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Kawasaki Ninja 300 SE – AMCN LAMS legal Austest lite special | BIKE TESTS

296 cc Twin Cyclinder- When you're onto a good thing, make it even better

Stand on any street corner and I’ll bet you’ll spot a Ninja 300 long before you need to take a comfort break. They’re friggin’ everywhere! And it makes you wonder why it has taken other manufacturers so long to give the Ninja some real competition. Honda’s single-cylinder CBR300 was never in the running because of its comparatively lacklustre power, which explains why they are rumoured to be working on a 350cc twin-cylinder CBR. While Yamaha was wise enough to slap on an extra 25cc and undercut on price to tempt would-be Ninja disciples over to their twin-cylinder R3, which is quite plainly targeted directly at the Ninja’s fanatical following. Yet still the Kwaka has topped the latest Australian roadbike sales charts, as it has done for several years now.

But just because it’s been around for longer than the competition, doesn’t mean the Ninja is out of date – far from it. The Kawasaki is the only model in its class with an anti-hop clutch which, as a combined slip-assist design, also benefits the rider with a light lever. The Ninja doesn’t lack in performance either, despite the capacity deficit given over to its rivals – 25cc is barely the equivalent of having a burger and chips for lunch. The Ninja 300’s supersport credentials can’t be denied. Over the past three years it has become the most popular racebike in Australia, and singlehandedly revived small-capacity production racing back to a prominence not seen since the great breeding ground of racing legends that was 250 Proddie racing through the 80s and 90s. But it is the Ninja’s performance as an everyday roadbike for the masses that has made it a runaway success story for Kawasaki.

It’s physically small, but designed in a way that doesn’t restrict any users. Rangy riders fit thanks to the long seat and low set ’pegs, yet shorter riders can gain confidence thanks to its low seat height and short tank. One size fits all!

The Ninja engine’s reliability has been proven through racing, and its ideal temperament for learner riders is reflected in the sheer number of Ninjas on the road wearing L plates. Practicality is high in the priorities for an everyday bike, and the 2016 Ninja scores well here by featuring a big 17-litre tank, useful under-seat storage, a new dash with night mode for easier recognition after dark, and an ECO riding indicator to help you squeeze even more kays out of one of the cheapest-to-run bikes around.

Our test bike was an ABS equipped SE model, but a non-ABS version is also available for $200 less. This choice is something none of the other manufacturers here offer.

The Ninja 300 may have missed out on our overall winners vote by a whisker, but there’s no denying it’s still overwhelmingly the people’s choice. And that’s across all motorcycles!


Second Ops


It’s easy to see why this bike is such a big seller. You can rev its head off and it seems to love it – even asks for more. The brakes stayed strong, the slipper clutch is a real winner and I don’t think I missed a gear all day.

With the R3 now on the scene, the Ninja will need a makeover. Forking out $6399 for an ABS model when you can get a new (better looking) R3 for $300 less is a bit rough.


I really enjoyed the Ninja – very fangable and sporty on track. You can really tuck in and wring its neck, and feel like you are breaking land speed records – well at least until Youngy rounds you up and makes you look like you are sitting still.

Great colour scheme, with nice finish and Kawasaki quality. You pay the price because you can see the quality.

Pee Macc

A great stepping stone to Kawasaki’s family of bigger bikes. The engine is strong for its size and benefits from a bit of over-rev. I’m sure new riders will appreciate the slipper clutch when navigating wet roads.

Damn good value for money as a first bike. Learner’s will be happy with the bang for buck that a 300 SE Ninja offers, and it’ll surely teach them the skills necessary to make the next step with confidence.


It gave me just enough power and control to encourage me to push my boundaries. I felt I could go a little harder on the straight, rev a little higher, and the slipper clutch gave me the confidence to go into the corners a little ‘warmer’.

I’d go as far to say that jumping on the Ninja made the whole point of the trackday click for me – that was the moment when I really started having fun. It made me smile.