We all enjoy motorcycles in a slightly different way, and one of the ways Senior Road Test Editor Ari Henning enjoys them is to race. He often disappears for the weekend to drive to a club-racing contest, and usually comes back with an armload of trophies. Being that he’s spent most of these races aboard an adorable little CBR300R we assumed he was racing against children and rookies. Cute participation plaque, Ari, but seriously, how fast could you really be going?
It doesn’t look much like the little beginner’s bike you’d see in your local Honda dealership, does it? Ari’s CBR300R has been through a long and rigorous development process to turn it into the apex-seeking missile you see here.
This onboard footage we found on his GoPro tells the story. It’s from a race at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in desert of southern California (where the Motorcyclist staff occasionally tests sportbikes) in which our esteemed colleague set a new lap record aboard his tiny, trusty steed. A lap time of 1:58.66 is a pretty arbitrary number, but consider this: To cover Chuckwalla’s 2.7 miles and 17 turns Ari averaged 81 mph, just 11 mph slower than a stock CBR300’s outright top speed of 92 mph. And, of the less-than two minutes it took to do the lap, the bike was wide open for one minute eleven seconds, or 60 percent of the lap.
It’s true, this little CBR is on slicks, tuned suspension, has a quickshifter, and is up 8 horsepower on the stock CBR300’s 28 ponies. But still, last time we held a superbike shootout at Chuckwalla (with bikes like the Aprilia’s RSV4, BMW’s S1000RR, and Kawasaki’s ZX-10R) most of our testers only managed between a 1:54 and 2:05 laptimes. Editor Henning can consider his skills honed.
While many of us around the office are a little embarrassed at how fast Ari went on his 7/8-sized motorcycle, we’re awfully proud that he’s flying the flag for small bikes. Every time we do a test of sub-400cc machines we always come away with a positive impression of the class and of motorcycling as a whole. This is just more proof that affordable, small-displacement bikes aren’t just the right choice for newbies.