2013 Beginner Sportbike Shootout - Video

Honda CBR250R vs. Hyosung GT250R vs. Kawasaki Ninja 300

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The Grand Conclusion

So which one should you buy? For our money, it’s clearly a toss-up between the Kawasaki and the Honda. The 2013 Ninja 300 starts at $4799 for solid black or white, with the Special Edition and its sporty graphics costing $200 more. The ABS version lists for $5499, but you’ll also get that green/black graphics package (whether you want it or not).

The athletic Ninjette has the visual and technological panache combined with superior performance to make it something truly special – a class-busting marvel that’s more than just a beginner bike or economical commuter.

2013 250 Sportbike Shootout Group Action Front

“The Ninja 300 transforms the entry-level sportbike class,” Duke raves. “It costs more, but it also offers a greatly expanded performance envelope that will keep novices on their first bike longer and with bigger smiles.”

Roderick agrees. “The Ninja is pricier than its competition but it’s the only bike in this category with a slipper clutch,” he says. “That’s awesome technology for this caliber of motorcycle.”

While the CBR’s single-cylinder motor and willowy footprint don’t instill an overabundance of confidence at the speeds typical on Southern California freeways, the Honda’s powerplant is refreshingly appropriate for its chassis, shine especially in and around town. And combined with its superb handling and superior rider comfort, the CBR250R wins the trophy as the best entry-level motorcycle of the bunch.

2013 250 Sportbike Shootout Group Action Right

The base model CBR250R runs just $4199, and for that price you can get it in solid red or black, or the red, white and blue pictured here. Race fans will dig the $4599 Repsol package with its distinctive graphics and orange wheels. The ABS-equipped version (in any color scheme but Repsol) is $4699, and at that price it’s a safety option an entry-level rider simply can’t afford to pass up.

It’s worth noting here that Kawasaki and Honda are building their smallest Ninjas and CBRs in Thailand, where cheaper labor costs enable aggressive pricing. Both are designed and R&D’d in Japan, but production takes place in Thailand.

Which brings us to the Hyosung. Ahh, the little Korean model simply couldn’t keep up in this comparo. Savvy shoppers know: even at the grocery store, the bargain brand is sometimes the better value. So we wanted to see for ourselves: is the bargain brand motorcycle worth it?

So What Does It Cost?
Model Base MSRP Paint Options ABS
Hyosung GT250R $4099 $4299 N/A
Honda CBR250R $4199 $4599 (Repsol) $4699
Kawasaki Ninja 300 $4799 $4999 $5499

Well, in our estimation, no. The GT250R would be a viable option as a beginner or commuter, but with a base MSRP just $100 less than the CBR’s base model, Hyosung has curiously priced itself right out of the cut-rate aisle. And that’s a shame, because while it ultimately couldn’t measure up to its Japanese counterparts, it held its own in a lot of key areas, thanks mostly to its V-Twin mill.

On our Motorcycle.com ScoreCard, the Ninja 300 came out on top – but just barely. Out of a possible 420, the Kawi tallied 383 points and the Honda 379.5. That’s darn close. It was hard for us to deny the CBR250R’s all-around amiability. The Hyosung came in with 295 points – registering about a C-plus. Passable, but a significantly lower price point would have given the Korean contender a much higher grade.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 Details

So if you’re a newbie who’s looking to expand beyond the scooter, we suggest you start your motorcycle search with the Honda CBR250R. If you’ve got a bit of experience and feel confident in your potential as a motorcyclist, Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 might be a more suitable place to start.

Hyosung has established itself overseas, but if the Korean manufacturer wants to make a dent in the North American market, it’s going to have to make its entry-level motorcycle more appealing on the showroom floor – and that starts with the tag dangling from the handlebar.

Related Reading
2013 Hyosung GT250R Review
2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 Review
2011 250cc Beginner Bike Shootout
2011 Honda CBR250R Review
Motorcycle Beginner: I Want to Ride
Motorcycle Beginner: Buying Your First Motorcycle

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