By Mike Esdaile
In what appears a very significant move, Honda chose the 12th annual China International Motorcycle in Chongqing to provide the world premiere of its new Thai-built CBR300R – in advance of the big EICMA show in Milan, Italy.
Honda has two major joint venture operations in China – Sundiro Honda and Wuyang-Honda Motors (Guangzhou) Co. Ltd. – which together sold 1.9 million units in 2012. However, the global market leader chose to exhibit at CIMAMotor 2013 under the Honda Motor (China) Investment Co. Ltd. company name. That tends to indicate that Honda is clearly aiming to enhance the image of its brand in the Chinese market.
China is the largest motorcycle market in the world, with production of 27 million units in 2012. But even its largest company – Jiangmen Dachangjiang Group Co. Ltd. (which made 2.1 million machines last year) does not come close to Honda’s global production. Last year Honda produced slightly in excess of 15 million motorcycles globally, matching the output of all the motorcycle manufacturers in India combined.
It expects to build in excess of 17 million power two-wheelers this year.
“Honda is exhibiting the world premiere of the CBR300R, a global motorcycle model for which Honda is planning to begin production in Thailand in the near future,” said Seiji Kuraishi, Honda’s Chief Operating Officer in China.
The new bike is an enlarged version of the CBR250R and the increased displacement is to allow the sweet-running DOHC, water-cooled, fuel-injected single to better compete with Kawasaki’s strong selling 300 Ninja in world markets.
To increase the engine displacement to 286cc, Honda has lengthened the stroke of the CBR250R from 55mm to 63mm while retaining the 76mm cylinder bore size it shares with the CBR1000RR.
At the same time, Honda has changed the overall look of the bike with a new fairing that incorporates a twin headlight front-end, and a new cylindrical stainless steel muffler in place of the 250’s slab-sided black exhaust.
The increased displacement of the Honda results in peak power increasing from 19.4 to 22.7 kW, at the same 8500 rpm, while torque now peaks at 27Nm at 7250 rpm (up from 23Nm at 7000 on the 250).
As well as showing off the new CBR300R at CIMAMotor 2013, Honda also displayed Casey Stoner’s 2011 World Championship winning 1000cc V-four MotoGP machine as part of its major flag-waving exercise in the world’s biggest motorcycle market.
Flanking Stoner’s MotoGP machine were the new parallel twin cylinder CB500 and the NC700.