2011 Kawasaki Ninja 250R
The 250cc sportbike class is a small group, but the Honda CBR250R is not its only admirable member. The Kawasaki Ninja 250R has been around since 1986, and with regular updates through the years it has long been a favorite of smaller riders, women and students in Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCourses.
Styled to resemble Kawasaki’s big-bore sport bikes with a full-coverage racing-style fairing and twin mufflers, it can easily be mistaken for a much bigger and more expensive machine.
Where the Honda CBR is a single-cylinder machine, the junior Ninja — there are 650cc and 1000cc Ninjas — has a 13,000 r.p.m. 2-cylinder engine and it produces about two more peak horsepower than the Honda. This makes it faster on a racetrack, but in typical street riding the Honda has the edge in midrange power and ridability.
Last revamped in 2008, the Ninja 250R is starting to show its age in 2011. Compared with the Honda CBR250R, it has a less competent suspension, carburetors rather than fuel injection, higher weight (356 pounds, two dozen more than the CBR) and a slightly lower level of overall refinement. But like the CBR250R, on the right twisting road, it can still be much more fun than its $4,274 price (including shipping) would have you believe.