The Kawasaki Ninja 300 has been around in India for quite some now. It used to be sitting pretty, with no rivals in sight, but now there are two contenders vying for its spot. Both of them are powerful, and more importantly, substantially cheaper than the Baby Ninja. Now, we ask the most important question of them all: with two strong alternatives around, does it still make sense to buy the Ninja 300. We rode in and around the city to find out! So, here’s what we think about the mean Green Assassin from Japan.
With its sharp & edgy bodywork, and bright green livery, the Ninja 300 looks disarmingly good, and definitely stands out amongst the crowd. In fact, we think that the Ninja 300 might just be the better-looking bike, when compared to the R3 and the RC390. Despite being the oldest amongst all the sub-400cc sportsbikes, its design doesn’t look dated in anyway, and it still turns heads wherever it goes.
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 exudes a quality of build so high that it beggars belief! No, we aren’t exaggerating! The metals and plastics used throughout feel upmarket, while the fit and finish levels are exceptional. The high quality can be seen throughout the bike, extending to even parts like the foot pegs and the engine casing. We can just go on and on; it is simply just that good!
If you aren’t used to fully-faired sportsbikes, then you will need some time to get acquainted with the Ninja 300’s ergonomics. Once you’ve gotten yourself familiar with the riding posture, you’ll find that, for a bike as sporty as this, it is extremely comfortable. Thanks to the large rider saddle, there is a lot of room to move around, while the handlebars and footpegs are placed in a manner that balances the bikes focus on dynamics and commuting comfort. Be it trundling along in stop-go traffic, munching miles on the highway, or tackling the twisties, the ergos do not compromise on comfort in anyway.
Surprisingly, pillion comfort is quite good on the Ninja 300. The seat is sufficiently large, the pegs are positioned well, and there are recesses where you can actually hold onto. Unlike its rivals, this is a sportsbike that can be enjoyed with two on-board.
Now we get to the highlight of the Ninja 300 – its effervescent 296cc parallel twin-cylinder engine. The performance that this liquid-cooled and fuel-injected motor offers is nothing short of spectacular. It all begins on relatively low-key note. Start it up, and you are greeted with a bassy burst of revs that quickly settles into a quite thrum. Slot it into first, let go of the light-action clutch, and gently apply the throttle. The bike moves forward sedately. Twist the throttle a little more, and it accelerates briskly, but not as fast as say, an RC390. As you keep increasing you throttle input, speed builds up steadily, and when it goes past 6000 rpm, all hell breaks loose.
The engine changes its tone from a gruff thrum to a sweet high-pitched wail, just as the tacho needle races towards the 13,000 rpm redline. All the 39 horses come out in full-force to help the bike accelerate with the rapidity of a scalded cat. The rush is very addictive, and would tempt you to shift down frequently just to experience it time and again. If you aren’t judicious with the throttle, the acceleration on offer would see you touch the wrong side of 120 kmph in a jiffy. Despite all the high-speeds and drama the bike is capable of, we have to say that it feels surprisingly butter smooth and vibe-free, even at speeds over 135 kmph. If you have access to a really long stretch of road that’s deserted, you would see the Ninja 300 reach over 180 kmph. That is some serious speed for a bike like this.
Not only is the Ninja 300 fun to ride at high-speeds; it also has more than sufficient torque on tap at the lower revs, which allows for quick and fuss-free commutes within the urban confines.
Another hallmark of the Ninja 300 is its dynamic prowess. Be it filtering through traffic, or attacking corners with a vengeance, the bike does so exceptionally, without batting an eyelid. It is very agile, and turns into corners at the whim of the rider. It is exceptionally stable in a straight line, and doesn’t weave around at high speeds. In the city, the bike’s dynamic ability allows it to take on tight gaps in a manner that belies its size. It also has a turning radius that’s shorter than a KTM Duke 200, which makes taking tight U-turns a breeze.
Special mention has to be made about the Ninja’s ride quality. In spite of exhibiting taut handling characteristics, the bike offers a really smooth ride. It tackles bumps, potholes, and rough roads with extraordinary composure and stability, even at high-speeds.
High performance needs to be backed up by powerful brakes, and the Ninja 300 doesn’t disappoint. The 290mm front and 220mm rear petal discs are up to the task, and much more than capable of hauling the bike to a standstill in a snap, even from triple digit speeds. The level feel is really good, and one can modulate the braking force required with ease. The lack of ABS is a bit of a concern though, given the bike’s premium price tag.
The Ninja 300 gets a seriously-cool digital-analogue instrument console. It is so cool that it featured on the top in our list of the coolest speedometers out there on the market. It has a large tachometer dominating the space, with a white-backlit digital speedometer on the bottom right corner. Apart from this, the bike hosts numerous bungee cord hook point, which should make mounting and securing luggage onto the pillion seat easy and safe.
Priced at Rs 3,50,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Kawasaki Ninja 300 is quite an expensive proposition, but we think it is worth what you’ll paying. You will get an exceptionally well-made high-quality sports bike, one that’s as good at handling daily commutes as it is at cornering. The engine is a gem, and has enough performance on tap to keep you excited at all times, in any situation. Be it when tackling twisty roads, touring on the highways, and even riding on the track, where it can keep up with much more powerful bikes, the baby Ninja can handle it all with aplomb, never feeling inadequate in any area. We can say at this point, there is not better all-round sportsbike than this. Need more proof? We suggest you head to your nearest KTM showroom, and get yourself a test ride!
|Engine||Liquid cooled, 4-stroke parallel twin cylinder|
|Power||39 bhp @ 11000 rpm|
|Torque||27 Nm @ 10000 rpm|
|Chassis Type||Semi double cradle, high tensile steel|
|Brakes||Front:Petal disc, dia 290mm, 2-piston caliper
Rear:Petal disc, dia 220mm, 2-piston caliper
|Suspension||Front:37mm Telescopic Front Fork, 120mm travel
Rear:Uni-Track Mono Shock with 5-step adjustment, 130mm travel
|Fuel Tank Capacity||17|