Kawasaki Ninja 250R first ride
- Published On: 3 April 2017
- 5 min read
Does Kawasaki's quarter-litre sportsbike bring together all the brand's goodies into a small package?
The Ninja 250R has enjoyed a formidable reputation as the world’s best 250cc bike. But can it handle our challenging road conditions? Bajaj Auto took a while to bring its Kawasaki Ninja 250R to India but it finally did and Indian sportsbike enthusiasts couldn’t be happier. This motorcycle seems to have built quite a niche for itself within the 250cc segment. While its rivals sit a cylinder, about 10.1hp and half its price behind this bike, the other 800cc-plus superbikes come with bulk, fearsome performance and are quite expensive. This bike kind of fits in between somewhere.
On the outside
When you first look at the bike, Kawasaki’s green sits on neatly chiselled lines and scoops, which constitute its snazzy bodywork. Elegant alloy rims and petal disc brakes add to its style, as does a compact front mudguard. Its front fairing blends smoothly into the tank, as do the side panels with the rear. The sleek visor offers effective wind protection when crouched at high speed. Numerous parts boast black styling to good effect, including the wheels, side panels, tail and silencer canister. The twin headlight system works brilliantly at night, and always remains on for added safety.
The classic analogue instrument bay is a nice touch of nostalgia, with a lot of bikes using digital instruments now. Thankfully legible at even high speeds, these white-on-black clocks are blue backlit at night and include a speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip-counter as well as temperature gauge. Surprisingly, there is no fuel gauge. The grips and levers feel superb to use as does the bike’s switchgear. There is no pass-light flasher though. Its slim and smoothly tapered fuel tank comes with a really attractive alloy filler lid. The split seats get dual colours on this green motorcycle. The bike comes without a grab handle or main stand, which is the case with many true-blue sportsbikes. Overall quality, fit and finish and build quality are impeccable, with Kawasaki and Bajaj having paid a lot of attention to the details.
The Kawasaki is powered by an electric-start, four-stroke, in-line twin, 249cc Kawasaki engine. The short-stroke engine screams quickly to its 13,000rpm limiter. The 250R’s engine puts out a meaty 33.45hp at 11000rpm, while maximum torque achieved is 22Nm at 8200rpm. Start the bike and its powerplant settles into a murmur at idle. Open up the throttle and you’ll be greeted with smooth, totally vibe-free power delivery. The power band is wide, gaining in strength low down and building into a strong mid-range after 4000rpm. This is a motorcycle every enthusiast will find impossible to ride slowly. The sweetly tuned engine loves being pushed hard - the trick is to simply blast it wide open and hold it close to boil to get the most out of this motor. The Ninja’s six-speed, one-down, five-up transmission shifts seamlessly, and its clutch offers nice feel too.
From the saddle
Unlike the larger 150hp-plus superbikes now available in India, you’ll find yourself able to handle each of the Ninja’s 33 useable horses without being an expert. The Ninja takes 3.04 seconds to hit 60kph, and goes past 100kph without much effort in a scarce 7.83sec. True top speed in sixth gear was 152kph.
This is a serious sports motorcycle that’s still reasonably comfortable to ride on a daily basis. The upright, yet weight-forward riding posture strikes a good balance for the Indian consumer. It’s difficult to find many fully faired sportsbikes with such an accommodating riding position. Its pleasing, urban commuter-friendly ergonomics help make the Ninja feel at home in India.
It doesn’t feel heavy on the go, and still always offers secure stability, fluidly carving through corners when you’re in the mood. The motorcycle responds with a quick, neutral feel to all steering inputs.
Ride quality is set a touch on the firm side, but still comfortable for a sportsbike. The brakes work with a progressive feel, yet are powerful enough to stop the heavy motorcycle dead in its tracks. Stopping from 100kph took 44.99 metres, with 60kph brushed away in 15.1 metres.
Despite the quick performance this powerful motorcycle is capable of, the Ninja 250R achieves relatively decent fuel economy. We got 26.4kpl in Indian city riding conditions and 28.7kpl on the highway.
Is it worth the money?
Kawasaki’s new segment-starter does have a lot going for itself. Its sporty faired-in styling, potent twin-cylinder engine with a slick gearbox, plus a brilliantly engineered frame, suspension and brakes all come together to offer its rider a perfect blend. There’s ample performance when required, its handling is stable and riding posture comfortable. The Ninja certainly justifies its lofty price-tag with its superior feel and performance.