2012 Kawasaki Ninja 250: less R, more money

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This is the new Kawasaki Ninja 250. It’s the same as the old Kawasaki Ninja 250R, minus the R. It does have new colors (red and the special edition black/gold), but the North American market bike is still saddled with carbs over the rest-of-world fuel-injection. That means it’ll still be difficult to start and run poorly when cold. The big change? The price has increased from $3,999 to $4,199. $4,449 if you’re a John Player Special kinda guy. That might not sound like a huge deal, but the brand-new Honda CBR250R has just gone on sale for $3,999. In the budget market, that $200 difference could actually influence a few sales. Blame a fluctuating Yen and supply difficulties post earthquake for the increase.

Update: answers from Kawasaki on the reason for the price increase and lack of fuel injection. High-res images of the red model included in the gallery.

“Aside from some basic supply and demand considerations, currency exchange rates played the major role in setting the 2012 price for the Ninja 250.”

WHY DOES AMERICA STILL GET CARBS? “Because it adds approximately $500 for the fuel-injected version. That would place the 2012 price near $4,700 which we feel is probably too high for the marketplace.”

  • dux

    Lolz. I forgot they still use carbs on that dinosaur. What’s Kawasaki’s cost difference – $20?

    • Terry

      No kidding. And the rest of the world actually gets the FI version anyway. It’s just silly.

  • Gene

    OTOH, Roadracing World says it’s the best selling sportbike in America “with the company selling close to 10,000 units in the last 12 months”

    I’m assuming the name counts for a lot… most people STILL call sportbikes either “Ninjas” or maybe “Gixxers”, just like I call all cars “Fords”

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      It’s the number 5 selling bike in America of any kind, outselling many harleys. It’s success is the sole reason Honda brought the cbr250 in.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

    How the hell does that thing pass emissions? They stopped selling the old EX500 here because the carbs couldn’t pass CA smog tests.

    • Terry

      They hamstring it with itty bitty pilot jets, fat needles (two different tapers, different needles for left and right cylinders), an emissions recycling system, and extra emissions gear for the CA models.

      I tore all that shit out of mine as soon as I figured out which way to turn a wrench. Some basic jetting and exhaust changes make it a decently useable bike, at least for my purposes.

  • Devin

    That R is huge for insurance in some regions.

    EX500 – base rate
    Ninja 500″R” – Super Sport premium 250% over base rate

    Add in the premium for young and new riders and the loss of the “R” is huge savings at many insurance companies.

  • Myles

    The Ninjette is piss slow, but I’ve never heard bitching from buddies about starting or warm-up issues.

    Are you speaking to issues with the bike, or hating on carbs in general?

    Because carbureted bikes are awesome. I love always smelling like fuel, don’t have to worry about smelling like weed or last night’s booze.

    • Sean Smith

      “I love always smelling like fuel, don’t have to worry about smelling like weed or last night’s booze.”


    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I love carbs, but these are set up extremely poorly to meet emissions. Someone who’s had or has one can probably waffle on about the reasons for that.

      • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

        The startup/warmup isn’t an issue, unless you just really don’t want to pull on a choke. I flick the starter to idle, pull the choke lever until it holds a steady 2k, put on my gloves, ride away and push off the choke after a mile.

        The jetting is shit under 8k rpm, though, cold or warm.

        Would love FI, but I’d still take the Ninja over the CBR.

        • slowestGSXRever

          Never had an issue starting my ninja 250, I follow the same procedure. Choke is off after a block or two and I’m good to go.

  • Terry

    I can’t see why anybody would drop 5K out the door on one of these, when you can get a perfectly good lightly used ’09 for 3K in almost any part of the country. There is simply no incentive for a new rider to pay full price for a “new” model that doesn’t change a damned thing except paint and trim.

    I like my 250R. I like it even more after I added a luggage rack and un-crippled the engine with a full exhaust plus intake and jetting changes, but I’m an economically limited citizen and a new rider. It made more sense for me to mod a cheap useless bike rather than move up to a higher pricing tier.

    If the extra money for the 2012 got you FI, an un- corked engine, and a minimally adjustable front suspension, it might be worth advertising. I hate how Kawasaki is in love with price point construction, but then again, find me anybody who is willing to give more for less these days, even when faced with superior competition.

    (The only thing I miss here is Candy Lime Green paint, though. I wish I’d have had that choice when I went looking for mine. I fucking love that color)

    • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

      Eh, the same thing could be said for any used vehicle. It’s true, yes–if used is an option, I will always buy used–but Toyota keeps selling new cars.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      I guess the waranty would be that incentive, and a very powerfull one for someone who doesn’t know anything about how a bike works (i guess it’s a big chunk of 250 buyers, considering the new rider target).
      I bought my last bike new, because i liked the 3 years waranty (moto morini), turns out the company died before the waranty, oh well…

      • Terry

        I hadn’t thought of the warranty, but I do my own wrenching, with the exception of tire and brake work.

    • HolyHandGrenade!

      Financing as well. People with no money and average credit can still get shitty financing for a new bike on a revolving credit line from the manu. Sure it is often very high interest and not a proper vehicle loan, but it still gets them out the door on a bike. Harder to do that with a bike from Craigslist.

      Just a reason – not saying it is a good reason or a smart decision.

  • NickP

    4 TK carbs for an old gpz successfully kept me off the road and in the garage for what felt like an entire summer so I would probably take the Honda for that reason alone, despite it being a thumper.

  • Dan

    I just sold an ’08 250r because I moved across the country. I can’t say enough good things about that bike. I bought it to teach my girlfriend how to ride, expecting it to be a bs learners bike, but wound up loving it. I can testify to the starting issues, but after a minute that all goes away. It’s a “learners” bike, yes – but not “learning” in the sense of not dying while you save up for the R6 you wanted – learning in the sense of actually being in control of your bike.

    I kept meaning to write the guys here and offer it for a review unit, but always forgot. Even for experienced riders (that was my 4th bike) – that bike is an absolute riot to ride. The same thing she was practicing with in the parking lot, i coud take to the track. Works well out of the box, with the only necessary upgrade being race tech emulators in the forks, frame sliders, and a buddy to hold it upright while you unscrew the kickstand. Bicycle-width back tire looked ridiculous, but offered basically unlimited grip, even with sport touring tires at streets of willow. It’s the perfect thing to get your confidence up on. What can i say, im partial to the bike that convinced my gf to get her license!

    I think my total cost of ownership for 6 months was like $400, and most of it was sales tax. I hear the honda’s nice also – these are good times to be a “learner.”

  • aristurtle

    The EX250 is a fantastic little bike but seriously, there is absolutely no excuse for the damn carbs anymore. I don’t mind them on a used model that looks like it came from the late eighties (even if it was manufactured in 2006) but they should have ditched the carbs with the restyle.

    Oh, wait, they did, they just kept the carbs for the US market. Why the fuck?

    • Devin

      I am also interested to know, “Why the fuck?”.

    • aristurtle

      I’m skeptical of their figure for how much extra cost there is with FI. A whole aftermarket FI kit costs $500 retail, and that’s without subtracting the cost of the carburetors. And besides, Honda can apparently do it just fine.

      The dollar ain’t doing great right now, though; they have that there.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    Had to cage it to Ann Arbor to drop a friend off. I saw 2 CBR 250′s and 3 of these things. I was surpsrised. They make total sense to me now that I’ve been riding my SR50 all week… Just as fun to ride around as a “normal” bike and cost of fuel is almost nothing.

    And the whole vintage Honda thing is driving me fucking bonkers.,

  • Edward

    So is the consensus that the Ninja 250 is a better bike for sport riding than the CBR 250?

    • Sean Smith

      Sure, in the same way a stock civic is better than a stock corolla as a racecar. Suspension is limiting on both bikes and pegs will touch down early and often. The ninja also has a large power advntage once you fix the tuning.

      • Dan

        That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? He’s talking about sporty riding on the road, not chasing podium finishes. Either bike is light years ahead of the prior 250. After selling the 250r I picked up an Sv650, and because of the added power and weight, I think the limitations in stock suspension, brakes, etc. are way more pronounced on that bike than the little one. After fixing it up it should be fantastic, but out of the box it chatters all the way to the outside of each corner.

  • jason

    I have two 20-year old ones I have rebuilt and played with, and I love them. Easy to work on, light, and super fun. For someone who enjoys working on the machine, carbs are fine with me.


  • Brian

    I just got my first FI Ninja (636) after moving up through the EX250, EX500, and a few FI SV650s. The 250 is indeed a great bike, but just about all the issues that my 250 had, and friends have had with their 250′s, were related to.. You guessed it…. carbs. The new 250 retaining carbs is a huge disappointment.

  • raj kumar

    Kawasaki Ninja 250R is the best looking sports bike. It looks aggressive like a spiderman. Kawasaki Ninja 250R can give 42 kmpl mileage.