Is less really more? That might explain why the lightweight class of motorcycles is booming. Of course it could also be the unbeatable power-to-weight ratios, an increasing number of rider aids trickling down from top-line models, and, yes, still-reasonable price tags. Make no mistake, these 300cc machines aren’t sawed-in-half supersports, but real-deal, fully fledged motorcycles, capable of triple-digit (barely in some cases), go-to-jail speeds (not that we’d ever tout that). Not surprisingly, our list is populated mainly by the Big Four—Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha—mostly because their options provide the best performance, comfort, and reliability (though not necessarily the at lowest price). All the bikes we list have ABS as either standard or as an available option. Small, sporty bikes are better than they’ve ever been, and the class has become more appealing for both new riders on the hunt for a first bike as well as experienced shredders looking for an affordable track toy or commuter (we’ve included the naked iterations as well).

Honda CBR300R
Honda CBR300R: $4,699 (non-ABS)American Honda Motor Co.

Honda’s CBR300R and CB300R (confused yet?) both come powered by the same peppy single-cylinder engine which presumably produces 27.5 hp in both models. The CBR300R would be your performance-focused choice with a full cowl, supersport styling, and sharper handling. The sportier CBR300R’s low-slung stance means a 30.7-inch seat height, a 357-pound curb weight, and a much more aggressive riding position. The CBR300R has an MSRP of $4,699 for the base model; ABS is extra.

Honda CB300R
Honda CB300R: $4,649 (non-ABS)American Honda Motor Co.

The all-new CB300R rocks a more "sport-naked" look (in Honda parlance, "Neo Sports Café") and weighs in at a mere 313 pounds fully fueled and gave us 75 mpg. Upright ergos and different finishes give it a streetwise appeal that's frankly a big draw for newbs and vets alike, and it's available with or without ABS. The non-ABS base model brings an MSRP of $4,649.

Ninja 400
Kawasaki Ninja 400: $4,999 (non-ABS)Kawasaki Motors Corp.

The lightweight class performance leader is the Kawasaki Ninja 400, but that's only one of the reasons we gave it high marks. Once a lowly 250, the Ninja was a class original in 1986 but got a total redesign for 2018, which bumped displacement of the parallel twin to the current 399cc—giving it the most power in the class (43.3 hp and 24 pound-feet of torque on our dyno). With light steering, excellent stability, and plenty of power for superslab runs, it can pull duty as a commuter, slice up back roads, and even wow your buddies at the track.

Kawasaki Z400 ABS
Kawasaki Z400 ABS: $4,799 (ABS standard)Kawasaki Motors Corp.

Meanwhile, the new supernaked Z400 ABS gets motivation from the same Ninja 400 engine and weighs only a few pounds more, but is set up for everyday street riding with upright ergos and the sharp, distinctive Sugomi styling found on Kawasaki’s other Z models. All that, plus ABS comes standard.

KTM 390 Duke
KTM 390 Duke: $5,499 (ABS standard)KTM Sportcycle

Yes, this is the one we named "best lightweight streetbike" two years in a row. Although it got a face-lift a couple of years ago, the 373cc liquid-cooled single still delivers the oomph crisply, and an über-stable lightweight steel trellis frame will instill confidence to both beginners and seasoned hooligans alike (don't ask us how we know). LED lighting, switchable ABS, adjustable levers, a slipper clutch, and the multi-color TFT display up the ante for others in the class, though all that cool stuff does not come cheap: The base 2019 390 Duke retails for $5,499.

KTM RC 390
KTM RC 390: $5,549 (ABS standard)KTM Sportcycle

For truly thrilling sportbike performance don’t skip the RC 390 which uses the same single-cylinder mill as the baby Duke but somehow manages to squeeze even more power out of it. It’s a sharper-edged, more aggressive layout that rewards more advanced riders, and there’s no denying its Moto3 race-inspired genes.

Suzuki GSX250R
Suzuki GSX250R: $4,599 (non-ABS)Suzuki Cycles

It may be the last remaining 250cc supersport from the bigs, and maybe that's why the baby GSX comes with the lowest MSRP here. The full-fairing bodywork belies its trackday intent, but a low seat height and slim tank make it a good choice for shorter pilots, and while performance from the 248cc parallel-twin engine isn't earth-shattering, it's extremely user-friendly. Commuters will revel in the (claimed) 250-plus miles of range from the 4-gallon tank. If you're in the market for an urban commuter rather than an apex-shredding rocket, the wee GSX is right up your alley. It's not a 2019 model, but for a more minimal and ergo-friendly option, there's the naked, similarly specced GW250.

Yamaha YZF-R3
Yamaha YZF-R3: $4,999Yamaha Motor Corp.

For 2019, Yamaha updated one of the best-selling entry-level bikes in the class by adding a MotoGP-inspired fairing to the R3, but it also received a new inverted fork, triple clamp, and revised ergos. The YZF-R3's 321cc inline twin remains unchanged, spitting out 36.02 hp on our dyno, which is plenty of pop, especially when you consider the bike only weighs 368 pounds ready to roll, making both acceleration and braking crisp. Dig deeper and you'll find cast aluminum wheels to minimize weight and available ABS. Ideal for urban commuting (with a claimed 56 mpg), rip-roaring fun in the twisties, and a formidable force at a trackday, the R3 is a great choice, even if it's not the most versatile. Prices start at $4,999 with ABS extra.

Honda CB300F
Honda CB300F: $4,349 (2018 MSRP)American Honda Motor Co.

If your budget is tight, the outgoing Honda CB300F can probably be found at a decent discount. WIth its light weight and specs similar to Honda’s other 300-class sport machines, it makes for a sweet little commuter, if if it’s occasionally slammed for being too dowdy.

Suzuki GW250
Suzuki GW250: $4,099 (2017 MSRP)Suzuki Cycles

Also not in the 2019 lineup is Suzuki’s GW250 naked model, with more upright ergos and a lower price than the GSX250—if you can find it.