Kawasaki has become the latest motorcycle manufacturer to make ABS available on an entry-level motorcycle with the launch of the Ninja 300.
This new model combines the look of larger Ninja sport-bikes in a lighter package with a relatively low 30.9-inch seat height. Adding beginner appeal, the 300 also adds a novice rider friendly "slipper" clutch, which Kawasaki says requires less effort and can help prevent rear wheel lockup when downshifting.
Powered by a 296cc, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected two-cylinder engine matched with a six-speed transmission, the 300 is more powerful than the long-running Ninja 250 it replaces. Kawasaki claimed this 2013 bike will deliver improved performance and better fuel economy. The 300 also gets a more rigid frame for better handling, revised suspension tuning for improved ride comfort, and more powerful disc brakes front and rear.
The Ninja 300 joins the Honda CBR 250R, introduced last year, as the only small motorcycles available with ABS. A proven safety feature that has been standard equipment in cars for years, we believe ABS has even greater lifesaving potential for motorcycles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says motorcycles equipped with antilock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than models without ABS.
We recently sampled a CBR250R with ABS at our test track, and found it an enjoyable and easy handling bike well suited for novice riders. And we're especially curious about the new Ninja 300, because a Kawasaki Ninja 250 topped our Ratings in our last test of small motorcycles and scooters, with its precise handling, smooth free-revving engine, and slick-shifting six-speed transmission. A bit more power and the availability of ABS should heighten its appeal.
As rising fuel prices have many commuters taking on motorcycles as a way to save at the pump, we're pleased to see another entry-level motorcycle equipped with ABS. We'd like to see this important safety feature made available on all new motorcycles and motor scooters.
A Kawasaki representative told us the Ninja 300 will be in dealerships soon, with a base price of $4,799. ABS models are priced at $5,499.