Honda has something of a history when it comes to affordable motorcycles. Although the Vincent Black Shadow arguably beat it to the ‘superbike’ title, the CB750 offered genuine superbike tech at a reasonable price. And of course, there’s the famous Super Cub, which is quite possibly the best-selling motor vehicle ever. Today, one of Honda’s most affordable bikes is the CB300R, a rival to models like the KTM 200 Duke and Yamaha MT-03. But is it as much of a bargain buy as its classic counterpart, the Honda CB360, was?
2021 Honda CB300R vs. 1975 Honda CB360: specs and features
The Honda CB360 is a successor to the earlier CB350, Bike-urious explains. With its larger 356cc two-cylinder engine, it was also a cheaper alternative to the four-cylinder CB350F, Mecum reports. And, with 34 hp, it was roughly as powerful, ItStillRuns reports.
Purely on a horsepower front, the 2021 Honda CB300R is a bit behind. On Cycle World’s dyno, it ‘only’ made 28 hp and 19 lb-ft. However, that’s because it has a smaller 286cc single-cylinder engine which doesn’t rev as high as the CB360’s engine. Which, unlike the Honda CB360’s engine, is fuel-injected, rather than carbureted. The CB300R is also lighter than the CB360. On FortNine’s scale, the former weighed in at 313 pounds, and the latter at 386 pounds.
Given that it’s 40-odd years newer than the CB360, the Honda CB300R comes with some improved features. Unlike the Honda CB360, it has front and rear disc brakes with ABS and 4-piston calipers. Admittedly, the CB360T model does have a front disc brake. But it’s a solid, unventilated disc, with a 1-piston caliper.
The 2021 CB300R’s instrumentation is also more advanced than what the CB360 offers. The classic bike has a speedometer, tachometer, and a few indicator lights. In contrast, the modern one has an LCD screen, with a speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, and side-stand indicator, Rider reports. Plus, the CB300R has LED lighting.
On features, then, the new bike seemingly trounces the classic one. But YouTube team FortNine wanted to make sure.
Is the Honda CB300R a better bargain bike?
To see if a 70s buyer got a better deal than a modern one, FortNine set a 1975 CB360T against a brand-new 2021 Honda CB300R.
Interestingly, despite being heavier, the Honda CB360 has a higher top speed than the CB300R. The former can reach 103 mph, while the latter tops out at 90 mph. And, while the CB300R can rev to 10,500 RPM, the CB360 revs to 12,000 RPM. Plus, the vintage bike has significantly less plastic, and it’s hand-painted.
However, in almost every other category, the Honda CB300R wins over its classic forebear. Thanks to modern production techniques, its engine is lighter, thinner, and more efficient, while still being just as strong. Its brakes, thanks to better calipers, better ventilation, and rain-shedding holes, are more effective. It also doesn’t help that the Honda CB360 has a rear drum brake.
The CB300R also handles better than the CB360. Its chassis is lighter and stiffer, and the bike rides on modern, stickier tires. Plus, it has smaller wheels, which are easier to turn than the vintage bike’s larger ones. The CB360T is still a lot of fun to ride, but the new bike is simply sharper.
The evolution of affordable bike pricing
It’s also not necessarily all that more expensive. A brand-new 2021 Honda CB300R starts at $4949.
Back in 1975, the Honda CB360, in CB360T trim, started at $875—the equivalent of $4214 today. And the classic bike hasn’t lost a lot of value, Hagerty reports. Pristine examples can go for almost $6000, and good-condition models hover around $3000-$4000 on Bring a Trailer.
In terms of features and dynamics, then, the Honda CB300R is worth the upcharge. But FortNine poses an interesting question: could Honda use its manufacturing prowess to make a modern CB360 for less than that $4214? With many people’s buying power down, $5000 may be stretching the budget for what is, in much of the US, a less-than-practical vehicle.
However, that doesn’t appear to be an issue. Despite being more expensive, HotCars reports the CB300R out-sold the 125-cc $3399 Grom in 2019. Another best-seller? The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401, which costs just $50 more than the CB300R.
Even the closest thing, mechanically, to a brand-new Honda CB360 isn’t necessarily much cheaper. That would be the 2020 Cleveland CycleWerks Ace 1.5. The cheapest model, the Ace 1.5 250, has a 250cc fuel-injected two-cylinder, rated at 17 hp and 12 lb-ft. Top speed is ‘only’ 75 mph, but that’s fast enough for highway use. It has front and rear discs, ABS, weighs just 286 pounds, and starts at $3995.
But, if you’ve been worried that motorcycles have gotten too expensive, don’t worry. As the Honda CB300R shows, there’s still plenty of great bargains to be found.
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