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New Honda CB300F: First Ride Review

14 August 2022, 01:00 PM Suvil Susvirkar

Introduction

Honda CB300F Right Front Three Quarter

Why buy it?

- Looks appealing

- Well equipped (traction control, Bluetooth, dual-channel ABS)

- Low seat height, lighter weight, short turning radius

Why avoid it?

- Very Expensive

- Not as exciting as Gixxer 250 or comfortable as FZ25

After many teasers, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India finally disclosed its best-kept-secret, the CB300F and at a surprisingly optimistic price tag despite local manufacturing. Now there are two ways to look at the new Honda CB300F – a budget alternative to the CB300R or an expensive rival to the Suzuki Gixxer 250 and the Yamaha FZ25. For me, it tilts more towards the latter. However, it looks aesthetically pleasing and comes equipped with serious hardware and features – some of which are unavailable on its rivals.

Honda CB300F Front View

But does it justify that price tag? We got an opportunity to test ride the new CB300F for the first ride review and here is what we thought of the motorcycle. Do note that we had the motorcycle for a few hours and the observations are based on a short ride. We will bring you a detailed road test review when we get the motorcycle for a longer duration.

The Visuals

Honda CB300F Right Rear Three Quarter

Honda says that the motorcycle draws styling cues from the CB500F. To me, however, it looks very much like the Hornet 2.0 with a CB650R/CBR650R-style LED taillight. The Hornet 2.0-esque styling is more evident because of the exhaust design, seat setup, golden-coloured upside-down front forks, and the split-style grab-rail. That said, the resemblance with the Hornet 2.0 isn’t a bad thing as this lower displacement Honda, which rivals the TVS Apache 200 and the Bajaj Pulsar NS200, is a very handsome motorcycle.

Honda CB300F

Honda CB300F

  • Displacement293.52 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)23.8 bhp
  • Kerb Weight153 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 2,26,217

Honda CB300F Fuel Tank

What could’ve been different, though, are the colours that are identical to the Hornet 2.0. In fact, the Hornet 2.0 has a bigger colour palette than the CB300F. This new motorcycle from the Indian arm of the Japanese manufacturer is available in three colours – Sports Red, Matte Axis Grey Metallic, and Matte Marvel Blue Metallic. As the names suggest, the Matte Axis Grey Metallic and the Matte Marvel Blue Metallic paint themes feature a matte finish. The Sports Red, on the other hand, gets a glossy finish.

Honda CB300F Left Side Multifunction Switchgear

The build quality is typical Honda and the fit and finish levels are commendable. But I had two complaints here. First is the key design, which looks too small and cheap for a premium motorcycle. Second, while the switchgear is of good quality, the newly added buttons on the left side of the handlebar lack the assuring clicking sound, unlike the other switches. Excluding this, we did not see any build quality issues with the CB300F, and it is indeed a well-put-together product. In fact, the feature list complements the stylish design of the motorcycle.

The Package

Honda CB300F Head Light

The CB300F is well-equipped when it comes to the feature list. It comes standard with full-LED lighting, a digital instrument cluster, Honda Selectable Torque Control or traction control system, and a dual-channel ABS. The DLX Pro version further benefits from Bluetooth connectivity and the system provides access to music, calls, and navigation function. Unlike many other motorcycles in the Indian market that get turn-by-turn navigation tech, the system on the CB300F is limited to audio instructions that are only available when paired to a helmet-mounted Bluetooth intercom – sold as an accessory by Honda.

Honda CB300F Instrument Cluster

Apart from Bluetooth information, the instrument cluster also features adjustable brightness levels. However, the operation here is not very intuitive, and you would need the help of its manual when accessing the functions for the first time. But once accustomed, the system is very useful and the switches are easy to operate, even with the riding gloves.

Honda CB300F Fuel Tank

While the feature list is promising, the power output, surprisingly, is lower than the Gixxer 250. The higher displacement, however, delivers more torque than the other Japanese 250cc motorcycles in the Indian market. Other hardware on the CB300F includes a diamond-type frame, upside-down front forks, preload-adjustable rear mono-shock, 276mm disc at the front, and a 220mm rotor at the back. So, how well does this package work?

The Ride

Honda CB300F Left Front Three Quarter

The engine comes to life after 4,000rpm and continues to build momentum even in the higher revs. It sounds sporty too, and unless you’re going past 6,500rpm, the refinement levels feel solid. Now, there are evident vibrations from the footpegs, fuel tank, and handlebar beyond 8,000rpm but that’s almost near the motorcycle’s redline. The only time this would bother the rider would be out on the highway when the CB300F will be in the higher revs. At city speeds, around 50-60kmph, the CB300F feels refined. What also comes in handy is its light clutch action and a crisp six-speed gearbox.

Honda CB300F Mono Shock Absorber

Further, the suspension setup is tuned for spirited riding and the hardware packs a firm setting. Thus, while the CB300F is delightful on a good, twisting road with well-laid tarmac, the rider will feel every undulation on the road surface. On the upside, the motorcycle never felt unsettling when tackling bad roads. Then, the braking setup is decent, but not praiseworthy. It lacks the confidence-inspiring bite that one would expect from a sporty motorcycle, and the feedback could have been much sharper than what you get from the current setup. Meanwhile, the safety net of dual-channel ABS, slipper clutch, and traction control system made sure that the rain-soaked roads did not catch me by surprise, despite aggressive throttle inputs, hard downshifts, and heavy braking.

Honda CB300F Left Rear Three Quarter

What’s more? The rider’s triangle is sporty without being too aggressive – a typical trait in the roadster segment. Thus, you get rear-set footpegs and a flat handlebar. The handlebar is on the tall side, which gives an upright riding position. This tall placement also ensures that the bar end does not hit the fuel tank and the CB300F packs a short turning radius. Then, there’s the 789mm seat height that makes the ground easily reachable. At 5’10” tall, I could easily place both my feet flat on the ground with a comfortable bend in my knee. This made moving the motorcycle around very easy.

Should you buy it?

Honda CB300F Right Front Three Quarter

As we said in the beginning, you can look at this motorcycle in two ways – a budget alternative to the CB300R or an expensive rival to the Gixxer 250 and the FZ25. Standalone, it’s a fantastic-looking motorcycle that packs a brag-worthy feature list. Not to mention, the aesthetics are complemented by its commendable build quality and handling prowess.

Honda CB300F Left Front Three Quarter

However, as a rival to the Gixxer 250 and the FZ25, the CB300F comes across as very expensive. Sure, the hardware and feature list are higher than the other 250cc motorcycles. But the Gixxer 250 is nearly Rs 45,000 cheaper while the FZ25 retails at Rs 79,000 lower price tag than the CB300F. For that difference, the CB300F doesn’t pack the engine character that the Gixxer 250 delivers or the comfort levels of the FZ25, and that definitely hampers this Honda motorcycle’s chances to gather good sales numbers in the Indian market.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

Gallery

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