11 Sept 2012

New bike - Kawasaki Ninja 300

It’s about time! It looks like the glory days of the small capacity sports bike have returned; remember the Suzuki RGV250, Yamaha TZR et al? Lightweight bikes with nimble handling and plenty of poke, and also looked the part too; but at the fraction of the cost of their bigger, thirstier brothers….

Enter Kawasaki’s new mini Ninja; the 300. Essentially it was developed along with the 250, but has trick parts usually associated with the supersports ZX6-R; fuel injection with dual throttle valves, slipper clutch, a wide rear tyre, torque limiter and even optional ABS!

It looks from the photos that a lot of bodywork has come from the ZX10 parts bin, including the screen, headlight cowl and the tail unit, which is no bad thing.

The engine is based on the carburetted 250 Ninja parallel twin, but boring it out to 296cc and adding fuel injection and better cooling technology means that it has a better spread of torque, power is boosted to a claimed 38bhp (which means it will sit nicely within the new learner legal guidelines set by the EU, which come into force in January 2013) and weight is kept to a minimum. Kawasaki states the kerb weight of the new Ninja 300 will be 173kg; which is just 1.8kg heavier than the current 250.

It all looks and sounds pretty good; I for one am impressed by the technical specification and the bike actually looks a lot bigger than a 300cc machine – it reminds me of the Yamaha YZF-R125, which dimensions wise looks almost identical to its bigger brother, the YZF-R6. And this can only be a good thing for younger riders and taller riders too, as many 125 and 250’s are tiny, and look very spindly especially with a larger rider on board!

I think Kawasaki are on to a winner here; the market has been seriously lacking recently when it comes to smaller capacity machines. If the price can be kept relatively low, it should sell by the bucket load; not all motorcyclists want a screaming 4 cylinder 600cc supersports machine once they’ve passed their Module 2 test – there seems to be nothing between 125 and 600cc that can be used for commuting during the week, and carving up the twisty B roads at weekends.

Where there was once a flood of mid capacity bikes available, such as the ZXR400 race rep, Bros 400, XT500 etc, now there are a few 250’s before you hit the larger capacity single and parallel twin bikes like the ER6, Versys, MT-03 and XT660. In order for the motorcycle industry to be kept alive, we need the gap to be plugged by affordable, reliable and cheaper to insure and run motorcycles. The Ninja 300 may just start a new trend.

© Angela Freeman