MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Will the New Honda Lightweight Twin Be a 350?

101215top-i

We told you about the “Light Weight Super Sports Concept” Honda will display at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. This should lead to a production model competitive with the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and the Yamaha YZF-R3. A Japanese magazine (Young Machine) is predicting the production bike may be called the Honda CBR350RR, which might mean that the displacement creep infecting this category will simply be extended.

For a little context, the 2008 Ninja 250R displaced 249cc, the 2013 Ninja 300 bumped that up to 296 cc, and the 2015 R3 displaces 321 cc. Would it be a surprise that Honda delivers a 350? No. This same bike is likely to displace 250 cc in Asian markets, even if the larger displacement shows up in Europe and the United States. We may hear something official from Honda later this year.

65 Comments

  1. Kevin C. says:

    Hey, I noticed that KTM, in addition to the 800cc parallel twin that’s been spotted/pictured again, has also announced they will have a second all new engine: another parallel twin displacing 500cc! I bet this is NOT another weak sister A2 compliant sleeping pill. Who said this? the CEO of KTM, so I would call this a reliable source.

    This 350 should be Honda’s A2 bike and the should take the restrictions off the new cbr500rr if they want to keep up with this fast moving small – medium displacement segment.

    Why do they need 2 A2 compliant machines anyway??

  2. Norm G. says:

    Q: “Will the New Honda Lightweight Twin Be a 350?

    A: no, a Ti-rodded 250cc triple revving out to 19,500.

  3. Seca 1 says:

    Once the new GN 250R hits the shores time for a comparison test..

  4. PN says:

    It doesn’t matter if Honda finally catches on and up and makes a 350 mini-sportbike because the Kawi EX300 Ninja will still be better, just as it’s better than the 321 Yamaha R3. Kawi’s been refining its Ninjette for over 20 years.

    • mickey says:

      “better” is a nebulous term. Do you mean it’s lighter? faster? handles sharper? more comfortable? brakes stronger? more reasonably priced? gets higher gas mileage? is more reliable? more pleasing to the eye? prettier color? more compliant suspension?

      Define better.

      • todd says:

        Definition; he owns a EX300…

      • PN says:

        It’s just better in all phases, it looks great, and it’s fun. Ride one and see. The engine is smooth, the ride is compliant, the brakes are good, it’s fast without being scary, gets 60-68 mpg, it’s nimble and easy to move around the garage. I like Honda just fine, but I can’t imagine you can improve on the EX300 except maybe give it emergency flashers.

        • Bob says:

          Compared to what?! Suzuki’s fails-from-the-gate GN250?

          The R3 is right there with Ninja 300, and apart from the fact you can’t trust it, the KTM smokes them both.

          And let’s not forget that another $1000 or so gets you into the CB500X/F/R series, which sucks the headlight out of the Ninja 300 in every single objective measurement you could mention.

          The best you can say about the Ninja 300 is that it’s good… for a 300.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “I can’t imagine you can improve on the EX300…”

          Based on what I’ve read about the R3, an imagination is not necessary to see how it’s better. Better power, lighter weight, better ergonomics. The EX300 is great, it helped people re imagine small displacement bikes in the US, but it shouldn’t come as a surpris that the Yamaha is better, it’s a newer design.

    • MGNorge says:

      “..Honda finally catches on and up..” By your own words, if Honda was playing catch up and even surpassed the competition right now how is it that that doesn’t matter?

      I’m inclined to go with Todd on this, you either own an EX500 or are undeniably a Kawasaki fan?

      Tip: Few things in life stay static for long and as new developments and technologies evolve we see change. Perhaps not always the change we want to see but the world is very dynamic.

      In this case, since displacement categories are being blown apart, the easiest way to increased performance is displacement. Honda would simply up the ante to which another manufacturer would introduce a “375” or maybe a “380” (Suzuki?). It’s been done before….and I’m just talking engine specs, not to mention chassis and suspension improvements!

  5. turnergande says:

    Like the Ford Model T, you can have it in any color as long as its black. If the all black look is that appealing why not find a way to make the brake rotors and that exhaust pipe black?

  6. beasty says:

    *sigh* All the Japanese bikes are starting to look the same. They’re all morphing in to one another. If it wasn’t for the decals, I couldn’t tell one from the other. In addition to being visceral, motorcycles are supposed to be visually appealing. Japanese sportbikes, large and small, are becoming boring.

    • Blackcayman says:

      Ducati is the manufacturer that should be most flummoxed…

      The seat/tail section (1098) – it even has almost “Panigale Eyes” shaped air inlets…

    • MGNorge says:

      Interesting observation as if you, guessing familiar with the motorcycle landscape, can’t always tell, just think what Joe average consumer thinks? When sportbikes started seeing their engines covered up in plastic I felt a great part of the visual appeal went away. My number one visual attraction has always been the engine.

    • Hot Dog says:

      Sort of like all Harleys/poseurs/cruisers look the same.

  7. Joe says:

    I’ve been waiting for the 500cc to take off again well before Kawasaki was the last of the dying breed. Some of us don’t need or even want a fire breathing supersport, just something that is fun on a back road. A 300cc bike would be fine, but I’m not short or light enough to see myself cramped on a small bike. I also feel that there is absolutely no need to pay new prices for an old bike, as the only new on an EX500 (R.I.P.) or GS500F is the paint. Honda’s CBR500R seems to be a start, but shouldn’t be the only option between a 300cc ‘toy’ and the 650cc compromises (which again, compare too close to the 600’s of yesteryear for much more money).
    Dear manufacturers: a 300 – 500cc bike in a larger lightweight frame would have just as much fun factor as a Grom, and if you emphasized skill over power wouldn’t be seen as your girlfriend’s bike either.

  8. EZMark says:

    Oh yes, the American Supersizing. I remember when the Ford Explorer was a small SUV. Have you seen one lately? So now they make the Escape.
    And the Honda Civic used to be a subcompact. It got too big and now they have the Fit.
    It’s the American way.

    • TF says:

      It might have something to do with the fact that the market is saturated with 250/300 Ninjas and CBRs. Craigslist is littered with barely-used bikes being sold by people moving on to larger options. If you don’t keep offering something new, people will just turn to the used market to satisfy their demand for learner bikes.

  9. A P says:

    Let’s see… stout twin spar frame, upside-down forks, wavy disks, big clutch cover, set wider than the 250 or 300…

    At LEAST a triple, maybe even the sweet 350-four reborn? I’d settle for a triple but the four would be the ideal fun-factor machine.

    • Wendy says:

      The production cost of a four makes that very unlikely, but it would be fun. A twin can be a very interesting and amusing machine, especially for the intended audience, the young, new, rider.

      • A P says:

        We have a CBR250RA. Nice bike but nothing to compare to my CBR600RR. The 250 is well-sorted, has adjustable aftermarket rear shock and aftermarket fork springs/emulators, Michelin Pilot Street radials, +1 front sprocket and a bunch of other tweaks. But it is still about 1/2 the HP and not sophisticated enough to not feel limited. I am on the north side of 60 and would like a sportbike with the competence/adjustability of my 600 without the massive HP, a little lighter without giving up the handling and braking of an RR. A single/twin of any displacement is not a significant “step up” from the 250/300/500’s on offer in my book, especially if it has low-tech frame/suspemnsion/brakes. A 350 four RR would do that. Twins are heavy for the HP they produce, and low in HP/cc capability.

        Yes, a four of any displacement is more expensive, and I realize it would cost nearly as much to produce a 350 as a 600. But a current 500 twin produces about what a 350 four would, and is not nearly the sporting platform. And given the current CB500’s weigh 20 kg more than the 2003 version, Honda is not making progress, going back to the weight of the CB500T of the 1970s. The 1970’s CB350F made 34 hp and weighed 20 kg less than the new CB500’s as well.

        So using all the new-tech which shows up in the CBR600RRs, a 50+HP/sub-300lb CB350F/RR is easily attainable.

        Who says all 250/350 cc bikes have to be “entry level” in tech and performance? Just because the safetycrats in Europe have hobbled small displacement bikes to “entry” status/economics doesn’t mean there’s not a market for “experienced rider” 4 cylinder bikes that weigh less than 500 lbs and don’t make 100+HP.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          How did you get 60hp from a CBR250RA? Moto3 bikes barely make that much power at the crank.

          • Hot Dog says:

            Jeremy, it’s called bench racing. If someone makes up some fictitious number, says it enough times then it must be true. It is written, it is so! Heck, don’t most Harley’s make 200 HP at the rear tire? LOL!

          • Scotty says:

            He’s 60 years OLD.

        • ed says:

          If you can get 60 from a CBR250R, then quit your job immediately. There’s a whole lotta engine manufactures who stand to learn a lot from you. Personally I’d be surprised if your 250 made 37-39HP in a usable manner.

          • Selecter says:

            Guys… I think he’s saying that he’s north of 60… age-wise. Not HP-wise.

            The CBR250R throws down about 25 to the wheel. I don’t think even the most optimistic 250 owner would ever delude themselves into thinking their bike is capable of anywhere near 60HP.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            He mentioned that the CBR250 was “still” 1/2 the hp of his CBR600RR which would equate to about 60bhp, which is why I took that to mean 60hp. But I think you are right and he was referring to age. Though the question still stands: How does one tweak a CBR250 to produce half as much power as a CBR600RR?

          • MGNorge says:

            Reliably?

          • todd says:

            The CBR250RR is about half, and can be made to produce half of a 600 stock bike. But he did say “RA.”

          • xLaYN says:

            @Todd
            I knew about the 400RR but not the 250, 4 75cc cylinders @19k rpm, almost clockwork mechanisms and gear driven cams as per videos it sounds incredible.
            I know GP has weight penalty as number of cylinder increases (an thus power), imagine a v6 400cc screaming at 19k rpm, unreal…

          • xLaYN says:

            -mind… since when 250/4 it’s 75?
            -I want food and caffeine…
            -…. why not… dr. peeper and pizza for us

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “dr. peeper”

            no worries, saw him on the news last week. San Bernadino Police showed up at his practice and took him away in cuffs. that’ll learn ’em.

          • A P says:

            WOW… how to parse phrases completely WRONG.

            I am over 60 years old.

            I think the our CBR250RA has about 1/2 the HP that would make it a “maximum fun” machine. There is NO WAY a streetable 250 single could produce 50-60HP.

            My point is, a modern 350 four could easily produce the 60ish HP to fit the bill, and have a proven engine compact/package/profile to enable Honda to model a CBR350RR on the CBR600RR template. The CBR250 (1986-96) produced 45HP with carbs. Twins tend to be tall to get displacement, so are less than ideal for super-sport applications.

            The only remaining issue is the cost. I agree it would not be competitive with steel-frame, otherwise conventional entry level or mass-appeal bikes.

          • Seca 1 says:

            He is in insane..A turbo charged 350 running on 15 lbs of boost with methanol injection is good for 48 rwhp..

        • mickey says:

          How about one of those KTM 390s or 690s?

  10. MGNorge says:

    With the hoards of riders who had CB/CL/SL 350’s back in the day does that displacement hold something special today? You know, if Honda could somehow provide a link to those bikes would its popularity jump from those wanting to relive their youth? I might be tempted.

    • Eric says:

      Obviously hard to know but a downsized 500 twin with a hotter head would be cool. They could really blow peoples minds and put it in a retro scrambler – Triumph still has no direct high-chrome-exhaust competition.THAT is something I could see myself buying…

  11. Kawatwo says:

    Looks awesome. Cool enough to be a Kawasaki 🙂 But it’s a Honda! Nice to see some more daring design coming from Honda. Oh and if you have never ridden a 250 ninja at 13K rpm it does sound VERY good!

  12. Ron H. says:

    I don’t know if it’ll be a 350, but I can guarantee it won’t have an Akrapovic exhaust.

  13. Grover says:

    With the single rotor up front I would guess that the rr designation is just advertising hype. Thus will probably be nothing more than a 33 hp twin for beginning riders and cheapskates.

    • Blowbro says:

      Cheapskates! I love it! Single rotor is the way to go. All other is overkill. I took off 1 of the 2 rotors on my 636. Majot improvement! Yeah, so you lose the ability to haul down multiple times from triple digit speeds, but fawk, the front end comes up a whole lot easier without the eaxtra 6lbs up front from the extra rotor and caliper, as well, I removed the rad fan (2lbs) and put n a Michelin Power Pure frt tire that was 2lbs lighter than the Q2 I had for 10lbs off the front total, and my bike weighted less than a 250 ninja stock (which also only comes with one rotor).

      I am a genius. =)

      • MGNorge says:

        Pat yourself on the back.

      • Oscar says:

        I can’t tell if this is irony or not!

      • Stratkat says:

        hey that sounds like a great idea, but why not remove the other front rotor, caliper, line, master cyl, hardware/lever, and really save some weight! youll still have the back brake system for stopping so no worries there. boy then youll have a super wheelie machine for sure!!!

    • mickey says:

      My 76 Honda CB 750 and my 2000 Honda CB 750 Nighthawk only had a single disc front and a drum rear. No problem stopping. No need for dual front discs on a lightweight 250-350.THAT is media hype.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        “THAT is media hype.”

        Even most of the Ninja 250s/300s I’ve seen set up for club racing applications keep a single front rotor. Anything that light and slow just doesn’t need more.

        • KenHoward says:

          And no matter how many times guys see that, they still can’t accept that many bikes simply don’t need dual front discs (and that the extra spinning weight actually hinders turn-in).

          • Dave says:

            The reason for double discs is also to prevent fork twist under hard braking. The Derbi 125cc GP bikes used to use two very small discs instead of one larger one for that reason.

    • Fred_M says:

      Grover, you should get in touch with KTM and let them know what a terrible mistake that they’ve made by putting only a single front rotor on KTM RC390 — and on their production racer Moto3 bike which also has just a single front rotor.

      But, really, why do you need dual front rotors on a lightweight, 350cc 4-stroke? It’s not like you’re going to be hauling it down repeatedly from 160mph. And when you are on the brakes, the light weight and lower tire/rim mass requires less braking power.

      Putting more discs and calipers than the bike needs just increases weight and unsprung mass while degrading handling.

      • Grover says:

        The whole “RR” designation may be nothing more than a decal job and an upside-down fork. We’ll have to wait and see. Also, 350cc’s is only a guess…no one outside of Honda really knows how big it will be.

  14. xLaYN says:

    RR those two letter can mean two things…
    -expensive, race replica (read punishment for your wrists), rev-loving, well suspended, I want one, Ok-KTM-will-show-you-how-to-do-it … OR …
    -current CBR bumped 50cc and the RR postfix downgraded to denote normal bike (next year CBR 600 RRRR)

    last thread like this ended up with 4 new already existing ducs…

    • xLaYN says:

      addendum to myself:
      I think it’s probably not going to be an RR because primarily on a price to package ratio, second it’s been some time since the last small RR (was that the CBR400RR??), after that, more displacement and power became the norm and third and most important Europe rules for bikes, specifically the A2, 35KW and no more than .2kg/kw ratio or 175kg (385 pounds) 46hp motorcycle… so basically my older than Methuselah GS500 (which probably will be destroyed and owned by the GTR250, this is not a joke).
      The nice thing could be that a high revving 350 twin even if it does the same power than the CBR500 it would do it as a result of a higher state of tune which is always nice (as in “I feel I racing this bike to the limit” and the sound (hello overlapping valves))

      • Hot Dog says:

        Ramblin’ Man…………..

      • Seca 1 says:

        The GD 250 is coming..

        • Selecter says:

          … And there’s still no reason to care.

        • Seca 1 says:

          It will do anything on the street that the Japs bikes will do..Where are the inverted forks on the Hondas 250/300/500 that are made in malaysia??Where are the 2 yr warranties?? Parts on the Honda also is more expensive and the plastics on the Honda is junk..Have you seen the joke of a triple tree on that Bucket Honda??Along with that ugly trash can exhaust..Honda made in Malaysia to fool the customer..

          • mickey says:

            See.. This is entertainment. This is why I come to this site. Lol

          • Dave says:

            Re: “It will do anything on the street that the Japs bikes will do..”

            Except make good power, retain resale value, and promise serviceability (where are parts even sold?). Oh, and turning a bad fork upside-down doesn’t make it any less bad.

            Hyosungs have been in the US market for a long time. There’s good reasons they haven’t become more popular in the way alternative scooter brands have.

          • Seca 1 says:

            You can get parts overnight..So your wrong again..Dont you guys know anything here ..How much power are you goin to get out of a 250/300 this is what we are debating..Anyone with any skills can make suspension better but for a beginner bike it will work just fine..There are dealers rolling over 100 Hyosungs a year out of their dealerships in the southwest more than CBR 250s and 300/500 combined in that area.Hyosung has been in the USA just 10 yrs and beginning to make their move..Power 27.6 for Hyo..27.6 for the Kaw and 26.0 for Honda all 250s and Hyosung out torques them all..So its a better bike ..

  15. Alex says:

    Anytime I notice one of these 250/300cc entry level sportbikes riding around I’m struck by how lame they sound. And aftermarket exhausts only seem to amplify the poor noise. Sound is as subjective as looks though I suppose.

    • Hot Dog says:

      Dah— Loud pipes save lives.

    • MGNorge says:

      I know what you mean but it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s only because we have hyper bikes today turning a bazillion rpm and sounding like F1 cars that simple single and twin cylinder bikes sound so far down the rung, so to speak. I road singles and twins (still ride a twin and a V4) for the first 20 years of riding, they hold many memories for me.