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News Kawasaki Z300 Road Test Review – Is The Naked Ninja A Worthy Addition?

Discussion in 'Motorcycling News' started by NetriderBot, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. Within the space of less than a year, new riders have gone from having the choice of no naked motorcycles to having three, the latest of which is the Kawasaki Z300. Based on the long lived Ninja 300 platform, does the baby Z bring anything new to the field or do the existing low capacity naked bikes from Honda and KTM do the job better?

    If you happen to live in South East Asia, then you’ll already be familiar with the appearance of the Z300. Released a few years ago there, the Z250 as it was known was based on the Ninja 250. It’s proved quite successful in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia where a naked sports bike from the big Japanese brands is virtually unheard of.

    So the western world gets the goods a little bit later but in doing so, the Z has been upgraded to use the same engine as the Ninja 300. In fact, there’s very little difference between the two bikes other than the obvious visual changes. Losing the fairings saves the Z300 about 4 kilograms of weight. Ground clearance is up fractionally by 5mm and the rake and trail is modified from 27°/93mm to 26°/82mm, giving a slightly more upright riding position – though still slanted more towards performance than comfort in comparison to Honda’s CB300F.

    The first thing that came to mind when looking over the Z300 is how it looks far more expensive than it actually is. Kawasaki has done an excellent job with the fit and finish on this bike and the metallic grey paint scheme looks fantastic. Plastics are of good quality and I honestly couldn’t find any areas of the bike where there were obvious gaps or poor alignment.​

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    The dash on the other hand is a bit of a mixed bag. At a basic level it does what it should do very well – the tachometer is nice and large and easily readable both day and night. However the digital display doesn’t really give you much information – speedometer, odometer and fuel gauge is all you get. No information on average fuel consumption or even remaining mileage.​

    The aesthetic appeal of the bike is carried over when you pull away and begin riding. The gearbox is a great unit, regardless of what price bracket you’re look at. It’s smooth and direct and I even managed to do clutch less upshifts from 1st to 2nd gear without any issue. Not bad from a bike that had done only 6 kilometres when i hopped on it. Like the Ninja 300, it also comes standard with a slipper clutch – an addition that might save a few newbies who accidentally downshift multiple gears too quickly which would normally cause the rear tyre to break traction.

    If you’ve ridden the Ninja 300 before you’ll know that it’s parallel twin engine, which pumps out 29.0 kW (39 PS) @ 11,000 rpm and 27.0 N.m @ 10,000 rpm is a great little motor and performs well given its capacity. You’re not going to win any traffic light drags against bigger bikes on the Z300, but you’ll still easily hit the speed limit before 90 per cent of cars on the road.

    The great thing about this engine is that unlike the singles of both the CBR300R and the Duke390, power delivery is far more smooth and linear – there’s not as much need to keep revs up high when rolling on the throttle at speed. This translates into an easier bike to live with for everyday riding. Like the Ninja 300, expect a 0-100kph (62mph) time of just under 5 seconds. Counter intuitively, there’s still a bit of vibration from the engine that travels through to the bars. Not as much as the two aforementioned thumpers but more than I would have expected from the twin.

    Suspension is pretty stiff and I would l have liked to have seen Kawasaki dial it down for the Z300 in comparison to the Ninja. You definitely feel the bumps in the road, though I found the damping to be pretty spot on so that it didn’t bounce around when hitting those bumps. Don’t really on the seat to help absorb these bumps either – it’s a pretty hard pew but in comparison to the competition it’s no better or worse.

    Our test bike was the ABS version and stopping power was fine. There’s a good amount of feel from the brake lever and we found the ABS to be pretty unobtrusive, too. I’m nitpicking on a bike of this price level but it would have been nice to have included adjustable levers – those with smaller hands might struggle a bit to comfortably pull in the brake and clutch levers.

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    Steering however is great. This is a tremendously flickable bike and it reacts very quickly to your input. Given the more upfront riding position it’s probably even easier to turn that its faired brother as you can more easily leverage the bars in the direction you want to go. This translates into a fun ride in the corners which is what bikes like this should be aiming for. But there is a limit to this and it’s probably the only major negative to this bike.​

    It’s the tyres. We’ve mentioned before how much we loathe the IRC Road Winner tyres that are put on both Kawasaki’s entry level machines and Honda’s as well. Not only are these old style bias ply tyres, they’re made for longevity and not grip. We’ve heard stories from riders that have managed to do 20,000 kilometres (12,500 miles) or more on the IRC’s. In order to have such durable tyres, it means you need to sacrifice grip.

    Not only are you sacrificing grip, but these tyres just don’t communicate enough with you. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to low side on these tyres by going around corners, but they don’t allow you to fully exploit the bike and feel what it is doing underneath – they sell short what is a great machine for the price. I’d highly recommend you include in your budget a replacement set of Pirellis that are designed to fit these smaller bikes as soon as you can. You’ll enjoy the bike a lot more and you’ll be safer for it.

    On the practical side of the equation, the Z300 has a 17 litre tank and due to it’s excellent fuel consumption you won’t need to refuel very frequently. Again, the riding position makes filtering in traffic nice and easy, though I was consistently keeping an eye on the mirrors which stick out a little bit too far for my liking.

    If you’re in a country that restricts new riders to lower capacity/lower horse power motorcycles than you can’t really go wrong with the Z300. It has Kawasaki’s reliability, it’s the best looking (in our opinion) entry level naked currently for sale and its got enough zip to provide an enjoyable ride.

    Pricing hasn’t been announced in the US yet, but in Australia, the Z300 retails for $500 less than the fully faired Ninja 300. We say save the $500.


    AUS: $5,999

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    Kawasaki Z300

    Engine Type296cc 4 stroke, parallel twin
    Bore And Stroke62mm x 49 mm
    Induction32 mm x 2, with dual throttle valves
    Compression Ratio10.6:1
    Valve TrainDOHC, 8 valves
    Horsepower29.0 kW (39 PS) @ 11,000 rpm
    Torque27.0 N.m (2.8 kgf.m) @ 10,000 rpm
    Drive Train

    Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
    Front Suspension37 mm telescopic fork
    Rear SuspensionUni Trak with gas charged shock and 5-way preload
    Front BrakeType Single 290 mm petal disc
    Rear BrakeType Single 220 mm petal disc
    Front Tyre110/70-17 M/C 54S
    Rear Tyre140/70-17 M/C 66S

    Rake26 degrees
    Wheelbase1,405 mm (55.31 inches)
    Seat Height785 mm (30.9 inches)
    Wet Weight170 kg (383 lb)
    Fuel Capacity17 L (4.5 gallons)

    Continue reading...
  2. I would happily buy a second hand one of these for my LAMS bike. Alas though it hasn't been out long enough. And for the price of a new one I can get a very well looked after CB400.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Test rode one of these this morning. Great little bike, but I'm thinking the difference isn't that great to warrant stumping up for a new bike over a second hand Ninja 300.

    Quoted $7300 ride away for the Z300, and I can get a low kms ninja 300 for around 5k. And....after 12 months I'll be looking at upgrading anyway.
  4. I got mine brand new for $6400. Only had it for a few days but my friend who usually rides a Z1000 took it out for a spin and said it handles well and is a nifty little bike. I trust his opinion :)
  5. That's a pretty good price mate. If I could get one for that I might go for it. Though a good 2013 ER-6NL has popped up with low kms for $6k I'm now looking into as well.

    For what it's worth I thought the one I test rode was pretty sweet too.
  6. Hey Spankipants, can you let me know which dealer in Sydney you got your Z300 for $6,400 from? Cheers.
  7. Sydney City Motorcycles in Lane Cove :) but I picked up the bike at their Kogarah branch :)
  8. Thanks! I was actually quoted $6,995 at Kogarah on the weekend, although I didn't haggle as I'm not yet 100% ready to purchase (couple of weeks yet).

    I'm going to stop into Lane Cove on Saturday to have a look as I'll be over that way.

    Did you get any other pricing from any other dealers?
  9. Yeah. Bikebiz in granville quoted around 6900 but that was through financing from them. If you have cold hard cash you definitely have more haggling power :)
  10. Z300 or the new Benelli BN302, which one would be better?
  11. I got mine for brand new 6290 on road from ktm/kawasaki west gosford. Would like a bit morw grunt but happy to wait till im able to buy an mt09