– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

U.S. Model Ninja 300 Revealed by Kawasaki in Times Square

As anticipated, Kawasaki announced today that the 2013 Ninja 300 will be sold at U.S. dealerships.  The price for the non-ABS model will be an MSRP of $4,799.  The ABS model will be priced at $5,499 in the U.S. market.

The fuel injected 296cc parallel twin engine should provide a very large increase in performance over the outgoing carbureted Ninja 250R.  Not only does the entirely new model receive a 20% increase in displacement, the modern fuel injection process and other engine tweaks have led to a bike that should easily exceed 110 mph. By contrast, Honda’s CRB250R struggles to reach 90 mph and the outgoing Ninja 250R, although already significantly more powerful than the Honda with its twin cylinder engine, struggles to reach 100 mph. Clearly, cruising at freeway speeds will be no issue whatsoever for the new bike, which should hold significant acceleration in reserve at freeway speeds.  Kawasaki has even added a slipper clutch to the new model, and clutch pull is extremely light (something I have already verified while sitting on a production unit in New York).

MD will be testing the new Ninja 300 here in California early next week, so tune in for our in-depth impressions.

Inspecting the bike in the flesh here in New York, the fit and finish seems superb for this class, and the new instrumentation is well designed and legible.  The new, larger 140 section rear tire makes the bike look like a real sportbike, and the wider rim should accept even larger rubber for racers and track enthusiasts (make sure you check the tire manufacturer’s recommended rim width).

Somehow, the bike seems even smaller and lighter than its predecessor when rocking it side-to-side, although I know the curb weight has increased slightly.  An even lower seat height, and seemingly narrower chassis, undoubtedly contribute to this impression.  Riders who are short of stature will absolutely love this bike.

Kawasaki claims the big performance boost is coupled with improved fuel economy, which is something we will be sure to test when we get a long-term unit.  The fuel economy of the outgoing model is already impressive, so the new bike should be a highly efficient commuter.

From the sophisticated styling to the significantly boosted performance, the 2013 Ninja 300 appears, on paper at least, to be perhaps the ultimate fun, yet highly practical sportbike.  Kawasaki has wisely continued with the upright, comfortable ergonomics of the outgoing model.

The following is a thorough rundown by Kawasaki of the new 2013 Ninja 300 features and benefits, followed by the specifications for this new model:

Features and Benefits

What’s New

  • 296cc liquid-cooled, parallel-twin design offers far superior highway passing power and clearly dominant acceleration compared to other lightweight sportbikes
  • New Digital Fuel Injection (DFI®) system uses dual 32mm throttle bodies and provides both improved fuel economy and cleaner emissions compared to last year’s 250
  • New F.C.C. clutch with assist and slipper functions provides more power handling capability with significantly less effort.  Design also makes clutch easier to modulate and helps reduce the effect of back-torque to reduce wheel hop when downshifting
  • New supersport bodywork takes its cues from the Ninja® ZX™-10R superbike and raises lightweight sportbike styling to the next level
  • New frame uses high-tensile steel main tubes that are 150% more rigid and provide superior feel and agility compared to last year’s 250
  • New 10-spoke 17-inch wheels look great and the rear rim has grown ½” wider, allowing the use of a larger 140-section rear tire for 2013
  • Revised six-speed transmission features a new roller-type shift drum for smoother actuation and stronger gears for maximum durability. It also offers wide selection of ratios to match varied riding conditions and its positive neutral finder makes it much easier to find neutral when stopped
  • Kawasaki Air Management System (KAMS) uses a special deflector to channel hot air from the back of the radiator, so that it exits the bottom of the motorcycle, instead of being blown onto the rider
  • Low 30.9-inch seat height and tapered seat boosts confidence for smaller riders

New 296cc Engine

  • Compact parallel-twin design offers good mass centralization for nimble handling
  • Tuned to deliver smooth, step-free power with excellent mid-range and high-rpm power for effective highway performance
  • New intake ports taper from 1mm wider at the throttle body to .5mm wider at the valve seats
  • New 23.6mm intake valves are 1mm larger than last year
  • New cam chain design reduces friction for increased power and efficiency
  • Revised 10.6:1 compression ratio allows the use of regular 87-octane unleaded gasoline and helps reduce operating temperatures
  • New lighter pistons reduce reciprocating weight and feature a hard anodized coating for reduced friction and increased performance at every rpm
  • Revised piston bottoms efficiently route cooling oil across underside of piston
  • New lighter piston pins reduce reciprocating weight and help preserve a high redline
  • New shorter connecting rods offset new longer crank throws
  • New sleeveless “open-deck” die-cast aluminum cylinders are 800 grams lighter and feature a friction-reducing “T-treatment” plating
  • New thicker crankshaft balancer webs help offset the new longer crank throws
  • New crank journal bearings are made from a stronger alloy for increased durability
  • New crank cases feature improved oil passages
  • New large-volume 2.4 liter oil pan features cooling fins and better ground clearance
  • New easy-to-access cartridge type spin-on oil filter helps simplify maintenance

New Exhaust System

  • New curved 2-into-1 header design contributes to the Ninja 300’s low- and mid-range torque and smooth, step-free power curve
  • New complex geometry silencer design offers modern styling and meets all regulations without compromising engine performance
  • New large brushed-finish metal silencer guard boosts noise reduction and helps protect passenger from exhaust heat
  • Meets strict Euro 3 emission standards with a single catalyzer in the collector section

Liquid Cooling with KAMS

  • Kawasaki Air Management System (KAMS) uses a special deflector to redirect hot air from the radiator fan, so it exits the bottom of the motorcycle instead of being blown onto the rider
  • Lightweight Denso radiator offers effective engine cooling with minimal space and weight
  • Fan design uses a quiet-running motor that also saves space
  • Fins on the lower side of the crankcase provide additional engine cooling

Six-speed Transmission with New F.C.C. Assist Clutch

  • New F.C.C. clutch with assist and slipper functions is able to handle more power and requires significantly less lever effort to operate.  Design also makes clutch easier to modulate and helps reduce the effect of back-torque to reduce wheel hop when downshifting
  • Revised six-speed transmission features a new roller-type shift drum for smoother actuation and stronger gears for maximum durability. It also offers wide selection of ratios to match varied riding conditions and its positive neutral finder makes it much easier to find neutral when stopped
  • Involute splines reduce friction and backlash between gears and shafts for easier gear meshing and smooth shifting under power

Digital Fuel Injection (DFI®)

  • Dual 32mm Keihin throttle bodies and a digital ECU offer easy starting, superior throttle response, and help provide low fuel consumption
  • DFI® makes the Ninja 300 cleaner and more fuel efficient than last year’s 250, even though it now makes significantly more power

Petal-type Disc Brakes

  • Large-diameter, 290mm front petal disc and a balanced action two-piston caliper offer excellent braking performance and a natural, direct feeling at the lever
  • Two-piston caliper grips the rear 220mm petal disc

New Chassis

  • New frame uses main pipes made from high-tensile steel tubing that is 150% more rigid than the tubes in the previous Ninja 250R’s frame. The added rigidity provides much better chassis response and improved steering precision and feel
  • Frame design and chassis tuning offer confidence-inspiring stability at both high and low speeds
  • Beefy swingarm bracket contributes to the frame’s rigidity and helps achieve an optimal balance of chassis stiffness
  • Square-beam swingarm compliments the new frame’s rigidity

Updated Suspension

  • Revised tuning on the 37mm telescopic front fork compliments the new more rigid frame and wider rear tire
  • Uni-Trak® rear suspension linkage helps provide predictable sportbike handling and good ride comfort
  • Rear shock features 5-way adjustable preload to help manage rear ride height whether riding solo or with a passenger

New Wheels & Tires

  • New 17-inch 10-spoke wheel design has a more modern appearance
  • New 4” wide rear rim is ½” wider than the old Ninja 250R’s back wheel
  • New rear tire is 10mm wider than the tire on last year’s Ninja 250R, for increased stability and improved sportbike handling
  • New IRC RX-01R tires were developed in conjunction with Kawasaki and are a perfect match for the improved dynamics of the 2013 Ninja 300. They also provide better wet weather performance than the Ninja 250R’s tires

New High-Tech Instrumentation

  • Large easy-to-read analog tachometer
  • Multifunction digital display features an easy-to-read speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, digital clock and warning lights
  • Economical riding indicator (ECO) illuminates to let the rider know when they are operating the Ninja 300 in a manner that will maximize fuel economy

New Aerodynamic Bodywork

  • All-New bodywork features styling inspired by the Ninja ZX-10R superbike
  • New floating windscreen design helps reduce turbulence and rider fatigue
  • Aggressive dual-lamp headlight design, minimalist tail section and separate seats further enhance the aggressive visual impact
  • Two helmet holders conveniently located under the rear seat
  • New two-stage under-seat storage compartment can hold a U-lock or similar device and is hinged for easy access to the tool kit located beneath the storage tray
  • Two hooks under the tail, plus two behind the rear passenger pegs provide anchor points for securing items to the rear of the bike


  • New rider’s seat design is narrower near its front section, making it easier for riders to reach the ground
  • New passenger seat features a flatter design which makes it easier to secure cargo or soft luggage
  • Slightly forward-slanting seat and wide, slightly raised handlebars give the Ninja 300 a naturally comfortable riding position

New Genuine Kawasaki Accessories

  • All accessories designed and engineered by Kawasaki
  • New Color Matched Seat Cowl is factory designed with integrated styling cues and molded pad perfectly color matched to your Ninja 300
  • New Tank Bag and Soft Top Case custom designed tank bag made exclusively for the Ninja 300. Can be installed or removed quickly, multiple storage areas for your gear expandable for carrying larger items
  • New “Tall” Windscreen factory designed for easy installation 3” taller bubble design adds wind protection. Features an optically correct 3-D curvature
  • New Fuel Tank Pad features matching graphics and helps protect the paint on the fuel tank.  A touch of personalization to enhance its sportbike styling
  • New Engine Guards factory designed for easy installation helps reduce the possibility of bodywork damage in case of tip over

2013 Kawasaki Ninja® 300 Specifications*

Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel twin
Displacement: 296cc
Bore x stroke: 62.0 x 49.0mm
Compression ratio: 10.6:1
Cooling: Liquid
Fuel injection: DFI® with dual 32mm throttle bodies
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
Transmission: Six-speed
Final drive: Chain
Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Wheelbase: 55.3 in.
Rake / trail: 27 degrees / 3.7 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 37mm hydraulic telescopic fork / 4.7 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Uni-Trak® with 5-way adjustable preload / 5.2 in.
Front tire: 110/70-17
Rear tire: 140/70-17
Front brake: Single 290mm petal-type disc with two-piston hydraulic caliper
Rear brake: Single 220mm petal-type disc with two-piston hydraulic caliper
Overall length: 79.3 in.
Overall width: 28.1 in.
Overall height: 43.7 in.
Seat height: 30.9 in.
Curb weight: 379.3 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
Color choices / special edition:
Pearl Stardust White
Lime Green / Ebony SE
MSRP standard / SE:
Warranty: 12 months
Optional Good Times Protection Plan 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Wholesale distributor: Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.
9950 Jeronimo Road
Irvine, California 92618

*Specifications are subject to change. Media are encouraged to visit for most current specifications


  1. barney says:

    Hideous, garish, plastic covered ugliness: now go put your Stoner costume and Star Trek booties on and go do your boy racer stunting thing. I wouldn’t own or be caught dead on this bike even if they gave it to me for free.

  2. Nocklhiem Verstadt says:

    Have you seen the new CBR250R in Repsol colors? Very good looking bike…check it out here

  3. todd says:

    Gabe, in your upcoming review be sure to find someone in the target market to test the bike. I doubt someone fresh into motorcycling will even care or notice more power over the other, nor will they care if it can top 100 again like the first-gen Ninjas. I imagine this person will feel like the bike is heavy and scary, though they may not wish to tell you this.

    As someone who has a couple decades of riding experience (starting on a 90cc bike!) I couldn’t care either if it has more power or can top 100. If I wanted more power I’d just pick up a used liter bike for the same money or less. Heck, the new Ninja won’t even be allowed to race in the 250 class any more, now in the 450 class. Why did they do this?

    • Dave says:

      “Heck, the new Ninja won’t even be allowed to race in the 250 class any more, now in the 450 class. Why did they do this? ”

      The 250cc racing class is served by the 20 years of bikes they’ve already made. 300cc makes sense for the US market where one of the barriers to small bikes is highway capability.

  4. TomS says:

    I see….. an engine tune, USD forks, an upgraded swingarm, a race pipe…. and a killer little motorcycle!

  5. Nocklhiem Verstadt says:

    The price is not really out of line as some have posted here, not when a 600 goes for $11,000 and liter bikes going for over $13,000. You could buy a 300 for yourself and a 300 for your kid and still save money over buying that pricey 600 that is probably too much bike anyhow. You could really develop a great relationship with your kid by spending quality time together doing something you both enjoy, and probably remain closer for the rest of your lives. What price would you put on that?

  6. Joey Wilson says:

    Genius. Kawasaki has long taken care of the ‘650 and under’ end of motorcycling, and this is a terrific combination cheap (to ride and insure), strong enough (as much as I love 250’s, you just can’t be strong enough on the Interstates), and gives a lot of people who want it, a CHOICE where you don’t have to go straight from a Rebel or 250 Ninja to a high-performance 600 or better. Well Done !

    • Nick says:

      I think for a beginner with limited funds this will be a tough call. Do they save some bucks and stick with a 250 or do they skip a few more meals and go for a bike like this that offers higher top speed but costs more? I guess it’s all in how one intends to use it. But what’s next? What if the next bike out is a 350 which leaves this one behind and can touch 115 or 120 mph but costs just that much more? There has been for years a hole in the US market below 600cc. Seemed that few wanted them, they weren’t cool. When I first started riding there were 50, 65, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 125, 150, 160, 175, 200, 250, 300, 350, 450cc and up street bikes, some serving duty as dual sports. Like Baskin and Robbins, a different flavor for every day. Those days are long gone but it is nice to see some interest coming back into the smaller class bikes. I hope this trend continues and helps bring back some life into motorcycling.

      • Doc says:

        Nick you are right. Back in the mid 70’s when I started riding, it was great time. Lot’s of different sizes in dual sport and street. Street bikes were a roll your own. You could make a cruiser, tourer, or a sport bike out of the same basic bike. Today it’s niche marketing and I think prices are elevated because of that. Personally I’d like to see the 400cc inline four Honda sells in Japan. That would be a cool bike. And the styling in general of sport bikes today leaves alot to be desired. I don’t believe they’re something that will age well.

  7. RicardoFloripa says:

    Hello guys,here in Brasil we pay something like US $ 7.300,00 in the same Ninja 250 with no ABS.When I see u saying that US $ 4.500,00 is too much I realise how much profit they make in here……really sad ,they say it’s because of tax but we know that’s no true.(I say they are greedy)……

  8. Rooster says:

    This is a seriously sweet looking little machine, and the price looks good too. The wheels start turning in my head and then I remember i’m 6’2″ and 240 lbs. Sigh….., I can only imagine how much of a hoot this thing would be on a twisty road with a 5’8″ 140lb rider on board.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The wheels start turning in my head and then I remember i’m 6′2″ and 240 lbs.”

      no worries, for the big and tall man there’s still the used market flooded with everything from 600’s to 1400’s bought by impulsive kids who later realized they couldn’t afford the insurance.

  9. Jeremy in TX says:

    This makes better sense for the US market. Still easy power for beginners but enough performance for those who don’t care about power but still wish to live longer than three minutes on the freeway.

  10. Ed Maggiacomo says:

    I think this is the perfect little sport bike. Bravo to Kawasaki for seeing that there is a market for these bikes. In this econemy it makes perfect sence, a fun bike that you can commute with that gets excellent gas milage.

  11. Cranky says:

    If this bike is not successful in attracting new and/or young riders to our sport we may as well pack it in because in that case nothing will!

  12. John says:

    Although the CBR is interesting, I think singles for the street are stupid. IMO, a bike needs at least two cylinders to fulfill street duties, and 6 gears if you’re going to do any highway work.

    But I’d rather have this engine in a naked bike and if Honda comes out with the CB500 twin, THAT would be awesome.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “a bike needs at least two cylinders to fulfill street duties”

      many years ago a very wise man once said this, but in the context of a racing motorcycle. who knew…? 🙂

    • Jake says:

      John says:
      “…if Honda comes out with the CB500 twin, THAT would be awesome.”

      Honda gave us a 40 hp CB500 twin back in the ’70s that was a low-performing, vibrating, paint-shaker that no-one wanted.

      • Dave says:

        There was a ~55hp CB500 from 93′-03′ that sold thousands of units in Europe/UK, they even had a race series based on the platform. Was basically a liquid cooled GS500e and bomb proof.

        • Jake says:

          Well, if Honda didn’t think America deserved it then — what changed?
          Have American riders gotten wiser — or, Honda more desperate…?

          • Dave says:

            I don’t think it has much to do with what we deserve. Honda must have thought we didn’t want it. The GS500e and the EX500 did ok. Not sure why Honda didn’t want to play in that market.

  13. George Krpan says:

    The 2012 250 is priced at $4200-4500.

    So, the 2013 300 non-ABS is $100-600 more expensive.

    Not bad for all the improvements.

    The 2013 is up on the Kawasaki US site.

  14. Bill says:

    I think this is as big as Honda going from 250cc in 1962 to 305cc in 1963. This is big big big.

  15. bad Chad says:

    $4800? I know this is 2013, or soon will be, but almost five grand for a 300cc bike, seems like $1000 more than I would be willing to pay.

    • Chris says:

      600s are more than 11k now…

      Half the displacement, less than half the price… ??

    • Kagato says:

      a single cylinder air cooled dual sport is priced about the same msrp. this is a killer price for an amazing bike

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “$4800? I know this is 2013, or soon will be, but almost five grand for a 300cc bike, seems like $1000 more than I would be willing to pay.”

      i see cars in your future. there are more than a few push bike manufacturers with models priced WELL IN EXCESS of that… with them you don’t even get a motor…?

    • Glenn says:

      I currently have 2009, 2010, 2011 bikes that are each valued well over $4800 and I provide the go-power for each, and am convinced that each is a bargain for the enjoyment I get from them. I also have a few gasoline powered two-wheelers that put a smile on my face, for similar money. None of my automobiles give me that pleasure despite costing many times more. You don’t need to spend $4800 for the joy of riding (especially if you don’t mind quality used), but you can also spend way more for nothing but boring utility.

    • Thoppa says:

      Depends on where it is made. Made in China – way too much. Made in Thailand – bit expensive. Made in Japan – good price.

      So where is it made ? All that info and no word on that….

  16. Provalogna says:

    Most attractive new bike release I can remember. This spells only success for everyone concerned.

  17. Nocklhiem Verstadt says:

    Nice to see small bikes making a comeback. I think they will gain popularity as fuel prices go up and wages continue to spiral down.

  18. Seth says:

    Some bargain prices for 2006-2012 Ninja 250s on Ebay now?

  19. craig says:

    Its a shame they stuck with a steel frame and couldnt get it under $4500. I want to see a serious 250-450cc sportbike, one that is light, under 340lbs full of fluids.

    • JSH says:

      I don’t think 340 lbs is a realistic goal for a modern streat-legal sportbike. At least not one that a normal size human can comfortably ride. My brother raced an Aprilia RS250 two stroke. Stock it weighs 308 lbs dry. Add another 30 lbs for fluids and now you are at 340 lbs.

      With today’s emission regulations that essentially mandate a 4 stroke engine and a catalyst I would say 350 lbs is about as light as one should expect. Of course then it would cost $10,000 and no one would buy it.

    • Dave says:

      Stuff like that is available in the UK and Japan, wouldn’t fly in the US unfortunately because it would either cost as much as a 600 or be de-contented (heavy, low tech). I think Kawasaki nailed it with this bike. In the US 600’s are fast, small and plentiful at any price on the used market but if you want a bike with this power/weight, you’re left shopping for a late 70’s/early 80’s UJM.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I want to see a serious 250-450cc sportbike, one that is light, under 340lbs full of fluids.”

      no problem… google jamies NSR homepage… go to the site… click on “picture gallery”… enjoy.

    • Chris says:

      Maybe some day Kawasaki will make a ZX-3R. Until then with all the steel parts at this price point…

  20. Tom says:

    Not to be outgunned in displacement, looks like Honda is coming out with a CBR 500. Check it out here: Don’t know if it will see life in the USA

  21. Gabe says:

    I’ll have my GPS with me next week–I think I’ll see 103 mph, probably 115 indicated.

    • Tony says:

      So you’re going to be doing a ride review/test/etc. on this new bike? Excellent, keep us updated! I’m riding an ’89 Ninja 250 (with almost 80k miles on her) and I’m enjoying reading the info on this latest small Ninja.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’ll have my GPS with me next week–I think I’ll see 103 mph, probably 115 indicated.”

      pfft GPS, i wanna see commitment. channel ROLLIE FREE…!!!

  22. ziggy says:

    With the right state of tune, rider and road, this bike could outpace about 90% of the riders out there.

  23. kawatwo says:

    Looks awesome. Was hoping they would keep it under $4500 as $4800 is 800 more than the CBR 250 now. Awesome they didn’t pack on the weight either. Should be a fun bike. Can’t wait for some road tests!

  24. SloJon says:

    Although I REALLY enjoy my 11′ CBR250R; I’m smitten…….

    • Nick says:

      There’s always something new around the corner. One can play the one-upmanship game all day long with it comes increased weight and costs. It all depends on what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for. If power’s your thing, why stop here?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’m smitten”

      be smitten while installing sneaky pete nitrous.

    • SloJon says:

      re: POWER….I can always get on my BIGGER Bikes….fortunate to have a small fleet. I wanted last 250 Ninja but did not care for carbs. I can own any machine I desire(within reasonable limits). Am asked which Machine is my favorite. Answer is always same- the one I’m riding….wonderful LIFE