While this segment was rather restricted a few years ago, of late, we’ve seen some fantastic offerings make their way to India. All bikes on this list feature ex-showroom, Delhi, prices for consistency.
Kawasaki Ninja 300
The Ninja 300 houses a 296cc, four-stroke, parallel-twin, liquid-cooled engine. This fuel-injected motor generates 39hp of maximum power with a peak torque figure of 27Nm. The engine is creamy smooth but you need to rev it quite a bit, to keep it in the meat of its powerband, for maximum fun. Its six-speed transmission gets a slip and assist clutch, feel at the lever is light and you don’t encounter rear-wheel hopping under rapid downshifts. As far as brakes are concerned, there are petal discs at both ends and has good braking potential, there’s no ABS though. Riding the Ninja 300 is a thrilling experience.
Price: ₹3.64 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Power: 39hp at 11,000rpm
Torque: 27Nm at 10,000rpm
This is the most direct rival to Kawasaki’s Ninja 300. Its 321cc, parallel-twin motor puts out a healthy 42hp of peak power, while peak torque is 29.6Nm. This bike has a strong mid-range and doesn’t need to be constantly revved to extract performance. The R3 hasn’t been designed to be an out-and-out track-attack machine so it sports a comfortable seating position and comes with a softer suspension. These factors make it a great practical bike to own in this category. What lets it down is the lack of ABS and its rather mediocre MRF tyres which don’t do justice to the bike’s handling abilities.
Note: The YZF-R3 has been pulled from Yamaha showrooms temporarily, but will be going back on sale shortly once the BS-IV version is launched.
Price: ₹3.25 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Power: 42hp at 10,750rpm
Torque: 29.6Nm at 9,000rpm
DSK Benelli TNT 300
The TNT 300 looks like a scaled-down streetfighter – it’s a good looking, well-equipped and is extremely fun to ride. Its 300cc, DOHC, eight-valve, parallel-twin motor makes 38.26hp of peak power and 26.5Nm of peak torque. Those numbers don’t mean very high acceleration figures though, largely because of its mass of 185kg. The motor is very smooth and ridiculously tractable however. And, even though it’s not the quickest bike here, it’s comfortable ergonomics and supple suspension will keep you happy. While the brakes are great, this bike comes without ABS. This bike sounds like a beast - DSK Benelli has tuned the exhaust to make it sound like a much larger motorcycle and given it a sweet exhaust note.
Price: ₹3.10 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Power: 38.25hp at 11,500rpm
Torque: 26.5Nm at 10,000rpm
KTM 390 Duke
In its 2017 avatar, KTM took the game several notches higher. The Duke is powered by a 373cc, single-cylinder motor that makes a whopping 43.5hp and a massive 37Nm of torque. It can hit 100kph in a little over five seconds! This lightning quick acceleration is thanks to its light 149kg kerb weight. Braking power is great too - it now gets a bigger 320mm front disc with a radially mounted 4-pot caliper, which is supplemented by switchable dual-channel ABS as standard. When it comes to handling, the bike is pretty much unbeatable, the only bike that does better is its stablemate, the RC390. There’s loads of equipment too – a ride-by-wire throttle, adjustable levers and a full-colour TFT instrument panel that can be hooked up to your smartphone for controlling music and answering calls.
Price: ₹2.26 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Power: 43.5hp at 9,000rpm
Torque: 37Nm at 7,000rpm
KTM RC 390
While the RC 390 looks like just a faired version of the 390 Duke, in reality, the two bikes offer vastly different riding experiences. The RC 390 is now BS-IV compliant, and has a ride-by-wire throttle, there’s a new side-slung exhaust and even the slipper clutch. It misses out on the fancy equipment that we see on the 390 Duke such as the TFT instrument cluster. The 390 is a couple of kilos lighter, combined with stiffer and lower travel, front suspension and ergonomics that are lifted right from a supersport bike, the RC390 is a machine that’s adept at attacking corners! It feels right at home on a racetrack and on smaller Indian circuits such as Chennai or Coimbatore. You can even find a lot of upgrades for the suspension and brakes in the international market if you want to make your bike even better on the track. Frankly, there really is no other bike in this category that offers such a true supersport experience at an affordable price.
Price: ₹2.25 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Power: 43.5hp at 9,000rpm
Torque: 36Nm at 7,000rpm