From the MD Department of “Huh!” (and hot on the heels of the super-sporty Yamaha YZF-R125) comes this small green surprise. It’s called, as far as Google Translate can tell me, the Ninja RR Mono or Ninja 250 SL, depending on market. It’s a lightweight bike that seems intended to replace small-displacement 125 or 150cc two-stroke sportbikes in Asian markets—and sadly, folks are saying it probably won’t come stateside.
The bodywork is dripping with up-to-the-minute Ninja family styling cues, including the beaky front fairing and two-tone gas tank, but strip the skin and the similarity ends. The frame is steel-trellis and the powerplant is a liquid-cooled 249cc Single with a 72mm bore and 61.2mm stroke (same as the KLX250, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same engine), the first for a Ninja, as far as I know, although there may have been such bikes overseas. The rest of the running gear is similar to the Ninja 300R, with 37mm fork and Uni-Trak-equipped rear suspension.
Here’s the interesting part: the motor is down about 4 horsepower from the 250cc Twin’s output (there’s still a 250cc version in Asian markets for tiered-licensing markets), but the claimed 333-pound wet weight is 46 pounds less than the Twin’s. That means it probably feels much more nimble—and almost as quick, especially at legal speeds. It’ll also doubtless be cheaper, thanks to the simpler motor.
So, will we see it here? The moto-pundit-wisdom says no, but I’m not so sure. Hear me out:
- The 300 is cheap at $4,999, but a $3,999 Single would soak even more sales away from the other brands’ budget rides.
- If it’s the KLX motor, it’s already homologated, mechanics are trained, and parts are in stock (there’s a nice aftermarket, too).
- If you think having a 250 and a 300 in the showroom would be too crowded, consider Kawasaki already sells three 650cc street models as well as a 600cc supersport.
- The moto-market is recovering, but lower-priced bikes seem to be doing better than the expensive stuff. If dealers start clamoring for this model…
- Hey, weirder things have happened, especially in Kawasaki dealerships.
Many times over the years, MD and MD readers have opined the need for fun, lightweight single-cylinder streetbikes. With this, the CBR250R, the KTM RC390 and other models, “be careful about what you wish for” has never applied more. Stay tuned.
Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of City Bike Magazine, and a frequent freelance contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com.