Fancy the baby Ninja? Read this before you buy
What we said then
“Kawasaki have hit the nail on the head with this bike. Finally the market has a practical, economical, entry-level bike that is easy to ride and desirable. Kawasaki estimate that, going on sales of the Ninja 250, 40% of Ninja 300 buyers will be under 24 years old and it’s this kind of grassroots support motorcycling needs.” MCN launch report, 2012
But what is it like now?
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 taught me a very vital lesson in life. I always used to advise new riders to buy a large capacity bike that was restricted so that when their licence allowed, they could remove the restriction and gain access to a full power motorcycle rather than have to buy a new bike. To be honest, I couldn’t see the point in owning a small mid-segment machine such as the Ninja. But then I spoke to an owner.
The owner, who happened to be a woman but the same applies to many male riders, told me she had no interest in going faster than 70mph and as such, the Ninja was all the motorcycle she required. It looked good, was agile, cheap to run, had a low seat height and was lightweight and easily manoeuvrable both on the go and while being pushed into parking spaces. My insistence that power was key to two-wheeled enjoyment had seen me totally miss these points – lesson learnt.
Nowadays I view the Ninja in a very different light, which has allowed me to see it for what it is. This is a superb bike for anyone who wants to enjoy the freedom and benefits of being out on the road, but without ever feeling intimidated by their machine.
On the go, the parallel-twin motor does all that is expected of it. It’s certainly not fast, but importantly it is quicker than four-wheeled traffic and that means you can accelerate onto dual carriageways in safety and also overtake slower vehicles. And it is an effortless motor with excellent fuel injection, a light clutch, slick gearbox and virtually no vibrations.
Add to this a chassis, that while very soft on its suspension, handles well and gives a good feeling of security, brakes with optional ABS and a lovely comfortable riding position, and it all adds up to a winning combination. Which is why the Ninja went on to be one of Europe’s best-selling bikes and is why after being the trailblazer, the Ninja is now joined by the Yamaha YZF-R3, Suzuki GSX250R and Honda CBR300R in this once barren segment.
Any obvious faultsé
Our test bike is a bit of an anomaly as it only has 1000 miles on its clocks but the shock is showing signs of rust. According to the dealer, the bike was left outside and hardly ever used or cleaned, a quite common occurrence for a small-capacity machine that may have been purchased on a whim. The fairing shows slight signs of damage, hinting at a low-speed topple that may have put the previous owner off two wheels and led to it being sold, but other than that it is in very good condition.
Éor worthwhile extras?
This Ninja was completely standard, which is nice to see although a set of crash bobbins would have protected the fairing from damage. And an occasional wash wouldn’t have gone amiss either!
The Ninja 300 is a great bike if you are after a machine that is easy to use and live with, but won’t intimidate. It’s not a sportsbike, so don’t buy it expecting it to perform as one, it’s a sporty looking small capacity machine that offers hassle-free riding at its very best.
Not just for beginners: don’t knock 300s until you’ve tried one Clocks The light behind the LED part of the dash that illuminates the speedo is known to fail, so check all is well by putting it in the shade with the ignition on.