Kawasaki Ninja 300 – Road Test

What is it?

The Kawasaki Ninja 300 or “baby Ninja” is a 296 cc sports bike with aggressive looks that may fool some into believing it is much bigger. Despite its relatively small engine size, it has enough power to keep up with highway traffic − if the rider does his bit.

Engine/Drivetrain

The liquid-cooled parallel twin 296 cc engine produces 29 kW at 11 000 r/min and 27 Nm at 10 000 r/min. According to Kawasaki, the engine delivers 18 % more power and 24% more torque than its predecessor, the Ninja 250. For the Ninja 300, the stroke has been increased for the additional cc, without enlarging the original bore of 62 mm. 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 700 ml and a new water pump ensures better engine cooling.

Style, instruments and equipment

The overall styling is aggressive, which fits 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 Ninja 300 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 bike we tested was the standard non-ABS model, with 37 mm non-adjustable forks in front and a Uni-Trak single shock with adjustable preload at the rear. The Ninja 300 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 300 cc.

Performance

Let’s face it; the numbers don’t lie. It’s a 300cc with the sedate figures of 29 kW and 27 Nm. Don’t expect fireworks, especially if you’re used to bigger engines and bikes. That being said, the Ninja 300 did not disappoint at all. If anything, it had a few surprises up its sleeve, 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

While the engine doesn’t roar and one may even forget that it’s idling, the bike will perform if the rider plays along. Acceleration and maintaining high(ish) speeds boils down to taking a handful of grip and twisting it. As maximum power and torque lie in wait above 9 000 r/min, you have to ride it like you stole it. We managed to reach speeds of just under 140km/h, according to the speedo.

The kerb weight of 172 kg, in a low configuration such as this, makes the bike very nimble in traffic. Typically, the suspension was a tad on the hard side, so I tried to avoid speed bumps and road imperfections. Despite maximum power only available at 10 000 r/min, the bike rides well enough in slower traffic − you just have 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).

Likes/Dislikes

Like: Looks and manoeuvrability.

Dislike: You have to wring its neck.

Verdict and rating

Good for town riding, can keep up with fast traffic and even leave them behind, but still seems as if you must be hell bent on breaking the throttle to make it so. The Ninja 300 would be average for commuting and a good bike for the novice or beginner. 7/10.

Also consider

Suzuki GW250 InaZuma, Honda CBR250R, Yamaha R15

Specifications of the Kawasaki 300 Ninja (2013)

  • Engine  Liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin
  • Gearbox  Six-speed gearbox, slipper clutch. Chain driven
  • Power  29 kW @ 11 000 r/min
  • Torque  27 Nm @ 10 000 r/min
  • Weight  172 kg (wet and fuelled)
  • Seat height  785 mm
  • Fuel capacity  17 litres
  • Fuel consumption  38 km/l or 2,6 l/100km (claimed)
  • Tank range  646 km
  • Warranty and servicing  Two-year unlimited warranty, with 6 000 km service intervals.
  • Price  R 59 995
  • Review by  Bert Kirsten, December 2012

More info from kawasaki.co.za

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