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2014 Honda CBR300R

300 is the New 250 – Emerging Motorcycle Industry Trend Q4 2013

For decades Kawasaki’s Ninja 250R was the staple of 250cc motorcycling in North America. In 2007 Honda introduced a CBR-125R to the Canadian market and the two baby-bikes became the hottest selling motorcycles in the country.

The age-old 250cc motorcycle class featured the Marauder 250, V-Star 250, Rebel 250 and the likes. Then came the new faces: Honda’s CBR250cc, Suzuki’s TU250 and GW250, to name a few. The growth of the 250cc class was the talk of every motorcycle magazine and internet forum, littered with quarter-liter CBR vs Ninja 250 shootouts.

Fast forward to this year, Kawasaki upped the anti and introduced the 300cc Ninja and before long Honda announced the CBR300R. The motorcycle world was full of small bike shootouts again.

With two 300cc options in the market is there any reason to consider 250cc motorcycles anymore? As far as performance is concerned, the 250cc class has already been left behind in the land of obsolescence by newer, faster, and larger technology. Are we losing something as a result of the change?

Kawasaki Ninja 300R Woman Rider

In the past we’ve compared disk brakes to drum brakesair cooling to liquid coolingcarburetors to fuel injection and the pros and cons of motorcycle cruise control. This week the YouMotorcycle Team was asked to answer a simple question:

Is the move from 250cc to 300cc as the new base model good for the motorcycle industry? Three motorcycle industry experts were asked.

“I’m not sure this is an attempt for the industry to move the base size up; rather it seems like we’re receiving offerings which already exist in other markets. As far as this move from 250 to 300 goes, if it doesn’t affect insurance premiums too much, it’s part of a broader plan that would see the addition of a smaller displacement class which would allow OEMs to flesh out their lineups with “new” product. It would be nice to see entry riders getting a bit more longevity from their first motorcycles.”
– Kanishka Sonnadara, automotive journalist from Toronto, Canada. Kanishka has written for MotorcycleUSA and Oye Times.

“A move from 250 to 300 is a good idea. It provides enough of a power increase to be attractive, but not enough to cause trouble for entry level riders. Also, the higher number may make it easier to prevent newbies from letting their egos get in the way of their brains. I think too many first timers think a 600cc sport bike is a good idea, and it’s just too much power for a rookie. The 300cc may help bridge the gap. The lower cost of a smaller bike, coupled with higher MPG may help the industry by spurring more bike sales, too.”
– Worth Cadenhead, a Texan motorcycle dealership vet and YouMotorcycle contributor.

“As someone who’s cruised over 40,000 km (25,000 miles) on 250cc motorcycles, I recognize that while these vehicles are excellent as short distance commuters, many suffer from a lack of power at highway speeds. The extra 50cc gives you a motorcycle that you’ll upgrade out of due to desire rather than out of necessity. The downside is that the 300cc is a substitutional one. Changes are happening. Kawasaki no longer offers the Ninja 400R, Honda no longer offers the CBR250R, and perhaps most importantly Honda has discontinued the all-too-beginner-friendly CBR-125R. The move to 300cc is good for motorcyclists and therefor will be good for the industry, however dropping other more beginner-friendly options is unfortunate.”
Adrian S is YouMotorcycle’s founder. He’s worked in the motorcycle industry at both the manufacturer and dealership levels.

What do you think?

Is the move from 250cc to 300cc as the new base model good for the motorcycle industry?

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?

4 comments

  1. A 300cc is hardly a beginners bike. More than a few people crossed the continent on 305 Hondas and “Little” 650 TR -6 Triumphs. It’s this nutty “Bigger is Better” nonsense that calls an FZ-09 a Middleweight that labels a 300 an entry level machine.

  2. I still think the best way to learn how to ride is in the dirt… On a 175cc enduro/dual purpose bike… If there IS still such a thing! But once you’re out in the asphalt jungle, you need something that will “protect” you AND propel you!
    When you start driving cars, you don’t restrict yourself to vehicles with 50 horsepower, so why should your first street bike be one that is underpowered (therefore potentially dangerous) as well as sure to ‘disappoint’ within months?
    I think if you’ve had the proper training on “how to stay alive in traffic”… and how NOT to let your horsepower go to your head… a 300cc machine is just the machine you need for your ‘virgin’ (three or four) beginner years. Small enough to keep you out of real trouble, but just powerful enough to ride two-up or pack some saddle bags on when you’re ready to advance. My 2c. O:-)

  3. I think Worth got it…the 300cc bump removes the “beginner” stereo type from it…it’s the anti 250…a 250cc bike has an image problem since it’s been the “beginner bike” for eons, now the answer to “what do you ride?” can be “not a 250”, or “it’s a 300″…most guys have trouble admitting they don’t really know how or can’t handle a bigger bike, this way it’s just a small displacement bike…

    I do agree with Michael on the point of starting in dirt is preferable, but not all kids (read most city kids) have that opportunity. It’s too bad the 250cc super moto models didn’t sell better, they were a great alternative for city kids…but the appeal of the sport bike shape killed them…Suzuki still has the DR-Z400SM, but I think the better options were the 250s for a complete newbie…great transition bike for someone who had a dirt bike as a kid…

    Anyway, my 2 cents…

    Later.

What do you think?