Bold and Edgy
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 may look different but retains the pride of its predecessor
In other markets, Kawasaki may have chosen to discontinue the Ninja 300 with the arrival of the Ninja 400. In India, it has chosen to continue selling it, albeit by repositioning it. In terms of pricing, those who find the Ninja 400 expensive will certainly look at the Ninja 300. The repositioned Ninja 300 costs a good Rs 62,000 cheaper than it did earlier. This was made possible by the thrust on localisation.
The Ninja 300 thus comes equipped with locally sourced panels, tyres, wheels, wiring harness and brakes. Except the chassis and the engine that continue to be imported as CKD kits, Kawasaki has localised the bike to keep a close tab on quality. The 2018 edition gets new graphics and new colour options. If these set it apart from the earlier model, the 2018 Ninja 300 continues to be a visually appealing machine. Flaunting good proportions and design cues that mark a taut skin and sharp lines, the bike, from the front looks like a typical Ninja machine and hardly different from the Ninja 400. Walk over and the difference becomes obvious.
FAST AND SPORTY
Behind the fairing is a semi-digital instrument panel that is similar to that of the earlier model. There’s a large tacho at the centre. If the instrument panel provides a hint of how long this model has been in the running, the full-fairing envelopes the 39bhp, 300cc twin-cylinder engine a good deal.
The seat (with 785mm height) is comfortable and makes for a slightly forward leaning riding position with the 17-litre tank to brace against.
Typical of sports bike, the foot pegs are slightly rear set and provide a sporty yet fairly comfortable riding position.
At lower revs, the bike feels quite calm. There’s not much the engine offers until 5000rpm. It is only a little under 8000rpm that the power band kicks in.
Not exactly very quick or fast-paced, the Ninja 300 is not a laggard either. Feeling quite refined despite the high-revving nature of the engine, the bike does throw in some vibes at the handlebars. They are, however, hardly noticeable. Not as demanding to ride as it may look, the bike shows good ability to clock three-digit speeds.
Three digits speeds are achieved fairly effortlessly with the engine turning between 6800rpm and 7000rpm. Making a good case for touring as well as city riding, the bike does suffer from a certain lack of mid-range thrust which when riding in the city necessitates downshifts and the turning of throttle to get the engine to rev in its power band.
What’s surprising is the Ninja 300’s ability to hold higher gears at low speeds in traffic. The six-speed gearbox is quite precise in its shifts. The slipper clutch does a good job, and is light to operate.
Handling very well by negotiating corners and by showing a good sense of agility and the ability to hold the line, the bike has been fitted with MRF Nylogrip Zapper tyres, which offer decent grip than the tyres on the earlier bike.
Exhibiting good ride quality as well, the Ninja 300 has been equipped with locally-sourced brakes that do a good job of shedding speed. They come with a dual-channel ABS.
At Rs 2.99 lakh, ex-showroom, the Ninja 300 is now very well positioned. Equipped with ABS and a slipper clutch, it makes a strong case for itself.
Pros: Price, handling, ease of ride, refinement
Cons: Relatively small dealer network