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Ninja kick

Addicted to speed? Fancy a superbike that’s out of reach? Try the latest mini sportbike from the Kawasaki stable — the Ninja 250R, writes Rishad Cooper. See graphics

autos Updated: Nov 21, 2009 01:35 IST
Rishad Cooper

Indian motorcycling aficionados have enjoyed a raft of big-ticket, big-bike launches in recent times. Yamaha set the superbike ball rolling with its YZF-R1 and MT-01. Suzuki followed suit with the Hayabusa and Intruder. Since then, Honda’s CBR1000RR and CB1000R, Yamaha’s road-ripping V-MAX and the India-bound Harley-Davidsons have only served to stir up more excitement.

Unfortunately, exorbitant import duties keep the superbikes out of reach for many. Nevertheless, there are buyers addicted to speed. Small bikes don’t cut much ice with them, while heavier models are over the top. Enter the mini-sportbike that packs a big punch — the Kawasaki Ninja 250R. And the world is a better place.

Quite a looker

The handsome 250R is available in black and the trademark Kawasaki green in India. It is sporty with a well-sculpted angular body.

Above a sporty mudguard, the mini-Ninja displays a pair of intimidating headlights. The fairing-mounted mirrors function perfectly as does the bike’s large, raked visor keeps us well-protected at high speeds.

The analogue dials, that are akin to the 80s’ bikes, can be viewed at all speeds. The speedometer reads upto 200 kmph, while the rev-gauge redlines from 13,000 rpm, going up to 15,000 rpm.

Kawasaki would’ve done well to include a fuel gauge, although it has a temperature indicator and a single trip facility in addition to its odometer. You couldn’t ask for better palm grips on a bike and the Ninja’s levers fit our fingers perfectly too. The tank is long with a stylish fuel filler and its neat side panels, bi-colour seats and a smart tail-section leading to the Ninja 250R’s rear mudguard, will be much appreciated.

Engine wild

At the heart of Bajaj’s new flagship is a 249 cc, four-stroke, Kawasaki-developed engine. The pair of twin, liquid-cooled cylinders sits in line with one another, under four-valve heads that house dual overhead camshafts. This button-started powerplant makes no bones about its sporty ambitions, with light, short connecting rods allowing brisk revs all the way to a limited 13,000 rpm. Peak power of 33 bhp kicks in at 11,000 rpm, while the crank has 2.24 kgm of torque at 8,200 rpm.

The Ninja 250R uses a six-speed gearbox, which offers positive shifts in a one-down, five-up pattern. Its willing engine constantly goads the rider to pin its throttle and hold high revs. The two-into-one exhaust plays a beautiful tune as the engine spins through a wide power band with power building strongly after 4,000 rpm, rushing smoothly all the way to meet redline.

Get high on Speed

The Ninja 250R is blindingly quick to 60 kmph, our test kit recording 3.04 seconds, and it flew to 100 kmph in an impressive 7.83 seconds. It also managed a true top speed of 152 kmph, and the speedometer needle was slightly north of 160 kmph at this point.

The Ninja junior has high clip-on handlebars and lets riders sit in a posture upright enough to make city riding bearable. Its tank region offers smooth thigh support, and the footrests are further ahead than you’d expect.

Tyres and brakes

The 250R comes with 37 mm telescopic forks in front and a gas-charged Uni-Trak mono-shock system at the rear. The frame is conventional, in diamond type, with a toughened square-section steel swing arm. The tyres provide the security of ample traction.

This bike deploys petal disc brakes that work like a treat and arrest the bike in really short distances. Our quickest stop from 100 kmph to rest on the Ninja 250R was 44.99 m, with 60 kmph to standstill taking 15.1 m.

Verdict

The Kawasaki Ninja 250R is the long-awaited answer to many an Indian bikers’ dream. It is sporty and its head-turning, faired-in style certain to win many hearts. Ninja’s sweetly tuned chassis, suspension and brakes positively goad a rider to exploit all the potential of its 33 bhp.

The ace in this Bajaj pack, however, is the Ninja 250R’s pricing at Rs 2.69 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). It’s quite good value for money for this good a motorcycle.

The author writes for Autocar India