Kawasaki J300 Test Ride 18

The Kawasaki J300 marks the Japanese brand’s first foray into the competitive scooter market, so it is definitely a very important model for the company. Apart from comfort and convenience, which every scooter should have, the company has also claimed to throw ‘control’ and ‘performance’ into the mix, making the J300 a very attractive proposition to many types of riders – even superbike owners who are looking for a second bike.

The J300 was launched internationally almost two years ago but Malaysia only had the chance to welcome the scooter in November last year, when Kawasaki Motors Malaysia (KMMSB) previewed it alongside the Z125 Pro and ZX-10R. It looked promising, to be honest. After months of waiting, we finally had the chance to experience the brand’s first stop-and-go motorcycle during a media test ride organised by the company. From Putrajaya, we made our way to Morib, and back to the country’s administration centre through the South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE), with a total distance of less than 200 km.

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing out of the way. You may or may not have heard about it but the J300 is Kymco’s Dowtown 300i at heart. Through a partnership with the Taiwanese manufacturer, Kawasaki took the 300i, redesigned it with the Kawasaki DNA serving as the basis, and adds a slew of functional features. The end product is one that looks sharper than most of what the current market has to offer.

It goes without saying that the front fascia is heavily inspired by Kawasaki’s famed Ninja design language, which is what passers-by or potential buyers will notice first, thanks to the nameplate’s popularity. The rest of the J300 looks sharp, especially at the floorboard area and the rear section, where an LED light is set.

On the dimensions front, the J300 in general is bigger than the model it is based on but still offers the right size for average Asian riders. It measures in at 2,235 mm in length, 775 mm in width and 1,260 mm in height. Wheelbase is at a decent 1,555 mm while kerb weight is recorded at 191 kg. That’s no lightweight by any means but its low-slung nature with the fuel tank positioned close to the ground means you won’t feel much of the weight.

Not only it looks and feels solid, the J300 has been designed with practicality in mind, as well. For instance, there is a small glove compartment on the left handlebar that is big enough for you to store your wallet and other small items. There is also a 12V power socket in there, so you can charge your phone on the go. A set of foldable pillion foot pegs means the pillion can rest his or her feet in a comfortable manner.

Using the key, you can lift the seat to access a storage space that is large enough for you to store a full-face helmet and a document bag. The seat is lifted by a hydraulic strut, so you don’t have to use one hand to hold it up and another to look for your things. On top of that, finding things in the dark will be much easier, thanks to a small white light in the compartment. And if you’ve used up the space, there’s always a hook for your grocery underneath the handlebar.

Vital information such as fuel gauge, odometer, as well as trip meters are displayed through a blue-backlit LCD screen on the instrument panel. The screen is sandwiched between a speedometer and a rev counter, which is quite uncommon for a scooter. Nonetheless, watching the needle climbing up the rev range can be entertaining.

The J300 is driven by a 299 cc, single-cylinder engine packing an output of 28 PS at 7,750 rpm and 28.7 Nm of torque 6,250 rpm. The power routes to the rear wheel through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) primed with a centrifugal clutch. Paired with a recalibrated ECU, the drivetrain gives the stocky maxi scooter enough juice to zip through the city despite its delayed response at low rpm. However, keep the rpm needle between the 5,000 and 6,000 rpm mark and you’ll have a smooth operator that feels at home on the highway.

How does the J300 handle? Given its weight and dimensions, the scooter surprisingly feels light and responsive, even in a busy traffic. It also feels steady and planted on the highway (it’s a 191-kg bike, mind you), although the rear twin shock suspension bounces a tad too much and struggles to cope when it’s pushed too hard in its standard setting. Fret not, as the unit comes with a five-way adjustable preload that allows you to recalibrate the setting according to load.

The J300 is also one of the most comfortable scooters you can find on today’s market. The seat is well sculptured and thickly padded, while the floorboard, which is slim and equipped with rubber heel grips, is a result of a well-thought-out design. Combined with the high handlebar, the J300 offers a laid-back and comfortable riding position – unless you’re Shaquille O’ Neal.

Braking feels steady at both ends, with little to no signs of fade after a day out. Tasked with bringing the two wheeler to a halt are a 260 mm petal disc at the front and a 240 mm petal disc at the rear, both paired with a two-piston caliper. ABS is standard on the J300 but only for the rear brakes.

Kawasaki J300 Test Ride 10

All in all, it’s fair to say the J300 will help Kawasaki build its name in the competitive maxi scooter market. It is a decent all-rounder, something every maxi scooter should be. It’s got the looks (inspired by the Ninja superbike range, no less) and plenty of grunt to go with it. Sure, the throttle is not as responsive as it should be but you’d get over it once the J300 hits its stride. It also has plenty of storage space that should protect your belongings well, even when you are riding in rain.

That said, be ready to pay a handsome amount of money if you wish to own Kawasaki’s first ever scooter. The J300 is priced at RM31,489 inclusive of GST, just slightly cheaper than the Aprilia SR Max 300 that goes for RM31,800. A few hours of riding is too short a time for us to decide if the price tag is justified but we won’t be surprised if KMMSB achieves its sales target in the first year.

 

2016 Kawasaki J300 Specs
Price RM31,489 with GST
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder
Displacement 299 cc
Power 28 PS @ 7,750 rpm
Torque 28.7 Nm @ 6,2500 rpm
Gearbox Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Clutch Centrifugal
Weight 191 kg
Frame Tube diamond, steel
Front Suspension 37 mm Telescopic
Rear Suspension Twin shocks with five-way adjustable preload
Wheelbase 1,555 mm
Seat Height 775 mm
Fuel Capacity 13 Litres
Tyres 120/80 R14 (F), 150/70 R13 (R)

 

GALLERY



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