The 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 250R is situated at the line between rider-friendly behavior and top Ninja styling. The recipe seemed to be very simple: keep the twin-cylinder engine and sporty chassis and dress everything nicely in a fairing inspired on bigger Ninjas.
Japanese manufacturers didn’t quite focused on producing 250cc sportbikes these last years, Kawasaki remaining the only bike builder with such a motorcycle on sale today for the U.S. market. The smart choice was to keep producing and yet improving this icon, and this way it managed to dominate the American market at the given category.
By using a perfect combination of rider-friendly engine, easy to operate chassis, and modern design, this Ninja is a true companion on your road towards bigger motorcycles, like the ZX-6R and ZX-10R.
Beginning sportbike riders which prefer street use often encounter a gap between the 125cc motorcycles and those half-liter user-friendly bikes, which are indeed great for beginners, but can sometime be much more than riders would expect.
Kawasaki noticed this problem more than twenty years ago and it immediately took measures. The result was the introduction of the EX250, a model which made sure that no gap is found in Kawasaki’s sportbike lineup of the time.
Because it did the job properly, the EX250 kept being produced without major modifications.
Thanks to a responsive 250cc twin-cylinder engine, comfortable riding position, and great looking fairing, this model sold like no other, attaching a solid brick of legacy at the base of Kawasaki modern 250cc sportbikes.
Now, the same machine is known as the Kawasaki Ninja 250R and it features the same chassis, engine and general features (except bigger wheels and a more modern apparel) of the bike that started it all.
As I was saying, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R has no competition whatsoever. Honda doesn’t produce the Hornet 250 anymore and if you would try to find a competitor for it, you would have a very hard time doing it.
This bike is in a class of its own and the situation couldn’t have been more in advantage for Kawasaki. The sales are good and the bike looks and feels great so it dominates the sales charts without any problems.
Usually you would find myself writing about Honda offering a more reliable bike and Yamaha a better looking one (in my opinion) but this is definitely not the case. I simply recommend you to go for it if you feel like buying one, and the fact that it is in a class of its own can only mean that the other manufacturers didn’t “smell” the opportunity as they are more concentrated on delivering high performance bikes of big cylinder capacity.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I would here in a press release that another consecrated fabricator is planning on building a 250cc sportbike. Maybe Suzuki, who knows!
What truly defines the 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 250R are the new fairing and windscreen which not only look great, but deliver improved wind protection for a wide range of riding situations. The Japanese manufacturer made sure that the fairing would be inspired on those bigger Ninja motorcycles, and it did. The result was fit and finish of striking full-fairing bodywork.
Further enhancing the supersport look is the dual-lamp headlight design, slim tail cowl and separate seats. Once properly accommodated, the front cowling and windscreen offer the rider a sufficient amount of wind protection so that the ride wouldn’t be disturbed by such factors as wind.
When it comes to colors, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R is a reminder of the machines that inspired its apparel. Lime Green and Ebony usually cover ZX-10R’s fairing while Candy Plasma Blue is found on…you guessed it, ZX-6R. Red is characteristic to Kawasaki sport bikes so it was a must on the Ninja 250R, also.
Riders who are willing to be initiated in the wonderful world of motorcycling and prefer a sportier ride are most likely to jump on the Kawasaki Ninja 250R so it is best to know what to expect. I certainly did. I found myself facing an engine that thrives on high-rpm excitement.
Riders will definitely appreciate the 249cc parallel twin which has been retuned in order to spice up its smooth and predictable power delivery and the results are simply awesome. I now enjoyed more low- and mid-range rpm torque thanks to revisions to its dual overhead camshafts and a new two-into-one exhaust system. This last unit doesn’t make more sound than necessary; let’s say it has enough to do by delivering awesome performance just above idle.
What this ride now needed was the silky smooth six-speed transmission which complements all the awesome features of the engine, toping off the sportbike equipment list. What is so great about this gearbox is that it enables the 250R to exploit a powerband that’s sure to please riders with its beginner friendly low-end grunt and a lively top-end rush that’ll keep seasoned veterans satisfied.
That gutsy engine in communion with a great transmission unit, not only makes it one sweet machine to be on, but it actually delivers excellent fuel economy which is excellent for the novice rider which with more than one occasion can forget to gas it up.
Being a sportbike, it can somehow be considered as being uncomfortable, but a natural riding position and comfortable ergonomics combined with its lightweight handling, easy controllability and improved throttle response make the 250R a pleasure to ride on city streets
Also new for 2008 are the larger 17-inch wheels that, apart from offering a big-bike look, also contribute at offering great handling and improved stability.
I appreciate the suspensions because they are very appropriate for this ride and manage to keep it steady in corners while still keeping things smooth and relatively simple.
A larger 290mm front brake rotor is gripped by a powerful 2-piston caliper to provide a healthy dose of stopping power with a responsive feel at the lever. Like Kawasaki’s other sport models, the Ninja 250R is fitted with petal discs for efficient heat dissipation.
So even if you gathered a few miles or if you are just beginning your riding days as a sportbike rider, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R proves it has the ability to make all those steps together with you and it also brings all the satisfaction that will determine you to head only towards Kawasaki from now on.
The great thing with starter bikes is that they have low price tags and the Ninja 250R makes no exception. It has an MSRP of $3,499 USD so it is clear that even if it would have had a true competitor, the money would position it way up front.
The low suggested retail price shouldn’t make it disposable just after you’ve learned how to ride because on the Ninja 250R, that’s when all the fun begins.
In the city or on twisty country roads, the lightweight, rider-friendly Ninja 250R is a blast to ride! With an engine character that can be fully exploited, a compact, easy to operate chassis and full-fairing supersport styling worthy of its moniker, this model was developed to offer street sport performance to riders of all skill levels.
Engine and Transmission
Type: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel twin
Bore x Stroke: 62.0 x 41.2mm
Maximum Torque: 21.7 Nm (2.21 Kgf/m) 16.0 lb-ft @ 10,000 rpm
Compression Ratio: 11.6:1
Carburetor: Keihin CVK30 x 2
Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/ 3.3 in.
Front Tire Size: 110/70-17
Rear Tire Size: 130/70-17
Wheelbase: 54.7 in.
Front Suspension/ wheel travel: 37mm hydraulic telescopic fork/ TBD
Rear Suspension/ wheel travel: Bottom-link Uni-Trak with 5-way adjustable preload / 5.1 in.
Front Brake Type: Single 260mm hydraulic disc with two-piston caliper
Rear Brake: Single 220mm petal disc with two-piston caliper.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.8 gal.
Seat Height: 30.7 in.
Dry Weight: 333 lbs.
Overall Length: 81.9 in.
Overall Width: 28.0 in.
Overall Height: 43.9 in.
Color: Lime Green, Ebony, Passion Red, Candy Plasma Blue
Warranty: 12 months
Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36, 48 months
DOHC 249cc Parallel Twin-cylinder Engine:
Compact parallel-twin design offers good mass centralization for superior handling
Tuned to deliver smooth, step-free power with an emphasis on low- and mid-range power for rider-friendly response
Pistons feature reinforced heads and strengthening in the pin boss area for increased durability
Thick piston (longitudinally) rings help minimize oil consumption
Combustion chamber design optimized to maximize combustion efficiency and reduced emissions
Ample high-rpm performance will please riders using the full range of the engine
Refined intake and exhaust ports contribute to good off-idle response and smooth power delivery
Valve timing and lift were designed for strong low- and mid-range torque
Direct valve actuation ensures reliable high-rpm operability
Valves with thin heads and stems reduce reciprocating weight.
Twin Keihin CVK30 carburetors fine-tuned for good power feel and low fuel consumption
2-into-1 system contributes to the Ninja 250R’s low- and mid-range torque and smooth, step-free power curve
Slightly upswept silencer extensively tested to determine chamber size, connecting pipe length and diameter to achieve least noise and most power
Meets strict emissions with dual catalyzers; one in the collector pipe and the other in the silencer
Using two catalyzers minimizes the power loss
Positioning the first catalyzer as close to the exhaust ports maximizes its efficiency as well
Reduced mechanical noise:
Cam chain tensioner with an automatic adjuster, like that on the KX450F motocrosser, eliminates mechanical noise caused by a loose cam chain and reduces power-robbing friction loss
Silencing mechanical noise allows the use of a freer flowing exhaust for a better sound quality
Complex construction with reinforcing ribs helps eliminate airbox reverberation and reduce intake noise
Air filter accessible from the side, for easy replacement
Latest generation Denso radiator offers superior cooling with minimal space and weight
Ring-fan uses a quiet-running motor that also saves space
Fins on the lower side of the crankcase further helps cool the engine
Six-speed Transmission / Clutch:
Involute splines reduce friction and backlash between gears and shafts for easier gear meshing and smooth shifting under power
Spring-type clutch damper reduces jerkiness at very low speeds and minimizes shocks when rolling on and off the throttle for a smoother clutch feel
Paper-base friction plates help increase cutch durability
Sturdy and durable diamond-style frame of thick-walled steel tubing offers confidence-inspiring stability at both high and low speeds
Beefy swingarm bracket contributes to the frame’s rigidity and helps achieve an ideal chassis stiffness balance
Square-tube swingarm with a 60 x 30mm cross-section further adds to rigidity
New 37mm telescopic front fork with firm settings contribute to the Ninja 250R’s smooth, stable handling and enhanced ride control
Uni-Trak rear suspension compliments the rigid frame and re-tuned fork and provides great road holding ability
Rear shock features 5-way adjustable preload, enabling the ride height to be maintained whether riding solo or with a passenger.
Wheels / Tires:
Features 17” wheels like its larger supersport brothers
Low-profile sportbike tires on wide rims contribute to its easy, neutral handling at low speeds
Large-diameter, 290mm front petal disc and a balanced action twin-piston caliper offer excellent braking performance and a natural, direct feeling at the lever
Two-piston caliper grips the rear 220mm petal disc
Natural riding position with slightly forward-slanting seat and wide, raised handlebars
Styling matches its larger-displacement Ninja supersport sibling
Fit and finish of striking full-fairing bodywork on par with that of top-class Ninja supersports
Aggressive dual-lamp headlight design, slim tail cowl and separate seats further enhance the supersport look
Front cowling and windscreen offer the rider a substantial amount of wind protection
Two helmet holders conveniently locate under the rear seat
Under-seat storage can hold a U-lock or similar device
Two hooks under the tail and the rear passenger pegs provide anchor points for securing items to the rear of the bike
Instrument panel features an easy-to-read, large-face analog speedometer along with an analog tachometer, odometer, trip meter, fuel gauge and warning lights