Hey there, I’m in ontario, and I own a 2003 ZZR-250.
When I started looking into motorcycles last year, I read a line that stuck with me – do your trust your friend with your life? Because by having them teach you how to ride that is exactly what happens. You are trusting them to teach you, and teach you correctly, the base skills you need to live in the event of something unexpected. You will inheret every one of their bad habbits, plus develop those of your own (as everyone inevitably does).
If you do get lessons from her, I’d ride the bike she asks you to. Chances are you are going to drop it, if you drop the Ninja, the side panels alone are a couple of hundred dollars. The cruiser is easier to keep upright, and has less stuff to break if it drops. If you’re trusting her to teach you, trust her to put you on the bike she feels better for you (and for it).
Now then, between the new ninja 250r and the 2003 zzr-250. I know that many places have already sold out their allotment for the year (Ottawa Good Time Centre, the largest eastern Ontario dealership only had three left two weeks ago. One of my friends bought one of those three, and it won’t be delivered to the dealership until end of April).
There is no question that it is an awesome bike.
But the ZZR is a much better bike than the older US spec Ninja 250. The ZZR has better suspension, more powerful engine, and a host of other upgrades (hence why it cost almost as much as a ninja 500). I’ve put 300km on mine in the past week and absolutely love it. It handles rough roads far better than I expected, and the power is more than sufficent. The new 250R might have more mid range, but even keeping the revs low, I have yet to find myself thinking “this is not fast enough”. Usually my brain is saying something with a lot more four letter words (starting with “Holy”). One nice thign about the ZZR over the 250R is that the ZZR has a centre stand. Centre stands make lubing your chain, and doing any work on your bike, much much easier.
I think the only way a ZZR-250 would let you down is if you don’t like the styling. If you like the styling, then the differences between it and the new 250R will be so small you’ll never care about owning the older one over the new one.
Lastly, bike covers are a good thing, if only to keep bird crap off your seat
While the bike shop may sell one for a hundred dollars, Canadian Tire, and Princess Auto stores sell half decent ones for as little as $40. Just try to get one with vents so the cover doesn’t trap moisture (no point letting your new baby rust).