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Text & Photos: Gourab Das/ MG
Ninja for one has remained the only Japanese brand which is yet to get diluted by the onslaught of winning the volume game by launching a value for money product of the bigger sibling. When the initial stories of Ninja were doing the rounds there were lots of speculations of a cheaper Ninja 250R donning a single cylinder bike to compete with the likes of CBR250 but finally when the first news of Ninja 300 came it felt like a masterstroke.
By launching a 300cc they not only kept the brand value intact but have probably taken the coveted status of the biggest brand among the Japanese manufacturer. Also by this they have taken the 250cc warfare to a new level. In marketing language it is said that the leader should always attack him and take the game to a new level. Ninja 300 is exactly how a leader should respond and innovate the category .Yes it is a unmistakably a Ninja and follows the line as the elder sibling but what it does offer is more performance and new generation styling to make one happy.
I will not start writing the technical specs and other details which are there in 10 of other reviews which I myself had also gone through many a times. This is more of a ride based article rather than an out an out first impression to give you a better idea as to how this bike will feel and perform on our Indian roads, the images will also give that impression as the usual close up shots will be missing. There is so much information about Ninja 300 over the net that saying the obvious doesn’t make it interesting or different.
I got the bike for more than a day and this impression was made while riding the bike for more than 700 kms over a span of two days across various riding conditions.
There is no denying the fact that Ninja 300 with the new design has now become even more desirable and personally I’m in love with that white colour. The edgy sharp styling can be more appreciated in the white colour. Saw the bike first time when I went to cover the launch event and from that day I’m in love with that white colour
When I got the bike it was already 10.30 and we had to ride through peak Pune traffic for the initial 20-25kms. Within the first km the difference from the Ninja 250R was clearly evident. While the 250R is very sluggish at low rpms and you feel the urge to go to the higher revs as soon as possible but the 300R is a very usable to ride through the city. The newly designed air ducts works pretty decently and the heat in the stop go traffic is quite manageable. This was tested when the temperature was around 37 degrees in Pune. After riding through the traffic for nearly 45 minutes it was time to hit the highway.
Coming back to the bike basics the riding posture is decently sporty. There is no undue pressure on wrist or shoulders. The power delivery is very smooth and the motor is rev happy like the earlier one. There was no combustion noise or any other additional noise coming from engine or any other part of the bike. Almost all the characteristics of the old Ninja are carried forward and like the older version this one is also rock stable at any speeds and over any sudden undulations / bumps on our highway. This to me is a very important characteristic in judging a bike as speed can be achieved easily but how it’s behaving at that speed is more important as this aspect lends to a feeling of safety. 160 is a breeze on this bike and the amount of confidence the bike provides will see you the north of 140 for most of the time. Infact the first time I hit 150kmph I didn’t even realize that the bike is doing 150.
One more thing which impressed me a lot is the fact that the vehicle rolls at as low as 40kmph in 6th gear with zero snatching.
We also had a chance to ride the Ninja 250R during the test period and this is what came in terms of in gear speed
Max speeds in each gear
Gear Ninja 300 Ninja 250R
1st 62 60
2nd 92 90
3rd 116 115
4TH 142 ~140 (Couldn’t hit the rev limiter)
5th 163 Couldn’t hit the rev limiter
100kmph at various gear at what rpm
6th gear 7k 7.5k
5th gear 8k, 8.25k
4th gear 9.25k, 9.5k
From above numbers its quite clear that there is very little to choose between the max speeds in each gear but the similarities ends there difference lies in the fact that how you are reaching there. Ninja 300 is much faster than 250, there was one occasion when I was riding the Ninja 250R and closing the gap with Ninja 300. My co-rider on Ninja 300 just had a glance and opened the throttle and galloped ahead leaving no chance to me whatsoever. This was when I was fully crouched and was doing ~145 and my co-rider was seating upright.
Coming on to the handling part cornering is fun and as well as forgiving on this bike. Feels planted firmly and the seat also aids in easy side to side movement. Doesn’t stick to the rider bottom. Although I felt that the suspension is on the softer side than the previous generation and little stiffer will make the handling even more sharp. Other than a very narrow tricky ghat section or when you are stuck in traffic in a ghat section you don’t need to put the bike in 1st gear.
Given the fact that we had so much time at our hand we decided to take the bike off the road. To my surprise the bike was very composed even on that terrain although the fear of bending the alloy on a test vehicle didn’t allow me to push the bike the way I would have liked. Also as the suspension was softer most of the shocks were soaked by the bike and very little was transferred to the rider.
Another thing which surprised me was the fact that the vehicle doesn’t tire you much even after a long ride. I rode for almost 10 hours on a hot summer day on a fully faired sports bike and there even after I left the saddle I had the zeal and energy to do another 500kms. Also the bike doesn’t heat up at all even after long hours of high speed riding.
Like the Ninja 250R there is a hook below the pillion seat which helps in tying any sort of luggage that you want to carry. Also unlike the Ninja 250R there is a grab rail for a pillion, no wait it is there but disguised, cleverly designed under the pillion seat so that pillion had something to hold.
Finally coming on to the negatives the first notable thing is the front brake. The “Hand of god” (This is what I used to call the brakes of Ninja 250R) is missing in this bike and there was fair amount of free play in the bike given to us for testing. I missed the very sharp point blank braking of Ninja 250R where just a little feathering with a single finger was enough to reduce the speed on this bike.
The other notable negative was the smaller windscreen as compared to Ninja 250R. The wind turbulence felt on an open stretch is considerably higher than the Ninja 250R, an aftermarket windscreen will make it better both functionally and aesthetically
Also many might find this vehicle to be smaller as compared to the older Ninja which actually it is but I like the compactness of any bike if it is well put together.
Many people might have noticed the fact that I have missed an important addition to this new Ninja “ The Slipper Clutch”. Well from the test ride I felt that a slipper clutch is a more important feature in higher cc where the speeds are much higher and a wrong shift may result in losing balance of the bike. I tried aggressive downshifts on a Ninja 250R and never felt that the vehicle is going out of control. Probably in rains when you are in tricky situation the slipper clutch will be helpful.
This is the bike to own for every enthusiast and the only stopping factor could be the PRICE!
Note: The Ninja 250R tested was with Pirelli Sports Demon and not the stock setup
1)The styling make you give it a second look.
2)Stability of the vehicle, scores 100/100
3)Effortless cruising at speeds of 150kmph
4)Doesn’t tire you even after a long stint of 300-400km
5)Almost nil vibrations throughout the rpm range
6)Very good gear shift quality
Impression by a current Ninja 250R owner (Ashutosh Adkar) about the new Ninja 300
1. Looks sharper but smaller than the Ninja 250R. Looks better from all the angles that the current version.
2. The riding position is a little cramped compared to the NInja 250R, the footpegs seemed to be pegged a little higher
3. The instrumentation cluster looks modern an is easy to read even in direct sunlight.
4. Starting from a stopping, the 300 seems to have a little more spunk in the lower end of rev range. This should help drivability.
5. The engine is peaky and makes most of its power after 9K RPM. I found it little less rev-happy than the 250R.
6.The windscreen was smaller and less effective than the one on the 250R.
7. The power delivery is very very linear.
8. Slipper clutch reduces the possibility of wheel locks during downshifts. However, if you use downshifts to reduce speed, the slipper clutch takes that possibility away.
9. Brakes seemed adequate to me.
10. Seating was very comfortable (especially compared to the 250R) and also the suspension did a pretty good job of soaking up the bumps on the road. Seemed to be on a softer setup.
11.Unfortunately didnt get a chance to test the handling but I expect it to be atleast on par with the Ninja 250R, probably even better. The bike was very composed even at speeds of 150+
Things I liked:
New instrument cluster
Seating position and comfort.
Slipper clutch allows aggressive downshifts
High speed stability
The overall quality seemed top notch.
Things I didnt like as much:
Looks a little short when viewed from upfront
Windscreen could have been more effective , possible after market options.
Power delivery too linear.
Overall, I think this is once again do it all bike. It can do track days, long distance touring, effective commuter. It can also take on some poor roads.
With a premium of only 50-60K over the current 250R you get a modern motorcycle that is more powerful and looks better. Anybody looking for a 250R should seriously consider this instead.