BMW G310R vs Honda CB300F: An Impromptu Comparison

Two very similar bikes with slightly different attitudes.

BMW, G310R, Honda, CB300F, Comparison
Honda CB300F vs. BMW G310R - which bike holds the better value?©Motorcyclist

As a the new Associate Web Editor at Motorcyclist magazine, I've been relegated to one of the smallest bikes in the MC garage: the Honda CB300F. It's been a great daily commuter, so when Ari Henning and Zack Courts forwarded the invite to attend the North American press launch for BMW's new G310R, there was no question as to what I would ride from Huntington Beach to Los Angeles for the intro. Honda's CB300F is a direct competitor for the new G310R, and after riding both of these bikes back to back I felt a comparison between the two would be perfectly ideal.

BMW, G310R
The tank on the BMW feels larger, and there’s more distance between the seat to the bars.Photo: BMW
Honda, CB300F
The Honda is narrower overall, and the bars sit closer to the rider, giving it a slightly more upright riding position.Photo: Honda

Posture and ergonomics are important on any motorcycle, and when it comes to these two small naked standards, both of them position the rider in a very upright stance. While the tank on the BMW seems larger, it's actually smaller in capacity than the Honda's, and there's more distance from the seat to the bars. The seat on the Honda CB300F is also angled downward slightly toward the tank, which can make for some cramped riding conditions down south. Both bikes are capable of cruising at 70 mph, but protection from the wind is negligible. The bars on the Honda and BMW are both wide and gently slope downwards, and if you blindfolded me and asked me to tell the difference between them, I probably wouldn't be able to. Both bikes also annoyingly lack adjustable levers, which would be nice to see in bikes that are intended for smaller riders.

BMW, G310R
The BMW’s dash readout offers tons of useful information including two trip meters, projected fuel economy, a digital bar-type tachometer, and much more.Photo: BMW
Honda, CB300F
The Honda’s dash is a little more barebones in terms of information, offering only the basics. It is easy to read, however.Photo: Honda

Controls on the BMW are intuitive, but Honda decided to swap the location of the turn-signal switch and horn buttons, which led to some embarrassing moments in traffic when I hit the horn button instead of the turn signal. On the flip side, the G310R’s switches are a considerable distance farther from the grips, which again is frustrating for those with smaller hands. The gauge cluster on the Honda is fairly barebones, showing only speed, engine rpm and fuel level, whereas the BMW excels in that area, displaying likewise with the addition of trip odometers, projected range, average and current fuel economy, and more.

BMW, G310R
The BMW’s styling draws inspiration from their larger S1000R.Photo: BMW
Honda, CB300F
While the design might not be the most stirring, the Honda’s sharp and angular lines still contribute nicely to the overall look of the bike.Photo: Honda

Maneuverability is another key factor when it comes to small bikes, and both models are light on their feet and make direction changes easily. BMW’s G310R benefits from a longer swingarm, thanks to its backwards engine layout, and as a result is distinctly more stable. While the G310R’s upside down fork looks great, it lacks any adjustability. Not surprising for bikes in this price point, but I can’t help thinking that Honda’s right-side up fork not only saved on production costs, but operates much in the same manner. The suspension on the G310R also seems to be stiffer and sprung for slightly heavier riders than that of the CB300F.

BMW, G310R
Stopping power for the BMW comes from a radial-mount four-piston caliper. The setup looks good but doesn’t work as well as you might think.Photo: BMW
Honda, CB300F
Honda employs a simpler two-piston caliper to squeeze with everything it has to offer—and it definitely does!Photo: Honda

The CB300F offers 286cc for your enjoyment, making a claimed 30.4 hp, while the G310R’s larger 313cc engine produces a claimed 34.0 hp. Not exactly what you’d call fire-breathing power by any measure, but enough to get you on your way. The BMW delivers this power in a very linear fashion, with no apparent hang-ups or steps in power delivery, whereas the Honda tends to “kick in” so to speak at about 7,000 rpm. Roll-on power is better with the G310R, which isn’t a surprise given the added displacement. This is exceptionally helpful when making a pass on the freeway, and a good comfort buffer to know that you have a bit more speed in the reserves. The The CB gets noticeably unstable when it meets any sort of road imperfection at highway speeds, whereas the BMW was relatively unfazed when presented with the same situation.

BMW, G310R
BMW’s first foray into the small-bike market is a stark departure from their normal larger offerings.Photo: BMW
Honda, CB300F
The CB300F loses the Fairings from the CBR300R model and gains a more upright stance and stout posture.Photo: Honda

Which one would I choose if I was in the market? It’s a tough choice to be perfectly frank, but honestly I lean towards the Honda. It’s not that I don’t like the BMW, and for the suggested retail price of $4,750 ($751 more than the CB300F’s $3,999) you do gain slightly more displacement and performance, ABS, and a better dash display. While the Honda lacks ABS, the front brake has more feel and is more consistent in general, and the CB300F still handles freeway speeds well enough. It feels physically smaller (albeit not by much,) but a bit more refined overall. Either way, both bikes represent stellar values for newcomers to motorcycling or seasoned riders who place an importance on economy (both in terms of price and fuel mpg), ease of use, and maneuverability.

PRICE $4,750 $3,999
ENGINE 313cc, liquid-cooled single 286cc, liquid-cooled single
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 34.0 hp @ 9500 rpm 27.3 hp @ 8500 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 21.0 lb.-ft. @ 7500 rpm 18.1 lb.-ft. @ 6700 rpm
FRAME Tubular-steel twin spar Tubular-steel twin spar
FRONT SUSPENSION KYB 41mm fork, 5.5 in. travel Showa 37mm fork, 4.7 in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION KYB shock adjustable for spring preload; 5.2 in. travel Showa shock adjustable for spring preload; 4.1 in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Bybre four-piston caliper, 300mm disc with ABS Nissin two-piston caliper, 296mm disc
REAR BRAKE Bybre two-piston caliper, 240mm disc with ABS Nissin two-piston caliper, 220mm disc
RAKE/TRAIL 25.1°/4.0 in. 25.3°/3.9 in.
WHEELBASE 54.0 in. 54.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 30.9 in. 30.7 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 2.9 gal. 3.4 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 349 lb. wet 353 lb. wet
AVAILABLE Early 2017 Now