Versus: Honda CBR500R vs Kawasaki Ninja 300

They both do roughly the same. They both cost roughly the same. Only one deserves your cash.

INTRO copy here.


Ninja 300


They’re both competent, sporty all-rounders, good for getting to work or getting a moderate shift on. They're both built to high-quality, Japanese standards. They're both great looking. Only £200 separates them in price. So which should you buy? Our Versus guides are here to give you a quick helping-hand through the trickiest buying choices, starting with: CBR500R vs Ninja 300

Reasons to buy CBR500R

Reason to buy Ninja 300

  • At 47bhp, it’s bang on the power limit for A2 licence holders
  • At £4,891 on the road, it’s only £542 more than a Yamaha YZF-R125
  • At £5,099 on the road, it’s one of the cheapest middle-weight bikes you can buy
  • It looks great. With no ‘300’ stickers, it could be mistaken for a ZX-6R
  • Being a Honda, you can hope for a high level of reliability, build-quality and after-sales service
  • The riding position is sporty but comfortable
  • It’s comfortable, with fairing and a fairly upright riding position
  • The parallel twin engine loves to rev. There’s useable torque from 3,000rpm and it really comes alive from 8,000rpm.
  • It’s well-proportioned and pretty
  • It’s a capable handler, making for composed and precise cornering
  • It handles well and can be pushed hard, with decent brakes and suspension. ABS is standard.
  • There’s a pleasing, torquey response from the parallel twin engine
  • It’s the official bike of the European Junior Cup championship for 14-to-19-year-olds
Price: £5,099 OTR
Capacity: 471cc
Power: 47bhp
Weight: 194kg
Seat height: 790mm
Price: £4891 OTR (£5,291 with ABS)
Capacity: 296cc
Power: 38bhp
Weight: 172kg kerb (£174kg ABS)
Seat height: 786mm

Our choice: Honda CBR500R

The Ninja is great fun but essentially the hangover of a disappearing market. Its predecessor, the Ninja 250R, catered perfectly for newly-qualified riders restricted to 33bhp. In January this year that restriction rose to 47bhp. The heavily-revised Ninja 300 is Kawasaki’s response, offering 38bhp. But if you can have 47bhp, surely that’s how many you want. In which case a £200 saving seems the remaining argument for the Kawasaki. That's without factoring in ABS, which is standard on the Honda. Much as we like the Ninja, it loses this battle.

Have we got it wrong? Tell us which you'd buy, or add your review of either model using the links below.

First ride: CBR500R Review: CBR500R Long-term test: CBR500R First ride: Ninja 300 Review: Ninja 300