In October 2013, in response to Kawasaki’s 300cc version of the Ninja launch, Honda released the CBR300R at the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition.
The 300R is an improvement on the previous CBR250R in more than just the longer stroke and the more significant engine displacement.
Honda’s CBR300R featured a new exhaust system, updated motor mounts, an upgraded seat, side panels, and a more aggressive riding position.
The CBR300R is a popular choice among entry-level sports bike riders, but what are the most common problems with the CBR300R?
We’ve come to streamline your troubleshooting process and get your 300R back on the road asap.
Table of Contents
1. Vibration Noise at High RPMs
One of the chief complaints you’ll hear about the Honda CBR300R is that it makes a rattling sound at high RPMs.
Riders often assume the noise is the fairing vibrating around the headlight when the bike spikes above 8,000 RPMs.
Some 300R riders say that the rattling gets so loud they hear it over the exhaust.
You’ll hear riders say they’ve tightened every bolt in the fairing, and when it doesn’t work, a few riders even loosened all the bolts and re-tightened them to be sure—no luck.
So what’s the culprit behind the rattling vibration in the CBR300R’s fairing?
There have been more than just a few theories, including:
- Valve springs
- Low octane
- Sensor malfunction
- Loose fairings
- Valve out of adjustments.
We’ve heard from two different CBR300R riders who have managed to get rid of the rattle.
- One rider discovered a small leaf wedged into the underside of their 300R. When they pulled it off, they saw the under-cowl move. Upon investigation, they found a fairing bolt they had never noticed before. The rider tightened the fairing bolt on the lower right side of the fairing, took their bike for a ride, and boom, the noise was gone. This rider was always confident there was nothing wrong with the bike’s engine—the engine and transmission both sounded and performed great despise the rattle. Still, it’s frustrating not knowing which bolt to tighten, so this CBR300R enthusiast is happy it’s fixed.
- Another rider tested their hunch that the rattle was coming from the fuel cap. As soon as they heard the rattle kick in at high RPMs, they pressed down their fuel cap as hard as possible, and the noise stopped. The rider popped the lid off and re-secured it onto the fuel tank more thoroughly, and the noise went away.
2. Problem Shifting Into Neutral
One of the most significant issues with the CBR300R we’ve heard frustrated new riders discuss is a problem shifting into neutral.
Picture this; you’re stopped at a traffic light.
Your bikes have been idling for a while now, and your left hand is tired from squeezing on the clutch lever.
You go to shift the bike into neutral, but it refuses to change out of first gear.
Finally, the light turns green. You roll your eyes with a sigh, release the clutch, and engage, and the bike takes off just fine, shifts into second just nicely, and performs excellently until the next stoplight, where it refuses to shift into neutral again.
The bad news is that you have to squeeze your clutch in while you’re at the stoplight.
The good news, that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen.
- The last thing you want to do when accelerating from idle when stopped is to change from neutral to first. Your CBR300R has what we call a sequential gearbox; it’s designed to shift from first up to second, not from neutral down to first, then up to second.
- Proper riding is to stay in first at the light for your transmission’s sake, with your clutch lever pulled in and your clutch disengaged.
- This way, you’re ready to take off as soon as the light changes, and you’ll find your acceleration response and your clutch action is much quicker when you snap off the line in gear.
- Staying in first at stops is part of defensive driving. If a car enters your road space without seeing you or runs a light, etc., you have an advantage if you can hit the throttle, avoid upcoming traffic, and be on your way.
- Waiting on the red light with your hand on the clutch and your bike in first gear is part of riding responsibly. Gearboxes aren’t intended to idle in neutral when stopped.
The CBR300R is a popular choice for new riders.
If you’re a new rider reading this, no worries; it’s common for new riders to want to park it in neutral at the light and give their clutch hand a rest.
I’m afraid it’s not in the cards.
That said, the more you hold your clutch at lights and ride your clutch to the engine brake, the more endurance and finger strength you’ll develop.
- Motorcycling requires as much mental strength as it does physical prowess. Will your fingers have the energy they need to hold the clutch in until the light changes by not squeezing too hard and therefore tiring yourself out faster?
- Instead, challenge yourself to hold your hand on the CBR300R’s clutch as soft as you can while still keeping the grip disengaged.
- Approach the lights slowly, power walking your bike for the last few feet if you can help it. This develops motorcycle leg and clutch-hand strength, practices slow riding and downshifting, and reduces the amount of time you’re sitting at the light with your hand on the clutch.
- Rest forward onto your CBR300R’s bars so that your wrists flex. This way, your wrist muscle shares the workout with your fingers, and the fingers are placed most efficiently at the same time.
- Think of every stoplight as an opportunity to develop the physical and mental skills required to be the most proficient motorcycle ripper you can be.
3. Bike Dies Without Warning
One of the more complex issues we’ve heard CBR300R riders concerned about is the bike dying without warning.
One rider we encountered had their CBR300R die 20 miles from home, out of nowhere, with no signs of failure.
When the rider tried to restart it, nothing happened. They checked to be sure they had fuel in the tank, tried to crank it again, and the engine wouldn’t start, despite the starter turning over.
When they finally did get their CBR300R to fire up, it sputtered and died; this was the case repeatedly.
And to be clear, this rider bought their CBR300R new and had only pitted a few hundred miles on it when this happened.
For this rider, the problem was related to the fuel system’s mapping. A free flash/fuel remap at the Honda dealership fixed everything for them.
Another 300R owner had a similar issue with just 82 miles on their odometer.
The problem first manifested as a power issue for this rider—their 300R wouldn’t pull more than 4000 RPM regardless of the gear.
Eventually, the revs dropped even lower, and the bike wouldn’t go faster than nine miles per hour; this was on their second bike trip ever.
Finally, his bike continuously died. It would start up fine, idle fine, then die as soon as it revved past nine mph.
For this CBR300R owner, the issue was air-intake-related. They had tucked some spare wiring in a bag under the seat, and the whole bag got lodged in their air filter inlet, don’t ask me how.
Regardless, the CBR300R rider rerouted the spare wiring and stored it under the battery strap.
The Honda CBR300R is a reliable bike with a straightforward engine design; if your Honda CBR300R is experiencing problems dying without warning, fuel, air, battery, and spark are the first four places to check.
General Pros and Cons of the Honda CBR300R
Here are the pros and cons of the CBR300R:
Here’re the major selling points of the Honda CBR300R:
- The CBR300R is powered by a Honda-reliable, straightforward 286cc single-cylinder motor.
- The CBR300R is intuitive and user-friendly, qualities that make it a great first machine for riders interested in sportbike riding.
- The CBR300R’s seat is low, sitting just 30.7 inches from the ground. Its height makes it easy to maneuver, whether riding or walking.
- The CBR300R’s nimble chassis also contributes to slick maneuverability for both smooth traffic navigation and eating up those twisty curves.
- Vibration noise at high RPMs
- Problem Shifting into Neutral (solved)
- Bike Dies without Warning (solved)
What Do the Reviews Say?
The most important upgrade to the new CBR300R is obviously its increased engine displacement. The engine is now 286cc, up from the 249cc of the CBR250R. That extra 37cc of displacement was created by lengthening the piston stroke 8mm, from 55mm to 63mm.
Honda doesn’t like to release horsepower and torque figures for bikes of this size, which is unsurprising given our tendency to look at spec sheets instead of listening to the butt dyno, but they do claim a 17 percent boost in horsepower. Motorcycle.com’s 2013 Beginner Sportbike Shootout claimed the CBR250R put down 22.5 horsepower, so we can extrapolate the CBR300R makes around 26 horsepower. Consider that a best guess until someone actually straps this thing to a dyno.
The seating position is slightly adjusted. At 30.7 inches, the seat is actually 0.2 inches taller than the outgoing model, but the seat is also narrower, which makes the reach to the ground extremely easy. The exhaust is also new and Honda claims its increased internal volume helps it perform better. More importantly, it just looks way nicer — which brings me to my next point.
What do you look for in a beginner sportbike? Is it low cost? Nimble handling? Or even just the superbike-like styling? Well, the 2020 Honda CBR300R is a small-displacement sportbike that touches on all counts. 1) It only costs a base MSRP of $4,699. 2) It weighs only 357 pounds and has a low 30.7-inch seat height leading to easy maneuverability and beginner approachability. And 3) it takes its styling from its bigger CBR-RR siblings.
What’s the Resale Value on a Honda CBR300R?
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.