Kawasaki updates Ninja lineup

Some owners have reported issues when closing the throttle on their Ninja 300.
Goodbye, 250, hello 300. Of course, the Ninja 250 model still exists in other areas of the globe. Photo: Kawasaki

Kawasaki showed off their revised 2013 Ninja lineup publicly yesterday. Here’s a look at a few of those changes.

Here’s the view from the Ninja 300’s cockpit. Photo: Kawasaki

First up, here’s the information on the new Ninja 300. We already gave you some details here; Kawasaki has also spilled some more details on the engine upgrades. The new motor isn’t just a stroked 250; they also say they’ve upgraded almost half the engine to provide more performance. Intake ports are re-shaped, intake valves have been enlarged, a new cam chain supposedly offers less friction, compression ratio has been revised to 10.6:1, and pistons have been re-designed to be lighter and cool more efficiently.

The oil pan volume has been increased to 2.4 litres (with spin-on oil filter), the six-speed transmission now has wider gears to handle the larger motor’s torque, and the frame tubes have been re-designed to be significantly stiffer than the previous model. And as we said earlier, it’s going to be fuel-injected – fueling comes from dual 32 mm Keihin throttle bodies.

We haven’t seen Canadian pricing yet, but the Ninja 300 will carry a $4,799 MSRP in the US; if you want it it green, it’ll cost $200 more, and if you want ABS, it’ll cost $5,499 in the U.S.; those numbers are hundreds of dollars over the equivalent Honda CBR250R models in the U.S., so expect the same in Canada.

Also – it seems that 2012 was the last hurrah for the Ninja 250. It’s not listed on Kawasaki’s Canadian website as a 2013 model, and their U.S. press release doesn’t come right out and say the model is discontinued (likely because they want to sell off the leftover stock), but every reference to the 250 seems to indicate they’re through with it, at least as far as North America is concerned. It’s too bad, but it was a model with a long, long history, dating back to the days of Kawasaki’s GPZ lineup.

ZX-6 upgrades

A lean, mean, green machine: This is Kawasaki’s 2013 ZX-6. Photo: Kawasaki

Of course, the Ninja 250 wasn’t the only bike Kawasaki big-bored for 2013. The ZX-6 has also been upgraded; now it features a 636 cc motor, with three selectable power modes (“low” limits the bike to 80 per cent power, “high” gives you full power) and three-mode traction control, based on the system on the ZX-10 and ZX-14 (which gets ABS for 2013, just in case you were interested).

And here’s the big-bore 636 cc motor.

As with the Ninja 300, the new ZX-6 isn’t just a big-bored version of the older bike – Team Green’s engineers had to revise the intake and exhaust ports, and compression was changed to 12.9:1 to suit the new longer stroke. By the way, that longer stroke is supposed to mean the bike has more low-end torque.

Pistons, con rods, cams, airbox, exhaust and charging system have all been re-designed to make sure the new motor can take advantage of its big-bore treatment. The bike has a cassette-style transmission (for easier swaps at the rack) with a revised first gear to provide more low-end power.

The bike also features a new F.C.C. slipper clutch and radial-mounted monobloc brakes, with new 310 mm floating stainless steel petal discs up front. The bike has a 220 mm petal disc in rear.

The revised ZX-6 also features a new Showa Big Piston Fork, with dedicated preload adjustability in the left fork and damping pistons and adjustability in the right fork. Kawasaki says the fork tubes are 220 grams lighter than last years. The forks are adujstable from the top of the tubes. The rear suspension has also been tweaked; the shock spring is 25 mm longer, and softer, for improved comfort. The rear suspension has an improved leverage ratio as well.

The ZX-6 gets new front brakes, with ABS. Photo: Kawasaki

Kawasaki re-worked the the ZX-6’s aluminum twin-spar frame to be lighter, and changed the rake angle to 23.5 degrees; they also revised the stem seals, making them lighter for improved low-speed handling. Curb weight is 427.8 lbs, seat height will be 32.7 inches.

And of course, the bodywork has also been re-worked, with that sharper-edged look that Kawasaki has been going for lately. The front turn signals are integrated into the bodywork, and fairing openings have been enlarged to enable better cooling. The bike’s cockpit features a new gear indicator and revised mirrors.

We don’t have the Canadian MSRP for the new ZX-6 either, but it will cost $12,699 in the U.S.; it’ll come in white, black, and green. And you can see it in a video below …



  1. It appears to me that KHI does not care about conventional displacement categories. As far as racing goes, correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think the Circle K supports 600cc classes currently ?

    • Interesting, eh? And what about the fact the best-selling sport bike in North America (the Ninja 250) is now effectively discontinued here? It’s true they have the 300 now, but it’s more expensive, and not going to work for all the 250cc club racing out there, and going to be more expensive to insure. The rest of the world gets the Ninja 250 with EFI, but we get the 300 here … that would make sense if North America’s “bigger is better” mentality meant the old ones didn’t sell well, but the fact is, it did. There’s a lot of interesting threads these moves are bringing up.

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