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Honda Teases New Small Displacement Twin

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Tired of being out-gunned, Honda is adding a cylinder to its small displacement sport machine. The video below teases the introduction of a bike that will compete with both Yamaha and Kawasaki. It should displace 250cc in some foreign markets, but at least 300cc in Europe and the U.S. when introduced.


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86 Comments

  1. Ben Par says:

    Hi,

    I have a 1996 Honda CB 250 Nighthawk. Which I use to commute from the suburbs into Central London, a journey of approx 13 miles each way / day.

    This bike is brilliant in ANY weather.Its the ideal commuter bike unless you are on motor/dual carriage ways, AND it gives me approx 120-130 MPG, thats at least 350 miles before I have to switch to the reserve tank!!!

    Its getting a bit old now, and I wish it had a bit more power to get away from the scooters, but that aside, it for me, is the ideal bike. I would definitely buy another one, unless I buy an electric bike !!

  2. Lenz says:

    With the ever-increasing level of speed limit policing, a 350cc bike will have you “making a donation” / “stressing your licence” if you run it at any more than about 60% throttle. If the bike you’re after is based on practicality alone then hey 300cc – 350cc is plenty…… however ….. outside of the developed nations the demand is far from “PRACTICAL”.

    At the risk of repeating a previous wishlist, I would be very happy to see a 700cc – 800cc triple with a bore / stroke ratio ~ 1.1 – 1.2, dry sump, 6 speed with the clutch oil volume separated from the combustion and gearbox oil volume as in Honda’s CFR and CFX 450s.

    This engine configuration would provide the low production cost of an inline triple, broad performance characteristics, engine width very similar to a twin but with reduced overall engine height compared to a twin. The 6 speed transmission is essential for a useful low first gear and an efficient top gear. The separated clutch oil volume allows full use of friction reducing additives in the combustion and gearbox volumes.

    The Triumph 800 triples would provide significant additional benefits to their rolling chassis and engine longevity with dry sumps and separated clutch oil volumes.

  3. Simon says:

    Want to create distinctiveness in the market? How about an oval piston v-twin displacing 305cc? A V4 for the “cost” of a v-twin. Or a v-twin with the aforementioned displacement with REAL VTEC. Call it the Honda Dream.

    CC advantage? Check!
    Historical link? Check!
    Whup-butt technology? Check!
    Potential for low and high end performance? Check! (if they can manage to not screw it up)

    You’re welcome Honda, contact me for the address to send the checks

  4. Davie says:

    I do not understand why anyone would favor a v twin

  5. Ken says:

    If they had any real balls they would have done a triple.

    • MGNorge says:

      A triple 300? As exotic as that sounds, even cool, it’s miles away from reality. The one with the real “stones” would be the one who signed off on it and gave it the go-ahead!
      A triple would be:
      more expensive
      heavier
      most likely thirstier
      most likely produce most of what its got at elevated rpm, leaving the bottom end wanting. There is no reserve of displacement when all you have is 300cc to start with

      I don’t know what sales figures look like for the various bikes but I suspect this bike’s aim is to pull in more in line with the competition. It might be nothing more than a numbers game, one cylinder compared to two and how the market responds to that.

      • Ken says:

        Years ago when Honda made their name and grew their brand image under Soichiro’s leadership they used to make a 250cc in-line 4. There were many takers. Now Honda is resting on their laurels and following the crowd. A triple would be smoother, more powerful and cheaper than the V-twin that some on this forum have wished for and there wouldn’t have to be a significant weight penalty.

        • KenHoward says:

          As MGNorge, above, related, dividing a 250/300cc engine into any more than 2 cylinders doesn’t improve street rideability, it degrades it, making you wait to reach over 7,000+ rpm to get to the power. That’s fine for a pure race bike, but gutless for street riding. And – at that small a displacement – it’s already plenty smooth enough.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            So long as the engine developers resist the sirens song of maximum peak hp, the triple or I4 could be tuned to produce more power while being every bit as streetable as its twin counterpart. I think the main reason we don’t see anything with more than two cylinders in this segment has to do with thin margins and price point targets.

          • Randy in Ridgecrest says:

            My Street Triple 675 has an amazing low and mid (and high) range. Until I rode one I just would not have believed it is possible. So I think a very streetable triple 300 is doable.

        • Curly says:

          Honda could produce a 6 cylinder 250 “IF” there was a market for it but there isn’t so a twin to counter the Kawasaki and Yamaha bikes it will be. A triple would be super cool but that extra cost of that engine would put it over the price barrier of young riders in the ASEAN market who are the primary target of this model. I’d pay extra for one but an old guy in the USA with lot’s of disposable income is not who they are aiming the new 250 (3??) at.

        • MGNorge says:

          I know what you’re saying Ken, but if all we’re talking about is 300cc approx then spreading that out over even more cylinders would be superfluous for this segment. Your thoughts may well come to fruition but I’d highly doubt it because of complexity and added expense. I guess we’ll all see huh.

          • Ken says:

            I’d just like to see Honda be adventurous again. They seem to be content to do just enough. It’s doubtful we’ll ever see a time like the 80’s & 90’s where they tried to engineer just about anything. A 300cc triple with modern production techniques would be a great little motor for entry level racing. It could also employ the same stroker trick to get to 500cc that they used to create the 900RR where they stroked out a 750 that was supposed to be their new Superbike engine from 48mm to 58mm. That was a streetable motor.

          • MGNorge says:

            I know what you mean. I’m a Honda fan going back to the mid-sixties. Would have things been different if Soichiro were immortal and oversaw things past his death? Maybe, but that’s an unknown. The world changes and things change. Sometimes the old recipe seemed to taste just fine, no need to mess with it until a new cook decides to change it.
            Honda just changed their man at the top not too many months ago. There are signs of an awakening in them. Time will tell what will come to market.
            I will say that they seem to have been playing it low here in the US while providing what riders are wanting around the rest of the world, sales numbers back that up.
            Then too, with cruiser-dom such a large factor in the US it’s also easy to see that that means one brand and one brand only to so many. It’s a shame but it’s also a reality.
            It also seems that to the general population motorcycling has changed too since back in the day. Motorcycles seem to have become more of an extension to one’s manliness and a show of how brute one is. In today’s world in the US that spells riding a big ol’ Harley with loud pipes and looking like you just got back from pillaging and plundering. We’re not motorcyclists, we’re Bikers now. I think once it opens up in people’s minds that motorcycles and riders come from all directions will the market open up and manufacturers will feel free to send us more of want we want and like.

        • azi says:

          Honda already did a production multi cylinder 250cc, as well as Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki… Way back in 1988. CBR250RR, FZR250R, GSXR250, ZXR250 4 cylinders. Ludicrous red lines (18500rpm) and expensive to buy and maintain, and 40bhp if you were lucky.

          Japanese domestic market, and grey imported into other international markets. Generally 30-50% more expensive than the parallel twins.

        • Kent says:

          Honda built 350 twins and 350 fours back in the early/mid seventies. The twins were faster and more powerful and very common. The four was smoother and more exotic and rare. Both were terrific bikes. The 350 four evolved into the 400 four, alleviating the power issue.

          • Curly says:

            “alleviating the power issue”

            Well, not really. My DS7 250 would run right with them on the track. Ok, I had swapped in an RD400 6-speed but it was with stock street pipes.

    • PatrickD says:

      Maybe Triumph will take up that challenge and provide the class with a three-cylinder option.

      • MGNorge says:

        Maybe Harley will enter the class with a V-twin? Strike that, I can’t see them going that far. Say, how is Harley’s Street 500 V-twin selling? Anybody ever seen one on the street?

      • Random says:

        Don’t know, they pulled the plug of their 250-300cc a few years ago and they don’t seem to be targeting the class. Probably marketing themselves as a niche brand instead of a mass production one. It was supposed to be a mono too.

  6. Fred says:

    I am surprised that none of the eagle eyed spotters has commented that the bike shown is a CBR250RR or a 300. Upside down forks, radial styled caliper brake, and a single but extra large diameter disc.
    The bars are close to level with the seat, and the top of the fork caps are machined to resemble big piston forks too.
    Indonesia has lower licence restrictions on 250cc, but above that size they discourage bigger bike capacities.
    Honda already have the CBR250/300 as a single cylinder, but no twin below 500cc.

    • Vega says:

      You’re right, Fred…
      LETS WISH IT TURNS OUT TO BE A V-TWIN!!! I mean, the bodywork reminds me of RC51…!
      Anyhow, it seems like a worthy contender to RC390… Plus all the quality and reliability of Honda!

      Too bad, it’ll likely be a Parallel Twin… Well, give it a 270 Degree crank then!

    • Curly says:

      “but no twin below 500cc”

      Fred, the CB500 is only 471cc. It’s actually a stroked version of the 396cc CB400R/F/X models sold in Asia. The “expected” bike will be a new 250 based twin with a NA version probably not over 330cc.

      • Tandom says:

        As far as I know it’s actually the inverse, it was made specifically for Europe (A2 licensing), thus the 47 hp. In non euro countries it has just a little bit more power. In Japan bikes over 400cc have a difficult tiered license so that’s why it was de-stroked (and 400cc inline fours exist there.

        • Curly says:

          The engine family was designed to cover both markets from the start. The bike is built in Thailand like the 250 and 300 singles are and I’m pretty sure the new twin will be too. We are the secondary markets now and serve to keep the economies of scale up a little bit for the emerging markets where the volume sales are.

    • RDD says:

      Fred is right. At 7 seconds in on the video it very clearly shows a “250RR” script on the fairing.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I am confused… Isn’t it supposed to be about the CBR250RR? Why would one’s eagle eye spot anything else?

  7. azi says:

    USD forks, ABS, and sporty styling. Looks like KTM has given the small displacement class a kick up the bum.

    • Vega says:

      Kick in the bum? I believe so!

      BTW, I don’t like parallel twins… Give it at least a V-Twin or perhaps…

      An inline-4 with around 70HP…!!!

      Now, that’d be a HOOT to ride!

      Never gonna happen, I know…

      • Curly says:

        Honda does still sell the VTR250 v-twin in japan but I doubt that engine is cheap enough to make for the the market. A 300cc+ version of that engine in a new bike would be lots of fun.

        http://www.honda.co.jp/VTR/

        • Dave says:

          Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha have given the small displacement category the “kick in the bum”, I wonder if KTM’s volume has made a meaningful contribution in North America. I’ve never seen one on the road.

          Re: the VTR250, I wonder if it’s the same engine architecture as the VTR250 interceptor that used to sell here in the US? Whatever the case, a P2 is the smart choice. Easier to make, easier to service, and smaller/lighter. Clock the crank 270* and enjoy all of the benefit of a v-twin, without the extra cylinder/head/valve train (this, coming from a v-twin owner).

          • azi says:

            The KTM390 is hot stuff in emerging economies such as India and SE Asia. Here in Australia it’s an aspirational model for learners. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a major factor in the current R3/MT03 design and release. The Ninja 250/300 and CBR250/300 are really old tech dressed up in new clothes.

          • Dave says:

            In North America the Ninja 250 was the only bike in the class worth considering for well over a decade. After the 2008 crash I think k all the makes were looking for a new market segment. The Ninja 300 was the first really new bike in the small displacement category in the US, followed by the Honda and Yamaha. I still don’t see any obvious influence from the KTM. It’s neat but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it selling in comparably small numbers.

      • KenHoward says:

        “An inline-4 with around 70HP…!!!”

        Yes, 70 hp – and gutless below 8,000 rpm.
        Yeah, that would be a real hoot for the street. No, it (sensibly) will never happen.

  8. billy says:

    I’m confused. It’s going to have three cylinders, 300cc’s?

  9. Stuki Moi says:

    I get the distinct impression this bike is primarily designed for markets where the typical riding population, don’t consists primarily of 700 combined pounds of Harley Dude and Harley Mama looking for a sled to tow to Sturgis….

    • Kagato says:

      that is plenty of bike, unless you are a very large person. Lightweight and cheap on insurance!

  10. Denny says:

    Honda is master of small to midsize motorcycles and should stick with this niche. This notion had been confirmed for me on purchase of CB500X; excellent bike in very way. This is my third Honda and smallest displacement one but I do not regret whatever.

  11. Mike Simmons says:

    Since we’re wishin’, I’d like a nice 800-900cc sport tourer, about 85hp, six speeds, good protections from the elements, shaft drive, ABS, self-cancelling turn signals, speed control and weighs about 500 lbs. Oh yeah, no more than $12,500 please. Thanks, Honda!

    • mickey says:

      That sounds pretty good.

    • Paul Baker says:

      I’ve wanted an ST850 for years. I used to have the 1100 and then they blew it up to the current 1300 and it’s too heavy and too ungainly. An 850 with 85hp and 500ish lbs would be ideal.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      The Africa Twin already has the engine. If you can live without a shaft, trading some height and suspension travel for more plastics, should keep it close to 500lb. Ditto for Suzuki with the Vstrom 1000.

    • Doc says:

      I wonder how many people that frequent this site, would buy the bike they wish, yearn, swoon for(assuming they ride at all) if it was actually built. In other words, how many would put their money where their mouth is?

      • mickey says:

        I’ve bought many of the bikes I’ve swooned for. I even bought 2 CB1100’s that I said I’d buy if they’d bring it into the country.

        A 500-550lb 850-900 cc shaft drive sport tourer with bags, protection and around 90 horses. You betcha I’d write the check today.

        Oh and I ride a lot. 151 days so far this year and I’m over 11,000 miles for the year. In the Midwest USA with winters and everything. Should end up mid 20K miles again, which is my average.

        • joe b says:

          mickey, check out Honda VFR1200. I like mine.

          • mickey says:

            Joe I stopped at my local dealer today. They are supposed to have a VFR1200X in any day. My big fear is it will be too tall for my stubby legs.

        • Doc says:

          Glad to hear it. When I saw the pic of the CB1100F at the Tokyo show, I told my wife I would buy it if sold. They did and I did. Done that with quite a few bikes. My point is people on here use a lot of ifs and buts on this site that are just talk. They wouldn’t but it if it was built.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I always swore that if anyone ever made a true 50/50 dual-sport/adventure bike, 400 lbs or less, 50-ish hp with fuel injection, modern looks and good highway manners that I would buy it. Husqvarna eventually made the TR650 Terra which checked all of those boxes, so I bought it. Good thing too since they stopped making it almost immediately.

  12. Grover says:

    “HONDA Teases…” That says it all.

  13. Buzz says:

    500lbs?

  14. Mugwump says:

    Sell 3 figure volume in North America or 6 figure volume elsewhere.

  15. Colors says:

    Honda. Yawns for miles.

  16. Garry says:

    I feel really sorry for Honda…..They don’t have a sport tourer,the Touring bike is 15 years dated,all they want to build is 300 cc stuff…what has happened to the “once powerful” Honda motorcycle company??????Their dealers must be really wondering the same thing….

    • TexinOhio says:

      They’re in the same boat as Suzuki. Nothing revolutionary from either of these two manufactures for awhile now. Sadly I’d say Kawasaki is in almost the same state as well.

      Yamaha has been the only company charting new territory in recent times.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      The parts of the world where motorcycling is growing, rather than declining, prefers smaller, lighter, cheaper bikes. Gold Wings and Jakarta traffic just doesn’t mix too well.

      Honda NA and their dealers aren’t really all that happy about NA being relegated to also ran status either, but it’s something Americans are just going to have tom get used to. Just like the rest of the world used to get models modified from what was popular in North America, now emerging Asia is the most important market. The three fat guys in the US who may, if it is just right, buy a non Harley, are simply no match for millions of skinny Indians and Indonesians.

      • stratkat says:

        we dont have to get used to it, we just dont have to support the brand anymore. for performance there is always KTM, Ducati etc

        • Stuki Moi says:

          Being relegated to “official two wheeled suppliers” to old folks homes, is a precarious position to be in even for those guys, in the slightly longer run

      • Joe Bogusheimer says:

        As it was, outside of cruisers and touring bikes, pretty much all the other models we get/got in north America were originally intended largely for the European/UK markets where sportbikes, nakeds, ADV bikes, etc, sell in large numbers. And now even that market has started to dry up as the same demographic and economic forces at work in NA reducing the numbers of riders, especially for larger, higher displacement machines, are also affecting Europe. 600cc and open-class race reps don’t sell anywhere in the number they used to.

        It’s really not like we’re starving for a good selection of motorcycles in this market. Sure, no-one may make the exact bike that you’d like (that mid-displacement sport-touring bike, with shaft or not, sounds good to me. And no, a VFR800 is not my idea of a mid-size sport-touring bike. More like a straight-up sportbike, really, as opposed to a race replica.

    • MGNorge says:

      Not trying to make excuses for Honda but the 2008 downturn really hit them and a number of other Japanese companies very hard, not to mention all over globally. In Honda’s case it wasn’t hard to see that autos came first, in the case of road vehicles, and motorcycles after that. Honda also was pouring its soul into their Honda Jet. Their president, now departed, chose their path at that time. Their new president is a car guy but it’s easy to see that there’s been an awakening. Suzuki, for their part, seemingly fell off the edge of the earth during that time. Each boss must make decisions where they push their companies. I view the US market, and very outspoken riders, as being very fickle, at least as far as non-cruiser bikes go. Seemingly, most people willing and able to spend money on new bikes are Harley fans and cruisers in general. Beyond that there seems to be a blur of wants and likes but above all they want cheap!
      Time will tell of course but worldwide Honda still does quite well.

      • azi says:

        Yup, emerging markets is where the action is at. The models that the average motorcycledaily.com reader is familiar with are mostly leisure market and discretionary purchases – products that aren’t really that significant for the corporation’s total revenue. The return on investment index for a Fireblade must be absolutely pathetic compared to a Super Cub – you have to completely redesign the blasted thing from scratch every few years, and there’s no guarantee people will buy enough to pay off the effort. Buell, anyone? Bimota?

        Ducati is probably only surviving because of a ridiculous amount of financial gymnastics going on behind the scenes with Audi/VW group, and the cash flow provided by the bare bones Scrambler.

  17. Curly says:

    I guess the Europe and North American models will be 325cc to match the original CB350. Nothing super high tech because these bikes are built for the Asian 250 market and can’t go over the competition in price if they want to sell them and to sell them here at competitive prices they have to sell a lot of them in Asia.

  18. randy says:

    I got excited for a minute,I thought Honda was gonna give us a 12-1400cc roadburner/sport tourer.And once again we get a “entry level” bike for women and nerds,thanks for nothing honda.

    • MGNorge says:

      So, only women and nerds ride entry level bikes? God, I recall the years where all bikes were accepted as being part of motorcycling. So in lies the problem we have here in the US, well that and our own brand of politics.

      • Dave Joy says:

        Too true!
        With most of the motorcycling fraternity in North America unless you ride a big Vtwin with loud pipes you are considered an asshole! In the UK and Europe as long as you have 2 wheels (and even 3 in some cases)you are one of the crowd!

      • randy says:

        we have been dumbed down into sissy bikes by the “newer”generation and manufacturers wanting to expand the base.What I call the pussification of motorcycle culture.

    • One who knows says:

      A 250 or 350 with good chassis and suspension is perfect if you live in a fantastic riding area with steep narrow mountain roads. I suppose if all your riding is on the flatlands with wide roads and 90 degree intersections for corners, 12 or 1400 cc is probably what you need to keep from falling asleep.

    • toad says:

      Some of us just want to economically get from point a to point b on our motorcycles. I think it’s great that manufactures still produce bikes for those that need their machine of choice to make up for their lack of masculinity, I just wish the Randy’s of the world didn’t feel the need to make them so loud.

      • KenHoward says:

        Randy never got to Psych-102: What we hate most in others is what we fear and loathe about ourselves.

    • azi says:

      Sounds like the Deep Heat in Randy’s sports bag leaked onto his jockstrap this morning.

  19. Crazy Joe says:

    Dct and traction control? Direct injection? Two cylinders better than one will it be enough to catch up with yamaha and kawasaki? Are people still interested in sports style bikes? Wouldn’t a scrambler or standard with a retro look be more in tune with the time.

  20. Provologna says:

    Another Honda design and engineering revelation crosses the finish line….only one after Yamaha’s R3.

    How ’bout a modern twin, between about 450 and 600cc, in various states of tune, employed in:
    A naked model
    A race replica
    An adventure model

    • TimC says:

      So, the CB500 then

      • Provologna says:

        Probably about as perfect new bike as I’ll find is that bike with the full aftermarket adventure kit.

        There’s a fantastic, interesting, and worthwhile video of a guy (also a pilot/plane owner IIRC) who owned said adventure-tuned CB500 and the KTM 6__ Adventure bike. He walks around the both bikes giving in-depth comments. He road thousands of adventure miles (CA IIRC) on both bikes. Certainly the world’s best authority for such comparison. No MC business affiliation.

        He sure sold me on the Honda.

      • xlaaaaayn says:

        Badum.. tsssss

    • Jason says:

      People in Asia do not buy 450-600cc twins. Many areas are limited to 250cc and less.