Whether you are someone who has been riding around on 150cc commuters with ambitions to scale up or driving around in cars with that desire to treat yourself to the fun of biking, the 300cc class is the place to turn your attention to. For the former category of people it gives them the right amount of power and packaging to satisfy their need to climb the ladder. For the latter, a 300cc sports bike is the right platform to learn the ropes before moving on to the higher capacity super bikes.
Last month saw the release of the Yamaha YZF-R3 – a 300cc entry-level sports bike which was in fact one of the most anticipated launches of the year. Pitted directly against its arch-rival – the Kawasaki Ninja 300 – the R3 is quite a show stealer in terms of design, packaging and performance. The 300c segment already has it rice rocket in the KTM RC390 and the value-for-money option in Honda CBR250. But those two are not exactly on the same plane as the Japanese. So the face-off will eventually be between the evenly-matched Ninja 300 and the YZF-R3.
Let’s start with the Ninja. Powered by a 296cc twin-cylinder engine, the Ninja belts out 39bhp of power and 27Nm of torque. It employs a 6-speed transmission which is quite slick in shifts and keeps the riding experience quite crisp. Weighing around 172kgs, it isn’t exactly that hard to flick it around while in the city or up in the mountains as well. It’s incredibly well-balanced and the 140mm ground clearance will make sure that those precious panels aren’t kissing those lovely speed-breakers unnecessarily. They just might if you aren’t careful though. Packed with a 17litre fuel tank (excluding reserve) and an overall fuel efficiency figure of 28kpl, the Ninja will be a good choice if you intend to double it up as a touring bike. The seating position and ergonomics are also appreciative of your long distance ride plans too. Priced at Rs. 3.60 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Mumbai), it is the most expensive bike in the 300cc segment. But do note that the Ninja moniker is among the most recognized and respected names in the sports bike segment. That name says it all.
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