Kawasaki Ninja 300 long term review, first report
31st Jan 2020 6:00 am
A sport bike ridden as a daily machine.
“Don’t!” “There are better options.” “It’s so old.”– this is advice from my colleagues in the Autocar India bike team that I completely ignored when I bought the Ninja 300. And, after a year of riding, I still stand by my decision. However, contrary to my hopes and dreams of going on long rides and solo trips, I have just been using it for my daily commute to work. That also means the odometer reads like a rare hypercar’s, with only 4,780km on it, and three service boxes ticked already.
Some spare parts are still very expensive.
Speaking of which, a basic service every 6 months/6,000km will cost between Rs 2,000-3,000 – which is not bad, but certainly not as cheap as your average motorcycle. A major one – when you need to change fluids and filters – will cost almost double.
Twin-cylinder engine is very refined. Exhaust sounds sweet.
Running costs too aren’t exactly cheap either because the best I managed is around 22-25kpl in the city with moderate traffic. That said, I only tank up with premium fuel, like ‘Power’ or ‘XtraPremium’, as it makes a noticeable difference almost immediately – the engine runs smoother, performance improves and there is also a slight bump in efficiency. Coming to spare parts, some of them are still pricey despite the huge price cut. I, unfortunately, found that out the hard way when a kid with a sharp stone, (and the vision to be the next Rembrandt) painted a gut-wrenching scratch on one of the Ninja’s headlight clusters. The fix? Replacing the entire twin-pod headlight assembly at a cost of Rs 20,000.
Instrument console looks dated. Also miss gear position indicator.
However, despite all that, I never regretted buying the Ninja. Yes, there are more modern, faster and more efficient bikes on sale. But the Ninja is in a sweet spot of its own. For example, despite the stance of a back-breaker track bike, I find the riding position comfortable because the seat height, and the handle and foot-peg placement are perfectly suited for guys over 6ft in height.
Suspension soaks up potholes and speed breakers with ease.
Next, you have that butter-smooth, parallel-twin engine, which is linear and docile in the initial part of the rev range and then manic after you pass 9,000rpm. Also, the light clutch and well-calibrated gearing allow you to amble around at city speeds in third gear and still have enough grunt to pull away hard when needed. I don’t want to sound like a paid promotion, but I just cannot think of any other bike that can switch its character so effortlessly. It’s this duality that drew me to the Ninja in the first place, and it still continues to plaster a smile on my face.
As far as my dream of long rides and solo trips goes, I will make sure to go on at least three long rides in this new year and test the credibility of the “incredible” cruising manners that every Ninja owner I meet, swears by.