Ninja 300

Fancy the baby Ninja? Read this be­fore you buy

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Jon Urry MCN GUEST TESTER

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!

Ver­dict

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.

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