It seems the quarter litre wars might be coming to an end, after barely getting started.
A year after Kawasaki upped the displacement of their long-running Ninja 250 to 300 CC, Honda seems poised to do the same with their new-to-the-game CBR250.
There’s been no big spill-the-beans news release, but a note from Honda says they’re unveiling a CBR300 at the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition in Chonqing. According to the release, Honda is unveiling the CBR300R, a “global motorcycle model for which Honda is planning to begin production in Thailand in the future.” Translation: It’s coming to Canada.
And, that’s pretty much all we know, except for a couple photos, which show a machine with different bodywork from the original CBR250, but still apparently sporting a single-cylinder motor, as we can only see one exhaust header – unless there’s another pipe hidden away behind that fairing.
There are already big-bore kits that can take CBR250 motors all the way to 350 cc, so maybe Big Red has simply taken that idea and upsized the current motor, but we don’t know for sure, as details are scarce.
What is certain, is that this is likely the end of the 250 boom, at least for now. Sure, some other manufacturers may bring out 250s, but what machine will your average motorcyclist buy, all other things being equal? With Kawasaki’s 300 cc Ninja, and now a 300 from Honda, and KTM’s 390 Duke, the small-displacement wars are escalating into a mid-displacement conflict.
The news of the CBR300 also raises questions about the future of Honda’s CRF250L, which is reportedly flying off showroom floors in North America as quickly as they bring them in (maybe they should bring more in?). If the CBR300 uses a brand-new motor, the CRF250L could remain a quarter-litre, using parts-bin bits left over from the CBR250’s short-lived production. But if the new 300 is just a big-bore version of the old 250 motor, we could see the dual-sport also jump in capacity, which would certainly disrupt the current small-displacement street-and-trail market.