New Bikes

Kawasaki enters the scooter fray

Kymco-derived 300cc twist-and-go spotted

KAWASAKI has long stood alone among Japanese manufacturers as the firm that concentrates exclusively on full-size motorcycles, staying well clear of twist-and-go scooters, at least in Western markets.

Until now.

A new 300cc single-cylinder scooter has been snapped by a reader of Italian news site during a photo shoot for a commercial, and it’s clearly a Kawasaki.

Well, it’s green and Kawasaki-branded anyway. A closer inspection reveals that details like the forks and what’s visible of the engine, transmission and rear suspension are all identical to those on the Kymco Downtown 300i. Since Kawasaki and Kymco already have a close relationship, with the Taiwanese firm producing some engines for Kawasaki, it doesn’t take a huge leap of logic to suggest that the new Kawasaki – which will be called the J300 – is a restyled version of the Downtown 300i.

In terms of spec, that means it gets 30bhp from a 300cc fuel-injected single-cylinder four-stroke engine, with a top speed of around 90mph. The Kymco weighs 179kg, and there’s no reason to suspect the Kawasaki would be significantly different. ABS brakes are a certainty.

It may not be the only Kawasaki scooter, either.  The firm trademarked the J300 name some months ago, and also registered the name J1, suggesting that “J” could become Kawasaki’s designation for scooters, with the J1 – surely a smaller-engined, L-plate-legal machine – could be in the pipeline for future release.

To be fair, Kawasaki has offered a smaller number of scooters carrying its name in certain markets like the Philippines, where it sells the 112cc ‘Curve’ and 125cc ‘Fury’, but in Europe its reputation has traditionally focussed on motorcycles. What do you think? Is it a good idea for Kawasaki to start offering scooters over here, or does it diminish the firm’s ‘real bikes only’ appeal?

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