The year was 1988 and I was standing at the entrance of Coleman Powersports in Arlington, VA, looking at a sea of chrome, plastic and metal. I'd bought my first bike there and after one summer and 3,000 miles on a 200cc machine, I was ready to move up. Right smack in front of me were two black and red sportbikes that looked more like Samurai blades than anything else. The Ninja 250 and the Ninja 600 parked nose-to-nose made my heart race with thoughts of screaming past the DC police at 3 am on my way home from a night of slam dancing at the 9:30 Club. I sat on both, decided that with thirty-five dollars and only a six-pack to my name, I couldn't afford the 600. And why buy a 250 when I was moving up from a 200cc bike?
Fast forward 20 years and I’m swinging my leg over a bright red (just like my hair) 2008 Ninja 250R ready for a road test. There are so many new aspects to the 2008; it's hard to know where to start. First and foremost, this little screamer doesn't even look like a 250. The new sleek and contemporary body styling more closely mirrors that of the 600 model. Kawasaki wisely left off the 250 sticker, so only a true bike-ofile would know the difference. There's a new windscreen, new 2-into-1 exhaust with single canister and a new two-piece seat with optional rear seat cowl ($99.95) to finish off the sporty look. Wow.
At 5-foot-1, the new 30.5-inch seat height had me on my tippy-toes, but the bike is so light (reported 333 lbs. dry, up nearly 30 lbs) this was hardly a concern. The narrow seat certainly helps those of us who belong to the inseam-challenged group or the new rider who feels most comfortable with both feet down. Kawasaki research indicates that 62% of Ninja 250 owners are new riders, and 33% of that group is women. Being able to plant both feet firmly on the ground is one of the most cited concerns for all beginning riders who are purchasing their first bike.
More: Review: 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 250R