Sharp looks, tractable engine, good handling dynamics
Lack of features, less ground clearance, mediocre braking
There’s something about naked motorcycles that will make my heart skip a beat. Sometimes, so many beats that these beauties could have sent me into a cardiac arrest. They’re like a small tactical knife, compact yet extremely lethal in the hands of a skilled marksman in melee combat. The Keeway K300N became the latest streetfighter to reignite this long-lived affair that I’ve had with raw, naked beauties. You inch a little closer to your doom when you start making choices based on outer appearances alone. This is the reason why it’s now time to let the enchanting spell wash away and summon logic.
K300N’s sharp silhouette is instantly recognizable, like a familiar face because it is essentially a rebadged version of the CFMoto 300NK which is already on sale in India. The Keeway K300N is sharp, sleek, muscular and compact at the same time. Similar adjectives have been used in the same sentence for KTM Dukes as well. And rightly so! Because the K300N and the K300R are designed by Kiska designs, the force responsible for blessing the world of wheels with radical and sharp-looking KTMs. Both the Keeways score high in terms of road presence and overall build quality. While the K300R looks like a supermodel with gorgeous eyes, opulently dressed to floor you over, the K300N is like the same supermodel, albeit in less and more casual clothes.
The headlamp unit is a rather sharp one and a little ‘in-your-face’ but that goes well with the design philosophy of the motorcycle. Then there are the USD forks finished in gold and a burly fuel tank that provide the K300N with much-needed visual drama. The exposed trellis frame also screams business and gives a subtle nod to yet another European streetfighter the K300N rivals. Move over to the rear and you would find that the compact tail section ‘ends’ faster than we have killed our childhood dreams. Not me. I’m currently living in mine. Exposing is the name of the game when it comes to designing naked motorcycles and K300N’s rear end is a testimony to that. However, fatter rear rubber would have definitely made the K300N a lot more imposing.
While the switchgear’s quality and tactile feedback leave no room for complaint, the positioning of the horn and indicator switches is no less than a nightmarish affair. So much so that I preferred opening my lid and hurling curses at my fellow road-mates, instead of going through a cumbersome procedure of looking down and finding the right button to press. Look down, find the right button to press and it’s all fine. Read that again. Not in strictly automotive terms.
The K300N’s stable is home to 27.5 horses which arrive at 8,750rpm and 25nm of twisting force that maxes out at 7000rpm. A six-speed gearbox with slip and assist clutch comes married to this powerplant. Refinement levels and approachable performance are the two major highlights of the package. The engine does wake up to a mechanical clatter but vibrations are kept at bay for the most part. The K300N takes off with briskness and neatly slots itself in mid-range where the party lies. The tractable nature of the engine means that you can chug along at 50kmph in the top gear, without the engine coming out on streets and protesting. To zip past moving traffic, at times you don’t even need to drop down a gear as there’s enough juice available to perform quick overtaking maneuvers. New riders are bound to appreciate the linear and friendly nature of this powerplant.
Post 8,000rpm is where the K300N starts losing its breath, without offering a punchy top end. 120kmph comes easy on the speedometer without the engine burning too much sweat to achieve the same. The further progress feels comparatively a bit lethargic, with the engine making you realize that good low end grunt and respectable mid-range performance is K300N’s forte.
The ergonomics nightmare was restricted to the awkward position of the switchgear because K300N’s perch is a nice place to be. Its 790mm seat height makes it easier for shorter riders to helm the motorcycle easily and be one with the motorcycle, instead of struggling to keep the rubber side down. The footpegs are slightly rearset but not borderline uncomfortable. In fact, the balance between comfort and commanding riding position is spot on. The kerb weight of this frisky little thing stands at 151kg, hiding away the absence of a few more horses that you can expect a 300cc motorcycle to deliver.
37mm USD forks and a preload-adjustable monoshock are responsible for handling the damping duties. And just like its kin, the K300R, the N also feels lively around bends and supple over bumps. Since it is built around a trellis frame, agility is second nature to the K300N. As soon as the corners arrive, you can feel its pretty face lighting up with glee. It’s super light to flick from side to side and remains planted enough to let you enjoy some good lean angles. Although it won’t send jolts up your family jewels, there’s a big catch when it comes to the K300N dealing with bad surfaces. Its measly ground clearance of 150mm coupled with an underbelly exhaust means that the bottom of the motorcycle likes making violent love with even slightly tall speedbreakers if a pillion is aboard. In some scenarios, bottoming out does feel nice but this doesn’t qualify as one such case.
Moreover, the braking department deserves a whack on the head because the K300N’s brakes require a lot of work. The front brake feels wooden and lacks feedback as well as bite. You have to grab a handful of it to save your organs from being a part of the tarmac. The case of the rear brake is rather curious too because it offers more bite than the front but ABS intervenes a little too quickly. Better braking prowess could have definitely added some more finesse to the motorcycle.
K300N has inherited its incompetency in the feature department from the K300R. It does come equipped with LED lighting all around, LCD instrument cluster, two ride modes and dual-channel ABS but that’s about it. For the hole that you would be burning in your pocket to acquire the K300N, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the kit on offer. Some major misses here include Bluetooth connectivity, better instrument cluster, ride-by-wire and better calibration of ride modes because out in the real world, it’s hard to distinguish which mode you are riding in.
Just like the K300R, the Keeway K300N is also a very likeable motorcycle but has the same chinks in the armor as its fared counterpart. The biggest one being the expensive price tag of INR 2.65 Lakh and if your eyes are set at this lovely Matte Black shade, you would have to shed INR 20,000 more! Don’t get us wrong. As an individual product, we love the K300N. It looks as sharp as an obsidian knife, rides well and has enough poke to keep you entertained behind the bars. But it still doesn’t justify its sticker price with its lack of features, mediocre braking performance and poor after sales network.