Honda describe the CB300R as a ‘stepping stone’ bike, a naked roadster that provides a natural progression from a 125 without too much of a jump in terms of capacity, weight or power.
Such a bike has been missing from the firm’s model range as while the faired CBR250R (which evolved into the CBR300R) has been around since 2011, you have to go way back to the CB250, which was discontinued in 2003, to find a naked model that fulfils such a role.
For 2018, Honda have righted this situation with the latest addition to the new ‘neo sports café’ CB range, the CB300R.
It is easy to dismiss a 286c single as a bike designed for the far eastern market that has been forced upon Europe, but MCN was both surprised and impressed by the CB300R.
The engine is pokey enough to have fun with while the chassis is ideal for those either progressing up from a 125 or just wanting a lightweight bike for urban use and weekend blasts in the countryside.
The Honda is charming, good looking and fun to ride
The 390 Duke is certainly more of a premium product, and so is the G310R, but the Honda is charming, good looking and fun to ride.
Surprisingly, the CB family look really works on this small capacity machine and the 300 is visually very appealing. Honda have done a good job and while it isn’t as ‘in your face’ as the KTM, it is certainly a step above other rivals in terms of kerb appeal.
And it sounds good too, with the single emitting a nice bark of exhaust note at speed. It may be built in Thailand, but it does appear to have an impressive level of attention lavished on it.
The obvious rival is the KTM 390 Duke
The obvious rival is the KTM 390 Duke, which at £4699 costs extra but boasts a more powerful 373cc single and a TFT dash with connectivity as an optional extra.
Kawasaki make the Z250SL, which is cheaper at £3649 but makes less power from its 249cc single and lacks ABS, while the BMW G310R is £4620 and more powerful than the Honda. The Yamaha MT-03 is pricey at £4999, but you get a 41bhp parallel twin motor rather than a single.
MCN put a crop of lightweight bikes through their paces, including the Honda CBR300R from which the CB gets its engine. Watch the video to see what we thought.