The “Green” Revolution – 09′ Kawasaki Ninja 250R track-tested!

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Sitting quietly, watching the world fly by through that small window, I could see a lot of green down below, as my flight was ready to touch down. I was excited already thinking of the huge opportunity that me and more importantly xBhp was getting. Yes, I was in Pune to test ride none other than the most awaited bike in our country – the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, on the Chakan test track no less, of Bajaj Auto Ltd.!

The baby Ninja, as it is called worldwide isn’t just the best-selling sportbike for Kawasaki – it is the Japanese firm’s best-selling bike, ever! Period. Experiencing steady double-digit sales growth year after year, the reliable little Ninja has achieved cult status as the beginner sportbike in many countries abroad, and finally after months of waiting and speculations, it has finally landed on the Indian shores, and boy are we excited! And it is not hard to see why it is loved world over. As we discovered at the exclusive test-track ride, the redesigned 2009 Kawasaki Ninja 250R is really not just the “little Ninja that could,” it’s the “little Ninja that does things way better than it should.”
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The Bodywork and the Mill
The 250R is actually a sport motorcycle which was originally introduced to the masses back in the 1980s. This, the “250R” is the fourth generation model and is hence marketed as the 250R in all the markets, by Kawasaki. The baby Ninja boasts of many improvements both inside and out. It seeks to combine the sportbike styling with the tremendous usability and approachability of a beginner’s motorcycle. A sharp visual contrast to its predecessor, the 2009 Ninja 250R has been redesigned to look like a scaled down supersport motorcycle—a unique distinction in a field of bikes dominated by diminutive machines. The oh so fresh bodywork of the Ninja is aggressive and sharp, and its full-fairing and engine vents will grab the attention of those who appreciate fast, flashy bikes.

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Kawasaki is launching two colors in India, namely, the black and the green. I personally found the green to be just superb – quality wise as well as visually. The green color with black rider seat and green pillion seat, with the rear finished in blackm with the black exhaust gives the bike a brilliant visual style, while the black colored saree guard (which is compulsory on bikes sold in India – be it a 100cc commuter or a 1000cc superbike) has been merged with the body in such a beautiful way, that one does not even notice the saree guard at all, at first glance! Good job Bajaj, I say!

But, if one looks attentively at what is basically under the hood of the machine, this is where the actual fun lies. It is powered by a 249cc, parallel twin, liquid cooled mill. The Ninja 250R features a compression ratio of 11.6:1 and an O-Ring drive-chain as well. It is a dual overhead cam machine with revised camshafts and an all-new 2-1 exhaust system for dramatically improved low and mid-range power. And thanks largely to Bajaj for getting us the fuel injected 33PS Ninja, instead of the carbed one. Not only this, the Ninja 250R also gets refined intake and exhaust ports mated to a wonderfully smooth six-speed gearbox.

The Ergonomics
The Ninja is a very compact and relatively small motorcycle. Although, at first glance, anyone can mistake it to be a 600cc or even a 1000cc monster, but it’s small scale becomes immediately evident once you swing a leg over it. The saddle is really comfortable and is not too high. It is compact enough to feel completely manageable at slow speeds. The riding position is a little forward biased, which is ofcourse courtesy the sloping seat. However, the rider ergonomics are not so far forward as to make the bike uncomfortable to ride, but it is surely sporty. All in all, it gives you that sporty feeling, yet being comfortable at the same time, which is brilliant.

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Taller riders might feel their legs touching the outer edges of the fuel tank, although I did not had that concern bothering me at all. The cockpit view resembles a nice, large, centrally installed speedometer. It is adorned to the right by the engine temperature gauge, while the tachometer takes up the left space, with the redline marked at, hold on…13,000RPMs! Surprisingly, the FI version of the Ninja 250R does not come with a fuel gauge; it is the “property” of the carbed Ninja only. The mirrors are generously sized (unlike our P220’s) and very well positioned, offering extremely good rear visibility.

The Ride
Put in the key, switch on the ignition and thumb the starter. There is no drama; the 249cc parallel twin comes to life instantly with a nice exhaust note, at idle. I felt the throttle response at idle is somewhat lazy if you are used to the litre class motorcycles, but once it gets going, it really comes to life. However this “lazyness” that I just talked about is what makes the Ninja 250R extremely easy to modulate the acceleration and the resulting speed. Pull the soft clutch in and click the gear-lever into first and one cannot help but notice how soft and sure the clutch is. The gear shifts into first with a nice, confidence inspiring “thud” sound. Once the machine is on the move, it gathers pace with a flow of power that continues all the way upto the 13000 RPM redline, which in itself is really amazing. The acceleration is strong but not uncontrollable like the litre class motorcycles. It is really good; more than enough, really, to keep up with the traffic or get ahead instantly on the highways, but it’s critical that the engine is kept at the power-band.

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I felt really comfortable aboard the Ninja 250R. The low weight of the machine makes it easy to maneuver and direction changes of the bike require minimum handlebar input. It’s like, you see and think where you need to be next and the bike just reads your thoughts! Yes, it is THAT nimble. It is a pleasure to fling it onto corners at speeds unimaginable. The handling, at any speed is purely neutral; it doesn’t over or under-steer at all. The gearbox makes it all the more pleasurable with positive shifts, and never ever did it, even once during the track test hit false neutrals. Although the engine is a high-revving one, but cruising at 140km/hr. is really fun. One twist of the wrist and the engine crosses 150km/hr., although I will confess that reaching to the top-speed from about 140km/hr. takes some-time.

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According to Kawasaki, 70% of the engine of the 250R has been re-designed, including new cams and a revised cylinder head, which incidentally results in a 30% increase in mid-range power. I was surprised to see the baby Ninja build speed and keep on revving past the 13,000RPM red-line! At exactly 13,000RPM, the analogue speedometer showed just a little over 160km/hr. I am sure given enough space and courage, it will do more, although going past the redline is not something that I recommend you do. At 13,000RPMs, the engine sounds like a maniac and it is pure music to the ears. Trust me on that one.

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Speed is nothing if it is not paired with good brakes, and braking is one department where the Ninja 250R shines BIG time. The feedback from both the front and the rear discs is simply excellent. One finger operation is enough to shave off speeds from 150km/hr. The Chakan test track has a nice 1.5 kms. straight stretch where the Ninja did achieve it’s top-end. Just after the straight stretch ends, there is a relatively tight left hander that follows. As I became confident with the bike, I braked later and later because of the superbly confidence inspiring brakes that the ‘baby’ has. One light jab on the front lever was enough to cut speeds from 160km/hr. to about 60 or so in no time at all! The new 290mm front and 220mm rear petal-style rotors with dual piston calipers gives the 09’250R superb stopping power, almost like the sportsbikes!

The 2009 Ninja 250R also gets the 17-inch wheels (which were introduced with the 2008 250R, by the way) which are shod with IRC tyres. The six-spoke alloy wheels look gorgeous on the Ninja, and these provided some tremendous amounts of grip at the corners. The Chakan test track was a little wet from last night’s showers, but going through the wet patches did not upset the machine in any way, which was tremendously confidence inspiring.

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The ride quality is another thing which surely needs a mention here. It is perhaps the one thing that impressed me the most in the machine. A 37mm Showa front fork and a new Kayaba rear shock with five-way adjustable pre-load make for a stiff and really crisp ride. The factory setting was perfect for the Ninja on the track. Along with the suspension, the chassis (with a diamond type frame) aids in the brilliant handling of the machine. However, it remains to be seen how the suspension takes to the Indian roads, filled with potholes and bumps everywhere. Although we did not quite get to test the effects of those headlamps, but from what we could make out, those were powerful enough to light up the city streets or the highways after dark. The 09’ Ninja 250R has a fuel tank capacity of 18 litres, but the fuel efficiency is still not known (we did not get to test the fuel efficiency). But given that large fuel tank, I am pretty sure it would munch miles quite effortlessly before requiring a fuel-stop.

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Since the introduction of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, back in the 1980s, the Ninja has been one among the best selling motorbikes in Kawasaki’s line-up and it is not really hard to see why. Putter around town grabbing attention of the public all around you (with the Ninja Green color, you are sure to!), or if you feel like it – just wring that throttle and let it do it’s job. Anyway you want to look at it, the crux of the matter is this – the Kawasaki Ninja 250R is a blast to ride. It screams and howls like a racer, almost! It is beautiful to look at, it is really sporty, it has that big bike feel without actually the struggle associated with riding a full blown 1000cc, 180bhp monster of a machine.

As my flight took off from Pune, towards Delhi, I couldn’t help but think about the time I spent with the 250R, on the track. I just could not imagine a better bike for India, at this moment of time. It is so fun infact, that I totally forgot about the testing of the machine (the points that I needed to keep in mind) at times, I was having so much fun. At times, I had to force myself to focus on particular points of the test.

If you have the moolah (which is close to Rs. 3 lakhs INR) to spend on a motorcycle, then I would say this – get the baby Ninja and ‘let the good times roll’. You just cannot go wrong with this.

Thumbs Up:
+ Gorgeously styled
+ Beautiful clutch and gear-box
+ Excellent handling
+ SUPERB brakes
+ Good, linear power delivery; will not scare the bejesus out of a newbie rider
+ Green is the color to go for!

Thumbs down
+ No fuel gauge
+ Linear power delivery feels somewhat boring

© Aryan

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Comments

  • Rohit Nagpal  On October 16, 2009 at 10:51 AM

    Amazing Write up Aryan, quite informative too. Though for “commuters” like me, buying and riding a Ninja to Office and back home is practically not possible, but as you yourself said-If you have the Moolahs, it sure is a Good Buy.

    a very Close friend of ours, B2L is the First Indian to go green the Ninja way and I am waiting for him to finish off with the break-in of his new Baby. Once through, I will try a test ride myself and am sure, it is going to impress me with the ride too. as of now, am pretty satisfied with the over alls of the vehicle, but the real matter lies in how it is to Ride!

    Green is the color to die for and I could see people from all walks of life looking at the Ninja at the Red Light last evening, with an eye of Admiration. I felt good to be riding on my Karizma besides a Green Ninja of Born2Lead.

    Kudos to Bajaj for finally bringing the Much awaited Bike to India. Lets hope few others too take a hint and get us some better bikes. Enough with these 150+ cc , Air Cooled, 15-20bhps. Its time for some real power, even if not its not as high as 180bhp.

    Cheers!!!

    dcs @ xbhp

    Like

    • Bobby Roy  On October 16, 2009 at 1:11 PM

      Thanks DCS, I am glad you found the review to be good. Yes, for commuters like you and me, perhaps, it is not practical but I believe it is good for motorcyclists who can actually afford to do so, like B2L. 🙂

      Like

  • Alfred  On November 18, 2009 at 8:22 AM

    Amazing writing Bobby..!! i saw this bike in Bajaj’s porbikin showroom here in Hyderabad. Loved the bike.. but the guy din even allow me to hear the engine sound. 😦 well.. Evn though it leaves a big mark in ma bank statement.. i dont have a choice of bikes in this segment.
    I heard Yamaha is bringin its R125 to India. Nt sure how far its true..
    Bobby, Did you happen to lay your hands on ZMR ? wud love to hear it from you.
    Regards
    Alfred

    Like

    • Bobby Roy  On November 18, 2009 at 9:37 AM

      Yes, the Bajaj guys don’t quite let one sit on it. But, here in Delhi, they don’t quite object. 😉 Anyhow, the 250R is an amazing machine, undoubtedly! As for the ZMR, nope, haven’t got it for testing yet.

      Like

  • kawasaki ninja  On January 28, 2010 at 5:05 AM

    this is the perfect articles for new ninja rider, i mean your article is very hot.. very complete information.. keep it up my brother….
    ninja rider….

    Like

  • vamsivikas  On September 3, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    really very much impressed your photography and your blog
    they are just awesome

    which camera do you use

    Like

  • saravanakumar k  On October 11, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    i want to change my bike color to this green,may i know the name of this green

    Like

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