Honda CBR250R Vs Kawasaki Ninja 250R Comparison

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The Kawasaki Ninja 250R Vs the Honda CBR250R comparison will always be made since both are competitors here and around the world.  Both are not true sports motorcycles but sporty looking bikes hiding reasonable mechanicals tuned for reliability more than power.

The differences between the two are immediate. The Ninja 250R instruments are a complete FAIL because they date back to the 1980’s and are not sporty to look at where as the CBR250R is right up to date with a big analogue rev counter with a digital speedo and gauges. (2012 Ninja models have been updated with white backed graphics which look much better but I would feel ripped of if I bought the prior year models) The ride position is good for both and upright. The Kawasaki feels more substantial due to extra width – to accommodate the wider engine. Many will prefer the extra width but everyone will prefer sitting on the Honda because it is a cooler place to be. The overall beauty of both bikes is based on your personal biases but I prefer the CBR250R, it is more modern to look at with slightly higher quality parts. The Ninja is nice too but a little dated and conservative in 2012 as the saying goes – great to look at from a distance just not too closely.

The technical comparison specifically engine power is where every newbie will fail in this comparison. As any Top Gear viewer will know, that there is more to performance than just power and this definitely applies to the CBR250R – because Honda knew what they were doing. Sure the CBR has less power than the Ninja on the spec sheets but if you check out the dyno charts the real power at the rear wheel, there is 2 horsepower down and yet the torque for the CBR is higher than 2! That said both need all the power they can get and more would not go unappreciated. On the road both are different as the CBR peaks early with no flat spots while the Ninja needs 3000rpm more to do the same thing but then hits the flat spot… There’s very little in it overall but I prefer the  responsiveness of the CBR. 

In terms of riding the Ninja 250R annoys straight away especially when cold with its choke and ease of stalling when cold I did it twice! Once warm you need to turn off the choke too – otherwise you will damage the engine. The need for extra engine revs from stand still to prevent stalling is annoying since I’m used to EFI motorcycles. The CBR works straight off which is excellent very little to complain taking all things into account. The Ninja’s carbeurattors are ancient and need to be replaced. Any one claiming the carbeurattors are better than EFI needs their head checked. The bonus of EFI is that can modify the CBR250R easily by purchasing a PowerCommander unit and plugging in unlike the Ninja which requires major surgery and costs to modify then tune if you can get it right. (Also remember the high revs are part of the 250cc riding experience, important for both motorcycles and part of the fun.)

In the end the Ninja 250R and CBR250R are both great 250cc motorcycles. Both are equal in many ways but in the real world and the long term I think the Honda wins. Once you’ve ridden a superior motorcycle (CBR250R) with new technology is it difficult to go back and this was the case. It’s really up to you which one you want and how much you want to pay but make Kawasaki put in EFI – BEFORE you buy it – so buy the Honda today – I think you’ll be happier in the long run. It’s sad turn of events since the 250 Ninja’s predecessors were some of my favorite 250cc motorcycles. That said,  I wouldn’t choose either, I’d spend the extra on the Honda CB400 at the time of writing.

Update August 2012: Breaking news – a more substantial update to the Ninja 250R will most likely be released in 2013 based on news on the Kawasaki Japan website. This confirms my opinion that the current Ninja 205R is indeed underdone.

  Honda CBR250R Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Engine:   IL1 cylinder 4-stroke 4 valve DOHC (EFI) IL2 cylinder 4-stroke 4 valve DOHC (Carbs)
Capacity:  249.5cc 248cc
Power/Torque:  20Kw @ 8,500 RPM 23Nm @ 7000 RPM (Japan) 29.4Kw @ 11,000 RPM 22Nm @ 9500 RPM
Gearbox:   6 speed 6 speed
Kerb Weight:  161Kg or 165Kg with ABS Approx 169Kg
Performance:  0-100kph 8 seconds Approx
Max Speed 160Kph Approx 
0-100kph 8 seconds Approx
Max Speed 160Kph Approx 
Fuel Economy:   13 litre fuel tank
Approx 4 litres per 100km
18 litre fuel tank 
Under 5 litres per 100km
Seat height:  784mm 775mm
Dimensions:  L2030 x W720 x H1127 x WB1369 L2085 x W715 x H1110 x WB1400
 Recommended Retail Price:   $5490 or $5990 with ABS $7299 (See above)

Kawasaki Ninja 250R Review

The Kawasaki Ninja 250R is one of the 250cc motorcycle aimed at commuters and first time motorcycle riders hence has the first post in my low cc reviews page. The Ninja 250R is the latest update to the decades old GPX250 or EX250 as it is also known in various countries around the world.  The basics of this motorcycle are proven reliable and ever popular over the years, which applies to the engine and other components so justifiably Kawasaki have not done a completely clean sheet design.

The Ninja 250R is a good example of a motorcycle that is better than the sum of its parts. It has good performance handles well despite the relatively soft suspension and very comfortable, looks good and most of all priced well. 250cc motorcycles in Australia have never been cheap (partly due to the restriction to 250cc) and this is not and exception. The price point for its predecessors over 10 years or so was $8,000 – 10,000 but thanks to competition it snow sells for around $6,500 (on special)  including on road costs in 2012.  Bargain hard or wait for the inevitable specials and you can buy it for under $6,000 with extras thrown in. Due to all that history the Ninja’s resale value is very high.

The main annoying characteristics/problems of the Ninja 250R’s are related to the carburettors. There aren’t any flat spots of note although the top end after approximately 9000rpm does lack the all relative round zing of say of the new single cylinder Honda CBR250R.  Likewise the Ninja is not as responsive as a motorcycle with a decent EFI system. The engine also sounds uneven when it has not been correctly tuned and guaranteed to notice. The need to turn the choke ON and OFF for cold morning starts is old school and for beginners if left pn will eventually damage the engine. Likewise the un-motorcycle like start sequence. The thing is that you will notice this since its a 250cc you’ll need every single rpm you can get. Where is the EFI system which is available in other countries – a bit scummy I say.

There are few sporty looking motorcycles in the 250cc range, the only other are the Hyosung GT250 or Honda CBR250R at the moment. That said we prefer the Honda CB400 (400cc) – it may not have a sports fairing but it looks great regardless. The CB400 is a top sellor in Japan for years and for all the right reasons but then is costs slightly more. 

I digress, although sporty to look at the Ninja 250R backs it up with good handling and turn in when riding and at stand still, however the soft suspension as per ALL 250cc motorcycles feels odd when you’ve ridden larger and harder sprung sports motorcycles. You do get physically lots of motorcycle for the money but it is over priced since the technology it use dates back 20 years you’d expected a much more competitive price by now. 

Overall the Ninja 250R is a great motorcycle for what ever justification you care to think of. I can understand why they sell, it is the package of good out doing any bad if you can justify it. Just make sure you compare the other manufacturers 250cc motorcycle range. However purely due to the price I also feel strongly that you should NOT buy the Ninja 250R for the simple reason that it does not come with EFI. Make Kawasaki put in electronic fuel injection like in other countries since for the price you’d expect it as standard and are being ripped off without it.

Kawasaki Ninja 250R Key Specifications
Engine:   IL2 cylinder 4-stroke 4 valve DOHC (Carbs)
Capacity:  248cc
Power/Torque:  29.4Kw @ 11,000 RPM 22Nm @ 9500 RPM
Gearbox:   6 speed
Weight:  Approx 169Kg
Performance:  0-100kph 8 seconds Approx
Max Speed 160Kph Approx 
Fuel Economy:   18 litre fuel tank
Under 5 litres per 100km
Seat height:  775mm
Dimensions:  L2085 x W715 x H1110 x WB1400
 Recommended Retail Price:  $7299 (See above)