Ownership Review Kawasaki Ninja 250R: How the Ninja Transformed a Commuter Into a Biker!

by Kannan on May 9, 2013

Motorcycles have always fascinated me since I was in school. The pleasure of being taken for a ride on my Mama’s good old Vespa is still fresh in my mind. I still remember the day when I bought my first motorcycle: The Yamaha Enticer 125cc way back in 2003. This beautiful machine made way for my never-ending love for motorcycles.

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Riding a 125cc cruiser for so many years, I always wondered how it would feel to own a powerful sports bike. Considering that we barely had any options back then, it was always on my mind to experience a high performance machine.

Dream Machine Launched

Cut to 2009, Kawasaki launches the legendary Ninja 250R in India. Since then, this bike fascinated me every time I read about it or saw  one the road. I still remember when I was in Delhi in November 2010, I happened to pass by the Pro biking showroom at Connaught Place. Seeing the Ninja was a visual delight.

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I had to step into the showroom to get more details. After almost a half an hour conversation with the sales guy, the tech specs of this bike blew me over. I walked out of the showroom thinking that one day, I would own this machine. But the big hurdle: Pricing. At 3 lakhs plus, it was highly questionable whether it was worth the price.

Planning, Research & Finally…

May 2012: I was convinced by now that after riding a 125cc machine for 9 years, it was time to upgrade. And then the test rides began. First the redesigned Yamaha R15. Verdict- Great looks, handling & style, but still only a 150cc. Next in line for a test ride was the Honda CBR 250.

Excellent bike, good power, great looks, ABS. Pricing under 2 lakhs, a perfect combination of performance, affordability, style & city riding. But still something was missing. Out of curiosity entered the Hysong showroom to check out the 650 CC bike. As expected, no one bothered to answer my questions and no one had a clue about the bike. The staff didn’t care much that a genuine customer has walked in. I was put off by their sales attitude immediately.

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I called up the Pro biking showroom at Kanjurmarg- Mumbai and asked for a test ride. As expected, I was refused saying they don’t give test rides for the Ninja 250R. I left my contact informing that I will be really interested if they gave me a test ride.

A month later, I get a call from them asking me to come over for a test ride. Excited & how, I reach the showroom the next weekend & get my hands on this beauty. There are no words to express how this beast blew my mind. From that moment on, I knew this was it. I returned that day with excitement & apprehension. The price of 3.3 lacs was still a deal breaker.

They say, where there’s a will there’s a way. I got in touch with 2 actual users of this bike. After having endless conversations with them about performance, long rides, maintenance, after sales services, pricing, & after several reviews on the internet, I had finally made up my mind. I started to believe: One Life. Ride the Best. I went ahead and made the booking. The bike was delivered to me within 15 days with all documentation in place.

The First Few Days

The green Ninja is actually eye catching, and there is no way a person on the road does not give a second glance. The entire delivery experience was accompanied by top class service at the Pro biking showroom. Important instructions like the run in period of 800 – 1600 kms had to be followed strictly.

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That day, and still today, whenever I am on the road, people tend to give a second glance as to which bike is this. Considering that I bought this bike during monsoons, I barely could ride it and had to wait for sunny days. Here are some hilarious comments by friends, colleagues on knowing that the bike cost me 3 lacs +

  • Whoaa – at 3 lacs you can buy an Alto, why a bike?
  • If u spend 3 lacs on a bike, it should automatically balance itself when it tends to fall.
  • 3 lacs for a bike with plastic body, why didn’t u go the heavy metal enfield which is much cheaper
  • Is this original? (Referring to Pulsar owners who have painted their bikes: Ninja green)

Performance & Handling in the City

Considering the traffic in Mumbai, initially I found it a pretty heavy bike to ride. Difficult to twist & squeeze between cars. But after a while, the 172 kgs on this beauty felt normal and can now ride it like any other bike. Just a mindset I guess.

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Sit on this bike, and you feel you are sitting on a 1000 cc machine. It gives you a feeling of a big bike and green makes it look even bigger. The seating position is sporty but pretty comfortable. The minute you start riding this, you know you are commuting in style.

Pull that throttle and you wont find any difference from a normal bike, but the sound of the 250 cc engine sets it apart. The real power of this bike kicks in once you cross 6000 RPM. At high speed, this baby is the best riding experience in the 250cc class. The speedometer actually goes from 60 to 80 to 100kmph in a matter of seconds. The 6 speed gear is smooth & comfortable.

Get on to an open stretch of road and it unleashes raw power. That’s where the power of twin cylinder starts to show, and sets it way ahead of rivals in its class. I really don’t like speeding within the city. That’s cause its full of people crossing the roads without looking, cars & bikes breaking signals. That’s cause I believe high speed is for the highways.

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At this point, I would like to mention the brakes. The disc brakes on both tyres is something which I have not experienced in any other bike in this class. Its unbelievable how on panic breaking, the bike comes to a complete halt giving the rider better confidence while riding at high speeds. The 130/70 rear tyre & 110/70 front tyres are equally amazing with fantastic grip on the road.

Within the city, inspite of traffic, this bike is a pleasure to ride making it a perfect combination of power, style and practicality. However, in heavy traffic congestions, the engine tends to emit a lot of heat. Overall, this bike suits city riding conditions and I ride to work atleast 3 times a week. Twice a week I ride my old Yamaha to ensure the bike is maintained and is in working condition.

A Fresh Outlook to Biking

Alongwith the Ninja, came a lot of responsibility. For the amount of power this beast is expected to unleash, its easy to get carried away. This kind of power demands a lot of respect. Respect the power & and it will respect you. After speaking to some sports bike riders, I was convinced that safety gear was most important. An Airoh Helmet, an RJays Jacket and a pair of riding gloves were immediately picked up.

Since the time I have started riding the Ninja, safety gear has become an important part of riding. Until now, biking was only for daily commuting & just another mode of transport. The Ninja 250 changed it all. Rides are not only for commute but now are for long rides outside the city too. Its amazing how this change in outlook can bring about unlimited opportunities on the road.

And The Motorcycle Diaries Begin

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The Kawasaki Ninja;s 250cc engine demands open roads. After the run in period done, it was time to take it for a short spin outside the city to see how this monster behaves on the highways.

Ride 1: Mumbai – Khandala – Mumbai (1 day)

In its very first time outside city limits, on finding the open roads on the old Mumbai Pune Highway, the Ninja unleashes power I never experienced. The old Mumbai – pune highway is actually deserted with barely any cars in sight. This makes it a perfect road for bikers who want to speed without having to worry about cars trying to corner you. I cross 80kmph and I am still on 4th gear.

Crossing 100kmph on the speedo with the 6th gear yet not used, this is magical. At a speed of 100kmph, the body of this bike is rock steady, with zero vibrations. It actually goes from 80 to 100 in a blink of an eye with no stress on the engine. That’s the magic of twin cylinders I guess.

Distance covered: 180 kms

Ride 2: Mumbai – Harihreshwar – Mahableshwar – Mumbai (3 days)

Mumbai goa highway. A road known to be a dangerous route. A single lane highway with lot of heavy vehicles traffic, ST buses trying to bully you. With a lot of apprehensions, I set off on this road, only to find that if I stick to my lane, ride at a constant speed of 80 – 90kmph which I can control well, I can do pretty well on this road.

To reach Harihareshwar, I had to cross a road 80 kms away from the main highway. This 10 km road en route to Diveagar village is a dream road. On one side of the road is a deserted beach, on the other side are hills. You are actually riding so close to the sea on a parallel road for 8 kms at a stretch.

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To reach this place you cross 2 ghat sections with beautiful curves and well maintained roads with no vehicles. The handling of this bike on the ghats was a pleasure. No stress on the engine at all. The bike never dragged itself to climb any ghat section and was always at ease.

Day 2 left for Mahableshwar which was approx 200 kms from there. The ghat section towards mahableshwar via Mahad is in a pathetic state and totally avoidable. This stretch is a nightmare for any biker. However, once you reach the top, you forget everything considering the weather in this beautiful hill station.

Day 3: Took the Mumbai pune old highway to return to Mumbai. This stretch being a straight highway was again a pleasure to ride. Apart from traffic on the outskirts of Pune, this stretch of approx 270 kms is dream come true for bikers.

Total distance covered in 3 days: 700kms +

Ride 3: Mumbai Gujarat Highway

I had just visited my friends in Pune after a fantastic ride over the weekend. However, when you have a power house of a machine with you, all you need is to get on it and get going, no matter what the destination is again and again. I have driven various times on the Mumbai Gujarat highway, and found it an apt road for bikers.

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Now it was my turn to experience a ride on this fabulous road. This stretch is amazing once you cross Manor from Mumbai. It becomes a 3 lane highway with various curves. I found myself speeding constantly above 100 on this stretch. Though I did not plan this, on seeing an empty straight road, I pulled the throttle to full, and to my surprise, this beast was riding on 130 kmph in the blink of an eye.

The power of twin cylinder was so impressive it just blew my mind. Though this speed was only maintained for a few seconds considering I encountered trucks on the way, it was a first time experience on a bike for me at such high speed. Even at 130 kmph, there was no sign of stress on the engine, no vibration, no shaking, nothing. Now that’s what I call Japanese state of the art technology.

Total distance covered over 2 days: 700 + kms

Its amazing to know how this bike behaves on long rides. Till today no problem faced. No technical glitches, extremely reliable technology which is most important for long rides. Comfortable seating position, no stress on back nor shoulders. I just cant wait to get a chance to get back on the highway where I can enjoy the true potential of its massive power.

Service & Maintenance & Mileage

Before purchasing the Ninja, I was worried about expenses on maintaining a high performance bike like this. But I was told by some owners, that its completely maintenance free. And yes its true. I have visited the service center once for normal servicing and the experience was very good.

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A separate section for Ninja bikes with an extremely helpful service personnel. The service head Mr Pravin has a good technical knowledge about this bike. You get to sit right in front of the bike while they open it up and service it. You may ask questions during the service and they are more than happy to respond to your queries.

The total cost including oil change is just about Rs 1700, which is value for money. I had apprehensions regarding reliability on long rides and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere in case of a breakdown. However, I was assured by Mr Pravin to not worry and have faith in the Kawasaki technology which is very reliable as long as your basic checks are in place. And yes, that was true for all my rides. No problem at all.

I will not speak about mileage as I find it offensive to speak about mileage and petrol costs when one purchases a 3 lacs + bike. I believe such power machines should not be judged on basis of mileage. If mileage is a concern, we have many other commuter bikes which take good care on that front.

Overall Experience

There is no question, that it’s a pleasure to ride the Ninja. I will summarize the pros and cons now:

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Pros

  • Excellent looks & styling
  • Powerful 250 cc twin cylinder engine with 33 BHP (now those are some powerful numbers)
  • Powerful braking system giving you confidence on high speed
  • Excellent safety features like auto engine off when stand is down while in gear
  • Excellent after sales services & maintenance free bike
  • A Strong suspension which handles potholes and bumps really smoothly
  • State of the art Japanese technology
  • Reliable on long rides
  • The worlds best 250 cc production motorcycle with the legendary Kawasaki tag

Cons

  • Difficult to ride in long and constant traffic conditions
  • The original seat provided is very hard for long rides. I had to add seat cover with one inch foam on it. I could not compromise on comfort for the sake of looks.

Though the high price of the bike may hinder various bike lovers to purchase this machine, trust me, once you ride this, you will forget the price. Its worth every rupee paid. Its technology is miles ahead of the technology used in its similar class (CBR250, R15, Hysong GT250, etc). If you can afford it, don’t think twice, GO FOR IT!

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Overall, this is one proud purchase, and I will be keeping this one for a pretty long time. As I close my ownership review, I urge all fellow bike lovers to ensure:

  • Safe riding
  • Riding at only 80% of your speeding capacity
  • Wear a good full face helmet
  • Invest in proper riding gear.
  • Speeding on 100 + is not an achievement, rides can be enjoyed even at 80 -90 depending on your comfort level
  • We have only one life to ride, lets ride with responsibility

I am currently living my childhood dream to ride a sports bike. I hope to ride all my life keeping all the above safety measures in mind. Good luck & Ride Safe! Signing Off.

Regards,
Kamal Jaisingh

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

faisal May 10, 2013 at 10:50 am

What a beautiful bike which is only little expensive and not so feature laden like competitors, a good review with good insight into the machine.

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Shaji Chacko September 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Itz 4 wannabe’s as it has luks,performance,teknology along with prize but with low engine life{though itz liquid cooled engine}

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