KAWASAKI J300 (2014 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Highly capable commuter-scooter
  • Surprisingly engaging to ride
  • Practical and cheap to run

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £320
Power: 27 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.5 in / 775 mm)
Weight: Medium (421 lbs / 191 kg)

Prices

New £4,499
Used £3,500 - £4,400

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The J300 is an excellent entry into the competitive scooter market and shows the firm is really serious about the market. It's sits perfectly between lighter 125cc scooters and much larger and heavier maxi scoots, combining a good spread of power with good, easy handling.

Isn't the Kawasaki J300 just a Kymco? 

Well, yes and no. According to Kawasaki ‘the core drive train and additional chassis elements were provided by strategic vehicle partner, Kymco and the development, styling and final product engineering approach was conducted exclusively by Kawasaki’s European R&D Department’.

In effect it is a Kymco Downtown 300i (which was cheaper than the J300), a capable little machine which has been given a Kawasaki overhaul. As well as a cosmetic job, the J300 gets a new rear suspension, revamped ECU for more mid-range power, a comfier seat, different brake calipers, redesigned screen, better lights, footboards and heel pads. Its core is a Kymco, but the J300 is very much a Kawasaki.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

As you'd expect from a scooter the ride is plush without being too soft and at 191kg it's not too heavy to throw around mini roundabouts and between cars. Out on the open road it's surprisingly fun and easy to ride. The saddle is very plush and after a full day of riding was still comfy.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Despite 'only' making 27bhp the 299cc single-cylinder engine in the J300 has plenty of go. It's easy to overtake uphill at 70mph and it'll happily sit at 80mph without any trouble. There's enough punch from the engine to make light work of dicing between cars and getting away from the lights in town.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The J300 is based heavily on the Kymco Downtown 300, a Taiwanese scooter, but the fact Kawasaki are willing to partner with Kymco and put their name on it suggests they're confident with the quality. The scooter feels well made.

Our Kawasaki J300 owners' reviews show a few reliability issues and some corrosion has occured, but overall people are happy with their bikes. One reader said the brakes could be better on his bike.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The ABS version will go on sale in limited numbers for £4,499, which represents fairly decent value in the mid-range scooter market. There are cheaper scooters of a similar capacity available, but few of them have ABS. If ABS isn't a deal breaker there's the SE model priced at £4,149 and the standard model priced at £4,049.

Group test: Kawasaki J300 vs Piaggio X10 Executive vs Honda Forza

Kawasaki J300 vs Honda Forza 300 vs Piaggio X10 Executive

Kawasaki may be a late-comer to scootering with its new J300 (it’s the last of the ‘Big Four’ to offer a small-wheeler – and by a long way) but it reckons it compensates for that by bringing something new to the party. To be specific, the firm say its 300cc scooter ‘blends sport, control, comfort and convenience which will appeal to sports-minded riders looking for a daily dose of fun from their commute’.

So perhaps the new mid-sized twist-and-go can bring a little extra excitement to the genre. Until now, 300-class scoots were primarily practical and efficient machines which made perfect sense for the extra-urban commuter. They’re economical, low stress, nimble and come with bags of storage. All are great reasons to own one. The only downside is they can be a little boring so finding one with a perfect blend of function, style and excitement is no mean feat. Which is where the J300 is supposed to come in and is what makes it an important machine for ‘Team Green’.

If what Kawasaki is saying is true, the J300 will be good for work duties and getting a move on. So to find out if it delivers just that we decided to pit it in a series of tests designed to explore commuting, practicality and fun factor, against two competitors at opposite ends of the spectrum: the practical Honda NSS300A Forza and flash Piaggio X10 Executive. This is how it got on.

Kawasaki J300 vs Honda Forza 300 vs Piaggio X10 Executive group test

Despite being late to an already competitive party, the J300 is a quality machine. Kawasaki received a fair amount of help from Taiwanese firm Kymco, but the redesigned and modified scoot looks and feels like a fresh alternative. The bodywork looks sporty and stylish. It comes with nice touches such as a hydraulically-operated seat, faired-in indicators, adjustable levers and a fair amount of wind protection. There’s bags of torque and the 299cc motor packs a good punch. But the budget suspension lets it down, and it’s a shame you can’t fit two lids under the seat like the Honda and Piaggio. 

The Forza takes the practicality prize as it’s a £1000 cheaper than the Piaggio and can carry just as much. It’s more economical but loses out on acceleration. 

The Piaggio is our favourite. It’s sleek, comfortable, roomy and marries the acceleration of the Kawasaki with the handling of the Honda. Yes, it is £1500 more expensive than the J300, but still takes the win. It’s a luxurious and accomplished scoot. But the J300 shouldn’t feel deflated; yes it could do with more storage space, but Kawasaki has done a brilliant job.

Kawasaki J300 vs Honda Forza 300 vs Piaggio X10 Executive on the road

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Equipment is fairly basic, offering the usual scooter practicalities. Under the seat there's enough room for a full face helmet and A4-sized briefcase. The seat is held up by a hydraulic arm, while there's also an internal light activated by a light sensor. It's a nice touch but may struggle in the dark since it relies on light to work. There's a lockable glovebox underneath the left handlebar which is big enough for a wallet and phone and includes a 12V socket.

The 2019 Kawasaki J300 is available in two colour options to match the Kawasaki J125. The black and green option remains from the original range, and Khaki and Metallic Moondust has been added.

Lest we baguette with the Kawasaki J300

Specs

Engine size 299cc
Engine type liquid-cooled four-stroke single cylinder
Frame type Tubular diamond, steel
Fuel capacity 13 litres
Seat height 775mm
Bike weight 191kg
Front suspension 37mm telescopic fork
Rear suspension Twin rear shock five-way preload adjust
Front brake Single 260mm petal disc dual-piston
Rear brake Single 240mm petal disc dual-piston
Front tyre size 120/80-14 M/C 58S
Rear tyre size 150/70-13 M/C 64S

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 59 mpg
Annual road tax £44
Annual service cost £320
New price £4,499
Used price £3,500 - £4,400
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 27 bhp
Max torque 21 ft-lb
Top speed 90 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 170 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2014: Model introduced

Other versions

Kawasaki J300, available in Metallic Anthracite Black or Metasatin Silver, priced at £4,049.
Kawasaki J300SE, available in Metallic Anthracite Black/Candy Flat Blazed Green, priced at £4,149.

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI J300 (2014 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI J300 (2014 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI J300 (2014 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Value vs rivals: 3.3 out of 5 (3.3/5)
Equipment: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £320
5 out of 5 3500 miles in the first five weeks.
29 August 2016 by Firestorm916

Version: Special Edition ABS

Year: 2016

Annual servicing cost: £130

Highly recommended. Strong MPG, strong performance. It's not the fastest bike but it will keep up with most things on the A and B roads around where I live. Worst feature?...struggling

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Long journeys?... No problem. I travelled through Holland, Germany, Austria and Czech Republic on mine... I had two days that were 500 mile each. I have never been as comfy on a motorcycle.

Engine 4 out of 5

It's an absolute missile after my Cygnus 125. It is a lovely power delivery, just about right in all ways.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

No problems so far... service intervals are short though.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

Service intervals are short. 3k miles

Equipment 5 out of 5

ABS came in handy on one occasion...the power outlet was invaluable. Unfamiliar lands and language meant that a sat-nav was more than just useful. The 12v outlet made this easy. The storage under the seat was enough for my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, wash bag, locks and spare bulbs. A top box mounting plate fits easily onto the flat space between the pillion handles...you simply remove a plastic cover.

Buying experience: Easy, from Colin Appleyards in Keighley. Interest free credit too.

4 out of 5 Great All Rounder
02 June 2016 by Dave B

Version: ABS

Year: 2015

Effortless & practical. My first scooter and I can't fault it. Agile enough in the city but powerful & comfortable enough on the motorways, even two up.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

Very smooth & quite torquey for a small capacity. Pretty quiet too.

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Some corrosion on the fasteners, seat takes a bit of force to engage lock. Other than that all good so far.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Charger, centre stand, ABS, under seat storage light etc.

4 out of 5
03 October 2015 by Big D

Year: 2014

Annual servicing cost: £500

The bikes best features has got to be its practicality, comfort and its power (for what it is!) The seat is the comfiest I have ever been on. its a real pleasure to ride with the handlebars positioned perfectly for a very comfortable ride. Mine has a double helmet top box which doesnt look out of place. I can store soooo much especially with the underseat storage. Honestly its quite amazing at what you can carry. The speed of this little 300 engine doesnt seem real. It is so much more then I expected, I lose most bikes on the twistys, and on A roads it sits comfortably around 85mph and can be pushed upto 100 mph!! The worst things on the bike if we are being niggly is the seat latch, the hydraulic rod for holding the seat up and the brakes. The seat has two latches, one either side but mine ever only secures to one. Its not a big issue but it is very common and leaves you feeling like its not as well built as it could be, It has a hydraulic rod to hold the seat up. Its a gimmick, most scooter seats stay up when there at the vertical anyway. With this rod fitted it restricts how high the seat goes up and can be fiddly getting your belongings in and out. I feel I can only describe the brakes as adequate. I had one occasion when I needed to stop FAST, I feel I was let down and had to take the bike on an evasive manoeuvre across some long grass to avoid a head on. Generally the brakes are progressive and enough but for them life changing scary moments they just don't cut it.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Cant fault the ride quality, plush, fast, comfy, handles well, good protection. 5 well deserved stars for this. However let down by the brakes. In an emergency you will have a problem with stopping. In everyday life they fit very well though

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine is perfect. Better even. Overtakes are easy. It pulls so well. I would be more then happy to go touring in this.

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

A brand new bike that hasnt covered 1500 miles and.... The seat only locks onto one of teo latches. It has stalled 3 times on me. On occasions it turns over but wont fire. You have to turn everything off. And then try again. Its not frequent but it does happen. Ocerall Im pleased with everything else but coming from a Honda I notice the little things!

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

The mpg is fantastic for the performance you get. Whilst I was running in I averaged 90 mpg. Now I thrash it around I still get a very reasonable 75-80 mpg. And thats true Mpg from the pump. I do ride mine very hard too. It is however let down by the frequency of servicing. Its recommends serving every 3000 miles or 3 months. Come on Kawasaki we want more then this!

Equipment 4 out of 5

Very good equipment. Centre stand, clocks, 4 trip meters. hazards. More than enough to be honest.

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