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2009 Kawasaki Ninja 250R Review (video)


by Pascal Bastien ,

Despite having the soul of a sportbike, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R knows how to be rider-friendly on a daily basis. The natural riding position (halfway between a standard motorcycle and a sportier machine), effective protection against the elements (thanks to the full-fairing bodywork), well-designed seat and soft suspension combine to offer surprising comfort for such a small-displacement street bike.

Pleasant to ride
The Ninja sure is eye-catching, but it's also a rewarding machine that delivers thrills courtesy of a peppy 249-cc, parallel-twin engine. The latter might contain its enthusiasm at low and medium ranges; however, it gets all excited near 8,000 rpm and stays that way until it reaches the 13,000 rpm redline. Takeoffs are surprising and passing maneuvers are really impressive (provided that you maintain engine speed over 7,000 rpm). Engine braking is almost inexistent, which makes the learning curve easier for riders by reducing the risk of rear-wheel locking.

When attacking twists and turns, the 2009 Ninja 250R handles like a true sportbike. It's very agile and easy to throw into corners, with a progressive suspension that becomes compliant on rough roads. The fork and shock settings easily allow and even encourage a sporty type of riding. Handling is quite inspiring; I always felt the urge to lean forward, throw my head down and stick my knee out. You have to show some restraint, though, as the Ninja 250R remains a beginner's ride - comfortable, affordable and easily accessible. The limits of the chassis are quickly explored: the suspension system is not adjustable and the entry-level factory tires soon have their hands full on the track or during spirited on-road riding.

When attacking twists and turns, the 2009 Ninja 250R handles like a true sportbike.

Time to go full throttle
The valiant though underpowered engine (31 hp) of the Ninja 250R often needs to rev over 10,000 rpm just to keep pace on the highway. On the other hand, riding on small byroads is pure delight; it swallows "S" turns with disconcerting ease and reaches cornering speeds that would rival a wilder, larger-displacement superbike.

With the 2009 Ninja 250R, Kawasaki has a moderate-displacement street bike offering commendable braking performance, hard-to-overwhelm stability and remarkable nimbleness. It will allow many inexperienced riders to learn the tricks of sportbike riding and track racing at a low cost.

This little Ninja boasts plenty of style in spite of its modest proportions. Furthermore, it turns many heads on the road -- you should see the look on other people's faces when they realize this is only a 250-cc bike.

Pleasant riding dynamics

High-revving engine at highway speeds (8,000+ rpm)
Overly soft suspension

Limited tire grip

Photo Credit : Philippe Champoux, Matthieu Lambert
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