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Spotted: Honda CBR300R and Triumph Mini-Single

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If the new Erik Buell Racing 1190 RX and BMW R nineT didn’t get your attention, maybe some news from the small-bike world will. Honda unveiled a freshened-up and stroked CBR300R at the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition to fire back at Kawasaki’s Ninja 300R. And Triumph was spotted testing what may well be its smallest motorcycle in a half century, a small-bore Single to take on emerging markets—and maybe boost Triumph’s sales to hundreds of thousands a year.

The Honda seems like a pretty obvious step: punch your 250 out to 300 as a cheap and easy way to compete with Kawasaki’s excellent Ninja 300R. At the show, Seiji Kuraishi, Honda’s COO for its operations in China, announced the company will start selling larger models like the CBR500R in China, as well as the new made-in Thailand CBR300R. Details on the 300 have surfaced in the form of a Chinese spec sheet (pictured).  The motor has the same bore, but has been stroked 8 mm to 286 cc total displacement.  Claimed horsepower jumps from 26 to 30.5 at the same 8500 rpm, while torque takes an even bigger jump (percentage-wise) from 17 to 20 foot/pounds.

Most interestingly, perhaps, it appears the new CBR300R may have a new chassis, because the reported wheelbase indicates an increase of 11 mm over the current 250, together with a lower seat height.  We may see the CBR300R as early as next year.

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Astute and wise readers who hang on my every word may recall a story last year where I reported Triumph India had a plan to start selling small-displacement Singles to take advantage of that nation’s 13-million-unit-per-year market. Motorcycle Sport and Leisure reported the new range would use liquid-cooled four-valve heads and displace 267-350cc.

Well, recently, a spy photographer snapped a small Single with familiar-looking headlights getting a workout on public roads. The bike looks like it won’t be a high-performance Ninja-beater either. It’s liquid-cooled, but has a tube-steel frame, skinny conventional fork, bias-ply tires and two-pot front caliper with rubber hoses—if you were hoping for a mini Street-Triple to terrorize your local racing club’s lightweight classes, you’ll be disappointed.

But that disappointment won’t be shared in markets like India, Brazil and China. The bike will probably be built in both Thailand and India, taking advantage of lower-cost labor and escaping tariffs. Triumph has made no secret of its desire to become a major global manufacturer, and exploiting this market segment is a must—and this bike looks like the way to do it. In this country, there’s plenty of demand in the under-500 segment as well, so expect this model to eventually go on sale in the USA, probably priced within $100 of the $4199 CBR250R or $3999 Suzuki GW250. Kawasaki bumped the price of its 300R (the only twin-cylinder in the group) up to $4999 ($5299 for ABS), showing the Green folk think there’s plenty of money to be made at that end of the pool.

59 Comments

  1. Jeremy in TX says:

    Pretty soon, small, beginner bikes will all be 400cc, and we will all wonder how anyone ever managed to flintstone around on these little 250′s. And frankly for most markets in the US, 350 – 400cc is about the minimum size you’d want if you needed the bike to “do it all.” So maybe this progression isn’t such a bad thing.

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    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      I think that’s true for this country where the average male is pushing 300 lbs…in the rest of the world…a 250 will transport the whole family..

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      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I’ve spent time in India and Africa, and I have seen whole families on these little bikes (6 people in one instance!). But they don’t need it to go more than 30mph.

        I think a 350cc is better whether one weighs 150 or 300 lbs. For those that don’t need to operate the bike at or above 70 mph often, a 250 is just fine. But I think a 350 or 400 would be just as easy to learn on and could remain interesting and be more useful to its owner for much longer.

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    • mickey says:

      My first street bike was a 50 cc Aermacchi 2 stroke in 1965 (of course I weighed 111 pounds then lol ) which I put 10,000 miles on my first summer…then a 160 Honda, then a 305 Honda, then a 450 Honda. Each step up seemed like a big step. Now I ride ” middle weight” 1100′s and 1300′s lol. Of course back then a ride from Cinti to Louisville was a trip. Now a ride from Cinti to Washington State is a trip.

      The world has changed.

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  2. ABQ says:

    Drop the “r” at the end of the name and see if the insurance rates drop. A dealer told me this is what happened with the ninja 300. Kawasaki didn’t put the r after the 300. The result was the insurance was less than the rate on the 250r.

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  3. Randy says:

    I think the CBR250R is a good bike in need of 5 more HP. And it looks like it’s going to get it! This would definitely tip the choice for my wife’s next bike away from the Ninja 300. She is 5’3″ and 115 pounds, and the lighter, thinner, and overall smaller the bike the better. The extra power will be handy in traffic acceleration, passing and general highway capacity. She thinks the 500 is too heavy for a next bike.

    Here is a comparison of weight to power for a few current models using my wife’s suited weight. I was thinking the CBR250 is just too low. I have a WR250R and know it has enough for getting around. I’m guessing the CBR300 will dyno at 28-29 RWHP considering the claimed HP specs. Here’s hoping the table formatting holds…

    Curb rider total pounds
    RWHP weight weight weight per HP
    WR250R 26 300 125 425 16.3
    CBR250R 23 365 125 490 21.3
    CBR300R 29 365 125 490 16.9
    Ninja 300 33 385 125 510 15.5
    CBR500F 44 430 125 555 12.6

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    • Randy says:

      Ug, well, it’s the last number in the row that is overall pounds per HP.

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      • Randy says:

        So, after being corrected below, the new weight (wifey) to power ratio for the hypothetical CBR300R is 18.1 pounds per HP. Which is still a lot closer to the WRR. Doubtless, it would cruise far better than the WRR.

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      • Randy says:

        So, continuing this hypothetical projection. 18.1 pounds/HP is almost exactly me on my WR250R. In the ensuing drag races (she try’s to jumps me all the time with the Wolf, it’s cute) I’m going to be toast. My bulky 5’9″ 160 pound male frame blocks more air, that and the unfaired WRR means she’s going to be pulling away ALL THE TIME,

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    • GuyLR says:

      The power increase may be a bit less than you were expecting. This is what came up on a slide from the launch:
      286cc engine and 30.8 PS at the crank. That will translate to around 26.0-26.4 at the rear wheel or about 2-3 more than the current 250 depending on whose dyno run you’re looking at. Still the increase in torque should make the bike a good bit more satisfying.

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      • Randy says:

        Maybe, if you assume a straight ratio of displacements. it’s always hard to tell what the stock horsepower spec really means. For the CBR250R the spec is 19.4KW or 26 horsepower. The CBR250 typically dynos out at around 23, which is higher than you’d expect from the spec. Hopefully Honda brightened the engine up to not be too crushed by the competition. There is lots they could do besides the displacement increase. If they are saying 30.8 then maybe it’s 29-30 at the rear wheel, following the rule of the CBR250. Hopefully we will find out.

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        • GuyLR says:

          I’ll bet you don’t see a dyno run of more than 27RWHP for this bike stock.

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          • Jeremy in TX says:

            That would be following “the rule” to the letter from a percentage standpoint.

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          • GuyLR says:

            Do the math. The new bike is at 22.7kW which is 3.3kW more than the 250. In horsepower that’s 4.49. Multiply times 0.85 to get estimated RWHP and you get 3.8. Add that to the 23 the old bike made and you have 26.8. Some 250s dynoed at less than 23 so don’t expect to see more than 27 on the “300″.

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          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I must be having trouble communicating today. My comment agreed with yours 100%. 26bhp is to 23rwhp as 30.8bhp is to 27rwhp. Had Randy applied his own “rule” based on the example he cited, he would have come up with 27 hp rather than 29 – 30.

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          • Randy says:

            Busted!

            Agree. Forget about frictional losses or any ratio factors except the demonstrated one of spec to dyno HP – for the CBR250R this is 23/26 = 0.885. The 300 would then be 30.8*0.885 = 27.2.

            YI apparently applied another factor or maybe was using my “Think Process” (imagine fingers rotating back and forth from my eyes to the Honda in the sky), trying to get Honda to endow the lug with a couple more ponies.

            Right after I posted that I knew I made a mistake but I thought it might just sink away…

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        • Jeremy in TX says:

          If they are claiming almost 5 more hp, they clearly did more than just bore it out. Increasing bore size, all else remaining equal, will increase torque but not peak hp.

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  4. George says:

    A Triumph single,old guys like me will spend a small fortune turning it into a scrambler!They could make a fortune just on farkles.

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  5. william says:

    It all breaks down to how much mass you need to haul down the road, In countries where the average person weighs less than 150 lb. a 250 or 300 will do the job nicely.

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    • Randy says:

      I’m not completely certain of this but it seems like in some parts of this country at least half of the population (women) are running under 150 pounds, on average.

      one thing that’s not considered is these small people – if you weigh 110-120 pounds, you are small – don’t present much aero blockage either. My wife cruises her Wolf Classic 60-65 even on light grades and headwinds.

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    • Dave says:

      It also depends on the road. In those countries with smaller riders and expensive gas, long highway mileage is not as common. Cruising at 70+mph is tough for small singles even with smaller riders.

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    • Hot Dog says:

      Yep, for the average burping belching boisterous behemoth Americans, who haven’t seen our toes, much less other parts in decades, weighs more than this bike. We’d sit on this bike and our soft underbellies would completely cover it over. In the old days, there was a carved wooden statue of an Indian Chief holding a fist full of cigars, whereas in modern times, the current cartoon character is a cookie cutter biker drinking a latte.

      I’ve got a 400 c.c. single and it’ll cruise all day at 80-85mph. This bike will do the same. I think this bike would be a blast to strap a sleeping bag on the back and do a few 500 mile days. We tend to loose sight of the ability of small machines, whether it be caused by displacement creep or just plain arrogance fueled by ignorance.

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  6. MGNorge says:

    For someone who started riding in the mid-sixties and saw the onslaught of all the various Japanese brands rose up offering models differentiated sometimes mostly by engines only 10cc apart. Not sure that kind of practice could work today but specific models are marketed to cover a broader span of riders. Those feeling that this would be perfect as a 350 are forgetting that new riders have to jump in at a good spot. I for one would never trade the introduction I had starting with a 50 and running my way up as funds allowed. I see the displacement bump of the CBR as a way to keep cost low, span the displacement/power gap between its most obvious competitor the Ninja. All this without encroaching too far into CBR500 territory. Makes a great little road bike even better.

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  7. Mike says:

    I’m a firm believer in 350s. The 250s just aren’t enough and, although better, 300s show what a boost you get with 50ccs. Always thought Yamaha’s SRX250 could have been a killer bike as a 350.

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    • Guylr says:

      You are right about the SRX250. I bought mine in 1991 with the idea of turning it into a 350 and did by using TT and XT350 parts. It made a great handling bike into one that makes around 30hp like the new Honda and easily tops 90 mph. The increase in torque is the biggest change and I think that’s what people will like about the CBR300R. More than the additional top speed over the 250 it will make the bike a lot more satisfying to ride. They should have gone all the way to 350 or 390 like the KTM to have a real market buster.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’m a firm believer in 350s.”

      +1, this thing should’ve been a 350. in order to achieve parity with the 2 cylinder ninjette, the single needs to have MORE displacement, not equal. it would still be a whole 150cc’s and piston down on the 500.

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      • MGNorge says:

        Could be too that this particular engine might be compromised too much if taken to 350cc? Honda may also figure a logical jump up when buying bike #2 would bypass the 500 range? They all plot their marketing strategies.

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    • yippo says:

      These bikes are made to fill niches created by legistlation, licences, insurance, tax and import tariffs. Performance is an aftertought. If these niches disapear so will the bikes like the high performance 250s and 400s of the 80′s and 90′s made to fit the then current Japanese licencing structure.

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      • Blackcayman says:

        Performance can’t just be an afterthought – or it would still be a 250. The bike they were going after took a huge step forward and Honda was left there holding their &!*$

        They had no choice but to chase, and they still have a gap between their 300 and the Kwacker.

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    • goose says:

      I’d consider this bike to be “350 class”, I just wish they made it just a little bigger. “Honda 305″ has a little magic in my mind.

      I don’t know what it means but I spent a lot of time at the 350-400 size while climbing from my 90 to my current 1550. 2 350s + a 400 Yamaha, 1 350 Honda, 1 350 BSA. Five out of the 26 bikes I’ve owned, almost 20%. Only 1000 – 1100s (4, all BMW twins) come close. 350s seemed (at least in the seventies) to have a nice balance between price, agility and enough power to be safe and fun. I hope the kids who buy this Honda have an much fun, and get as hooked on motorcycling, as I did back in those days.

      Goose

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  8. dino says:

    Start small, and get bigger… When you get too big, introduce another small model…

    Cars having been doing this all the time, and cycles can do it as well… Remember when a 750cc was a “big” bike?? Now, try double that! But new small bikes come and take their place.

    (the circle of life… cue the sappy music!)

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  9. John says:

    “bored-out CBR300R”

    “The motor has the same bore”

    Huh. Okay, well, yeah, we know what you meant. Anyway, if they stroked it to 76mm, making it a square engine, it would be 345cc with a buttload of torque. Which would make it ideal for a CRF350L that weighs maybe 325lbs (which would help it be less porky for its size).

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  10. Tommy see says:

    History repeating itself for sure.

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  11. BARRY WELLINGS says:

    Oh, and that Triumph is god awful ugly. The new GW250 Suzuki is better looking. While I am ranting, what is the Honda Gnome. Another cheap copy of a super cool Kawasaki KD80X or KSR80.

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  12. BARRY WELLINGS says:

    Honda copying again to try and regain what Kawasaki acheives on its own.

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  13. Bud says:

    So now the Kawasaki and the Honda are 300s. Are we just a cycle away from a new 350 class?

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  14. Bud says:

    What a difference a paint job makes! I wouldn’t look twice at the red version but the white one looks pretty good.

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  15. denny says:

    For road the 250 was kind of smallish, so logically they give it some more meaning; it’s the torque, right?! Now, instead fussing with half-baked bike, why not to bring it right away to full 400? Show Kawasaki who is the boss here!

    • Dave says:

      There isn’t enough room on the showroom floor anymore. They have a softly tuned 500 to fill that need.

      • denny says:

        Yeah. it is filling I know. So, perhaps the world in not NA when comes to demand for CCs, but at lest 350 would be more of “world” caliber, if that’s what they want. Other option is to make ‘American and rest of the world’ models. I had once 250 and remember that on highway it was useless.

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        • Dave says:

          Indeed. It is my understanding that 250cc is the “catch weight” in global markets so a 350 instead of the 300 would seem to make more sense to me, especially considering that by the numbers, this still falls well short of the ninja 300 and is likely less road worthy for the US freeway environment.

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  16. Michael H says:

    I was riding in eastern Tennessee two weeks ago, on a two-up touring bike. We were in the hills and twisting roads east of Gatlinburg, puttering along as conditions and traffic allowed. A rider on a Ninja 300 was in front of me, enjoying the curves, being cautious, keeping revs in the mid range.

    For a moment I wished that I was on that bike. It was simply perfect for the roads, hills and curves we were riding. The new CBR will be the same thing: Not a highway screamer of a long-distance bike, but perfect for twisting, hilly, narrow roads that can be found in rural areas of many states.

    If that’s where I lived, I’d have one in the garage.

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  17. John says:

    Sheep in wolf’s clothing. A single for the street is just not that fun. Now, if Triumph lops one cylinder off their 800cc engine, they’d have a helluva platform. Likewise, that 300cc engine, who cares in a streetbike, it needs to be ported to the CRF250L, and if anything, stroked out to 350cc.

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    • Scotty says:

      Of course it will be fun, but maybe not for you. I would have loved this in 1985 when I first started on the road. In fact I wanted an SRX250 but couldn’t afford one at the time.

      And I’d say I had plenty of fun in my 30,000 kms touring on the SRX600 and the SZR660 throughout Australia and the UK, France and Germany.

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      • denny says:

        All I can say is – I envy ya.

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      • John says:

        The issue is that most people will need it to go 75-85mph on a 4-lane highway and that’s not something singles do well. I don’t see the point of a bike that looks dramatically faster than it is. Now, make it a SuperMoto and then it gets a bit more interesting for around town commuting or delivery services or something like that. The CB500R makes a lot more sense for as an entry level bike, because it can cruise far more effortlessly on the road. These 250cc motorcycles are built for countries that have multi-tiered licensing and/or where a 250cc bike is nearly top of the line because people just don’ t have the money for much more than that. Most of Asia and South America have very few offerings over 200cc. Also, in the US, motorcycling is a luxury, not a necessity. So getting an underwhelming bike isn’t really the goal. My first street bike was a VT500 twin and only went up from there.

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        • Scotty says:

          Fair enough John – I have ridden a 750 twin for the last 9 years because I wanted a more capable machine for long trips than a hotted up SZR660. However for a weekend fun bike in the curves, where the fun is a modestly powered Moto3 replica would be fun. The SZR was a TZR with a 660 thumper in it and it weighed nothing and handled great. Something like that.

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        • GearDrivenCam says:

          You’re right. The CBR300R will NOT go 75-85 mph on a 4-lane highway without some buzzing and without tapping out much of its limited power potential. But if it’s also true that MOST people NEED to ride their bikes frequently on a 4-lane highway – I just feel sorry for them. Riding 4-lane highways on any bike – in my opinion – deprives you of what is so much fun about riding a motorcycle. Life is short. Why waste it riding 4-lane highways. The CBR300R isn’t for riding on a 4-lane highway. Thankfully.

          What it is – is a nice esthetic improvement over the CBR250R, with a more attractive front fairing, better looking exhaust, apparently lighter weight, mixed in with a notable performance improvement (about 5 more hp and a 3 lb-ft increase in torque). What promises to make this bike fun – isn’t the 1% of the time that you MUST ride it on a 4-lane highway when you have no other choice. It’s the other 99% of the time riding everywhere else that will allow it to shine.

          Some will ask “Why not get a CBR500R?” – intimating that the CBR500R is essentially the same bike – with almost twice as much power. It isn’t. For one, the CBR500R weighs a porky 62 lbs more. Despite what people might argue – weight adversely affects handling and flickability – and better handling will be what separates this CBR300R from the CBR500R. A great handling bike is at the top of my list of preferences. Granted – I appreciate that others might not care if they ride a great handling bike or not. But this is what makes these bike fun. It’s certainly not the amount of power they deliver. But if one can’t appreciate a great handling bike – then this isn’t the bike for them. Other differences? The CBR300R will be less expensive new. With slightly better fuel economy. And cheaper single-cylinder maintenance. And more affordable insurance.

          I used to own a 2011 CBR250R. I even toured with it. Piled on a bunch of camping gear and set off. Here is the report:

          http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=812788

          Why did I sell it? You’ll never guess. Because I thought it weighed too much. No joke. I also have a CBR150R – and just found it more fun to ride – more exciting – with noticeably better handling. For most – the handling of the CBR250R would be exquisite – relative to most other bikes. Yet – compared to the CBR150R it came up short. The CBR250R had loads more power over the CBR150R. And I admit that I sometimes miss that extra power. But more power doesn’t always mean more fun. And if I had kept the 250R and sold the 150R, I would have soon missed the handling of the 150R more than I now miss the power of the 250R. The CBR150R is just more fun and engaging to ride. And it still has enough power to do 99% of the things that I want or need it to do – to my satisfaction.

          Ironically – I’ve even ridden the CBR150R out on a 4-lane highway for a couple of hours on a recent camping/touring trip this summer. I had no other choice. Heavily loaded up with gear – in the presence of other traffic pushing through the wind in front of me – I was able to cruise at 75 mph (GPS) with a little bit left. Here is that trip:

          http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=901903

          As I get older (I’m almost 47) – I may find myself becoming more and more willing to compromise handling for more power. In the meantime – I will keep the CBR300R in my sights.

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  18. SecaKid says:

    As I get older, I see my friends getting 700 lb. cruisers. I would rather have something like this.

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    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Yes, if my knee ever gets too rickety to hold up a taller, heavier bike safely, this is the type of bike I would be shopping for.

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    • Hot Dog says:

      The ease of handling, svelte flickablity and the ability to turn on a thought, far outweigh a behemoth cruiser’s torque rush. I’m liking the industries tilt towards the fountain of youth and small motored machines.

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  19. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    If it only had a beak…

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  20. xlayn says:

    I know people here always have a “if just only” but you have to acknowledge that so many news of so many nice machines can just be good news and let us confirm this are good times for bikers.
    now, on the “if only” side, the single-triump looks uuuugly like in hell with those headlamps :S
    Let’s see what did honda do with the new CBR300, by the way I love the style of those headlamps.

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