The Kawasaki Ninja 250r is the ultimate starter motorcycle for a new rider. It's nimble, light, and gets great gas milage. Although the look of it may be a bit 'aged' compared to some of the newer style of 600cc motorcycles, I personally think that the bike holds its own aesthetically... especially the 2007 black color scheme. I think you will be hard pressed to find another 250cc machine that looks as good and handles as well.
UPDATE: Be sure to check out the 2008 kawasaki ninja 250 review! The new version of the bike rocks!
This Ninja is powered by a 248cc, 4-stroke, parallel twin, DOHC, engine that puts out quite a bit of power for being just under 250cc's. It can run the 1/4 mile in 14.6 seconds at 88mph which isn't as fast as other larger displacement bikes, but I think this is more than enough for the real world. For comparison the 2003 Acura 3.2CL Type-S will run the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds, so as you can see this little ninja can beat a lot of imports off the line. The 250R can hit 60mph in 5.75 seconds, which is just as fast as the the 2002 Subaru ImprezaWRX which can hit 60mph in 5.7 seconds. Although I don't recommend drag racing, this little ninja is no slouch!
Something that makes this motorcycle really fun is its 14,000 rpm redline; it's a real screamer when you take it on the highway! The ninja really loves being wound up to 9,000 rpms, and at around 10,000 you can really feel it start to grip the asphalt. Even though this motorcycle is fully faired (meaning it is covered by plastic sides to protect agains the wind), the motorcycle is so light that you will get blown around quite a bit at 65mph, and even more at 80 mph or 90 mph. This isn't entirely a bad thing, it just takes a little getting used to.
This motorcycle is great for the shorter rider. If you are only a few inches over 5 foot then you will think this motorcycle is a godsend compared to other 600cc bikes. Even if you are shorter than that I'm sure that if you shave the seat down a little you would be very comfortable on it. On the other hand I personally know of a few 250 riders that are around 5'9''-6'3'' and they have never had any problems with this bike. (Usually these are the tall skinny type of guys so if you are more than 250 lbs I would probably recommend going for the Suzuki GS500 or the Kawasaki Ninja 500, which have a little more horsepower).
Finally the best thing about the Ninja 250, in my opinion, is how inexpensive it is to own and maintain. There is a myth that motorcycles are much cheaper to ride than buying a car. This may be true for the initial purchase (with the average 600cc motorcycle being less than $10,000 and your average car being over $15,000) but once you add in tires, maintenance, motorcycle gear, insurance etc., the price of riding a motorcycle quickly climbs to much more than a car.
The type of motorcycles that started this myth were most likely bikes just like the Ninja 250. Not only is it cheap to buy (at around $3,000 brand new), but it also gets as much as 60 miles to the gallon! The reliability of the Ninja is simply fantastic and will continue to run tens of thousands of miles with just oil changes and new tires. Even if you do run into some trouble, the Ninja 250 has had few mechanical adjustments since the late 80's; which means that parts for this motorcycle are EVERYWHERE! So if you want one of the cheapest forms of transportation that can take you on surface streets and freeways, then the Kawasaki Ninja 250R fits the bill!
- Small and nimble. Gets about 50 miles per gallon!
- Very forgiving to new rider mistakes.
- Inexpensive! (brand new around $3,000)
- Fully faired motorcycle (expensive to fix the plastics!)
- Broad RPM range, you really need to wind it up to get it going.
- May get blown around more on a windy day than your average 600cc.
- 0-60 mph (0-100 km/h) 5.75 sec 1/4 Mile 14.6 sec @ 88 mph
- Maximum Speed 105 mph (170 km/h)
- Max Horsepower 36 @ 11000 RPM (26 @ rear wheel)
- Max Torque 18 Ft/Lbs @ 10000 RPM (14 @ rear wheel)
- Fuel Efficiency 55-75 MPG