If you have dreamed of flying down the highway or around the track on a Kawasaki sport bike, you are not alone. After all, the Kawasaki Ninja provides one of the most compelling rides of any beginning sport bike. If you are ready to purchase your new favorite bike, though, you may be wondering if you should get the older Kawasaki Ninja 250R or its newer, more powerful brother, the Ninja 300. Either way, both bikes deserve a spot on the list of the best beginner motorcycles.

In this guide, we take an in-depth look at the advantages and drawbacks of the Ninja 300 and 250R. We also give your our opinion of which one we think is a better fit for beginner riders.

The Dilemma

What exactly is the dilemma beginner riders face when choosing between a Ninja 300 and a 250R? When searching for a new bike, you must consider a variety of factors. These include your riding style, goals and budget. As you may know, the Ninja 250R has been around for a while. As such, the 250R is likely to be more affordable than the 300. For example, you may be able to pick up a used 250R in excellent condition for under $3,000. A new Ninja 300 is likely to cost you a couple thousand dollars more. Even a used 300, if you can find one, is apt to set you back more than $4,000.

For new buyers, then, the dilemma often requires deciding if the Ninja 300 offers enough of a performance improvement over the 250R to make the purchase justifiable. If you decide you can get by with the 250R, you may have $2,000 or more to spend on aftermarket upgrades. Still, before you can make a price-based decision, you need to understand the performance side of both models of motorcycle.

Start-up

What’s the difference between the Ninja 300 and 250R? The first time you are apt to notice a difference between the 250R and the 300 is when you start the motorcycle. Because the Ninja 300 has fuel injection, the motor starts quickly and easily. This is true even on cold days. Because the 250R lacks fuel injection, you may have to tinker with the bike’s choke to get it to start when temperatures drop. Still, if you generally ride when the sun is shining, the 250R’s carburetor may not be enough to encourage you to invest in the more expensive Ninja 300.

Motor

A huge part of any motorcycle is its engine. You should not get hung up on horsepower, though. Instead, you should consider a sport bike’s torque to understand its power potential. While the 250R delivers a bit less than 14 ft-lb of torque, the 300 hits 18 ft-lb. This difference makes, well, a huge difference. Because the 300 has a higher gearing, you get a jolt of extra power with the additional torque. When you are trying to speed up quickly, you are sure to appreciate the engine output the 300 offers. That is, the 300’s engine clearly beats the 250R’s motor.

Clutch

Another place you are likely to notice a difference between the 250R and the 300 is the clutch. The 300 has a slipper clutch and the 250R doesn’t. As a beginner rider, a slipper clutch may only appeal to you if you plan to do some aggressive rides. Since hard riding may not be in your immediate future, you may be able to deal with the 250R’s traditional clutch. Still, after taking a few spins on a 300, you are virtually certain to fall in love with the slipper.

Performance

When it comes to ride quality, both the Ninja 250R and 300 are among the best beginner motorcycles. Still, the 300 delivers a more impressive performance every time you climb behind its handlebars. With a stiffer chassis and reworked front forks, the 300 responds quickly to your commands. By contrast, the narrower tire on the 250R makes the older Kawasaki Ninja seem a bit sluggish. Of course, if you want to upgrade a 250R’s tires, suspension or fork, there are aftermarket components to help you get the job done. Still, the Ninja 300 delivers better performance without any modification at all.

Appearance

Finally, a sport bike enthusiast, you likely care about the overall appearance of your machine. While the 300 has modern lines that look both beefy and dominant, the Ninja 250R is beginning to look increasingly like a machine from a bygone era. Further, because the fairings of the 300 mimic larger Kawasaki sport bikes, some may think you ride a 600 instead of a 300. Still, with the many fairing and other aftermarket upgrades available for purchase these days, you can alter the appearance of virtually any motorcycle. If you are not crazy about the look of the 250R, you can change it.

Our Opinion

As you can see, Kawasaki has made some meaningful updates to the 250R with the 300. Which is the best Kawasaki Ninja for beginner riders, though? In our estimation, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 is the better bike for riders of all skill level. There is a significant price difference between a used 250R and a new 300, however. If you have the cash for a 300, you should probably choose one over the Ninja 250R. Nevertheless, Kawasaki Ninja 250Rs are better than many other entry-level sport bikes. As such, if you have enough cash to purchase a 250R, you are likely to fall in love even with the older version of this unbelievably cool Kawasaki motorcycle.

Regardless of whether you choose the Kawasaki Ninja 250R or 300, you are getting one of the best beginner motorcycles on the market today. After completing your purchase, though, you want to keep your Ninja in tip-top shape. You may also want to add some cool aftermarket upgrades to turn your stock sport bike into a epic machine. Either way, you need top-grade Kawasaki Ninja aftermarket and OEM parts from manufacturers you already know and trust. Find what you need to get the most out of your new Ninja and order it today.