My 25 year old VTR250 still whoops on the new Ninja 300 especially on top end. You'd think they would have found some really cool tech in the last 3 decades to really make these small bikes sing.
There was a beautiful little vtr250 for sale locally to me this summer. Low miles but it sat in storage for 8 years, I should have picked it up .... but hesitated and it was gone the next day. Only $500!
It took a short search to find the 300 is essentially a stroked 250 (76 x 63 vs 76 x 55), meaning the redline is decreased by about the percentage of the difference in the strokes. This is very common amongst manufacturers who want to make a "performance" model that has more displacement but no real performance increase over the previous model. "Then why do it?" you may ask. Simple. They know the spec sheet buyers are basing purchasing decisions on their limited understanding of what exactly the specs they are looking at mean and the BNG (Bold New Graphics).
The why do it question still needs to be asked, and in this case increasing the stroke is by far the simplest way to bump displacement without having to go through all the engineering necessary to increase the bore: properly the valve sizes, port shapes, cam profiles and lobe centers, and all the injection parameters have to be juggled to optimize performance, whereas increasing the stroke mainly requires a different crankshaft and shorter rod. That's it. The tiny change in port flow characteristics due to the longer stroke can be dealt with by remapping the fuel delivery, a 1 hour job at worst.
Out here in the real world a 40 HP Kawasaki 300 Ninja will run circles around a 30 HP Honda CBR 300 and no amount of BNG and ad hype will ever change that fact. It also explains the rod failures caused by having to bounce the motor off the rev limiter constantly to even try to keep up. On the other hand a 250 or 300 Ninja will have a tough row to hoe against a Honda VTR 250 even without BNG and being offered as a LAMS friendly bike. Talk about ironic!
So, what you're saying is Honda is counting on the riding public to be stupid and to fall for hype?
All manufacturers in the U.S. market do, Honda included. They claim to know the market pretty well, and that claim has considerable validity. As often as I have read posts here and elsewhere bemoaning the lack of product range in the U.S. compared to the other markets served it becomes obvious that companies offer that which sells, and most of the motorcycles sold in other countries simply wouldn't sell very well here if at all. Why? When I find a bike I really like I tend to ride it until it dies an economically prohibitive death, meaning they will sell one every 5 to 10 years or so. Not a very good repeat customer, am I? Compared to the average sportbike owner who either obsessively buys the latest hot bike every year regardless of what improvements if any were done to it (usually BNG), or crashes it more or less intentionally to file an insurance claim to get a new bike we are barely a blip on the sales radar screen.
The end result of this is all that is available here are sportbikes and cruisers. It's all the market will support.
To quote Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."