With unique styling, decent performance and an easy-to-ride nature, the Keeways bring a new flavour to their respective segments.
The choices in the 300cc class of motorcycles are slowly yet steadily growing. While they have enough performance to satiate the desires of those stepping up from bikes with half the engine displacement, these bikes are also accessible. The latest entrant in this segment is Keeway with the K300 N and K300 R. As the suffix suggests, the R is the faired version of the 300 N, but there’s more that stands out between the two bikes.
Keeway K300 N and K300 R: design and features
Starting with the design. The K300 R is definitely the nicer-looking motorcycle among the two and the one that’ll grab more attention. Especially if you are into faired motorcycles. The front end looks unique with its split LED headlights and DRLs – reminiscent of the previous-gen Ducati Panigale. The rest of the body panels, the slim fuel tank and the small tail section with a neatly designed LED tail-light integrated within are all nice design touches. The unique looks aside, the bright red paint on the bike makes it all the more attractive.
Both bikes get an LCD dash that is basic for this category.
The K300 N’s design, on the other hand, will appeal to those who like street naked bikes. Quintessentially, the visual mass is concentrated around the centre with the neatly designed tank and the exposed steel-trellis frame and engine grabbing attention. The sharp-looking LED headlight and the minimal tail section are nicely executed, and there’s no denying that design is one of the biggest highlights of both the N and the R.
As for the build quality, it is decent all around. We didn’t notice any uneven panel gaps or ungainly welds, however, the quality of the switches is sub-par. I’m also not a fan of the non-intuitive placement of the horn button or the basic LCD, considering the price of these bikes.
Keeway K300 N and K300 R: ergonomics
Hop on the saddle of K300 N and it is instantly apparent that it has the more comfortable riding position of the two. The riding position is mildly sporty and I liked the fact that the seat has a decent amount of room. It’s a similar case with the K300 R’s perch as well and while its rider’s triangle is as expected as in a supersport, it isn’t extreme.
Keeway K300 N and K300 R: engine and performance
Both motorcycles are powered by the same 292.4cc, liquid-cooled engine and have identical peak power and torque outputs. As expected, their performance is similar with the 0-100kph times in the low 8-second mark. The N is marginally quicker to 100kph, on account of its 14kg weight advantage. What will be of interest to most, however, is that the engine is mostly quite smooth, tractable at city speeds and has a strong mid-range to pull those quick overtakes. What also comes as a boon while riding in traffic is the super light clutch and smooth gearbox.
At highway speeds, the engine doesn’t feel stressed, but there’s a mild buzz in the handlebar and pegs that gets amplified when you rev the engine close to the redline. Overall, the performance of these Keeways is decent enough to outrun a Suzuki Gixxer 250, but it can’t hold a candle to the BMW G 310 R/RR’s performance, while the KTM 390 Duke/RC390 are miles ahead of all aforementioned bikes.
Keeway K300 N and K300 R: ride and handling
The bikes employ a steel trellis frame, suspended by a USD fork and monoshock, and what came as a bit of a surprise is how well they tackle Mumbai’s woefully bad roads. Another surprise is the K300 R’s relatively plusher ride. For a supersport, it rounds off sharp edges and shoddy patchwork on our streets quite well, and for some reason, the rear is more comfortable than the N. The best part is that this sort of ride quality doesn’t come at the expense of handling. The R’s stickier tyres contribute to the planted feeling you get around corners and direction changes require minimal effort as well. However, its 135mm ground clearance will be an issue over big speedbreakers. In comparison, the K300 N is also predictable around bends, but what I loved the most was its nimble handling while dealing with city traffic.
Suspension units are similar, but better ride comfort on R.
The brakes on both bikes were strong and progressive, as you’d expect from motorcycles in this class. What did put me off a bit was the ABS calibration. I found it to be a touch too sensitive, kicking in unnecessarily while braking over a mildly bumpy surface and staying engaged for far too long.
Keeway K300 N and K300 R: verdict
The Keeway K300 N and K300 R turned out to be surprisingly nice bikes to ride. Both look great, are decently built and have good performance to boot, without being intimidating. But, and that’s a big but, as good as these bikes are, their pricing is simply beyond reason. At a starting price of Rs 2.65 lakh for the N and Rs 2.99 lakh for the R, these bikes are priced in the same band as the BMW G 310 R/RR and TVS Apache RR 310. Not only are they vastly superior in terms of performance and features, but they are also built by far more established brands. And let’s not forget the KTM Duke/RC390 that are even sweeter for a little extra cash.