The decisive debut in the arena of small displacement bikes.

It’s new, it’s naked and it knocks the small displacement game out of the park. The eagerly anticipated 2019 Honda CB300R is a fierce-looking-but-friendly starter bike that will keep new riders riding and seasoned riders entertained. Though it’s been a while since I had the opportunity to ride this beginner beast, I’m still mourning its absence from my life. This newer Honda delivers a consistent and exciting riding experience that does a good job of reminding us why smaller is sometimes better.

 

First Impressions Matter

From the moment I laid eyes on the 300R—an attractive mix of modern angles with retro touches—I wanted other people to see me on it too. As a result, this Neo Sports Café and I went on many dates together, including the monthly MotoSocial gathering which attracts a generous crowd of riders straddling their favorite motorcycle mates. Despite the vast competition, a great number of people wanted to hop on the tiny 300.

The standard bike looks impressive without any additions in both 2019 color schemes, Matte Grey Metallic and Chromosphere Red. If you’re one to personalize your ride, there are also several saucy and safety side dishes such as a carbon style drive chain case, front fender or chrome bar ends that add to the attractive aesthetic.

First Ride: 2019 Honda CB300R

Plus, It Fits!

As we found out during the MotoSocial gathering, tall or small, this Honda suits any-sized rider perfectly. The geometry comfortably accommodates a large variety of statures. Several men over 6 feet were pleasantly surprised that their knees didn’t get in the way of the bars and that they didn’t feel cramped. Riders closer to the 5-foot range felt perfectly safe too, and a quick check with a local dealer confirmed that the CB300R's height can easily be adjusted. Honda offers a lower seat for only an additional $178.95.

Next? It’s light as a feather. At 315 lb soaking wet, the 300R is very obviously manageable for "Nervous Nellies" who might cower at a weightier ride, and much appreciated by more seasoned speedsters.

Good sight lines are always helpful both in and out of the city, an advantage well-engineered through the easily adjustable mirrors and the comfortable stance. The geometry of this ride resembles Honda’s dreamy dirt demons which makes for both an easy view of the surrounding scenery as well as excellent maneuverability.

First Ride: 2019 Honda CB300R

The Instrument Panel

Here again, simplicity reigns supreme. The digital display, which is easy to read in all types of light, includes the time, gas gauge, speed, tachometer, and engine temp. It also (you’re welcome) includes a wee reminder that your side stand is down (when that’s the case). For different reasons, I think all levels of riders would likely swap the side-stand sensor info to know what gear they’re in, but that’s possibly (again) just a personal choice.

Quirks Or Perks?

Remember that lightweight feel and sleek, simple style? At high speeds on the highway, this makes for a very personal relationship with wind. Additionally, as with most featherweights, as speeds climb, the bike becomes more responsive to gusts and bumps. If your own heft is higher, it’s likely not to be as pronounced, but if your load is lighter, be prepared to trust that the bike is designed to stay rubber side down.

The shifter feels a lot shorter than most. I suppose that if it’s your first bike, it might not matter. Even I adjusted and eventually stopped feeling like I had to angle my toes inward to shift gears.

Okay, one last thing. I haven't yet ridden all the bikes, but this is the first time I kept honking at my road companions instead of signaling; the horn and the signal button were, to my experience, reversed. Is this only a Honda arrangement?

First Ride: 2019 Honda CB300R
Is this a role reversal?

Overall Top Marks

The 2019 Honda CB300R is a well-rounded introduction to a thrilling and ecologically responsible mode of transportation. It's well-priced at $4,949 with ABS, or $4,649 without it. It's also a fuel-efficient traveler, getting between 55 mpg at steady highway speeds and around 77 mpg through a mix of city stop-and-go and some faster speedways.

When it comes to comfort, I prefer a stiffer suspension and firmer seat, so I enjoyed the newly improved inverted suspension and dual-sport position which excelled over tragic urban terrain just as well as it sailed through speedy twists and turns. I felt the bumps but didn't suffer from them. More importantly, the CB300R offers a level of responsiveness that is always appreciated by both beginner and seasoned riders.

Part of my job is to do a bit of complaining, but some of the things I noticed are either standard for a smaller displacement naked bike or quite subjective. Truth is, as soon as I’d given this bike back, I missed riding it. Honda’s CB300R is sparky, dependable and confidence-building—a perfect start to cycling and an entertaining addition to any motorcycle stable.