Kawasaki Ninja 300: Sure to dominate lightweights
Leading the pack unchallenged in performance for several years with its best-selling Ninja 250R, the team at Kawasaki has decided to continue to dominate the lightweight sportbike field. The new Ninja 300 is set to totally dominate the class, not only in terms of performance, but also in raising the standards for refinement, riding ease and practicality.
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 benefits from a new 296cc, DOHC, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, parallel twin design with outstanding acceleration capability. It features new digital fuel injection, utilizing dual 32mm throttle bodies that provide both improved fuel economy and cleaner emissions over the 250 model. An available ABS brake system is offered for the first time on a lightweight sportbike. There’s also a new F.C.C. clutch with assist and slipper functions for better handling of power with less effort.
The all-new, aggressive and edgy bodywork doesn’t sacrifice any Ninja family DNA. A new frame that uses high-tensile steel main tubes offers 150 percent greater rigidity for better feel and agility. The Ninja 300 has a revised six-speed transmission with a new roller-type shift drum and stronger gears, along with a wide gear ratio and positive neutral finder. Kawasaki’s Air Management System utilizes a unique deflector for channeling hot air from the radiator to exit from the bottom of the bike, rather than blowing onto the rider.
The Ninja 300’s exhaust is also new with a curved 2-into-1-header design that meets strict Euro 3 emission standards. Suspension tuning has been revised on the 37mm telescopic front forks, complementing the more rigid frame and wider rear rubber. The rear Uni-Trak suspension linkage delivers predictable handling and ride comfort, while the rear shock features five-way adjustable preload, allowing rear ride height management, whether riding solo or two-up. The IRC RX-01 tires were developed with Kawasaki for optimum riding dynamics.
Instrumentation includes a large, easy-to-read analog tachometer, a multifunction digital display with speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, digital clock and warning lights. In addition, there’s an Economical riding indicator that notifies the rider when operating the bike in the most efficient manner for fuel economy maximization.
The styling of the Ninja 300 was inspired by the Ninja ZX-10R superbike, and features all-new body components, a new floating windscreen, an aggressive dual-lamp headlight design, a compact tail section. Two helmet holders are located under the rear seat, as well as a new two-stage under-seat storage compartment that’s hinged for easy tool kit access, which is below the storage tray. Two hooks are provided under the tail, plus two behind the rear passenger pegs for securing items in transport.
In terms of riding ergonomics, the rider’s seat slants slightly forward, is of a flatter design, narrowed near the front for easier touch-down when stopped, and the handlebars are wide and slightly raised, providing a more natural and comfortable riding position.
My Special Edition Kawasaki Ninja 300 test bike sported a traditional exterior finish in Lime Green and Ebony. The base price was set at $4,799. While the Kawasaki Ninja 300 makes for an ideal entry level sportbike, it can also be equally enjoyable for the more experienced rider. For one thing, older riders like myself, will welcome the more comfortable riding position — no laying over the tank with upper body weight on your wrists.
Some advanced riders might shy away from admitting to riding a small displacement bike, but the Ninja 300 displays the look of a full-scale sportbike, making no apologies necessary. At first glance it appeared that it might be too small for my 6’4″ frame, but the Ninja 300 was comfortable — and it’s no slouch in the performance department.
Despite its performance capabilities and size, the Ninja 300 presents itself as being just right in terms of size, power and manageability. It is well balanced, highly maneuverable and because of its easy handling characteristics, it is less likely to get a novice rider into trouble.
The price of the Ninja 300 is nearly as attractive as the bike itself, even when equipped with the optional ABS, which is virtually unheard of in the lightweight sportbike category. So, in the final analysis, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 is a keeper for a fun, comfortable, stress-free riding experience.