Kawasaki Ninja 250


Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Contents -


Rewind back three years and many will re­mem­ber just how dom­i­nant the Kawasaki Ninja 250 was. It was es­pe­cially so among fresh B li­cence hold­ers and those up­grad­ing from their trusty kapchai com­muters.

But it didn’t take long be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion strength­ened, more so when Yamaha un­leashed the YZF-R25. Clearly, then, the Ninja 250 was put at a dis­ad­van­tage, es­pe­cially in styling. All that changed once this new, re­designed re­place­ment ap­peared this Au­gust.

The Ninja 250’s looks have evolved com­pletely, tak­ing plenty of cues from the big­ger Ninja 650 sport stan­dard as well as su­pers­port sib­lings ZX-6R and ZX-10R. In the process, Kawasaki claims, it has be­come more aero­dy­namic too.

Awk­ward po­si­tion­ing of the side mir­rors aside, there’s still plenty to love all around. The eye candy in­cludes racy vents in the fair­ings, mod­ern full LED lights front and aft, not for­get­ting the racy red-black colour­way of our test unit. This new ma­chine has cer­tainly out­done its pre­de­ces­sor.

Hop into the hot seat and it gets even bet­ter. Un­like its pre­de­ces­sor, the er­gonomics feels more com­pact and sportier. Much of this has re­sulted from its slim­mer and smaller new 14-litre tank and raised 795mm seat height.

To com­ple­ment that, the new, fully dig­i­tal in­stru­ment panel has all the nec­es­sary read­outs one could ever need, gear po­si­tion in­cluded. All the con­trols are where you’d ex­pect them to be and, like the bike it re­places, the new Ninja 250 re­tains its sports stan­dard er­gonomics, favour­ing a more up­right, com­fort­able rid­ing po­si­tion in­stead of the low, for­ward crouch most su­per­sports dic­tate.

The big­gest change is in the oily me­chan­i­cal bits be­hind its fair­ings.

We’re talk­ing, of course, about its beat­ing heart and the lighter new chas­sis which en­cases it. Like be­fore, the en­gine is a liq­uid cooled, 249cc DOHC par­al­lel twin primed with eight valves and elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion.

How­ever, un­like be­fore, the new­for-2018 model sees its mill re­tuned for both higher revs and out­put. Sure, 38.2bhp at 12,000rpm and 23.5Nm at10,000rpm don’t sound like much, but these fig­ures place the Ninja 250 at the top of the food chain in its seg­ment in this as­pect.

Much of the mill’s im­prove­ments be­come more ob­vi­ous on the move. In con­trast to its pre­de­ces­sor, it’s now more ef­fi­cient, richer in torque from 4,000rpm on­wards and has greater top-end power. How­ever, you still need to work the

throt­tle hard to go fast, but it’s clearly eas­ier with this new ma­chine.

Thank­fully, what’s also im­proved is the as­sist & slip­per clutch hard­ware of its 6-speed box. The light­ened clutch weight short re­lease ac­tion will take some get­ting used to, but it has re­sulted in slicker and more pre­cise shift ac­tion through all six cogs, some­thing to de­light new­bies and the ex­pe­ri­enced alike.

Hav­ing rid­den it in both ur­ban and non-ur­ban traf­fic through­out the re­cent Merdeka hol­i­day week­end, we know the Ninja 250’s ride and han­dling is also some­thing many will ap­pre­ci­ate. Though it ar­guably isn’t as sharp at cor­ner­carv­ing as the ri­val Yamaha, it will keep up none­the­less thanks to its slightly lighter 164kg claimed kerb weight.

What’s sur­pris­ingly pleas­ant are the sus­pen­sion and dampers, which have been set to pro­vide bal­ance for all oc­ca­sions. Up front, a pair of new 41mm tele­scopic forks works in tan­dem with a sin­gle gas-charged shock plus Bot­tom Link Uni-Trak setup at the rear, the lat­ter boast­ing pre-load ad­just­ments too – quite typ­i­cal of bikes in this seg­ment.

In this area, the Ninja 250 sees more of an evo­lu­tion than a rev­o­lu­tion, the am­ple amounts of travel and damp­ing eas­ily keep­ing any com­mute through the ur­ban jun­gle’s pot­hole-rid­den roads com­fort­able, even when rid­ing with a pil­lion. And yet, there’s still enough dy­namic ath­leti­cism to keep up­start week­end war­riors happy on a tight, twisty B-road.

As re­as­sur­ing are the Ninja 250’s an­chors. There’s a larger new 310mm semi-float­ing disc up front now in­stead of the pre­de­ces­sor’s 290mm unit. That, plus the 220mm disc at the rear, is grabbed by dual pis­ton cal­lipers, of­fer­ing a strong bite with­out need­ing too much ef­fort with the levers.

While we’re on stop­ping abil­ity, it’s hard to ig­nore the ab­sence of ABS in the ‘stan­dard’ Ninja 250. But fret not, Kawasaki Mo­tors Malaysia Sdn Bhd has promised to roll out an up-specced, ABS-equipped vari­ant soon along­side the global-spec Ninja 400 ma­chine, com­plete with all the bells and whis­tles – more on that when they ar­rive.

For now, though, if you want a good starter bike to kick off a life­time of rid­ing, the Kawasaki Ninja 250 is not only pret­tier and ar­guably faster, but also a much bet­ter all-rounder than be­fore.

Price? RM23,071 (sans on-road costs). Per­haps a bit on the high side, but a worth­while buy, we think.


Like be­fore, the Ninja 250’s 6-speed box packsan as­sist & slip­per clutch for slicker shifts

Mi­nus the side mir­rors, the sharp and sleek new look is some­thing many will love in­deed

Don’t let the sharp, sporty styling fool you, this is still a very com­fort­able and ver­sa­tileall-rounder as be­fore

The rear shock of­fers pre-load ad­just­ments so you can bet­ter tune yourride too

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