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!
2008 Kawasaki Ninja 250R
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.