One year ago I wrote an entry of my cousin and his fiance (now wife) riding down to Niagara to do some more riding, and how I rode my cousin’s wife’s 2008 Ninja 250 for extended periods. My conclusion was the bike was a heap of crap.
A few days ago I had the opportunity to ride my friends 2014 Ninja 300 which she bought new - Kawasaki’s answer and update to their 250 model. It is supposed to be an upgrade as much as an update - at least, so I’ve read by other so called journalists from publications. I rode with my cousin and his wife to downtown Toronto for some late night tacos (which were terrible or I was just not in the right mood).
Before I get into the Ninja 300 review, I’m going to touch on how a Honda CBR 250 rides as I had the opportunity to ride one of those for quite some time just a few weeks ago. Now, I’m a power addict, but I know what I’m riding and I will judge a bike based on its intended purpose. The Honda CBR 250 is intended to be a sport beginner bike. A beginner bike should be a bike that instills confidence in a beginner rider. The controls, comfort, balance, stability, and power should all be predictable and manageable by a beginner rider. Here’s photo of the Honda 250 that I rode.
I’m happy to report that the Honda CBR 250 nails all these categories right on the head. The bike is comfortable, even for a tall rider like myself standing in at 6’0. The seat is not overly hard and does not feel cheap. The riding position is comfortable and does not rake your body or stress your lower back. The low speed handling is balanced, not too light and not too heavy, making it easy to manoeuvre around dense city areas. High speed stability is also there. The bike makes great low end torque and again, instills confidence in the rider to pull away from traffic or traffic lights when needed. The clutch engagement is smooth and it’s not too heavy. Brakes area also good. Overall, the bike is a superb beginner bike where the chassis is not overly responsive and matches all the other criteria in a harmonious way, creating a excellent platform for a beginner to hone their bike skills on.
People who ride or ridden a Honda 250 but haven’t ridden other beginner bikes will take their ease of riding for granted. I say this because I will start off right away by saying the current Kawasaki Ninja 300 is a pile of shit. In comparison to the Honda 250, well..there is no comparison. I’m sorry to my friend who bught the Kawasaki, perhaps under the influence of the wrong people, but it’s a totally piece of scrap metal compared to the Honda.
Here is why. Looking back at the criteria I focused on the Honda, let me talk about the Kwacker. The bike is horrendously uncomfortable. The seat is raked creating a “sporty” riding position, in other words, uncomfortable. To make things worse, the seat is thin and hard, and it gets progressively thinner towards the tank. Odd, because with a raked seat it’s making you sit forward...on the least padded area of an already ultra thin and hard seat. Good move Kawasaki!
Here you will see our bikes of the night. My cousins upgraded to a 2009 BMW S1000RR and his wife upgraded to a 2014 Honda CBR 500. Both excellent bikes I might add. Oh yea, the white Kawasaki, you can ignore that. Wait, don’t ignore it, look at it, remember it and keep reading.
Next, let’s talk about the clutch. The clutch is like an on off switch. There is no modulation what so ever. Sure, I can adjust myself and I will get used to it. But should a beginner bike have this trait? The simple black and white answer is no, it shouldn’t. A beginner bike should be easy to ride and anything that makes it not so deducts points from the bike. I’m judging a bike, not a rider.
So let’s move on. The chassis and handling. Kawasaki went with the “sportier” design. Or should I say, overly active design. The chassis is far too stiff, and the front end is far too light. That means there is very little resistance in the steering making it extremely unstable at low speeds. In turns at any speed, the stiff chassis makes the bike very finicky and difficult to hold a line. Again, an experience rider can deal with this, but are these good traits on a beginner motorcycle? No. This does not instill confidence in any rider.
Ok so, the chassis sucks, the front end sucks, the clutch sucks, the riding position sucks, the seat sucks, is there anything good? Let’s keep going to find out. Next up is the suspension. What do you think, did Kawasaki do a good job? Take a guess. You guessed right. No, they effed that up too. Why? because it’s too stiff. Period. If you’re a male rider and enjoy have your balls crushed at every bump, sure, buy a Ninja 300. You’re also a sick sadist so stop reading you’re tainting my blog. Oh so I forgot to mention, the Honda 250 suspension is pretty well damped. Rides well over bumps and does no nut cracking.
Is ANYTHING good? what about the new 300cc engine? Power right? Wrong. For all I know that 300c engine is actually a 30cc engine and Kawasaki tricked us all. That bike has no power. On a bike with such low horsepower as are all beginner bikes, who cares about “top end power”. You can’t feel it. I care about low end usable power/torque. The fact is, the Ninja 300 has no power anywhere. It tops out at 167km//h or so if you even have road long enough to get that speed. And for a bike with a 6 speed, that’s just pathetic. The throttle is still stupid long to turn meaning again, your wrist will cramp before you’ve held the throttle long enough to get close to 170 km/h. It was amazingly similar to the Ninja 250. I found out that the top speed is actually the same, even though Kawasaki “increased” the displacement by 50cc and added another gear.
So, the power sucks too, seriously, is anything good? Maybe the headlight shines extra bright? You’re wrong there too. The headlight is laughable at best. I might as well buy a bicycle head light and attach it to the handle bar. The headlight is dismal and it’s there just because they had to put something called a bulb and a mirror up front to please highway traffic laws.
Oh - here’s a neat thing, the dash says “ECO” when you’re not giving throttle or at neutral throttle..wait, that’s not neat, that’s just f****** stupid. Who f******cares about ECO, you’re riding a f****** motorcycle that you are marketing as “sport”. F*** ECO. Make a f******proper bike instead.
So in conclusion, the current crop Ninja 300 is a f****** piece of s*** which if you buy you might as well throw cash in a fireplace. All I wanted to do when I was riding that bike was wish I was playing GTA V and just jump off the bike and watch it hit a pole and disintegrate.
What was supposed to be a short rant ended up being a lengthy exclusive detailed review on how bad the Kawasaki Ninja 300 is. It’s so bad, it took more time for me to write this than planned. I got angrier as I wrote. That speaks volumes.