The motorcycle world has changed. Manufacturers have been shifting their focus from high-performance superbikes to beginner wheels. Steps are being taken to increase the ease of the new rider experience and draw more people to the industry. 2015 brings further developments in this sector; Honda introduced the CB300F as a fairing-free marauder to fill a deep hole in their low displacement line-up. The CB300F was most clearly designed to give newer riders who crave that naked and beefy look a bike they could adore and learn to ride with ease. I can honestly say that the 2015 Honda CB300F was the most effortless bike I’ve ridden this year.
This bike has everything a beginner could possibly want. Aesthetically, the CB300F looks like a big boy machine, so you can feel like a badass when in the saddle. It was styled like the CBR300R, which itself looks almost exactly like the CBR500R. In fact, the only superficial differences between the CB300F and the CBR300R are the headlights (the R has twin headlights and the F has a singular), the handles (the R has clip-ons whereas the F has a full handlebar), and the 300R has a lot more plastic. The differences sum up to a loss of 9 pounds when switching from the 300R to the CB300F, bringing the weight of the 300F to a light 348 pounds.
The seating position has been altered, as the pegs are placed farther forward, and the handlebars are closer to the rider. This neutral position feels comfortable and natural. The 30.7 inch seat height combined with the upright posture the bike encourages gives the rider a strong sensation of true control over the motorcycle, along with slightly increased visibility. Control is maintained at low-speeds; the bike is well balanced and tips over only if you suggest it.
Under the tank is the same liquid-cooled, 286cc counter-balanced single-cylinder that powers the 300R. Honda uses the slimness of the engine well, and the 300F is as thin as a naked ballet dancer. Shorter riders will not have any problems planting their feet on the ground or getting their knees wrapped tightly around the 12.9L tank. One thing that bothers me about the CB300F is the alarmingly upright stance of the bike when it is on its kickstand. Every time I put it on its stand, I felt like a stiff breeze or gentle bump could knock it over. It never did fall, yet still, the worry never truly left my heart.
On the road, the CB300F is a shiny little angel. Everything it does, it does well. The levers are nice and light, making launches confident and smooth. The counter-balanced single-cylinder motor does a stellar job of keeping vibrations to a minimum. Only at high speeds and high rpms are the vibrations felt, and they are more prevalent in the pegs than the handlebar. A 17% power-increase over the 2014 250R was a much-needed boost, and relieves some tension in various scenarios where a quicker getaway may be necessary.
Fuel injection is precise yet forgiving; again, it is designed perfectly for beginner riders. It swerves and handles well at any speed, which is perfect for busting through city streets. The 300F shows its prowess in the daily commute, but falls behind the competition in corners. The suspension is simply too soft for proper feedback and pulling out of corners with speed. The rear-end single shock’s preload is the only adjustable component of the suspension; the front 37mm forks are fixed. Still, the low-end torque is respectable when compared to others within its class.
Nissin brakes cover the front and rear disks: twin calipers at the front and a single caliper at the rear. The braking power on the 300F is simply adequate. Slightly more bite wouldn’t have been frowned upon, but the current level of stopping power is not too weak. They are forgiving in the scenario of a grab versus a progressive squeeze. For such situations, the CB300F comes standard with ABS.
Fret not, experienced riders – you’ll still have a good time. Unlike on litre bikes, you’ll actually be shifting through the gears on the CB300F to reach traffic speeds. This machine is a blast to push and ride hard. The light clutch lever and seamless 6-speed constant mesh gearbox are phenomenally set up for easy shifting. Neutral is also easy to find if the clutch is pulled in all the way, which requires a four-finger grip on the lever. This is one of the things about the CB300F that makes it the penultimate bike to start riding on; everything about the CB300F not only makes riding with the proper positioning and techniques easy, it encourages them for a better riding experience. Smoothness is rewarded over aggression, and technique is rewarded over ignorance.
The new 2015 Honda CB300F, standard with ABS, comes in at $4699, which makes it $500 cheaper than the ABS version of its faired brother. For a new rider who may be at all apprehensive about the dangers of riding and the amount of skill it requires, the CB300F is a formidable option in the existing lineup of entry-level bikes.
2015 Honda CB300F Gallery
*Photos by Jeff Wilson*