Ninja 250 Review

Kawasaki Ninja 250, Black (2009 FI)

I purchased this bike new a few month ago. Now that I’ve surpassed the 1600km break-in period I thought I would share my opinion with you fine folks, seeing that I have silently gleaned wisdom from your experiences in the last few years.

A little background
I live in Taichung with a daily 45 minute city commute. If you know Taichung, scooter is king; the ultimate freedom machine. I get very frustrated driving a car here, and get too many camera tickets. I’m 188cm tall, and prefer larger wheels for both road feel, and proportional feel on the bike. 5 years ago I first bought a Majesty for it’s size, though I removed the goofy backrest so I could slide back for knee room. I became bored with it, harkened back to my earlier more sporty/mechanical days and bought an RZX. Fun bike, enjoyed the interaction with the machine, mastering it’s 2 stroke efficiencies. Light weight, nimble, an adrenaline pumping sweet spot. I was energized when I got to work. The need for constant upkeep, little time and no place for self maintenance, unsafe feel at ever increasing speeds brought me to make a decision on new transportation, and new meaning not used. I need the dependability. Considerations spanned from the CBR150, SM250 to the possibility of a more sporty 2nd car. I regularly dream back to my single days in LA driving that big six modified E28 i535… then I quickly come to my senses that decent performing new cars are expensive, only one parking spot available for the family CRV, and again, would be frustrating to drive a sports car in Taichung.

Why this bike?
I debated internally for a long time. I didn’t want a scooter; too small. A big bike would be too inconvenient for a daily commute. I wanted a current, dealer supported, serviceable, dependable bike, with a nimble sport feel and response, and good design. Lucky for me budget was last on the list. All arrows kept pointing at the Ninja 250.

Though the Ninja 250 is expensive per cc, it’s also cheaper overall than a new car or big bike. Kawasaki offered 0% interest on monthly payments for 2 years (save money compared to cash purchase). Dealers are pretty well established here in TW, though new for this market the Ninja 250 is Kawasaki’s bread and butter model, sold thousands all over the world for several years, with consistent build quality, and numerous positive reviews published. I rode a few test rides on it, and was sold.

The result
The Ninja 250’s black version is a beautiful bike with considerable attention spent on ID, and mechanicals/features. I prefer the sport bike look and position compared to the SM style. Seems to be the best of both worlds: nimble in scooter traffic and easier parking like the RZX, high speed stability and handling like a big bike. The FI 4 stroke engine has very consistent acceleration, with few flat spots or hot spots, can crawl easily in congested traffic, and also accelerate to 100kph quickly, with very stable top speed at 160kph. The ride and handling is very intuitive, and doesn’t take long to be at one with the machine. From my experience, money is to be saved by not having to buy any upgrades. It has all the performance I could possibly need. I did not follow Kaws break-in process completely, but refrained from extended accelerations, I ran at varied rpms, changed oil at 200km and 1000km. Initially the engine compression felt quite high and I needed to be careful to decelerate the throttle slowly when stopping, and downshifting, and not letting off the throttle too much when upshifting. Going from a loose 2 stroke to a new tight 4 stroke took some adjustment :wink: Riding more kms certainly helped loosen the engine, and now feels real sweet, but have yet redlined it for more than 1-2 seconds. The acceleration up 13,000rpm redline is quite a rush. No regrets on the purchase. Dealer has provided excellent service, and not one issue with the bike. It’s livened up my commute considerable, and fun on the real twisty TC county back roads.

With some negotiation (Kaw leaves little room however) I paid NTD215,000 (list NTD240,000) with a few goodies thrown in. This same FI bike now sells in the UK for GBP4,099 which is an approx NTD43,000 premium to buy in TW comparing list prices. Certainly not a small amount, but not double as some imports indicate. Admittedly UK prices are always higher, and US pricing lower, except they don’t offer this FI model in the US.

After 5 years of completely trouble free riding and a few months in the garage I tried to start up my Ninja 650 this morning for its first inspection. Kkkrkgkkrkkrkrkrkkkr, refuses to start or get in gear. And thus begins poor llary’s downfall.

First service in 5 years? :noway:

twricky thanks a lot for the review!

What made you decide on Ninja 250? (did you consider other bikes: Hornet 250, dualies KLX-250 etc)

How do you like riding position and suspension (stiffness, travel) on the local roads?


I wanted to treat myself to a brand new bike, dealer supported, with a warranty, that would satisfy my riding needs for the long term. Hornet 250, CBR 150 bikes were first on my list, but difficult to find, unknown mechanical history, and unknown parts availability all put doubts in my mind. I don’t have time to tinker anymore, nor do I want the inconvenience of being stranded on the side of the road, or being without a bike while waiting for parts, which I experienced with the RZX. Maybe I paid more for peace of mind, but feel I’m getting more than that.

The ride is quite stable on Taichung roads, however I initially found the suspension too firm, and quickly adjusted the rear shock. It’s now on 3 of 5 available settings, so has room to go softer if desired. The suspension really shows it’s stuff in cornering stability.

The position is more sport, but not too much. On TW roads my back prefers a more forward leaning position rather than an upright or laid back position. This position makes it easier for me to slightly un-weight the seat by leaning forward, and applying more weight to the foot pegs, giving me a more balanced 3 point contact to adjust for road conditions. The tank and body shape make it easy to pinch my knees in and act as a pivot point in this arrangement (also eases the crotch/tank interface). I’ve adjusted to the bike, but if I wanted to fine tune the position I could buy a kit to move the pegs. I’m satisfied, but anyone taller may not fit as well.

how does the power/weight ratio compare to the RZX?

It’s a much faster and more capable bike, the RZX is a toy by comparison.

It’s a lovely bike, plus I thought the UK price was 3299. 4099 makes it more appealing here (I hate the thought of getting screwed).

If the price was lower, $150,000 Taiwanese or less, I would probably have got that instead of the CPI SM250.

There are a range of mods available now for the Ninja 250 which I’m into. It seems like it will be very popular here over time, I see them regularly down my way and they look great.

First service in 5 years? :noway:[/quote]

It’s not due for an oil change yet, it’s only done 30,000km.

jaame, my crystal ball says your next 'wan moto will be a Kwak Versys 650, with side and top cases for a week in the mountains. A Ninja 650 in a different frame.

I think I want a Ninja 250. Has anyone seen one used for $150,000 yet?

why ninja 250? for $150k you can get cb400 VTEC3…or add another 30k-50k u’ll get kwak Z750 or ER6F

Perhaps you can leave a lowly ninja 250 out of your sight long enough to go to the bathroom without it being ripped off. Then again maybe not. One good thing about his CPI, the parts don’t command an imported bike’s premium on the black market.

Anyway, I have seen 2009 ninja 250 models for around $195,000, you could probably find an older model for close to 150K, unless they just started importing them.

jaame, get a 650. If you’re going to deal with an imported moto, you should get a red plate in the deal. :slight_smile:

The 2009 was the first year they were imported to Taiwan. That’s one model year after the 2008 redesign. They started out at 248,000, so 195,000 sounds better. That’s still about USD1500 more than what they sell for in the States, but isn’t surprising. I’m hoping that by the time I need to replace my CBR150, there’ll be a few used 250s on the market, but I doubt they’re selling too quickly.

The TW Ninja 250 import has the UK spec with FI and catalysts. Retail price is higher in the UK than the US. Curious what the US pricing would be if similarly spec’d. Emission standards are higher in the UK for 250cc… for now. This spec should be considered when comparing the TW premium price.

I don’t have much need to ride on the expressway in Taichung, and still no freeway riding for big bikes. Red plates have higher fuel consumption, and higher license fees. Not sure I see a red plate advantage. This 250 has enough acceleration for me, for sure on surface roads. One big advantage is it’s 0-100 kph maneuverability in car and scooter traffic. At the other end when the opportunity comes to open it up to 130 kph, it has the stability of a big bike. Best of both worlds? Since I spend 10 hours per week on the bike it was important for me to be happy. Glad that little voice in my head saying “wish i had a different bike, wish i had a different bike” is gone. A clear conscience that I didn’t compromise. Nuf’ said.

I’m lucky to have secured parking at both ends of my commute. I rarely park it in public areas, but when I do it slips in between scooters very well. In black color it doesn’t stand out much. Green is another story…

twricky, I’m curious about 2 things:

  1. How easy/expensive is it to find parts for the ninja 250 in Taiwan?

  2. How comfortable is it on long ( 100 km + rides )?


  1. There’s a decent Kawasaki dealer network in TW, and an excellent dealer with 2 shops here in Taichung (among several other competing Kaw shops). One shop is walking distance from my office (another reason for my choice). For this reason part availability should be ok, but I don’t expect them to be cheap. Frankly if I continue to take care, I can’t imagine needing parts very often. I had the shop install frame sliders to reduce body damage in case of a spill. Shops that can repair scratched body damage are plenty, and black paint easy to match. Aside from some fuel delivery differences this model is also current in Europe, US, Australia, Japan, Thailand. If necessary or in a hurry I can have parts shipped, or hand carry when traveling, but I expect not necessary except for some performance parts.

Dealer has a loaner Ninja 250 in the chance that my bike would need to sit in the shop. They’re very customer centric, of course wanting me to return for service (which I do), and the opportunity for a upgrade sale to a bigger bike (it’s the little Ninja’s marketing plan after all).

Aftermarket is looking very good too, to list a few:

I’m perfectly happy as it is now, but fun to dream. Tires would be the first upgrade.

  1. It’s not a cushy ride. Certainly more sport. My longer rides are in the backroad twisties, with many changes in position, and don’t notice any discomfort. The sus is stiffer than a SM bike, but I prefer the handling response, sport position and wider seat of this bike.

I rode one the other day. A (little) bit of fun, but damn! Its still just a tiny, tiny bike at the end of the day. Save your cash and get something decent.

C’mon Sandy, be fair. After a Jota, anything is going to feel small.