Indian biking aficionados have enjoyed a raft of big-ticket, big-bike launches. Yamaha set the superbike ball rolling with its YZF-R1 and MT-01. Suzuki followed suit with the Hayabusa and Intruder. And Hondas CBR1000RR and CB1000R, Yamahas V-MAX and the India-bound Harley-Davidsons have only served to stir up more excitement. Unfortunately, colossal import duties mean such superbikes are priced within the reach of only a few.
Nevertheless, there exists a buyer segment with an addiction to speed. For them small-capacity bikes dont make the cut, while the heavier models are too far over the top. Enter the mini-sportsbike that packs a big punch — the Kawasaki Ninja 250R.
The 250R is one handsome motorcycle sold in two shades in India — black or the trademark Kawasaki green. Its sporty, with a well-sculpted and decal-free angular body. Much of the bike comes in a dull, black finish, including its 17-in wheels, the cockpit, slim flank, tail bits and the silencer canister. Above a sporty mudguard, it displays a pair of intimidating headlights. The fairing-mounted mirrors function perfectly as does the bikes large, raked visor that protects well at high speeds.
The analogue dials, which look more in line with a bike born in the 80s are clear to decipher at all speeds. The speedometer reads up to 200kph, while the rev-gauge redlines from 13000rpm, going up to 15000rpm.
Kawasaki could have included a fuel gauge, although the motorcycle does have a temperature indicator and single trip facility in addition to its odometer. The palm grips are comfortable and the Ninjas levers fitted my fingers perfectly. The tank is long with a stylish fuel filler, and all eyes will appreciate the neat side panels, bi-colour seats and a smart tail-section leading to the Ninja 250Rs rear mudguard.
At the heart of Bajajs new flagship sits a 249cc, four-stroke, Kawasaki-developed engine. Its pair of twin, liquid-cooled cylinders sits under four-valve heads that house dual overhead camshafts. This button-started powerplant makes no bones about its sporty ambitions, with light, short connecting rods allowing brisk revs all the way to a limited 13000rpm. Peak power of 33bhp kicks in at 11000rpm, while the crank outputs 2.24kgm of torque at 8200rpm.
The Ninja 250R uses a six-speed gearbox, with positive shifts in a one-down, five-up pattern. Its willing engine constantly goads the rider to pin its throttle and hold high revs. The two-into-one exhaust sounds beautiful as the engine spins through a wide power band with power building strongly after 4000rpm, rushing smoothly all the way to meet redline.
The Ninja 250R is blinding quick — it hits 60kph in 3.04 seconds and 100kph in an impressive 7.83 seconds. It also managed a true top speed of 152kph, the speedometer sitting slightly north of 160kph at this point.
This Ninja has relatively high-placed clip-on handlebars and riding posture is upright enough to make city riding bearable. The tank region offers smooth thigh support, and the footrests are quite ahead. Which isnt to say handling is sacrificed.
The 250R comes with telescopic forks in front and a gas-charged Kawasaki Uni-Trak monoshock system at the rear. Its frame is conventional, in diamond type, with a toughened square-section steel swingarm. The tyres are top-class IRC, ample in size both in front and at the rear and provide the security of ample traction.
The Ninja 250R deploys petal disc brakes, which work like a treat. They always feel strong and arrest the bike in really short distances. My quickest stop from 100kph to rest on the Ninja 250R was 44.99 metres, with 60kph to standstill taking 15.1 metres.
The Kawasaki Ninja 250R is the long-awaited answer to many an Indian motorcyclists dream. The companys new flagship is sporty, with the head-turning, faired-in style certain to win many hearts. Theres ample go in there to match all the show, and the Ninjas sweetly tuned chassis, suspension and brakes positively goad a rider to exploit all the potential of its 33bhp.
All that, without touching upon the ace in this Bajaj pack — the Ninja 250Rs pricing. While some may think this to be high, its actually very good value for money for a motorcycle as good as this one. Competitors definitely have a lot of catching up to do, to match the baby Ninjas class act!
Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Price: Rs 2,69,970
Kerb weight: 172kg
Engine layout: Parallel twin,liquid-cooled, four-stroke
Power: 33bhp at 11000rpm
Torque: 2.24kgm at 8200rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed, 1-down, 5-up
Suspension (F/R): 37mm telescopic forks/ gas-charged Uni-Trak, monoshock system, square-section steel swingarm
Brakes (F/R): 290mm petal disc/ 220mm petal disc