When you read people’s opinions on which bike to start out with, one thing you should look at is: what was the experience of the person making the recommendation?
If “Joe” started out on a Ninja 250 and progressed up to a GXR 600, he’s a good person to listen to when discussing starting on a 250. If he says he got bored really quickly and though he should have gone with a 650 first, it is a pretty useful piece of information.
If he says he had a lot of fun on his 250 and didn’t regret it, that too is equally useful.
I’ve had a few people question my choice of starting on a 250. The “you’ll be bored with it” comment comes up pretty often, and really, it is their only argument against the little ninja. Of the people who think I’ll be bored, none of them have ever ridden a Ninja 250 on the open road. Not have only ridden it for a short while, but never ridden one at all outside of a parking lot.
If all I knew of my bike was how it accelerated in a parking lot, and I knew how the BMW F800 (or even my old Honda VF500F) accelerated in a parking lot, then yes, I too might think the ninjette wasn’t going to be fun for long.
But the fun of the 250 isn’t in the point-and-shoot. I don’t slow down hard for corners then rocket out of them. The fun with the ninja 250 is just how smooth and easy it is to fling around corners. Move my shoulder off centre of the bike, apply some pressure, and hold that throttle. I’ve ridden several hundred miles on bigger bikes. I know that those bigger bikes would not have been as forgiving for the mistakes I’ve made. And I’ve had a ton of fun in the process.
Will I move up to a bigger bike? Yup, I’m not a 250-for-life guy. But I’m not waiting for that next bike, I’m enjoying this one too much.
Of the riders in my office who’ve expressed opinions on the 250:
-One rides a 1988ish Ninja 900. It’ll lift the front wheel without a thought, at any speed, in most any gear. The owner of it thinks my bike is the bees-knees.
-One is a true “Mountain of a man”, who rides a Harley Electraglide, and loves the little ninja having ridden many bikes like it 20 years ago.
-One calls it a “tiny piss-pot” because it doesn’t have a one-litre V-twin (and if it doesn’t have that, it isn’t a real bike).
The Ninja 250 exemplifies “you get out of it what you put in to it”. If you have no intention of improving your riding and just want to experience the rush of acceleration, then no, it isn’t the bike for you. If you enjoy progressing, leaning that little bit harder each time you take that corner, you’ll never run out of fun on the ninja 250.
Oh, and anyone who says you won’t fit on one, hasn’t sat on one. I’m your size (6′ 185 pounds) I find it very comfortable. The seat height is low, but the pegs aren’t high, so you aren’t as compact as on a “bigger” sport bike.
One last point:
Have you ever noticed that almost all the best MotoGP riders moved up from the 250cc class? Most formula 1 drivers started racing (and often keep in shape in the off season) by racing go-karts… There are good lessons in there.