Kawasaki J300

Kawasaki's J300 in its perfect environment.
THINK Kawasaki and you might imagine big horsepower, a howling rush of top-end performance and raging air intake roar. Perhaps names that evoke passion and power – ZZR, Ninja, Mach 3. The fastest? The quickest? The greenest? Think again.

The world of motorcycling is changing and small bike sales taking over the world, and Kawasaki wants a piece of that valuable small bike pie so they spoke to Kymco to make them a scooter. Kymco are a  Taiwanese company that started my making parts for Honda motorcycles, but they split with Honda in 1963. They have also make scooters for BMW.

This is the Kawasaki J300 built in conjunction with Kymco. But forget for a minute that it’s just a rebadged Kymco Downtown 300. It’s not. Got that?

Kawasaki redesigned the Kymco’s styling, features and bodywork to make it a real Kawasaki.

According to our man at Kawasaki, the Japanese engineers worked alongside the Kymco team to give it a host of technical changes including: the bodywork, the seat, brake hoses, the silencer, adjustable brake levers, rear footrests brake calipers, the screen headlamps, footboards and clocks, to name a few.

But it wasn’t just the look where the Kawasaki made their mark. The K engineers also developed a new ECU which gives the bike more mid-range punch. You can certainly feel it when it accelerates with a mid-range that defies it’s 27bhp.
Kawasaki J300. It's a nice looking bike with styling by Kawasaki's designers, even though underneath most of it is a Kymco.
In the SE-spec (£4149 compared to the standard black and silver colours at £4049) it’s got enough green paint to be a Kawasaki, enough punch to not embarrass the brute horsepower big daddy’s of the big K, and handles well enough to holds its own for experienced riders or beginners. Interestingly, the Kymco 300i that the bike is based on is £3999.
 
A Kawasaki that you ride to work when your Z1000SX is cuddled up for winter then? Maybe.

The 27bhp single cylinder four-stroke rumbles slightly at walking pace, and from then on it’s just smooth acceleration with accurate fuelling for riding around town.

Get it out of town and there’s enough mid-range urge to overtake from 60-70mph. If you really do ever feel the need, it will top out at an indicated 95mph. Though, this bike had only done ten miles when we first got it and will undoubtedly rev even freer when it’s loosened up some more.

On paper it weighs 191kg, which is just one kilo lighter than a Kawasaki ZX-6R, but it’s so low-slung that it doesn’t feel it. The bike is easy to manoeuvre at low-speed, and even a novice would be able to ride at walking pace without dragging your feet. Even with a pillion on board the bike didn’t feel much different and our test pillion, Paul Taylor, who weighs around 65kg, confirmed it was comfortable.

The weight of the bike also means that at speed it’s dead stable. I took it across the windswept Fens for some photos on a particularly blustery day and it was stable at speed and didn’t get too blown around, considering the power of the wind.

The wind-protection (even when it’s not blowing a hoolie), is more than adequate for faster A-roads and in a storm the fairing kept most of the rain off my legs.

As scooter’s go it’s something of a sport’s tourer. You just sit back in a wide, comfortable seat and let the world pass you by. The clocks are simple fair, with a speedo, a rev counter, and a fuel gauge. Under the seat you cna squeeze a set of waterproofs and a helmet, and there's a hook to carry your shopping between your legs and cubby hole for your mobile.

We didn’t have the bike to test for weeks , but in the three days the fuel gauge barely moved, it really is that economical. Kawasaki claim 80mpg.

More than anything, the bike is really well finished with plenty of reminders that you’re riding a Kawasaki on the headstock cover, the side of the bike, the engine. It’s a Kawasaki, not a Kymco, okay, and don’t you go thinking otherwise. You’ve been told.

It’s not revolutionary, but it handles faster roads, can more than keep up with the modern world and is well put together. Ultimately for a 20 or 30 mile commute it would be perfect, just never expect it to be exciting, except for that bit of mid-range pull.

Ultimately, Kawasaki are currently offering a two-year warranty, a year’s roadside assistance and some new finance deals. Looking at the build quality we’d say it’s definitely worth taking a look if you’re in the market for a new scooter.

+ points: Well-built, first Kawasaki scooter!
-  points: Not many, pay extra for the ABS version

KAWASAKI J300SE

Price: £4149 in SE spec as tested, (ABS VERSION IS £4499, non-ABS base model is £4049)
Engine: 299cc four stroke single
Power: 27bhp (claimed)
Top speed: 90mph (est)
Weight: 191kg
Seat height: 775mm
MPG: 80mpg (claimed)
Fuel capacity: 13 litres