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?
In the past we’ve compared disk brakes to drum brakes, air cooling to liquid cooling, carburetors 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?