Quarter-litre rocket

The Kawasaki Ninja 250R is a fast and exhilarating ride.

Vikrant Singh        Print Edition: December 13, 2009

33bhp. 0-100 kmph in just over 8 seconds. A top speed of 150 kmph. Say hello to the fastest and the most expensive non-CBU motorcycle in the country, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R.

It is a masterpiece, especially for the average Indian performance biking enthusiast, who, hitherto, hasn’t had it so good. Unless, of course, he could afford astronomically priced superbikes, the like of the Yamaha R1 and the Suzuki Hayabusa. The Kawasaki isn’t exactly cheap either, retailing at close to Rs 3 lakh, but it’s still three times cheaper than the former bunch.

But in terms of looks, it’s much closer. The Kawasaki resembles its bigger, more powerful siblings closely, which gives it a pure superbike stance and with it loads of street presence. The twin headlamps, the edgy front fairing, the sleek tail and everything in between looks modern and racy.

The only thing we don’t like is the instrument cluster. Besides the fact that it looks out of date, all it has is basic information—a tacho, a speedo with a single trip and a temperature gauge.

The riding position, though, is very agreeable. It’s sporty but relaxed at the same time. The seating ergonomics isn’t as intense as the Yamaha R15 with the handlebar as well as the rearset footpegs being closer to the seat in comparison. Moreover, the clip-on bars are taller and the footpegs slightly lower, which gives the seating a lovely balance.

Then there’s the handling—razor sharp and as predictable as soap operas. In a straight line, when ducked under the front fairing, the sense of speed is beautifully subtle and the bike remains unfazed and true to its line even when it’s close to an indicated 160 kmph. Around bends it’s nimble and stable and very forgiving, indeed. Altering its lines mid-corner requires little more than a push on the handlebar. Braking, too, is outstanding; the bite is phenomenal, so is the progression and feel.

But it’s the ability of the engine to both rev hard and pull along cleanly from lower revs that makes the 250R a truly delightful motorcycle to ride. It uses a fuel injected 249 cc parallel twin. It’s a very refined engine and one with linear power delivery. The engine begins to come in its element past the 5000 rpm mark, post which it just keeps piling on the revs with vigour all the way to 13000 rpm. There’s no loss in potency as one moves up the gearbox either. The gearbox itself, a 6-speed unit, is slick and positive in its operation.

The Ninja might be relatively more expensive than the competition, but it also sets a new performance benchmark that is bettered only by motorcycles that cost a lot more. Moreover, it’s comfortable, great fun to ride and looks fabulous. We say, buy it if you have the money because the steep price tag will also ensure some exclusivity.

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