Honda CBR300R 2014 unveiled in China
The news emerging from the 12th China international motorcycle trade exhibition in Chongqing includes the world premiere of the Honda CBR300R motorcycle. The bike is expected to replace the CBR250R in most markets it is sold in.
What is confirmed is that the motorcycle will be built in Thailand like the CBR250R and is a global model which means it will go to many markets. We suspect India will be one of these markets too.
The big change visually is that the motorcycle no longer looks VFR inspired. We have always maintained that the CBR needed to pay homage to the Fireblade more than the VFR1200F. The CBR 250 may have looked big and welcome to many eyes but it wasn't true to the CBR name and it's design ethos. So far it had picked a touring oriented styling package over a sleeker more sporty look.
The new design from the twin headlamps onwards is clearly inspired by the Fireblade. Every plastic panel looks completely new and the whole design looks much lighter and therefore more sporty.
But the big news of course is the engine. Honda has not revealed the full details on the engine but clearly it would be an engine that displaces just under 300cc.
This being a Honda the chances that this engine would be tuned for outright horsepower is slim. What we are expecting is another sweetly tuned engine with lots of low down torque mated to a fairly decent top end. This is a fairly easy conclusion to draw because both the CBR250R and the CBR500R have the same engine power characteristic.
This also means that most of the speculation about a 35-38PS engine is probably a pipe dream. What we are expecting is an engine with a bore and stroke that keeps the slightly oversquare configuration of the CBR250R (which has a 76mm bore and a 55mm stroke). The engine would be liquid cooled and fuel injected, of course. If we had to guess we would peg the peak horsepower at no more than 32PS.
We are on the other hand not expecting significant changes to the chassis. We expect the tyre sizes to remain the same. The front brake - the 250 gets a 296mm single disc - may grow to a 300mm or 310mm unit. The increase is brake size will be because the top speed will rise to about 170kmph from the current 150-ish kmph.
The question is of course will it come to India and if yes when? We expect the CBR300R to be at the Auto Expo in February and we think Honda will reveal sales plans and pricing at that point. The company officially has refused to comment.
The big question is pricing. In light of the more powerful (though) naked KTM 390 Duke, the Honda CBR250R has turned out to be an expensive motorcycle overall to buy. So while it would be natural for Honda to command a higher price for a more powerful, better looking motorcycle, the Indian motorcycle market situation will probably discourage that strategy. Honda's best bet is to raise the stakes with the new product while keeping the prices where they are.
The CBR250R being replaced immediately by the CBR300R isn't a foregone conclusion for India though. We are one of the few markets where the CBR250R is completely localised. Which means switching up to the 300 is both a strategic choice as well as more complex. Many markets will default to the 300 simply because the source - Thailand - doesn't make the CBR250 anymore. India is not one of those markets. The more similar the chassis and engine is between the two models, the easier it becomes for Honda to upgrade to the CBR300 in India.
Honda has focussed on small motorcycles in India in the recent past and that has brought them great sales and market share growth. But they have been relatively weak in the upper end of the market and this is not something a company as ambitious as Honda will countenance. So while the company says nothing and the full specification of the CBR300 is yet to come out, we suggest you look at the image closely, because this could easily be your next premium motorcycle.
Update: CBR300R is confirmed to have 30.86PS of power and 27.07Nm of torque. The kerb weight is 164kg, this being for the ABS model still weighs nearly 4kg lower than the CBR250R. The tyre sizes remain the same- 110/70 for the front and 140/70 for the rear.