During the final leg of 2016, Kawasaki made it official about bringing a fresh new outlook for its entry-level sports segment, the Ninja 300. A much loved motorcycle in India which gained a lot of respect and its own share of criticism.
The 300 had replaced the unanimous quarter-litre king back in 2013 with collaboration with Bajaj Auto. The new bike was sportier, more aggressive and more fun to ride than the lesser cubed 250 cc Ninja. The bike was also packed with enough alphabet-soup tech acronyms that were scarce in other motorcycles in the segment at that time, and this made it very entertaining and accessible to new riders.
For 2017, the Japanese Green team have given this machine brand new livery and a limited edition one too. Along with the original Ninja 300, 300 ABS and the KRT edition, there is now a Ninja 300 ABS Winter Test Edition that takes on the looks of the Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) team during their off-season test sessions.
The styling curves and lines have remained the same since the 2013 model because why will you change something that is already good?
Having remodelled to keep pace with modern superbikes, it very much looks like it carries a four pot in its belly. From its aggressive dual headlights to its new screen and wheels, the bodywork seems to be on steroids with focussed styling and sharp and minimalistic graphics to cash on its appeal as a track-honed superbike. A trait of every other machine in the Ninja family.
Similar to its pure Ninja elder cousin, the Ninja ZX-10R, the 300 gets a floating-style windscreen that is bolted on together with the mirror to give out a picture of clean and elegance. Going even further in the bloodline, the 300 gets its ventilation holes in the fairing from the Ninja ZX14R. Apart from a visual extravagance, it is also a functional unit that delivers excellent heat management properties; surely designed in some science lab this one.
Wide and muscular fuel tank adds to the bulkiness of the motorcycle which is also due to the running fairings that envelop the engine compartment. The footrest in the Ninja has an Aluminium finish to it, the massive engine and the wheels have been painted black to add some boldness to the overall design of the motorcycle. Split seats look comfortable, though the pillion might get a bit fussy. The quality of the plastic looks impressive and a pass switch has also been added to the new Ninja 300 which was missing previously. There is also some amount of storage space under the seats which really comes in handy.
The Winter edition features a new double bubble windshield, passenger colour-matched seat cowl with Winter Test emblem. The seat cowl itself is constructed from high-quality ABS plastic and hides the pillion saddle, meaning you can ride solo and/or with a pillion with just a small swap. It also looks matured than the other two because of the wide rear tire and wide front wheel. The outlining graphics takes up the WorldSBK team’s off-season motorbike design with a matte black scheme that features incorporated white snowflaky Japanese symbol for winter.
The instrument cluster is neatly tucked inside the fairings and looks futuristic with its combination of analogue and digital panels. The tachometer is a full-sweep dial with the speedo taking the digital route. A nice touch included is the "Eco riding indicator" encouraging riders to drive on lower RPMs and higher gears.
The 2017 model will feature the same four-stroke, parallel-twin, liquid-cooled, 296cc engine that has been running since 2013. It is the perfect learner- requirements to give the new generation of bikers a nice push into the motorcycling world. Being pinned within the frame, it keeps the mass centralised and thereby making the bike feel agile and nimble.
The digital fuel injected unit is capable of churning out a healthy 38.5bhp at 11000rpm, with peak torque 28 Nm delivered at 10000rpm. This is a high revving engine which can max at an astonishing 13000 rpm tuned to deliver strong low- and mid-range torque. It is a highly responsive and a reactive power mill that rewards the rider into being very engaging to extract every ounce of power from it.
Taking innovation from the elder siblings, the 300’s engine makes use of Fine-Atomising Injectors and dual throttle valves to have precise control of air intake which results in achieving linear throttle response across the rpm range. The engine is water-cooled, making it quieter and a device called Kawasaki Air-Management System (KAMS) throws the hot metal air down rather than towards the rider. The oil sump gets cooling fins to keep the heat down and dissipates waste heat efficiently. Aluminium cylinders make use of friction-reducing T-treatment instead of the outdated heavy iron sleeve and help in keeping the engine cooler than before.
All this power is funnelled through a six-speed gearbox with positive neutral finder and a race-derived F.C.C. clutch with assist and slipper functions. This allows the total clutch spring load to be reduced, resulting a lighter clutch lever pull when operating the clutch. Also, it reduces the effect of back-torque and minimises wheel hopping during those aggressive down shift times.
|Bore/ Stroke mm||62/49|
|Output||39 bhp @ 11,000 rpm|
|Torque||27 Nm @ 10,000 rpm|
|Type||Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, Parallel-Twin cylinder, DOHC|
|Valves per cylinder||4|
|Clutch type||Wet- Multiplate with slipper assist|
Yes, it is a sports bike. But because it is aimed at entry-level riders, the Japanese honcho has given a low seat height to accommodate a majority of the riders. But if you are tall to flat-foot this motorcycle, you might feel a little cramped. The seating position is quite upright with the clip on laidback and raised handlebars and neutral footrest position. You might wish to invest in better wind protection as the windscreen is just for your eyes only.
There is a reason why the Ninja 300 is regarded as one of the best lightweight in the category. They have used lighter and rigid, diamond type steel frame that makes use of the engine’s centralisation to balance out masses evenly. Steering head angle of 27 degrees allows easy flicking of the motorbike around corners.
This bike carries decent performance equipment with regards to suspension units. Fixed-rate 37mm front forks have a fairly soft setup and at the rear, Kawasaki’s Uni-Trak mono shock system is tethered to the swingarm and comes with 5-way adjustable preload settings.
Braking job has been given to a single 290 mm petal discs at the front and clutching on it is a 2-piston hydraulic calliper, and the rear gets a 220mm disc with a 2-piston calliper. ABS is an optional feature but comes standard with the KRT and the Winter edition. The Ninja 300 uses IRC rubber for both its wheels which provides ample grip on any kind of tarmac. The Winter edition gets wider rear tire and wide front wheel that comes standard with Bridgestone Battlax tyres.
Electronic rider aids give a miss for 2017 as well. There is, however, an ECO mode for an efficient riding experience.
|Suspension / Front||37 mm telescopic fork|
|Suspension / Rear||Uni-Trak 5-way adjustable preload|
|Brakes / Front||Single 290 mm disc. Calliper: dual piston|
|Brakes / Rear||Single 220 mm disc. Calliper: dual piston|
|Tyres / Front||110/70 R17|
|Tyres / Rear||140/70 R17|
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 has been priced at ₹ 3.5 Lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). However, the KRT and the Winter edition, when launched in India towards the mid of 2017, will probably start the cost at around ₹3.8 lakh and above (ex-showroom).
The standard Ninja 300 will be available in two colours: Candy Plasma Blue or Pearl Blizzard White. The Ninja 300 ABS KRT Edition is available in a striking combination of Lime Green and Ebony. Finally, the new 2017 Ninja 300 Winter Test Edition will be available in a stealth-like Flat Ebony scheme and minimal white graphics.
A full range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories is available at authorised Kawasaki dealers. These can include different seats, seat cowl, frame sliders, tank bag and tail bag.
Buckle up because 2017 will run hot in the 300cc category. 2017 will see the launch of the brand new KTM Duke 390 that is said to wipe out the competition. The Yamaha YZF R3 was released in 2016 and it made the rest of the 300cc line-up shake by winning the coveted Bike of the year for 2016 and it threatened the rule of the RC 390 as well because of its all-round package.
Having won the coveted Bike of the Year 2016, this entry level premium from Japan had got the entire biking community reeling with joy. Designed with speed and agility in mind, the sharp beautiful and tough motorbike rewards even the rider with its top notch performance and handling. It runs on a 321 cc, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves engine with fuel injection and returns 41.4 bhp at 10750 rpm with 29.6 Nm at 9000 rpm. Yamaha spent a considerable amount of time making the R3 comfortable and accessible yet still sporty. Yamaha has raised the bar in the entry sports class with the exciting new R3 priced at ₹3.6 – 4 lakhs.
The Ninja 300 did a commendable job replacing the 250cc motorcycle in 2013. It had a condescending effect on the Indian 2 wheeler market and got in the fresh breed of entry-level fully faired performance motorcycle to blaze the much needed thrilling experience to enthusiasts and purists. Not to forget the learning generation of riders.
For 2017, the aura of the motorcycle remains the same and with the Winter edition, the bike boasts of flair and poise. The matte black is quite menacing and can stick it up most of the entry-level sportbike in the segment.
2017 will also see a new wave of entry-level motorcycles including the new KTM Duke 390, Honda CB300F, Kawasaki Z300, Benelli TNT 302, TVS Akula and BMW G310R. The year is turning hot and people are getting a lot to choose from.