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Kawasaki Finally Entering Scooter Market with J300

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Has Kawasaki’s macho image prevented it from entering the lucrative scooter market in Europe and the United States?  I don’t know the answer to that, but the J300 recently revealed by Kawasaki (the official unveiling is at EICMA in a couple of weeks) is Kawasaki’s first effort to establish itself in the huge European scooter market (we have no idea about potential U.S. availability at this point).

By all accounts, the new Kawasaki is a re-styled version of partner Kymco’s Downtown 300i, which MD has already tested. If you follow the link, you will see that Gabe thoroughly enjoyed the 33 hp scoot with its nimble, confident handling and huge underseat storage. This is a high performing 300, and a sensible base for Kawasaki to work from.

EICMA will see at least one other new Kawasaki revealed, of course, which is the naked Z1000 teased by a somewhat obscure photo and press release.

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39 Comments

  1. dave m says:

    I’m going to agree with another poster that there isn’t much of a market for these things. A small, light, cheap, efficient scooter for transpo for college students…yes. Maxi scoots? No. Correct about the harsh suspension on all of them do to their design layout. I have a 2010 Elite 110 and it is great for cargo, and even on the freeway. YES, I SAID FREEWAY! I have it modified to do 60mph. Due to the condition of my back and the rough streets, the freeway is the only road that is smooth enough for me to travel on. Otherwise I get beat up around town. Next bike I would get if I thought I needed another one, would be Honda’s NC700X due to it’s ultra efficiency and at least some cargo capacity.

    But, anyway. Carry on people. And yes, I had a Honda Reflex before and got 55-60mpg. I know others with Silverwing scoots that got 40ish, same with Burgmans. The MPG is not there. The comfort is there until you hit a bump. Oh well.

    • bikerrandy says:

      I get 55 to 70 mpg on my 3 maxi-scooters(250,400,460cc) with single cylinder, 4 valve, water cooled, EFI Italian scooters. 2 cylinder scooters don’t get the same mileage my singles do. Yes, they have firm suspension springs, but as soon as you add some weight to them besides yourself the ride is comfortable. All 3 of them w/top cases have oodles of storage space. I do all our grocery shopping on them. The 2 bigger ones I tour on.

  2. Hot Dog says:

    Americans are too insecure and image conscious to ride scooters en mass. I’ve got a Yamaha Majesty and love it. Easy to ride, 50mpg, rips like it fueled by beans and I’ve carried 4 cases of beer on it. ..I.. Poseurs.

    • bikerrandy says:

      I’m too old to be insecure. I have 3 maxi-scooters + 4 MCs. I don’t CARE what anybody else thinks when I ride by. I’m happy. If I have the need to go faster, I get on 1 of my MCs. Doesn’t happen much any more. BTDT.

  3. Norm G. says:

    amy, grinner, yoda, duinkers, etc gotta be seen gettin’ round the pits on somethin’…?

  4. powermad says:

    I had a 400 Burgman for a couple of years and really enjoyed it for my daily stop and go commute. For that type of thing they have a lot of advantages over a motorcycle, wind protection, storage, no shifting, just plain easier to deal with. It also had some drawbacks, rear suspension was rough riding and they really don’t get the fuel mileage you would think such a thing would, at least I didn’t think so, about 50 around town, hardly better than a 650 Vstrom will do.
    However for recreational riding I’m a motorcyclist so when my commute changed I sold it.
    The reality is there isn’t much of a market for scooters in the US. I see them sit and sit at dealerships, often marked way down. I recently bought a Sym HD 200 in very nice shape for $1100 just to run to the store on, the guy had been trying to sell it for a year with no luck, I’d be pretty frustrated if I had bought it new for and had to virtually give it away.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The reality is there isn’t much of a market for scooters in the US.”

      same as e-bikes, 3-wheelers, a sub-niche of an already niche business.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’m a motorcyclist”

      that’s damn right.

  5. Don Fraser says:

    In case you haven’t been paying attention, the scooter market in this country is down. The Kymco retails for over $5K. A 300 Ninja is less money. BRP has just come out with a 900 cc triple watercraft for $5K that will shake up that market. A $3K 300 cc scooter might do the same.

  6. Alpinaweiss says:

    Kawi goes to town, and goes straight Downtown !

  7. EZ Mark says:

    My wife would REALLY like one of these.

  8. jimmi says:

    So does the Kawasaki-Kymco partnership imply that Kawi has been supplying components, perhaps even entire engines for the Kymco scooters, and that might explain their surprising peppiness? In any case, to me this appears to be an optics thing with Kawasaki simply lending their name to a fast-growing market segment in a win-win for both companies. I’d like to see something a bit more techie and sporty given Kawasaki’s brand identity. I’m in the market for a speedy scooter, but I would choose the Yamaha Tmax or BMW’s 650GT to a rebadged Kymco product.

    • EZ Mark says:

      I agree with you, in fact I have a Tmax. My wife, however, can’t touch the ground on it. Even if she could, she couldn’t handle the weight. The Kymco Downtown is over 100 pounds lighter than the Tmax and has a lower seat.

    • allworld says:

      Not 100% sure but I believe Kymco builds the engines for the BMW scooters. They maybe engineered by BMW but Kymco builds them.

    • Scott says:

      Kawasaki has had Kymco building some ATV’s for them for a few years now, (KFX50/90 and KVF300) Kymco build engines for a number of brands incl BMW

  9. denny says:

    not a “ninja” name on it? That’s strange.
    One way or the other they have lots to catch up with – Burgman400 is nearly perfect; just saw one past weekend

  10. Jdilpkle says:

    I’m thinking about bolting in a ZX-10 motor…

  11. allworld says:

    I am a big fan of the Maxi scooters and owned a Tmax for a few years. Too bad Yamaha stopped selling them in the USA. Kawasaki will need to do a little better than this, while Kymco is a decent brand they are not over the top great, they are also readily available so why by a re-badged one? On the other hand a good scooter which could use a partner is SYM, that would be a better limited partnership, IMO.

  12. Dan says:

    After 30 years of riding I bought my first scooter, a Kymco, for around town. Love it. Throw sunglasses, gloves, jacket. under the seat, no need to carry a backpack. Can wear dress shoes without scuffing up the tops. No chain to lube. Park on the sidewalk or by the bicycle racks with much less chance of ticketing than with a larger motorcycle. 70mpg. Much better suited for dense cities than almost any motorcycle. Although not high marks for fit and finish, my Kymco has been 100% reliable in the last 2 years of daily commuting.

  13. Michael H says:

    Um….Kawasaki is going to introduce a re-badged Kymco300i in Europe, and it’s not known whether Kawasaki will bring it to the US. Either way, the Kymco 300 is already here, but in a different color.

    Is there some news here that I’m missing?

  14. Blackcayman says:

    a little of that green goes a long way

  15. mk says:

    Yes, it’s COSTCO time!!!

  16. goose says:

    So a major Japanese brand is now learning from a Korean brand? Wow, the world does change.

    Goose

    • Dave says:

      Hyosung has made engines and other assemblies for Suzuki for decades. Look at the car industry, the Chevy Cruze was developed beginning to end by Daewoo.

      • MGNorge says:

        I think you’ll discover that the Cruze was globally developed, not just by Daewoo. Opel would have something to say about it along with Holden.

        • Dave says:

          I did not discover that. I only found that quoted in a Car and Driver article (cited Opal, not Holden) which I’ll chalk up to marketing.

      • Francois says:

        I heard somewhere that the Suzuki TL/SV motor it actually a Hyosung built and designed motor. Whether this is true or not I do not know and could never confirm it, except being shot down hard by Suzuki lovers, but I’m pretty sure they don’t know either – in their eyes it is sacrilege to even think something like that

    • Gabe says:

      Taiwanese, not Korean.

    • Gabe says:

      And I should mention that Japanese OEMs have been buying and rebadging scooters from other manufacturers for many years…recall the original Zuma, made in France, and the second-gen Zuma , made in Taiwan by CPI.

      • Bud says:

        Zuma needs a dealership in Yuma

      • goose says:

        Gabe,

        Thanks for the correction. I still find it hard to see the proud Japanese going outside for technical guidance. Re-badging a few small scooters is a long way from learning from people outside Japan.

        Goose

  17. Kawatwo says:

    Awesome! It’s about time. I wonder if the US version will have a “Ninja” sticker?

  18. SecaKid says:

    I had a 400 Burgman and really liked it. The big problem with these big scooters is they are not user-friendly when it comes to maintenance. If you can afford to take it to the dealer for all the maintenance, then I guess they are great bikes. The one thing I enjoyed was the lack of engine heat when you are riding in summer.

    • squintrider says:

      True about maintenance…my ’07 Kymco 125 has been 8000 miles utterly reliable, but rear tire change requires exhaust removal, valve clearance check/adjust needs virtually all bodywork off, etc.

  19. Alon Walker says:

    Like the green on black…

    • Neil says:

      Ditto. Looks like a cool rig for getting to work etc. Our highways should be full of these in the morning. Instead people love sending $$$ over to the Middle East so they can live like Kings while half our country lives in poverty. Really nice scooter.