Honda CL300 Revealed

Smaller sibling to the CL500 in works.

Two variations of the CL300 have been shown, a scrambler and a more traditional roadster.Honda

Long before the Honda CL500 was released in November, the company’s plan to make a street scrambler around the chassis and twin-cylinder engine of the Rebel 500 cruiser was leaked in patents and trademark applications. Since Honda also has the smaller, single-cylinder Rebel 300 in its range, it wasn’t a huge leap to think a CL300 might also be in the works. Trademark protections for the CL300 name were applied for earlier this year and now the bike itself has been launched in China, but at the moment there’s no indication whether it will be offered in Western markets.

The more standard roadster version of the CL300.Honda

The CL300 was shown in China in November, at the same time Honda revealed an identical-looking CL250 in Japan, with fractionally less capacity to suit local regulations. While details of the bikes have been thin, new type-approval information from China fills in some of the blanks. In the CL300, the 286cc engine makes 26 hp, with a retune aimed at maximizing midrange torque. Its curb weight of 379 pounds means it should be exactly the sort of easy-to-handle, novice-level bike that you’d expect. A relatively long 58.6-inch wheelbase suggests stability is prioritized over sharp turn-in, essentially matching the Rebel 300′s dimensions despite the CL’s taller ride height and more scrambler-style appearance.

The Japanese-market Honda CL250 has less capacity to suit that market’s tiered licensing.Honda

The scrambler makeover for the Rebel 300 chassis increases ground clearance to 6.5 inches and, like the CL500, the CL300 gets a new subframe that raises the rear end and pushes the seat height up to 31.1 inches, which is exactly the same as the CL500′s figure. The CL300 replaces the Rebel 300′s 16-inch wheels with a 19-incher at the front and a 17-inch rear, making a substantial contribution to the increased ride height.

Japanese-market CL250 roadster.Honda

When it comes to styling, Honda has shown two distinct versions of the machine. The simpler one is a straightforward, twin-shock roadster with a small, round headlight and long, flat seat, just like the CL500. The second bike takes its off-road inspiration more seriously and is all the more appealing for it, with a hint of 1980s enduro bike to its look thanks to a plastic nose cowl and an oval number plate on the left-hand side. It also gains hand guards, and in the Japanese market the CL250 version has a high-level front fender to emphasize the off-road look—although that component is missing in the Chinese type approval. Many similar parts are being offered as options on the new CL500, allowing it to be tailored into “scrambler” or “cafe racer” appearance, and the same is likely to apply to the CL300 when it’s officially launched.

The Japanese-market CL250 with the scrambler styling.Honda

The CL300 has been approved in China because it’s manufactured there by the Sundiro/Honda joint venture. However, Honda has also trademarked the CL300 name in other countries, including Thailand where it has factories building many models for global markets, including the Rebel 300. Although there’s no indication whether the CL300 could come to the States, the fact that the Rebel 300 is sold here means it should be relatively simple to make a US-compliant version of the CL300, given the large number of components they share.