Test Rode R3: Ninja 300 vs YZF R3 - Kawasaki Ninja 300 Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2016, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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Test Rode R3: Ninja 300 vs YZF R3

So today I got the chance to ride the Yamaha R3 2016 ABS model. I have owned a ninja 300 (with akrapovic exhaust no baffle) for a year now coming at 12,000kms on the clock and up to my first valve clearance check. My views may be different to others but after the test ride I can see why reviewers give the ninja 300 higher ratings.

Just a background story, I went to check what the yamaha r3 had to offer only because I disliked the 12,000kms clearance check intervals and the 6,000 kms servicing intervals. Apart from that yamaha apparently has more low down power so I went to check what all the fuss is about haha.

Weight of the Motorcycle:
The test ride of the yamaha r3 (akrapovic metal snub exhaust with baffle):
Upon hopping on, the FIRST thing you notice is how SKINNY and LIGHT it is. It honestly felt soo much smaller than the ninja 300.

Feeling of the controls:
The second biggest thing I noticed that caught my attention was that the controls honestly felt a bit plasticy, the fuel tank shell is pretty plasticy and the handle/throttle were hard rubbers as opposed to the soft rubber on my ninja 300. The blinker switch also felt cheaper primarily because it wasnt smooth tipped like the ninja 300 blinker switch. In saying that they worked perfectly and still presented medium quality.

Body quality:
The body of the bike feels cheapish in comparison to the ninja as I tapped the shell knocking it with my knuckles. The shell plastics responded plasticy and hollowish in comparison to the solid quality feel of the ninja. The actual fuel tank is PLASTIC - that annoyed me the most, I love tapping my ninja 300 shell because it responds with a nice (expensive feeling) *ding*.

Brake Leavers:
The brake leavers (uncoated silver) were pretty cheapy feeling too, not soo smooth like the ninja, plus the ninja brakes are coated in black providing that expensive feel you desire in sport bikes.

Seating Position and Seat Comfort:
The third thing you notice is the seating position is not leaning forward its more sit-up style, however because of the nature of the bike you can still lean in - not as much as the ninja 300 though. In saying this, to some people, the ninja 300 looks worse when people are sitting on it (despite the lean-in) because the rear seat is lower than compared to the R3. This making people look like they are "sitting on" the bike rather than "in the bike." The yamaha sort of feels like you are more in the bike because the rear seat is actually slightly higher. If you look at photos of people riding both bikes on the net, it seems that this is true - this is heavily up to debate though. In addition to this, the seat is very narrow and stiff, perhaps on long rides this would result in a sore (a$$).

Handling:
So driving it around automatically you feel the lightness of the bike, the versatility is superb. You can turn sharp and the bike will listen, you can fling it in the opposite direction and again, the bike will listen. What I found though is that this lightness subtracted from the sportiness, finesse and sport bike discipline that the ninja 300 had to offer. The ninja 300 felt more planted/ smooth and comfortable on the road while the yamaha felt light, nimble and throw-able.

Clutch:
The clutch engagement was very early (this may change depending on every bike) and it was in the same spot every time. You knew exactly where the engagement was all the time every time. The Yamaha r3 DOES NOT have a slipper clutch which, to some people, it's the end of the world, to me however, it's a good thing. The reason being that I like the normal wet clutch on the yammie is that it doesn't POP OUT on WOT. Too many times has my clutch actually popped out on my ninja 300 causing an over-rev.

Engine Response/Refinement:
In terms of the engine refinement I am inclined to say that the bike failed when comparing it to my ninja, the engine did not provide a smooth delivery of power for me, however there was more low down power which I appreciated. When comparing this to my ninja, the ninja provided smooth engine tone and power delivery whilst the yamha was pretty bone-ish throughout the rev range. I dont know how to best explain it, but perhaps the words I can use to describe the engine delivery of the ninja 300 is: smooth, finesse, deep sounding - the yamaha r3 is: bone-ish and punchy and light sounding, however I dont know if this akrapovic exhaust (with baffle) had anything to do with this.


Comparing this too my ninja:
Honestly I could not wait to hop on my ninja 300 because of how luxurious and perfectly built it is. The motorbike engine sound and delivery is smooth, perhaps the clutch is weird but tolerable, the body of the ninja is bigger and heavier providing that stable (big back wheel, 1l bike) feel. Swinging the ninja 300 left and right was more disciplined and not extremely fast/light/throw-able like the yamaha r3 to the point it feels like a mosquito. The handles and controls of the ninja are amazing, the ergonomics are perfect primarily because they are balanced, feel good and dont feel cheap. I do wish they provided a gear indicator because I dont count my gear shifts at all whic puts me in bad situations sometimes. The ninja does need to get to 7k rpm to really provide its power however, it is smooth delivery of power and engine tone until the 7 thousand +. The yamaha was rocky and harsh in comparison to the ninja which honestly aggravated me. Hopping on the ninja 300 again settled me back to that happy smile and smooth power delivery/handling. These handling characteristics of the ninja are probably due to its bigger bike size, different suspension mechanism, and lower bike hight. To me this situation appears to be a toss between smoothness/finesse/ergonomically orientated/ smooth power delivery (ninja) vs reliability/bone sporty bike that has tight/chuck-able handling characteristics.

In saying this I am looking to sell my ninja 300 because I cant justify paying $400AUD for a "valve clearance check" every 12,000ks when yamaha is around the 40,000km mark and the servicing intervals are every 10,000kms haha. If there are typos sorry, wrote this review while getting a hair cut haha

Last edited by JahmelD; 05-22-2016 at 11:04 AM.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2016, 09:30 AM
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Nice read thanks

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2016, 09:35 AM
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You know, valve checks are easy. You could do that yourself. It doesn't really get more difficult until the check reveals that it needs an adjustment. And for most people, probably not.

Seems kinda weird to want to sell a bike due to valve checks. Just be glad you're not on a classic Ducati.

And my own comments: I would never want to own a bike that has a straight linkage rear suspension. They will never handle as well. If the rear shock has a direct connection to the swingarm, that's not good. If it has a 3 point trangle pivot down there, that's a good start. That's why my old Ninja 650 handled like total ass. If you read in between the lines of the R3 reviews, you can see the rear end has the same issues. A rear suspension like that will never have the same ability to stay planted in a bumpy corner.

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2016, 09:57 AM
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For me, it goes like this.

Kawasaki have been doing this a long time. I've had a GPX250, still have a ZZR250 and two 300"s. I also have bigger bikes but the so called new 300 class was arguably invented by Kawasaki and they have had the 250 class to them selves with all the various Ninja.

So, they have has decade to pick at the little details and even Yamaha, who are not exactly backwards at coming forwards, starting fresh and hoping to trump the Ninja with 'on paper' improvements such as more power and less weight, still have some catching up to do.

The Ninja is a bike that feels more than the sum of it's parts. it has just the right amount of everything. It is not as fast as some, not as light as others and not as radical as, say, a KTM but at the price it is, it delivers for cruising, commuting, sporty days and even the odd track thrash.

Little things like the quality of the indicator, the finish on the controls, the rider position, Kawasaki did their homework and it shows.

This is, of course, my humble opinion. I have pulled apart these bikes and their predecessors and seen the quality of the internals of the engine as well as the rest of the bike and that is what comes through after it all gets screwed together

On the valve clearance issue, I have some very old 250 units lying around and if you use regular good quality oil (I use Motul), they should never need adjusting. Just as well as it is a pain to do, as with any bike engine using shims.
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2016, 04:05 PM
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I've ridden the stock R3 and a modded R3 (though I didn't consider the mod complete without an ECU piggyback or flash to deal with the full-exhaust), but I liked the Ninja 300 (my modded version) much better. And, my Ninja 300 is faster than the R3 off the line, but most of the credit for that goes to the quickshifter. 20cc extra from the R3 cannot cope with a quickshifter on a modded Ninja 300. So, a few mods can really make the difference here. And, if memory serves, the 300 has 500 a RPM higher redline than the R3.

Stock to stock comparison, I do like the clip-ons and gear indicator that come with the R3, but the R3 always felt a bit too narrow to me. My adjustable Woodcraft clip-ons let me dial in exactly how much width I want and I have them set perfectly for me.

The stock clutch lever felt way better than the 300, where the 300 has an engagement point somewhere between the grip and Pluto. Terrible for small hands and/or short fingers.

The slipper clutch on the 300? You really can feel it when you downshift on an R3 when riding aggressively. I really missed that slipper clutch. There's a reason that nearly every supersport and literbike has a slipper-clutch. They're not just for racing but useful for any kind of aggressive twisty riding, even if learning to rev-match is a handy skill.

Styling...both bikes look good, though the 300 is hard to beat here.

That direct link suspension on the R3...I've heard a lot of complaints about this, including how it complicates lowering the R3. For those who want to lower a bike, the 300 is the better choice (though I've never lowered a bike, even being 5'3").

I have a couple vids about the two for those who care to look, but I don't want to thread-jack so you'll have to search 'em out if you're curious.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-15-2016, 06:24 PM
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I thought the back tire/wheel was the same size...

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-16-2016, 10:49 PM
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Interesting ... but odd. I took the Yamaha out for a quick spin and found it to be faster feeling with a smoother engine. Every review I've read also reinforces that view, that the R3 is lighter, faster to 1/4 mile, faster 0-60 and with a higher top speed.

The only thing I did not like was that plastic gas tank as I like magnetic tank bags and the fact that at 6 foot and 210 lbs I already am pushing looking it, the Ninja feels ok size wise, though just barely, but the Yami felt and looked small to me. But of course I didn't buy it just for me. I'd have gone for it however over the N 300 but my daughter liked the Ninja where it matters most to most people, though many deny it - the looks. So who am I to argue. The ninja is a fine bike, who cares if it takes up the rear. Heck, that can even be thought of as an advantage in it's role as an accessible started bike. I value a smooth ride and good straight line tracking the most, contrary to many guys who want to wring the last bit of performance out of their ride.

Has anyone also riden the KTM for a comparison? Any thoughts on it? I never considered the KTM because I thought it was way more expensive, but it seems not to be.

http://www.cycleworld.com/2015/05/18...specifications

http://overdrive.in/reviews/track-te...aki-ninja-300/
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-19-2016, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArizonaSpeed View Post
I thought the back tire/wheel was the same size...
It does, but the suspension mechanism is different and the bike is taller off the ground compared to ninja 300. Loosing that low planted feel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavel View Post
Interesting ... but odd. I took the Yamaha out for a quick spin and found it to be faster feeling with a smoother engine. Every review I've read also reinforces that view, that the R3 is lighter, faster to 1/4 mile, faster 0-60 and with a higher top speed
Yamaha is faster, by a small margin. Engine tone is raspier, check all the exhaust vids comparing ninja 300 to yamaha. The ninja is deeper and rounder the yamaha is higher pitched. If u compare aftermarket exhaust vids for both u will find the ninja 300 is rounder and deeper while the r3 is louder and higher pitched.

As for smoothness of engine I srsly think the yamaha sounds too mosquito-ish. Pluss I dont think it is smooth, but the revs to power is smooth because there is more down low. The ninja is more softer, deeper and rounder and the engine pick up is smooth through the rev range while yammie is pretty bone-ish, yamaha have a reputation for making bone-ish rev happy engine orientated bikes like the r6 - they dont have arep for being smooth by all means haha.

Another thing for my review: the seat on the r3 is small, very small - comfort = 0 haha
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-19-2016, 03:38 AM
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Test Rode R3: Ninja 300 vs YZF R3

As someone who owns a ninja 300 and an R3 (both race bikes), they both have their advantages.
No big difference in power on smaller tighter tracks but the R3 dominates on bigger tracks. The R3 is lighter and turns easier but the ninja feels more planted mid corner. The ninja riding position is set up better than the R3 (but this is ONLY due to the clipons I'm allowed to use). The R3 is much skinner and size feels a lot better during cornering. The R3 has significantly more clearance but you'll still be scraping pegs at full lean (even with rear sets positioned as high and far back as possible). The R3 has huge flat spots in the power range which are VERY noticeable, the ninja engine also feels like it wants to be revved to the redline but the R3 doesn't seem to care. The slipper clutch in the ninja is a great addition which just makes things so much easier and no doubt adds to the reliability- I know of ATLEAST 4 engines that have had significant failures in the R3's just in the classes I race (and there have only been 2 race rounds). I haven't seen any ninja's engines fail (so far).
As far as the gear indicator goes... Completely useless at the track but I'm sure it would be a nice addition for road/street riding
If the ninja had a bit more power then it would definitely be my favorite but it really is hard to pick a winner in my opinion
** worth noting this is from a race/track perspective ONLY

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Last edited by vulgr; 05-19-2016 at 03:41 AM.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-19-2016, 05:14 AM
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@vulgr, did you change the geometry of your Ninja?
If not, just test the following setup:
- front 10mm lower
- rear 10mm higher/raised
I guess you'll love it...
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