Kawasaki Ninja 300 Review
For decades Kawasaki has been one of the steadfast manufacturers that build smaller motorcycles aimed at new riders. The Ninja 250 is an iconic bike that got a serious facelift in 2008. A few years later, Kawasaki released the next evolution of that bike: The Ninja 300. It’s an improvement on the Ninja 250 in every way, in fact it just might be the best beginner motorcycle.
She’s got the look!
One of the things that really stands out about the Ninja300 is the fact that it doesn’t LOOK like a beginner bike. All of the styling is taken directly from it’s older sibling the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, a 600cc supersport machine. Take a look at this comparison photo, these two bikes could be twins!
There is no mention of 300 anywhere on the Ninja 300, so if you are worried that people will think you have a ‘starter bike’, only an expert would really be able to tell. But that leads me to my next point: The Ninja 300 is not just a great beginner motorcycle, it’s a great motorcycle period!
If you get the chance to ride a 600cc, 750cc, or even 1000+cc motorcycles you will quickly discover that your bike can go MUCH faster than any posted speed limit in America. If you are in Germany on the autobahn, that’s a different story. Around town you will usually only use first and second gear. With the Ninja 300 you get a chance to shift through ALL the gears. It makes riding a much more fun and engaging experience.
Experienced rider on a Ninja300
Here is a unique video I found on youtube of a rider who used to own a Triumph Street Triple (A 675cc British motorcycle) that traded it in for a Ninja 300 and couldn’t be happier. Check it out:
Most cars are automatic these days, so sometimes a new riders first experience with a clutch will be while they are learning to ride a motorcycle. This is a LOT to take in at first, but the Ninja 300 makes it easier with their Assist and Slipper Clutch. Here is how it works according to Kawasaki:
“The assist uses rotational forces of the clutch hub and pressure plate to force the clutch together during acceleration so that fewer and lighter clutch springs can be used for a lighter feel at the lever. During sudden deceleration, the slipper function allows some clutch slippage to help prevent engine lock-up, stalling and rear-wheel hop so you can ride more confidently”
What does that really mean? It means shifting is easier and the bike is more forgiving. You wont’ be stalling as often and you won’t be jerked around as much when you down shift.
The clutch is a GP inspired clutch that lets you pull in the shift lever with very little pressure. Two fingers are really all you need to begin to shift gears. Shifting up through the gears on the Ninja 300 is really a breeze, they have dialed in everything so much that it’s almost as if the bike has a quick shifter. Every part of the transmission on this bike gets an A+ from me.
Now that you know that this bike isn’t just limited to beginners and even experienced riders will love it, know that this bike will also save you cash. Brand new the MSRP on the 2015 model is $5,299 with ABS, and $4,999 without ABS (do yourself a favor, spend the extra dough for the better brakes). You can get a used Ninja 300 for even less money. That’s a motorcycle that you can ride in the streets, up in the hills, on the freeway, on long trips, or in the twisties for 5 grand. For the ZX-6R you would be paying over double that at $12,699.
Also, this bike gets fantastic gas mileage. The original Ninja 250 already sipped very little fuel, and this next evolution has kept that genetic trait. It’s common to see real world gas mileage of between 50-60mpg with spirited riding on the Ninja 300. If you were fuel conscious and avoided redlining, you could easily stretch that out to the mid 70’s mpg or even higher.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, is this the best beginner bike for you? It really depends. It’s a bike that is easy to ride, fun on the road, and has more than a few features that make things easier (and keep you safe!). Really the only thing that makes it less than ideal is the fact that it comes fully faired. That means there are all sorts of plastic bits that can get cracked or crushed if you drop the bike.
I mention that because most new riders drop their first bike. Heck, even experienced riders sometimes drop their motorcycle if something unexpected happens like putting their foot down in a patch of slick oil/mud! *cough cough*…
The fact that the Ninja 300 is a pretty light weight bike will help with that, and I know that the plastics do make the bike look downright sexy.
- Fantastic looking bike
- Great engine that is capable of highway speeds
- Amazing transmission
- Great gas mileage
- Fun for new and experienced riders
- Full fairings means you can crack plastics in a drop
- Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel twin
- Displacement: 296cc
- Bore x Stroke: 62.0 x 49.0mm
- Compression ratio: 10.6:1
- Fuel System: DFI® with dual 32mm throttle bodies
- Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
- Transmission: Six-speed with positive neutral finder
- Final Drive: Chain
- Horsepower: 34.95 @ 10,860rpm
- Torque: 18 Foot lbs @ 8370