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Saturday, April 20, 2013

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 - Ride Review

The quarter litre Ninja, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R has long been the hottest selling motorcycle from Kawasaki's stable and the King of it's segment. Some companies like the Hyosung with it's GTR 250R and Honda with it's CBR 250R tried to challenge the Ninja, but the baby Ninja always proved to be a nightmare for it's competition. The Ninja was well built, had a very defined purpose and was very simple in it's approach. From my point of view Ninja didn't have to worry about the 250cc class of displacement, because there was nothing in the competition's arsenal that can be called as a threat to the Ninja 250R.

But then the laws of evolution say that if you don't evolve you become extinct and evolution can take any form, shape, size... or rather I should say displacement!! It was time that the Ninja 250R became the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 and cements it's throne further.

So, read on what Throttlequest.com felt about the new Ninja as we put it through it's paces and through the traffic.


Engine - Liquid cooled, four stroke, parallel twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Capacity - 296 cc
Bore x Stroke - 62 x 49 mm
Compresion Ratio - 10.6:1
Induction - Fuel Injection, 32mm x 2 (Keihin), with dual throtle valves
Ignition - Electric, TCBI with Digital Advance
Clutch - F.C.C Assist Multiple-plate Slipper Clutch in oil bath
Max Power - 39 hp @ 11000 rpm
Max Torque - 27.0 Nm @ 10000 rpm
Transmission / Drive - 6 Speed  /  O-ring Chain drive

The Engine and the new Slipper Clutch are the heroes of this new Ninja story. It's amazing what Kawasaki has managed to achieve with just 50cc of bump in the capacity of the engine. The engine not only feels a lot smoother now, but it's also way more aggressive. The Bottom and Mid-Range torque is much much better than that was there in the Ninja 250, which means, for Indian traffic conditions, it's a way more superior and proficient street bike. Now the Ninja 300 easily pulls from speeds of 15 kmph @ 3rd gear, cleanly without any hiccups, something which the earlier 250 just struggled to do. The engine is now much more eager to be revved and revving is what keeps it happy. The Ninja 300 pulls like a mad dog so to speak. Just to give an example, after taking a tight U-turn, I just kept on going in the 2nd cog and didn't even felt like shifting to the 3rd untill I saw I way past 10k rpms. The bike was new and the engine was still in it's run-in, but boy this baby pulls.

The Slipper Clutch is a revelation really!! The clutch accentuation is very light (in contrast to the erstwhile 250). The 2013 Ninja 300 has a GP style clutch accentuation, meaning that instead of fully pressing the clutch and then letting it go, on the Ninja 300, one has to just flick the clutch a little more than quarter way and then accentuate from there. So, such a clutch accentuation tells us that, this should call for quick shifts through the cogs and aided with the Slipper Clutch, quick shift is what becomes the order. The gear shifts are so smooth that during the test ride I didn't even feel that I was shifting through the gears. The quick shifting pattern coupled with the "non-sensing" gear shift fooled me a couple of times that I was in the 3rd cog, when I was actually in the 5th. The presence of the Slipper Clutch means that rev-matching the gear with the engine speed, specially while shifting down is one thing that the rider won't have to worry about. I tried to fool the system a couple of times, deliberately shifting down quickly and letting the clutch go suddenly, but man this slipper clutch works like a charm.

The motorcycle which I got for testing had hardly run for 17 km and therefore I was paying utmost respect to the engine and was not revving the engine madly, but here's what I was able to do anyways -

1st gear @ 5k rpms - 40kmph
2nd gear @ 10k rpms - 92 kmph
3rd gear @ 5k rpms - 76 kmph
4th gear @ 5k rpms - 89 kmph
5th gear @ 5k rpms - 102 kmph
6th gear  - well didn't go there :)

Ride and Handling

Frame - Tube diamond, steel
Front Suspension - 37mm telescopic fork, 120mm wheel travel
Rear Suspension - Bottom-Link Uni-Track with gas charged shock and 5 way adjustable pre-load with 132 mm wheel travel.
Front Brakes - 290 mm Petal Disc with dual piston calliper
Rear Brakes - 220 mm Petal Disc with dual piston calliper
Front Tyre - 110/70-17, M/C 54S
Rear Tyre - 140/70 - 17, M/C 66S
Seat Height - 785 mm
Kerb Weight - 172 kg
Fuel Capacity - 17 litres

To start with the ride and handling, Kawasaki has provided a more rigid frame and a stiffer suspension setup off the factory for the Ninja 300, which means that this bike is custom made for a more agile handling and a stiffer ride. Kawasaki has tried to make the ride comfortable for city ride, but the setup is a little biased towards track rather than out and out street. To me, that seems nothing to complain about, because that makes the intent of this motorcycle more clear. It can do it's duty amazingly good on the street and in traffic and while munching miles, but the track is the place this 300 is born for.

Coupled with the better Low and Mid range torque distribution, rigid frame and stiffer suspension, zip-zapping through the traffic is effortless. It's so effortless that the rider almost gets a feel that it's a much much smaller machine, which is custom made for the traffic. The floating type wind screen offers good wind protection at high speeds (even though I did not take the Ninja to speeds where I would need any kind of wind protection)

The baby Ninja has always been a blessing in disguise for vertically challenged riders, and so is the case with the new Ninja 300 too. There's absolutely no problems in getting both the feet down. One thing which I definitely felt, that the foot pegs are a little bit high, and at my height, I felt a little cramped on the tank recess.

The new bigger and wider chiselled tank provides aids in tucking behind the wind screen and the ride feels pretty natural while tucked. Also, the wide and lower seat aids a LOT to position the body for turns and this baby leans like a dream.

IRC rubber is good, but not the best and one can definitely look towards upgrading for better rubber.

Since the motorcycle was brand new and was still in it's running period, the brakes felt a bit spongy and that's very very natural. It takes a good 300-400 km for the brakes to properly run in and provide that feedback the baby Ninja is famously known for.

The exhaust note of this 300 is something to fall in love for - it's lot more angry than what the 250 was. It has that purring of a parallel twin, but the anger of engine is quite evident.

On the move and through the helmet the rider would hardly hear anything because as the rev climbs, all the rider would hear a sweet whistling note.

Equipment and Quality

The Ninjas are knowing for their quality and the story with the 300 is no different either. The new instrumentation cluster now includes -
  1. Digital Speedo
  2. Analogue Tacho
  3. Digital Fuel gauge
  4. and the other regular numbers.
The instrumentation cluster is another big change from the 250R, which had gen 1 genre console and clocks.

The new body work, is inspired from the legendary ZX-10R and is aimed toward better heat flow from under the rider's feet providing a better overall ride experience, something which we first saw in the new ZX-14R. Coupled with the new twin head lamp assembly and the new body work, this Ninja looks any thing but a 300... it looks more like the new Ninja 636. For starters, the Ninja 300 gets similar wheels are it's there on the Ninja 636.

The attention to details is again, classic Kawaski trend and the overall touch and feel gives a premium feel.

Final Verdict

The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 gets a big thumbs up from team ThrottleQuest. This is a fun motorcycle to ride and take around almost anywhere, anytime and this would not complain a bit. The Ninja 300 is a true blue sports motorcycle and demands a lot of respect from novice and pros equally.

After the test ride, the first question that rises in mind - "Who would like to own this bike and why". This bike is really for anyone who's looking to climb the capacity ladder from say 150s and 180s and seriously looking to get into the sports arena. This motorcycle provides the right platform to do so. It's balanced, it's quick, it's powerful, it's filckable, it does everything that a sports motorcycle is expected to do and it does so with style.

Having said that, does an average Indian customer ever look at what genre of motorcycling he or she would like to do? Or, does an average Indian customer look at what price he or she is getting what? I guess the later goes more in-line with the average Indian mindset. The Ninja 300 floors at almost INR 4 lacs on-road in Delhi, and that makes it just INR 1.5 lacs cheaper than the Ninja 650 and add to the equation the soon to be launched KTM 390, which we are hoping would top out at max to INR 2.75 lacs, with ABS as standard, giving further competition to the Ninja 300.

To end it all, Kawasaki and Bajaj have a winner at their disposal, if only it's able to survive the onslaught of the incoming competition.

Ergonomics Illustration Courtesy - Cycle-Ergo.com
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  1. Awesome and detailed first-impressions, considering that it was only a 17km run Ninja.

    It's a winner in all aspects, as far as the bike, engine, performance, build quality, and fun factor are concerned. But what worries me most is what you've so rightly mentioned. Being just 1.5 lacs cheaper than the 650...someone willing and capable to shell out 4 lacs, will be tempted to spend some more and go for the 650. And there is a big, big difference in how a 650 twin feels compared to a 300.

    It's not many who spend 4 lacs for a 2- wheeler, and so this isn't a bike which is going to make business sense for Bajaj. The KTM should do a better job there. But then again, those who are inclined to the handful of tracks in our country...this Ninja is a no-brainer:)

    And as I've mentioned so many times before...the ABS omission is a big let down in a country like ours. In my opinion, slipper clutch is a luxury...ABS is a necessity!

    1. Totally agree with you Simba... ABS could have been the USP for the Ninja 300... and in today's time I don't think people would have thought much for paying extra for the ABS.

      Let's see how the market responds to this amazing product.

  2. Loved the way you have detailed out every tit-bit about the bike.. The Ninjas have surely been a cult in themselves, redefining the biking experience.. I myself rode the Ninja 650 a few months back... Even though it is a good 650cc bike, it felt super comfortable giving even a first-timer the confidence to do a knee down on a nice long curve... I'd been looking forward to the Ninja 300 for quite a while. By what you've written, it sounds like one sturdy bike, that works as per the rider rather than the other way round... The purr of the engine is enticing, and I would really want to know how it feels at higher RPMs at higher speeds.. Regarding its a Kawasaki, I'm sure it doesn't have vibrations unlike the Hyosungs and other bikes in the class, but what really makes me raise eyebrows is the fact that you felt cramped with the higher positioning of the foot pegs... A 6 ft+ person like me would have to book a physiotherapist the day I book the bike, if I book it that is... Also the price is another concern.. The "Kitna Deti Hai" mindset of the Indian consumer would rather settle in for a CBR 250R or the upcoming Duke 390 for that matter... a very simple thought process being, more power in half the price (DUKE 390)... However, I loved the details of this bike, and would love to take it for a spin to get friendlier with it and probably that would change my verdict that is, "It is DEFINITELY NOT my next bike!" Sorry Kawasaki! O_o

    1. Thanks Mohit for coming by and leaving your feedback. Very valid points indeed.

      For a person of your height... the Ninja 650 is the machine to go for... it would keep your grin going for years together.

  3. Which dealer allowed you to test ride their newly launched high priced bike upto those kmphs?I have serious doubts about the info on this post. By the pics it looks like the pro-biking outlet at iffco chowk. I doubt they would have allowed a highway run?also most of the informatio is standard produxt brochure level info available anywhere :)

    1. @Anonymous
      Care to mention your identity next time??

      The product info would be the same as that in the brochures, because I won't be getting a separately setup machine to test ride.. this is India for God's sakes. It's the feel of the motorcycle, for which test rides are done and that's why people read test rides. A brochure would provide you the numbers, and what I've written is, how those numbers are put to use.

      Also, does it really matter that much from where I got the test ride from?? I'm you gotta be kidding me right!!

      I would request you to go through our website and you would notice that we have done test rides of more than 5 times the price of the Ninja 300 and for even more higher kmph.. that's what trust can get you :)

      Cheers and Ride safe

  4. No I don't care to mention my identity. Thank You.
    As for the machines 5 times higher than this, an average middle class indian would not be interested in buying those hence not interested in reading the ride report too,unless you are exclusively writing/blogging for a certain bunch of enthusiasts.
    Now, referring to the brochure level info,let me rephrase the question, what new/unique you bring in your blog which should encourage and help anyone in taking a decision? I mean this information is available at many places.Only unique factor would be your ride report and unless I know that is authentic its of no use.

    As for your other questions:
    1. I know this is India.
    2. And I am not kidding.

    No offense meant.


    1. @Anonymous
      We at ThrottleQuest.com generally believe in openness of information, which means knowing the person with whom we are interacting and sharing and understanding each other's views and understanding. Since you are not that interested in letting us know your identity I would choose not to explain our point view because such discussion never lead to conclusions, because it feels childish to explain our authenticity to a person who's not even "caring" to mention his or her identity and provide about his or her own authenticity.

      Thanks for providing your views anyways and no offense taken as it takes all kinds to make this world and we are happy about it :)

      Cheers and Ride Safe

    2. Sajal, well written. We know that there is enough information over here about ride and handling characteristics that would encourage (or discourage) or at least push an enthusiast to think. In fact, we also know that after this ride report, there would be others who would take up the cue and would try to do something more. But that does not take away the fact that you did it first in India!
      As far as Mr Anonymous is concerned, you handled it perfectly. We know only too well what Anonymous means. And we also know exactly what they do... :D :D

    3. Thanks Ken Da,
      As part of team ThrottleQuest, your words always means a lot for keeping "Throttle" pinned for ThrottleQuest.

  5. Gotta give it to you guys for your mutual admiration society you have here.
    First in india?!?! I read the first ride report on autocar india website 10 days ago.
    Also interesting thoughts about being Anonymous :) don't you all go and vote anonymously ? So are you talking about yourselves too? :)
    Again no offense meant and am sure none is taken!

    1. @Anonymous
      All credits to Autocar for their review which in itself is a very detailed review and the review was primarily done in and around the Chakhan test track and not on actual road conditions, where this bike is to survive. We have done the review in actual road conditions and our observations and thoughts are what we felt while working the bike through traffic.

      We didn't get the bike for an extended period as most of the big participants do and we tried to bring the most with what we got.

      Observations like - "Coupled with the better Low and Mid range torque distribution, rigid frame and stiffer suspension, zip-zapping through the traffic is effortless. It's so effortless that the rider almost gets a feel that it's a much much smaller machine, which is custom made for the traffic." won't come just by copying brochures, or riding the bike through race track and vacant curves and patches, you actually have to ride the bike to know it. We did that and we wrote what we've honestly felt.

      It's not about mutual admiration society, it's about a bonding based on common understanding and thoughts and we are blessed to have that and to have people like Krishnendu amongst us.

      It's not about getting offended, we can't get offended, because what you are writing is your thought and we respect that. What hurts us is when people are just determined to find flaws no matter in what way and not appreciate the hard work done. Any ways, as I've said before, it takes all kinds to make this world.. so pal welcome to our world.

      And about anonymity... let's not bring vote and stuff in between, look at the greener side of the grass, who know if you tell us who you are, we can be good contributor to Motorcycling in India, in what ever small way it is. Rest the choice is yours and I've nothing to get offended or to say

      Peace out!!

      Cheers and Ride Safe


Item Reviewed: 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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