What is it?
The “baby Ninja” is a 300cc sports bike with aggressive looks that may fool some into believing it is much bigger. Despite its relatively small engine size, it has enough oomph to keep up with the traffic on the highway − if the rider does his bit.
The liquid-cooled parallel twin 296cc engine produces 29kW at 11 000r/min and 27Nm at 10 000r/min. According to Kawasaki, the engine delivers 18% more power and 24% more torque than its predecessor, the 250 Ninja. For the 300 Ninja, the stroke has been increased for the additional ccs, without enlarging the original bore of 62mm. Additionally, the frame has been strengthened and the engine rubber mounted in the front to curb some of the vibration. Oil capacity has been increased to 700ml and a new water pump ensures better cooling of the engine.
Style, instruments and equipment
The overall styling is aggressive, which fits in with the rest of the Ninja stable. The fairing is designed to let warm air from the engine flow away from the rider’s legs in slower traffic. The 300 Ninja has a combination of analogue (rev counter) and digital instrumentation. The speedo, fuel level, clock and dual trip meter are digital. The digital display also features the word “eco”, which flashes when the onboard computer decides that the optimal combination of speed and fuel consumption has been reached. The model tested was the standard non-ABS model, with 37mm non-adjustable forks in front and a Uni-Trak single shock with adjustable preload in the rear. The Kawasaki has a slipper clutch, which prevents the back wheel from locking up during downward gear changes. In addition to a six-speed gearbox, these characteristics deliver a bigger impression than was anticipated of “just” a 300cc.
Let’s face it, the numbers don’t lie. It remains a 300cc with the sedate figures of 29kW and 27Nm. Don’t expect fireworks if you are used to something bigger (in more than one sense). However, that being said, the bike did not disappoint at all. If anything, it had a few surprises, such as the slipper clutch and that it can more than keep up with traffic on the N1 between Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Ride and handling
Whilst the engine does not roar and one may even forget it’s running when idling, if the rider plays along, the bike will perform. Acceleration and maintaining high(ish) speeds simply boils down to taking a handful of grip and not being afraid to twist it. As the maximum power and torque are available at 10 000r/min+, you have to ride it like you stole it. Speeds of just under 140km/h (according to the speedo) were attainable. The kerb weight of 172kg, in a low configuration such as this, makes the bike very nimble in traffic. Typically, the suspension was a tad on the hard side, one starts to avoid speed bumps and road imperfections while commuting. Despite the maximum power only being available at 10 000r/min, the bike rides well enough in slower traffic − you just need to use the correct gear. The bike will suit novice riders perfectly and those who need a commuting bike capable of highway speeds (100-120km/h) if the need arises.
Like: Looks and manoeuvrability.
Dislike: It is still a 300.
Verdict and rating
Good for town, can keep up with traffic and even leave them behind, but still seems as if you must be hell bent on breaking the throttle to make it so. It remains a 300. The Ninja would be average for commuting and a good bike for the novice/beginner. 7/10.
Suzuki GW250 InaZuma, Honda CBR250R, Yamaha R15
Specifications for Kawasaki 300 Ninja
- Engine Liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin
- Gearbox Six-speed gearbox, slipper clutch. Chain driven
- Power 29kW@11 000r/min
- Torque 27Nm@10 000r/min
- Weight 172kg (wet and fuelled)
- Seat height 785mm
- Fuel capacity 17 litres
- Fuel consumption 38km/l
- Tank range 646km
- Warranty and servicing Two-year unlimited warrantee, with 6000km service intervals.
- Price R59 995
- Ridden by Bikeroutes December 2012
- Review by Bert Kirsten
More info from http://www.kawasaki.co.za/