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2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

Small but serious, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 builds on the success of the Ninja 250, aiming for the top of the podium in a blooming market segment. Bike manufacturers are coming back with increasingly attractive street models powered by small-displacement, 4-stroke engines, including the Honda CBR125R, CBR250R and CBR500R, the Hyosung GT250R and GT250, as well as the Suzuki TU250 and upcoming Inazuma 250, just to name a few.

The folks at Kawasaki believe in these machines, and they stopped at nothing to make their entry-level sport bike as desirable as possible. Featuring superbike-inspired styling, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 looks mean and aggressive, effectively hiding its small engine -- a big draw for image-conscious riders. In fact, the sexy new Ninja 300 looks eerily similar to the ZX-6R 636 from the front.

More stable, but…
With the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300, the parallel twin gained 50 cc, 6 hp, and a healthy dose of torque. The frame has also been revised and strengthened to handle the extra output. New engine mounts help reduce vibrations, while race-style aluminum footpegs replace the awful soft rubber pegs of the Ninja 250. Elsewhere, the rear tire grew from 130 mm to 140 mm wide, while the front fork and single disc with dual-piston caliper remain unchanged. What's more, the new fairing contributes to better heat dissipation.

Riding the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 feels like child's play thanks to clever mass centralization, not to mention a very natural riding position with a low and narrow seat. The flexible engine and super-friendly Assist & Slipper Clutch (ASC) together allow jerk-free acceleration as you thread your way through city traffic. On the open road, the Ninja 300 is not quite as nimble as its predecessor, but high-speed stability and cornering precision are improved, which will make beginners much more at ease.

The new instrument panel looks sharp. Upgrades include a clock, two trip metres, and a digital display. Although wind protection is fine, tall riders will have their head fully exposed.

The increase in displacement, power, and torque not only makes the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 more versatile, but also safer in all conditions. More explosive when it comes to taking off or passing slower vehicles, this little speedster can actually reach a maximum velocity of nearly 180 km/h, easily endangering your rider's licence, but at the same time allowing more confident manoeuvres when the going gets tougher (like when a distracted driver lands a bit too close to your tail). Of course, you have to keep the engine beyond 7,000 rpm, otherwise it'll lack some steam.

The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 definitely prefers the higher revs, much like the outgoing 250. In these conditions, it proves irresistibly aggressive and sounds surprisingly good.

Does it have true Kawasaki DNA?
The more relaxed riding position isn't exactly made for attacking the road with authority and getting great feedback from the tires. However, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 is fun and effortless to toss around, and you can pile up miles without putting too much strain on your body. The judiciously calibrated suspension also does a remarkable job for such an affordable bike.

The brakes (ABS is optional) don't show any more bite than those on the Ninja 250; considering the increased performance of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300, they offer decent braking power at best. Don't hesitate to use both the front and rear brakes to ensure safe, linear stops. On the plus side, the stock tires provide excellent grip in corners and during braking.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 brake
The brakes (ABS is optional) don't show any more bite than those on the Ninja 250; considering the increased performance of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300, they offer decent braking power at best. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)

Bottom line
The new 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 combines reason with passion in a very lovely package. It really doesn't have to be ashamed of its small size and limited output. With 100% Kawasaki DNA, this little sport bike can indeed deliver without the extreme riding position and intimidating power of the track-oriented ZX-6R and ZX-10R.

  • Surprising power and sound for such a small engine
  • Increased comfort and stability
  • Irresistible styling that effectively hides the small displacement
  • Real performance is delivered beyond 7,000 rpm (despite the extra torque)
  • Average-quality plastics