Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 is a modern looking, built-to-last sportsbike. Rishad Cooper has the details

Kawasaki’s first Ninja, the 250R, arrived on our shores first in 2009. It grabbed a lot of attention, gaining instant fame to rank among India’s first serious small capacity sportsbikes. But the 250R was beginning to look a little dated. And now, Kawasaki has replaced the Ninja 250R with the 300, leaving nothing to chance on the new bike.

The fully faired-in Ninja 300 looks the completely new motorcycle it is, with a set of 10-spoke alloy wheels and flush fitted front indicators. The front profile does bear resemblance to its elder sibling, the ZX-10R, the 300 being equipped with a set of dual headlamps. A floating visor works well to cocoon the Ninja 300 rider at high speeds, and the instrument binnacle has a smart, modern look about it. An easily legible analogue tachometer takes pride of place, with redline beyond 13000rpm, and you also see a digital speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, clock and economy riding indicator. The 300 has high quality palm grips, control levers and switches, a pass-light switch in place this time round. Its fairing mounted mirrors although not the most functional, do provide acceptable, vibe-free rear view by sportsbike standards.

The Ninja 300 tank provides adequate thigh grip, and blends smoothly into sporty, split seats. The engine bay is almost completely enclosed, its fairing incorporating smart vents before leading back into a sharp tail. Underseat storage has improved, with a little more utility space than earlier. You can’t help but admire the Ninja 300’s upmarket looking, machined alloy footrests, and chunky 2-into-1 exhaust end can. Overall build quality, fit-finish and attention to detail are as good as they get.

Kawasaki has upped displacement in the new Ninja to 296cc for this four-stroke, now longer stroke and liquid-cooled engine. Fuel-injection is standard, with a set of 32mm throttle bodies spraying air-fuel cocktail into both parallel-set cylinders via larger intake ports. Intake valves are 1mm larger than on the 250R. The Ninja 300 engine also gains lighter pistons with flatter crowns, which allow improved lube flow thanks to reworked undersides. Bore and stroke measure is 62 x 49mm.

The Ninja 300 makes 38.5bhp at 11000rpm, while peak torque of 2.8kgm comes in at 10000rpm. The engine is rubber mounted, and our ride confirms that it is smooth and refined. Fuelling is spot on, the 300 responding eagerly to throttle input, coaxing you to push it hard. And although this isn’t the most ideal motorcycle to cut through traffic, the Ninja 300 engine is tractable, and pulls without protest from speeds as low as 30kph in higher gears.

There’s noticeable stronger mid-range performance, and a bigger rush waiting to entice you at the top of the power band. The 300 is clearly faster than the Ninja 250R, this willing new engine ever ready to scream through its wide powerband to meet a 13000rpm limiter.

The Ninja 300 comes with a close ratio, 6-speed, 1-down and 5-up shifted gearbox with well-spaced ratios. Gearshifts feel just right, whether going up or down the box. The new slipper clutch works flawlessly to ensure you can bang down the gearbox without fear when braking hard. The Ninja 300 weighs 172kg, and is held together by a rigid, steel constructed frame and box section swingarm. High tensile steel is the norm for its main tubes. The 300’s riding position is still sportsbike like despite slightly raised handlebars. This makes it slightly uncomfortable over long durations, with wrists stressed by a lean down into its handlebars. 37mm telescopic forks are standard in front, while a linked monoshock does duty at rear, with 5-way preload adjustment. Softer spring rates are used at the front and rear, making ride quality a bit better. The riding seat is narrower, to make it more accommodating for shorter riders. The Ninja 300 handles well through winding stretches, steering with neutral feel and cornering on rails, feeling stable, yet agile when leaned over.

IRC tyres worked to provide ample grip during our test, with a broader rear tyre in place. The Ninja 300 is equipped with a 290mm front and 220mm rear disc brake, both petal type units combining to provide potent stopping power. They don’t have the same fierce bite as was a 250R hallmark, but do their job just as effectively. Strangely, Kawasaki has skipped on ABS in India, despite the fact that this is available with the bike in other markets.

Expect the Ninja 300 to be about as fuel-efficient as the 250R, providing in the region of 25kpl depending on how you ride.

The engine displacement boost results in class topping performance from this willing and refined parallel twin. The 300 delivers in true sportsbike measure, to offer blistering acceleration and a top speed of over 200kph. The 300 also handles and brakes well, and comes backed by Bajaj’s vast Probiking support network (71 dealerships, soon to be 80).

This new Kawasaki is the right sportsbike for you only if you must have the very best in your garage and are prepared to dig really deep into your pockets (Rs. 3.5 lakh - ex-showroom, Delhi).