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The Kawasaki Ninja 250R Review and Ride Report by xBhp.
Text: Sunil Gupta/ Sunilg
Photos: Sunil Gupta/ Sunilg & Sundeep Gajjar/motoGrapher
with Special Thanks to: Castrol Power 1, Kawasaki Philippines, & Motorcycle Magazine Philippines
They say perfection is difficult to improve upon. Difficult, but not impossible! The Kawasaki Ninja 250R was one such perfect (well, almost!) bike that everyone thought was too good to improve. To its owners, it gave everything that they could expect from a quarter-liter machine, sometimes more than their expectations – case in hand, the brakes that are among the best that your money can buy.
The Ninja 250R though didn’t stir a storm in the Indian market, thanks to its steep price tag and our price sensitive market, but it did make its mark and the Indian bikers had a real performance bike in a very long time after the legendary RD350.
So when the rumours of a face-lifted baby Ninja started to appear on the worldwide web, it did become the proverbial talk of the town. And with the expectations were already so high, the folks at Kawasaki had little choice but to come out with something that is as groundbreaking as the previous Ninja was.
We at xBhp got our hands on the newest baby Ninja, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R, in Philippines a few days back, thanks to the Motorcycle Magazine and Kawasaki Philippines. And boy, did it leave us speechless or what! Here’s our 2 cents on what we think of this bike.
Looks & Styling: The initial official photos of this green baby that were released in the latter half of 2012 didn’t leave any chance for disappointment. What the Kawasaki designers had pulled out was nothing short of a rabbit out of the hat. The 2013 Ninja 250R looked drop-dead gorgeous in pictures and does so in flesh. It’s got sharper looks like that of a supermodel that puts it in the league of the ZX-10Rs looks wise, and perhaps even better. The tank is even more chiselled, and so is the tail, and together they play a big role in giving the bike a very mean look. The rounded exhaust pipe gives way for an all new angular, powder coated, black exhaust pipe with a chrome heat-shield. The new pipe not only looks good, it also sounds a lot better, particularly once you rev the bike past the 5000 RPM mark. The previous singular-body headlight has been done away with and gives way to the angular twin headlight system that vaguely reminds one of its bigger sibling, the Ninja ZX10R. Then there’s the all new digital + analog console instead of the plain jane fully analog unit on the previous 250R. The new unit has a large analog tachometer, a smaller digital speedometer display that also has 2 tripmeters, an odometer and a digital clock too. The bike comes to life with a cool animation on the digital console as you turn on the key. The backlight color is moonlight white. The numbers on the digital unit were clearly visible while riding even during bright daylight. And finally, the baby Ninja also gets the much awaited ‘pass’ light switch that was missing on the older models.
Ride posture and comfort: The 2013 Ninja 250R comes with an all new suspension and frame and looks like a super-sport 600 cc bike, but feels much more compact, agile and lighter than the older model when you are actually riding it. The riding posture is practically the same; however, thanks to overall compactness and agility, the newer one feels sportier than the previous 250R. The seat seemed just a wee bit taller but the handlebar-seat-footpeg relationship seems almost the same as with the older version.
Engine: The 2013 Ninja 250R will be powered by an all new 249 cc, 4-stroke, fuel-injected, liquid cooled parallel twin engine pumping out 31.5 BHP at 8500 RPM mark, which is slightly less than the older baby Ninja that gave around 33 BHP at 11000 RPM, but the low end torque feels significantly better with this new engine. Inside, the engine is made of sleeveless, die-cast aluminium plating for better heat dissipation. The pistons are also anodized. There is a bigger oil sump as well to further aid in the cooling process, thus to keep the engine stress free even in demanding conditions. As we said earlier, it is the mid range where the 2013 Ninja 250 really shines. You will be required to do a bit of gear shifting in the city traffic to keep going without hiccups, but overtaking the speeding cars on the highway isn’t going to be much of an issue. The gear shifts are smooth and positive.
Performance & handling: Handling wise, the Ninja 250R is undoubtedly the best machine in its category and otherwise. The newer Ninja carries the same DNA and handles like a charm. During our approximately 1500 KM ride in Philippines, the 2013 Ninja 250R felt at ease both during the sustained high-speed runs on the expressways and the bumper-to-bumper city traffic during peak hours, showing no signs of stress or overheating at anytime.
We also got an opportunity to take it for a few laps on the Clark International Speedway in Philippines where it once again proved that it is the uncrowned king of the tracks. The sharp and tricky corners, including the corkscrew, were handled with so much ease that this track felt like home and the bike was inviting us to push ourselves more and more.
These markings on the sliders should tell you a lot about the way the new baby Ninja handles
Braking: Braking has always been the USP of the Ninja 250. It is not just best in class but beats several bigger and more expensive bikes in this department. The 2013 Ninja carries the same 290 mm petal disk at the front and the 220 mm petal one on the rear, giving it the same phenomenal stopping power that its predecessor had.
Fuel Economy: Though we are pretty sure if you are planning to buy this little green monster, fuel economy will be the last thing in your mind. But for the numbers sake, we got an overall fuel average of around 25.5 KMPL, which is pretty close to the claimed figure of around 26 KMPL.
Price: The newer and the older Ninja 250R are both available in Philippines at around 250,000 PHP or 332,795 Rupees. So we can see that Kawasaki is offering the latest goodies at no extra cost to the consumers, which makes it even more desirable.
Overall: The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R stood true to its name and left us happy and craving for it. It not only carries the Ninja 250R DNA but also excels in all departments and performs better than its predecessors. However, the bigger question right now is whether or not this baby will make its way into India, or whether a bigger displacement machine (300 cc Ninja) would land it here. (We personally think that the 300 would be brought here by Kawasaki.) This confusion should get clear soon as we get closer to the speculated launch dates of the new Ninja. Whether Kawasaki brings the 250 or the 300 or both, we have no doubt that it is going to be a winner as the engineers at Kawasaki have perhaps mastered the art of making a perfect quarter liter bike. The Ninja 250R hasn’t been the segment bestseller for no reason.
P.S.: What if we have the Ninja 300 in India: The only bike that could pose any danger to the dominance of the Ninja 250R was the Honda CBR250R, thanks to its much cheaper price tag. The CBR250R gave more bang for the buck for average Indian biker who isn’t really interested in a superb performer but wants as much visual appeal as a Ninja owner, and decent performance. The Ninja 300, if brought in India, would again draw the attention of potential buyers who were looking beyond the usual 250s that we have presently in the market. And as there is no replacement for displacement, the 300 would pack in some more punch to brag about and to actually use on the track and the on road. Also for those who want to stand out of the crowd but don’t have deeper pockets, this would provide a better option.