Kawasaki Changes the 250cc Game

Kawasaki introduced its smallest Ninja in 1983, and utterly dominated America’s 250 cc sportbike market for over twenty years … until the 2011 model year, that is. That was when Honda introduced the CBR250, which was worlds ahead of Kawi’s vintage-spec. sporty bike. Kawasaki acted quickly, however, and its latest contender for the welterweight sportbike crown is here: the new-for-2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R.

There’s no denying the new Ninja is crazy sexy. You can see that for yourself …

… but even more radical changes abound underneath the bikes’s slinky, edgy curves. The radiator’s fan shroud has been redesigned to push air down to the bottom of the engine, keeping heat off the rider. A new heat shield covers the muffler, again designed to keep heat off the rider in a bid to keep the rider more comfortable for longer stretches.

The latest Ninja 250R also features a series of performance upgrades, spear-headed by (what Kawasaki is calling) an all-new DOHC parallel-twin engine that features new pistons, heads, and redesigned high-flow exhaust headers that feed power to the ground through a 6-speed transmission and a set of sharp-looking rims shod with tires that are 10 mm wider than last year’s model. The other big news is the availability of ABS as an option now on the 2013 Ninja 250R. Kawasaki is calling its new ABS unit is the “world’s smallest” and should boost the overall stopping capabilities of the dual-disc braking package, which pushes the bike’s weight to just under 385 lbs. (up about 10 lbs. from the less capable 2012 model).

With all that tech, enough power to hit the highway, and 90+ mpg fuel economy on more relaxed runs, this new Kawasaki promises to be a solid two-wheeled commuter, no matter how you ride. Pricing has yet to be announced, but Honda’s CBR250 stickers at $4099, so – with Yamaha out of the game – expect Honda to be setting the pricing bar, and Kawi to follow suit.

Source | Photos: Kawasaki, via Motorcycle-USA.com

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.