. Two-up riding is surprisingly good for this type of bike -- nothing seems to disrupt the fun and wellbeing of those on board.
Intuitive and friendly
|Honda actually built a naked bike from the CBR300R. (Photo: France Ouellet)
Easy handling, a super-light weight of 157kg, and a very low centre of gravity come together to provide the friendly operation and peace of mind beginners look for. Mad fun can be had when slicing twisty country roads at a good clip since all manoeuvres are intuitively executed. The brakes have pretty good bite, yet remain easy to modulate. Plus, they’re backed by ABS, which I never found too intrusive.
To sum up, the 2015 Honda CB300F is much more than a beginner’s bike, offering all the benefits of a larger-displacement motorcycle, minus the exaggerated power. Both inexperienced and seasoned riders will feel very confident on it -- there’s not a friendlier alternative in the segment. Everyone can hone their riding skills on this lightweight, easygoing, and highly forgiving machine. Affordable pricing ($4,699) and a low registration cost make it all sweeter.
- Terrific proportions and styling
- Surprising level of comfort for a 300cc bike
- Newly found power and torque are much more present than anticipated
- Build quality lives up to other Honda products
- Front fork is a bit too soft