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Old 05-14-2005, 08:16 PM   #1
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700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - a motorcyclist's review

700 Miles on a Kawasaki Ninja 250
A Pashnit Experience

I have to admit I have this thing about horsepower.

And over the years the horsepower of the motorcycles I've owned has continued to climb. Finally to a point where I have more than most small cars. And although the bike I have lays claim to being the fastest production motorcycle in the world, I really don't care about speed, or even going fast for that matter. It's the low-down grunt, the torque, the suckage of my eyeballs indelibly headed to the rear of my skull.

Ah yes, that yummi tasty delicious horsepower.

Fast forward a bit.

So there I am headed up this hill, up and over a low 1500 ft pass, completely tucked in, full leathers, full armor, as if it were Moto GP, straining out every ounce of extra speed I could muster when I realized I wasn't going any faster. The throttle was turned all the way and wouldn't turn anymore.

Wide open. All 24 horsepower. A 24 horse team pulling me up the hill. Even the horses were laughing.

I was on a Ninja 250 - the anti-thesis of my motorcycle existence. Absorbing the sound, the feel, the vibration, the motor churning at 11,000 rpm beneath me with nary a protest. It was all there in this tiny little package - a true sportbike.

The beauty of the Pacific Coast Highway - Big Sur

When I first swung a leathered leg over and pulled out onto the street, I clicked it into first then second- nothing really happened. Hmm, strange. The speedo showed about 5-10 mph while the sewing machine motor below me was barely audible through my foam earplugs. The motorcycle I usually ride will hit nearly 100mph, in first gear, and quite briskly.

The words resonated in my mind from the owner - "...don't bother shifting till you hit 11,000 rpm". Ah, I get it! I clicked it through the gears into 6th (it has 6 gears!), and the bike settled in about 35-40 mph perfectly happy with the loping pace. Again, strange. Is it supposed to do that was my thought?

Time to roll on some creamy goodness. Up came the rpm's and along with it, the little yellow sportbike indeed accelerated settling in about 9000 rpm which is twice that of its counterparts. With the stock exhausts the bike now hummed along perfectly content- all the while I wondered if the motor was going to explode at any moment.

But then again as I looked down at the easy-to-read gauges, readline at 14500, and on up to 16,000. It was all beginning to make more sense. The lil Ninja was just getting warmed up.

Aboard the Ninja 250 along Hwy 1
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:18 PM   #2
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The seat was surprisingly good for a stock design, and the upright riding position actually ensured a comfortable all day position. It was even possible to lean slightly forward in a classic sportbike position. The bars were right in front of me, the footpegs practically right below me. All day comfort, even in a tiny package.

Ironically, I was less sore on this bike at the end of a whole day of riding than on the Hayabusa (which I have set up with a very stiff suspension).

The Land of Ninja 250's - Santa Rosa Creek Rd, SLO Co
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:18 PM   #3
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The Ninja suspension allowed this little motorcycle to soak up the goat trails. Pliable and with ample travel, it soaked up the bumps and holes in the road with a sense of ease. When it came time to assail our '4 Goat Road on the Goat Scale', the Ninja took the lead.

At the same time, the brakes with a degree of practice brought the little bike to a smooth stop. The front fork is a bit springy, so panic stops will certainly bottom out the fork, but while riding, the binders did their job well and were at their best when deftly combined together.

Probably best known for being nimble and light- it's flickability was especially apparent. The tiny tires up front & rear make for quick turn-in, yet still bred a degree of stability at speed.

Yours Truly dwarfing the Ninja 250

The bike itself is simply so light, it didn't always behave like a sportbike. Gone was the extreme downforce under hard front braking (another thing I'm used to on my usual 550lb mass of horsepower), or the muscle required to flick the bike side to side. Counter steer and the bike simply fell into the corner.

And at speed... maybe what's a bit odd is no matter how fast you ride, it just feels a bit faster. It might have something to do with the sound of motor which is hovering around 9000 rpm most of the day. As in a hair below 10,000. It is a screamer. 11,000 rpm is indeed where this bike wanted to be, launching through the turns, and boosting it up to 13500 rpm- the bike would lurch forward with an enthusiasm of a 16 year old on their first date.

Freeway speeds felt breakneck at first - that took some getting use to with the tach stuck around 7-9000 rpm headed down arrow straight slab of pavement. But by the end of 3 days, I was flowing down the road at speed and took little notice of the higher rpm's drowning away with the rest of my counterparts.

Annette Rd - San Luis Obispo County, CA

Goat trails.

It was where the little Ninja 250 actually came into its own. Tight & twisty, dirty and bumpy, the baby ninja gobbled up the miles and left everyone else loping along as if afraid of their shadow.

With the tachometer pinned - 11,000 rpm arrived like a drag bike at the finish-line. Something awoke within the bowels of that 250cc motor and the Ninja was a baby no more. Did I mention the tach goes up to 16,000 rpm? The redline around 14,000 was surprisingly easy to reach provided you had enough space in the road ahead.

With the pliable suspension soaking up the bumps, and the ample brakes reigning in the speed at all the right places, the Ninja 250 provided a spirited ride with few surprises.

Soaking up the scenery along Highway 1

When it came time to barrel up a narrow bumpy long forgotten road, that ample suspension soaked up the bumps with ease. The one thing you don't feel is shaken apart like the bobble toy on your cousin's dashboard.

The bike is quite capable of outrunning its own tires- and its suspension. Given time and a capable rider at the track, I can imagine the bike being quite the rosing crowd pleaser- which may explain why it's so fun to watch the 250 & 500cc races.

Ironically, at one point during this spirited flogging, it occured to me the bike is actually too fast. Once in the tight and twisties- regardless of how brisk the pace was on these tight and narrow roads, there was always more on tap. My motorcycle resented that 'baby' comment & was out to show me a thing or two. Stickin' it to the man! I was left holding the reigns of my 24 horses, only this time it was a different type of laughter.

Holding it's own with the big boys!

Overall, the Ninja 250 is an excellent entry level motorcycle that certainly can provide ample smiles for anyone getting their feet wet. This thing is small, light, very flickable- yet delivers the goods.

If there's a moral to this story, it certainly must be that it doesn't matter what you ride. It was a motorcycle through and through. Although just a bit shy of 165 horsepower!


The Kawasaki Ninja 250

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Last edited by pashnit; 05-14-2005 at 10:16 PM..
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:21 PM   #4
is back in black.
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I want one!
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:27 PM   #5
Can I be....frank?
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As a former EX250 racer, I say welcome to the realm of light makes right.
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:42 PM   #6
Mellow Yellow
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This should be a must read for any new rider who just has to have a 1000 GSXR. Amazing photos and very visual story telling!
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Old 05-14-2005, 10:21 PM   #7
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Excellent write up, and amazing pictures

This should be stickied for all the "what bike should I get" newbie questions. Maybe reading this will keep some of them from turning their noses up on the lil ol 250.
Motorcycling: [moh-ter-sahy-kling] an activity of unnecessary risk made irrelevent by the overwhelming euphoria it causes.

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Old 05-14-2005, 10:53 PM   #8
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Old 05-14-2005, 11:09 PM   #9
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Really good write up. It's amazing how those little bikes can remind you that it doesn't really matter what bike you're on, you can still be fast and you really don't need 100+ hp.
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Old 05-14-2005, 11:30 PM   #10
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awesome, i'm adding a ninja 250 to the wish list
truth. honor. respect. patience. discipline.
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Old 05-15-2005, 01:19 AM   #11
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truer words were never spoken
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Old 05-15-2005, 02:36 AM   #12
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The longer I ride, the more fun I have on smaller bikes.

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Old 05-15-2005, 04:39 AM   #13
My bikes have pedals now
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I try to tell people all the time how great of a bike this is, and how much I want one. But of course, everyone always wants to say some stupid excuse why they need something more.

As I type this, a coworker is bragging about how he is going to get himself a '99 R1 when we get back. Talking about how he out ran cops on his friends ZX9R and crap like that. I just straight up told him he is stupid, being polite didn't work, maybe being honest will.

Of course, then he went on to tell me that a Katana 1300 is too much bike...
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Old 05-15-2005, 06:51 AM   #14
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Great writeup. Just great.

My first bike was a Ducati Diana 250, and I owned it in the mid sixties in Big Sur, which, forty years ago was also a lot of fun to ride, and had very little traffic. If you heard a car come by in the winter you usually knew who it belonged to by the sound. I used to love riding Big Sur on that little 250....Which I rode sans helmet, boots, leather, etc, as I KNEW that nothing would happen..
That's not true! The lie is actually the truth! I know. Lots of people know this.
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Old 05-15-2005, 05:58 PM   #15
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Great write up, make's me even more pumped up about getting my EX250.... Thanks for sharing this great story...
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