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Old 05-14-2005, 07:54 PM   #1
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Nodding Yes 700 Miles on a Kawasaki 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 headed to the rear of my skull.

Ah yes, that yummy 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 antithesis 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, redline at 14,500, 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, 07:54 PM   #2
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

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 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, San Luis Obispo Co
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Old 05-14-2005, 07:55 PM   #3
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

Not only was it quite comfortable, even all day, the 'lil Ninja suspension allowed this little motorcycle to assail 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- its flickability was especially apparent. The tiny tires up front & rear made 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. A bit of 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 the 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 used to with the tach stuck around 7-9000 rpm headed down an 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 plodding along as if afraid of their shadow.

With the tachometer pinned - 11,000 rpm arrived like a drag bike to the finish-line. It was then- 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 springy 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.

As for the twisties, you would think a tiny bike with a mere 24 horsepower would be a pushover. Not so. Think more a real sleeper. The bike is quite capable of outrunning itself- and its suspension, meaning quite simply you can get yourself in trouble real quick. 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. (I once watched a rider in front of me on this very same bike go so hot into a corner, which appropriate mountain drop-off, he leaned the bike over and scrapped the muffler mid-corner while sailing smoothly around.)

At one point during this spirited flogging, it occured to me the bike is actually too fast. Now there's an odd thought. Where'd that come from? It came from beneath me. Once in the twisties, regardless of how brisk the pace was on these tight and narrow roads, there was always more on tap. My lil Ninja 250 resented that 'baby' comment and 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. The joke was on me.

Holding its 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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Old 05-14-2005, 08:10 PM   #4
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

I am not a sportbike rider. Call me too old. Call me too large. Whatever. But darned if that article didn't make me want to run out and buy one! Excellent write-up. Thanks, Tim.


"A sunny day on a motorcycle in Tuscany...does not suck."
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:28 PM   #5
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

Yes! the wordsmith has done it again. That's probably the best Ninja 250 writeup I've ever read. Most people just say it's tapped out on the freeway. But your report suggests there's a bit left for passing when needed. Now I have a better idea of what to tell people who ask about the baby ninja.

Quite a change from your regular mount, eh Tim? I bet you were able to carry a lot more speed into the corners than you normally could.
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:31 PM   #6
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

Thank you Tim, this little tale proves to me once again, it's not the bike it's the rider...

planning and leading a tour of motorcyclists...a worthy pursuit.
getting up, dusting off, and continuing on the ride...goes with the territory.
switching from the 'Busa to the tiny little Ninja and making it that's priceless.
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:34 PM   #7
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

That was a delightful tale, really well-told, well worth the wait. Very very cool for a very experienced rider to find the sparkles in a smaller diamond. Thanks for that, Tim. Thoroughly enojyable read, and an excellent insight into the Ninja and yer weekend ride...

Oh, and the pix aint bad, either.

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Old 05-14-2005, 08:45 PM   #8
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

Nice write up Tim. Where do we sign up for the next 250 tour? Sounds like you made a great time out of a bad start.
"The key to life is to die young, at a very old age"

"Ride like you own the road, and one day the road will own you"
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Old 05-15-2005, 03:05 AM   #9
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

It sounds almost like the Royal Enfield I rode. Both have 24 horsepower but yours had brakes
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Old 05-15-2005, 06:25 AM   #10
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Re: 700 Miles on a Ninja 250 - A motorcyclist's review

Thanks for the write-up Tim. Makes me think about the world through rose-colored glasses. Even more remarkable than your pleasure upon the ninja is the lack of negative comments from the pure breed steeds whom rode with you. I for one have been taken to school by the EX250. In the local canyons the EX shines do to its weight; down hill forces are extremely less and therefore braking seems less of a chore thereby letting the baby corner on rails. What disturbs me is every time I hint or suggest either myself of my wife intend to show up for a ride on the EX Iím given the youíll be left behind comments. Yes I own a 1000cc bike and yes I own an EX250 despite the negative comments from some, I have not been inspired to sell it. The EX gets rode quite often by friends whom have had bikes in the past and still like to ride. When ask if they would like to go and yet relegated to the EX the answer is always a yes. Oh and by the way I already posted a link over at Ninja 250 net
Life is short and the path is narrow. So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.
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