Yamaha surprised everyone by launching the 300 cc Yamaha R3 in India. Instead of the R25 that was expected, Indian bikers finally got another option in the 300 cc bike segment after the Kawasaki Ninja 300. Two bikes could not be better suited for a comparison than these two. With similar price tags, performance figures and Japanese technological perfection embedded in the heart of these machines, choosing the best one becomes quite a task.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs Yamaha R3 | Design
The Yamaha R3 is a head-turner. The aggressive split-headlamps give the R3 a very intimidating look and while it’s predecessor, the R15, didn’t have the bulk to match its massive fairings, the R3 definitely does. The rest of the body doesn’t carry forward the same angular styling. It’s a more subtle design from Yamaha this time around but it still looks absolutely stellar. And the build quality is typically Japanese, i.e., it’s perfect. There’s not a bad or out of place component on the bike and everything just feels very reliable.
Kawasaki took a major design leap while replacing the famed Ninja 250R as their entry-level bike. The Kawasaki Ninja 300 draws styling cues straight from the Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R as well as the “mass-forward, minimalist-tail” design language from the bigger Ninja machines. The Ninja 300 is a lot more angular courtesy of its Flared bodywork with sharp edges.
Both bikes have similar aggressive designs and it really comes down to Individual preference.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs Yamaha R3 | Performance
The Yamaha R3 is powered by a 321 cc parallel twin engine that churns out 42 hp of power at 10,750 rpm and 29.6 Nm of torque at 9000 rpm. While the R3 drags itself in the lower rev band, cross the 6500 rpm mark on this bike and the engine bursts into life. The gear-shifts are smooth and you won’t have any trouble in reaching 170 kmph. Also the exhaust note of the Yamaha R3 sounds absolutely brilliant. What starts of as a deep rumbling continues to increase in pitch as you accelerate and it’s bound to attract the attention of anyone within earshot.
The 296 cc parallel twin powering the Kawasaki Ninja 300 is a lot more refined than Yamaha’s but the downside is that is has a very subdued exhaust sound. But the delivery of the 39 hp of power is superb and riding the Ninja is not a constant battle between you and the bike. And it does have a wider power band than the R3 and can be exploited well up till the 13,000 rpm mark.
The engine on the R3 delivers a little more power than the Ninja and the Yamaha bike also happens to be lighter and sounds better too. In performance then, the Yamaha R3 beats the Kawasaki Ninja 300.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs Yamaha R3 | Ride and Handling
Unlike its predecessor, the Yamaha R3 is not an ergonomic nightmare. The riding position is a lot more relaxed and upright to cater to the sport-tourer market and not the super-aggressive track bike position that was found in the R15. Yamaha have sacrificed sharpness in handling by using a Diamond frame in place of the excellent delta-box one used in the R15. But the minor loss in track abilities of the bike are positively countered by the superb comfort the bike offers you in heavy traffic or open highways. And whether its at high speeds on straight roads, or the curves of a hill station, there are no vibrations or protests from the R3.
Just like the R3, the main focus for Kawasaki while making the Ninja 300 was versatility. It isn’t much of a canyon carver either, but it doesn’t really have to be. The Ninja 300’s sublime engine ensures a tireless ride wherever you go and the riding position and seat will make sure that you’re comfortable when you get there.
Both bikes are very similar when it comes to ride and handling so there isn’t a clear winner in this one.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs Yamaha R3 | Price
The Yamaha R3 retails for a price of Rs 3.26 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi) while the Kawasaki Ninja 300 costs Rs 3.65 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi).
While Kawasaki costs more than the Yamaha, it’s also a bit slower, a bit heavier and, in my opinion, not as good looking. So if you’re not crazy about the Kawasaki Green, the Yamaha R3 is definitely the better value-for-money option between these two Japanese rivals.
Which of these entry level sportbikes would you want to own?