2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 RR: The Next 300?

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2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 RR

How’s this for an odd duck? Premiering in Thailand over the weekend, this new 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 RR appears to drop the current Ninja 300′s parallel-twin motor in favor of the KLX250′s single. The frame is all new, but the suspension and brakes appear to be pulled off that 300. And, rather than mimic the 300′s styling, it strikes off in a new direction. Pourquoi?

So far, so weird. The bike appears to be targeted at expanding Kawasaki’s small-capacity lineup in Asian markets with harsh license tiers. The 125cc two-strokes need to go, for emissions reasons, and this is one of the bikes that will be replacing them. Because it uses that single-cylinder motor, the RR will be more accessible to young riders than the Ninja 250 (identical to the Kawasaki Ninja 300 in all ways but capacity, hang in there) with its parallel-twin.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 RR
Check out the size of that exhaust! Singles take some taming to meet modern emissions and noise standards.

The motor has the same bore and stroke as the Kawasaki KLX250S dual-sport — 72 x 61.2 mm — but makes more horsepower: 28 bhp in RR form, versus the dual-sport’s 21 bhp. Torque is said to remain similar at around 15 lb.-ft.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 RR
A proper frame! Where the Ninja 300′s relies on single tubes to wrap the engine’s perimeter, the RR uses a trellis arrangement that should be much stronger.

More interesting is the RR’s all-new frame, a steel tube affair that appears considerably beefier than the Ninja 300′s own. Styling, too, is even more angular and aggressive than that of the 300, with a higher tail section, a single front headlight and very sharp-edged plastics. The RR also features and all-new LCD dash.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 RR
The Ninja 250 RR’s new clocks are a simple, purposeful LCD affair with a horizontal tach. The numbers grow larger as they enter the powerband.

The 37mm forks, “Uni-Track” shock, petal-shaped brake discs, two-piston sliding calipers and box-section swingarm all appear to be identical to the Ninja 300′s. Like that bike, ABS is said to be optional.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 RR
Sexiness continues on the new top-yoke, a racy skeletonized affair.

So what’s the takeaway for readers in America and Europe? Well, this is likely just another bike built to meet local license tiers in the massive Southeast Asian market and not something we’ll be riding anytime soon. It’s that new frame that most interests us. Built to hold a single, not a twin, it’s not going to replace the ancient, flexy item in our Ninjas anytime soon, but it does perhaps point a way forward for future small-capacity Kawasaki sportbikes.

  • Jack Meoph

    The 300 has around 35hp and 18 lb·ft torque, so you’d be losing power everywhere with that bike. A newer frame would be nice if it was lighter, but srsly, with the power output of the Ninjette the last thing you’re worried about is frameflex. You’re more worried about the semi barreling up the right lane while you’re desperately flogging the Ninjette down the on ramp hoping to get on the freeway before you get sucked underneath the semi’s trailer. And yes, I have a 2012 250r, and it’s a hoot on certain roads, but punishing on straights. And once again, ABS should be standard on all new bikes, not an option.

    • Piglet2010

      To make your Ninjette feel fast, ride it back to back with a 100-150cc class scooter, or even a Yammie TW200.

      • Slacker

        With the TW I can DEFINITELY agree… I’m actually thinking about springing for another small bike. Just for giggles.

        • Piglet2010

          The TW200 has convinced me that any bike used regularly on the freeway should have at least 20 rwhp. The pre-gen Ninjette is still faster than most cages up to 70 mph or so (or was until it seems every truck, luxury car, and SUV had to have over 300 hp – can we please raise the CAFE limit?).

          • Justin McClintock

            No kidding. My DT175 is, in theory, freeway legal. For the sake of keeping myself in 1 piece, I have never ventured out there on it. Its 17 furious hamster power just won’t cut it.

            • Piglet2010

              I have done a couple of freeway miles in low traffic conditions on the Tee-Dub. I even did about a quarter-mile on the NHX110 scooter just for S&G (legal here as long as one maintains 40 mph).

              • HatersWillHate

                …because to you, playing on the highway is where it’s at…

                Good deal, man. The slower the better. That’s what it’s all about.

      • HatersWillHate

        why not just go for a walk. A lot cheaper plus you get some good exercise out of it.
        Spend an hour walking 5 miles and you’ll think that Ninja 300 is awesome

        either that or you’ll feel like a complete idiot

    • Campisi

      “You’re more worried about the semi barreling up the right lane while you’re desperately flogging the Ninjette down the on ramp hoping to get on the freeway before you get sucked underneath the semi’s trailer.”

      I’ve heard this sort of thing regarding smaller bikes my entire riding career, but personal experience has never panned out that way. Even 250s tend to be faster than the Corollas and Civics most people operate (I hesitate to use the word “drive”) without undue distress.

      • HatersWillHate

        A car barreling down you at 90mph is traveling about 135 ft each second.
        If you’re doing 65 you’re doing about 90 ft each second.
        That means each second it’s closing 45 feet on you.

        How long does it take you to realize that it’s closing on you and then to decide what to do about it, drop a gear and move?

        Probably at least a second, maybe two.
        In that space of time it has closed 30 yards on you.

        If it was only 50 yards away when you first noticed it, you now have 20 yards to get out of its way.

        Less than 2 seconds at closing velocity.
        You are left to either weave through traffic at a high rate of speed or to accelerate enough to stay ahead of it.

        And the top speed on your 250 is what, 90mph? 95? I’ll be generous and say 100mph.

        How long would it take for you to reach 100mph on your 250, starting at 65mph?
        Remember that you have 3, 4 seconds at most to reach 90mph and avoid getting pancaked by that slow Civic.

        And you’re buzzard-bait anyway if he decides to go faster.

        Your whole life on that bike depends on no one actually challenging your rosy assumptions.

      • Afonso Mata

        Same here.
        I daily ride my 10hp 125cc scooter 15 miles of freeway to work.
        The legal speed limit for freeway and highways, here in Portugal, is 75mph.
        Speeding tickets are expensive (between 1 and 5 minimum wages, depending on how much you were speeding) so the average speed of “vehicles that aren’t motorcycles” is 80mph.
        I don’t really feel endangered to ride my scooter at it’s top speed of 70mph.
        The average traffic speed is really that high, in the US ?

      • CB

        I rode a little Suzuki GN250 (17 hp), which is the same as a TU250 pretty much, everyday for a year and it very happily commuted up and down the highway at 110kmph. It was completely pinned, but it did it fine. I never felt unsafe, never felt not fast enough. Regularly passed most cars and gave semi’s the right of way. I think people need more experience on little bikes and they’ll get a sense of how much power is enough.

    • BillW

      My KLX250S, with a lower-power version of the same motor, has no problem dealing with SoCal freeway traffic. And it’s enough fun in the twisties that I’ve thought that a more pavement-oriented chassis would suit the motor.

    • CaptainPlatypus

      I ride a 2001 ninjette, and I don’t understand people who have trouble with their available power. I’m 6’2″ 200lbs and it’ll happily cruise at 80 with power available to pass. It should be telling that I’ve literally never felt the need to downshift into fifth for better acceleration on the highway. It’s not an R6, but if people are regularly crawling up your tailpipe on a 250 – especially semis – that’s on you, not the bike. The redline is above 12k RPM for a reason – wring its neck and watch problems vanish behind you.

      • Piglet2010

        On the track, I *down-shift* at 11K rpm on my pre-gen Ninjette.

      • DeltaFoxtrotZulu

        “…wring its neck and watch problems vanish behind you.” Thank you for this. I’m gonna use that phrase in the future.

      • HatersWillHate

        because 2hp is not what most people call “power available to pass”

    • Justin McClintock

      I’d like to see the power curves of the two engines. Sure, the KLX-based engine makes less peak HP and peak torque. But I’ll bet it makes a LOT more low end torque than the Ninjette and probably has a much broader torque curve in general. That’s probably what Kawasaki was shooting for. A race-bike power curve is great on a race track, but not necessarily so great on the street.

    • HatersWillHate

      “And once again, ABS should be standard on all new bikes, not an option.”

      You should make that actually happen, instead of just sitting at home talking about it on the Internet.

  • Nathan Haley

    Did I miss anything or is it still carbureted?

    That 250 single is a great motor.

    • zombarian

      AFAIK the KLX 250 is called D-tracker over there and has been Fuel injected for awhile.

      • tobykeller

        The KLX and D-Tracker are sold side-by-side in Thailand, the KLX with dirt tires and the D-Tracker with street tires. And both have FI.

    • BillW

      The KLX250S already has EFI in other markets (EU and AUS for sure).

  • zombarian

    Between the KLX 300s bigger piston and the D-trackers fuel injection and this new frame/bodywork Kawasaki could churn out a very comparable bike to the CBR 300, but it would probably only eat into ninja 300 sales.

  • zedro

    So the KLX forums should be going bananas on how Kawi bumped up the horsepower (cams, porting?). And if it’s the same basic jug, they can be bored to 351cc without stroking it.

  • Darragh McD

    I wonder if the frame as been beefed up so that the rear sub-frame can handle these shenanigans?

    • Piglet2010

      And you thought the Gold Wing had a cushy pillion perch!

    • Fzr 1000 Alex

      Look at the sexy passenger peg setup. Non removable mounting brackets welded straight to the frame. How’s that for sporty?? This will clearly be a track beast! LOL.

  • Fzr 1000 Alex

    Maybe NOW KTM will get with the program and bring the RC390 over.

    … Yes in gonna keep whining until this happens.

    • Campisi

      Reporting in from the local bike show just this past weekend, the following interaction occurred frequently ‘twixt the KTM booth staff and everyone under the age of thirty.

      Potential Customer: “No 390?”

      Increasingly-distraught Booth Human: “… Maybe next year.”

      No-Longer-Potential Customer (already turning to leave): “Oh.”

      • zedro

        Ahaha….Booth Humans™…. such a sad lot.

      • Piglet2010

        I have designated my dealer to whine to KTM about the 390 Duke and RC390.

        • Thomas Whitener

          The only thing worse than that is living here in Italy, where I could go buy one today, and not being able to because “we have too many motorcycles already, why would you want another one. Besides we can’t afford it” from the logical, adult, bmw-rider I married.

          • Piglet2010

            The correct number of motorcycles to own is N+1, where N is the number currently owned.

            • Thomas Whitener

              I wish that excuse worked with my better half. And my bank account.

            • Fava d’Aronne

              I like you.

  • ThinkingInImages

    Looks interesting. The current small Ninja is basically a warmed over old small Ninja +50cc. This is almost all new. Kawasaki does have a strange sense of muffler aesthetics on some of their motorcycles…

  • chad west

    Kawasakis responses to the yamaha yzf250?

  • Mohd Shahruzy

    wait this is the replacement for the KIPS 150? u guys cant buy it but i probabaly can haha

  • Dave Mason

    No mention of it having clip-ons instead of bars?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The 300 also has clip-ons.

      • Dave Mason

        I thought anything mounted above the top triple, such as on the 300, were considered bars, whereas this bike’s clip-ons are mounted below the top triple. Perhaps I am mistaken about the vernacular but there is a significant difference in functionality nonetheless, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Tupack Shackur

    How does the new single make the 250 more accessible to beginners than having a 250 parallel twin? Is it a price thing? I’d think the performance would favour the parallel twin?

    • Piglet2010
      • Tupack Shackur

        You following me around, Piglet? Haha. I don’t think the chart really helps to explain that, though? To me, it looks like the single-cylinder CBR has peakier torque, while the Ninjette has a more even torque band. Wouldn’t that be an argument for the Ninjette being more “accessible” to beginners?

        • Piglet2010

          You have to rev the whee out the Ninjette to get anywhere fast, and rev it a lot more than the mini-CBR to get off the line without stalling. The Honda would be my choice in stop and go traffic, or just cruising around; the Ninjette on a winding back road or track day.

          • HatersWillHate

            so what’s a bigger twist of the throttle, piglet. I guess that all the noobs on YT saying that the Ninja 300 is a great starter bike and way better than the cbr250 don’t know what they are talking about