Kawasaki Ninja 300: big bike feel

Looks good, feels great. The Ninja shines ahead of its A2-com­pli­ant ri­vals.

Motorcycle Monthly - - Used Bike Guide -

Kawasaki in­tro­duced the Ninja 300 in 2012. The 300 was a great fit in the rapidly ex­pand­ing A2-com­pli­ant small ca­pac­ity mar­ket, and when Kawasaki ra­tio­nalised its range into ‘fam­ily’ group­ings, it re­mained, with the Z300 qui­etly slip­ping off the books. The 300 was it­self re­placed in 2017 by the Ninja 400.

We took out a 2016 bike with 3717 Miles on the clock.

Give me some spec

A 296cc, four-stroke par­al­lel twin ca­pa­ble of 93mph top speed, puts out 38.9bhp at 11,000rpm with max­i­mum torque of 19.9lb-ft at 10,000rpm, housed in a tubu­lar steel frame. It fea­tures a slip­per clutch, con­ven­tional forks, as­sist­ing the front dual pis­ton caliper, 290mm disc and rear dual pis­ton caliper, 220mm disc to bring the 300 to a stop. Our test bike had a per­for­mance kit fit­ted which in­cludes and Akrapovic end can and af­ter­mar­ket gear indi­ca­tor.

So what’s it like to ride?

The Ninja 300 has ‘grown-up’ di­men­sions. Big enough for a real ‘big-bike’ feel, but still small enough so that new li­cence hold­ers will not feel in­tim­i­dated. It’s roomier than first im­pres­sions might dic­tate and de­spite the clip-ons you can sit quite up­right when pootling around in town traf­fic which re­ally helps keep your body­weight off your wrists.

Over­all, the lit­tle Kawasaki is a very light 176kg wet which makes it handy when you're pad­dling about (be thank­ful for the low weight be­cause the lim­ited steer­ing lock gives the Ninja the turn­ing cir­cle of an ocean liner).

That 296cc par­al­lel twin will trun­dle life­lessly in slow traf­fic, giv­ing no in­di­ca­tion of what hap­pens when you clear off. The per­for­mance fig­ures, how­ever, give a clue: this is a bike that needs to be worked hard. Get it spin­ning at 8000rpm it gives a brisk ride, at 10,000rpm it’s on song, feel­ing taut and to­gether.

Just think about cor­ner­ing and the baby Ninja tips in. That nar­row pro­file front dips with zero ef­fort, and the 140/70 sec­tion rear hugs the road. Di­rec­tion change? No prob­lem. It is ac­cu­rate to a fault – I aimed be­tween two in­spec­tion hatches on one cor­ner and it placed pre­cisely into the tiny gap.

Sit up, keep it in that up­per rev range and it picks up pace briskly (re­put­edly 5.6 sec­onds 0-60mph), rather than driv­ing for­ward, as you search for the top end torque.

Stop­ping? I loved the brakes, which gave all the feel I needed, al­low­ing grad­ual halts or – if you needed to pull up sud­denly – a firm squeeze on the front lever backed up with the rear got the bike hauled up hard.

It has a light clutch, slick gear­box, great clocks… and mir­rors that look like they will give loads of feed­back… nope. I had no idea if some­one was be­hind me no mat­ter what I did.

What nick is it in?

It’s in nice shape. There was a slight scuff on the right side fair­ing panel, but noth­ing to worry over.

What’s it worth?

The dealer wants £3699 For a 2016 model with 3717 miles clocked. Our dealer search re­vealed a small­ish num­ber of used bikes avail­able, from a 2014 model with 2796 miles on the clock for £2999 up to a 2015 bike with 9063 miles for £3999.

Words and pic­tures: Bob Pick­ett

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