Indian motorcycling aficionados have enjoyed a raft of big-ticket, big-bike launches. Yamaha set the superbike ball rolling with its YZF-R1 and MT-01. Suzuki followed suit with the Hayabusa and Intruder. And 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, colossal import duties mean such superbikes are priced within the reach of only a few.

Nevertheless, there exists a buyer segment with an addictive need for speed. For them small-capacity bikes don’t take the cake, while the heavier models are over-the-top.

Enter the mini-sportsbike that packs a punch — the Kawasaki Ninja 250R.

The 250R is one handsome motorcycle sold in two shades in India — black or the trademark Kawasaki green. The 250R is sporty with its angular bodywork well sculpted and decal-free. Much of the bike comes in a dull, black finish, including 17-inch wheels, the cockpit, slim flank and tail bits as well as the silencer canister. 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 that kept us well-protected at high speeds.

The analogue dials, which look more in line with a bike born in the 1980s are clear to decipher at all speeds. The speedometer reads upto 200kph, while the rev-gauge redlines from 13,000rpm, going up to 15,000rpm.

Fuelled by style

Kawasaki would have done well to include a fuel gauge, although the motorcycle does provide a temperature indicator and single trip facility in addition to its odometer. You couldn’t ask for better palm grips on a bike and the Ninja’s levers fitted our fingers perfectly too. The tank is long with a stylish fuel filler, after which all eyes will appreciate neat side panels, bi-colour seats and a smart tail-section leading to the Ninja 250R’s rear mudguard.

At the heart of Bajaj’s new flagship sits a 249cc, four-stroke, Kawasaki-developed engine. Its pair of twin, liquid-cooled cylinders sit 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 13000rpm. Peak power of 33bhp kicks in at 11000rpm, while the crank outputs 2.24kgm of torque at 8200rpm.

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. Its two-into-one exhaust plays a beautiful tune as the engine spins through a wide power band with power building strongly after 4000rpm, rushing smoothly all the way to meet redline.

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

The Ninja junior has relatively high-placed clip-on handlebars and seats riders 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. Which isn’t to say handling is sacrificed.

The 250R comes with 37mm telescopic forks in front and a gas-charged Kawasaki Uni-Trak mono-shock system at the rear. Its frame is conventional, in diamond type, with a toughened square-section steel swingarm. The tyres are top-class IRC, ample in size both in front and at the rear and provide the security of ample traction.

The Ninja 250R deploys petal disc brakes, running a single 290mm rotor up front and a 220mm unit at the rear. These work like a treat, for the brakes always feel strong and arrest the bike in really short distances. Our quickest stop from 100kph to rest on the Ninja 250R was 44.99 metres, with 60kph to standstill taking 15.1 metres.

We are yet to test the Ninja 250R for fuel economy, following which we will be able to verify Bajaj’s 32kpl claims for city riding.

Ninja is the long-awaited answer to many an Indian motorcyclist’s dream. It is sporty, with the head-turning, faired-in style. There’s ample go in there to match all the show, and the Ninja’s sweetly tuned chassis, suspension and brakes positively goad a rider to exploit all the potential of its 33bhp.

All that, without touching upon the ace in this Bajaj pack — the Ninja 250R’s pricing, at Rs 269,970 (ex-showroom, Delhi). While some may think this to be high, it’s actually good value for money for this good a motorcycle.

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