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Kawasaki Japan Web Site Debuts Redesigned 2013 Ninja 250R

In a strange PR move, without apparent involvement from the U.S. Kawasaki press department (and without the usual embargo agreement entered into by the media), Kawasaki has debuted the completely redesigned (new engine, chassis, etc.) 2013 Ninja 250R on its Japanese web site here.

The new fuel-injected twin might be the biggest news, but Ninja 250 fans could be just as excited by a switch to a larger rear wheel and stock 140mm rear tire (up from 130mm). ABS is also an option, apparently, for 2013.  Keeping in mind that Kawasaki chose to sell a carbureted version of the Ninja 250 here in the U.S. market (despite the availability of a fuel injected version overseas), it looks like we will have an exciting new member of the 250cc street category next year. No official word on U.S. availability or pricing at this point. Stay tuned. These are just some of the color schemes shown on the Kawasaki Japan web site.


  1. Kevin says:

    Oh my god
    i can’t wait for the new 2013 ninja 250r to be released in the united stares!!!!

  2. tmcblog says:

    and this is the dyno measurement result of the 2013 ninja 250

  3. A friend of mine had a Bandit 400 and let me ride it one time. What hoot! Too small for this big ‘merican overall but still fun to ride. If Honda was smart, they’d bring back the VTR250 and maybe even a line of 305 vintage retro bikes. Seems to have worked out well for Suzuki with their TU250. I see them everywhere.

  4. cyberoader says:

    This new ninja 250R will be launched in Indonesia, for the reason that the country’s market contributed around 45% out of global market share, since its introduction in 2008. You can get further info about the light sportbike through the following (Indonesian) motorcycle web-blog i.e.

    It’s always a hard for me to write a proper sentences in English (time consuming as well). So sorry for my English.

  5. Rooster says:

    The thing that strikes me with the latest CBR250 and this Kawi, is that they dont look like cheap beginners bikes anymore. I think they really hit the mark with the styling here, and that ought to help move them off dealer floors. If you are a teenager looking for your first bike, and have realized that there is no way you can afford a 10,500$ 600 supersport, much less the insurance, these 250’s may be a palatable alternative. I know a couple of folks that have just put off getting into motorcycling for a half decade or two until they could afford the bike they REALLY wanted, which was a 120+hp sport bike. So maybe a side benefit of more attractive smaller bikes will be people going ahead and purchasing a 250 and actually learning to ride, before throwing their leg over a 160mph rocket.

  6. jim says:

    These 250cc articles really raise the chatter. Lots of industry guys making salient comments. The gap to 600cc in the US market is a yawning chasm. 30hp to a 125hp, really? A 350 – 450cc twin seems like a no-brainer.

    In the car world, it would be like skipping everything between 1.3 and 2.0 turbo.

    • Dave on the Rex says:

      I can’t tell if it’s the 250cc mark that raises the chatter, or a new street bike price point of under $4500 that causes it.

      For me, I’m a lot closer to dropping $1000 (20% or so) on a down payment on a reasonably priced new bike, than I am to dropping 20% down on $13,000 GSXR 750 (what I want just a touch more).


      And, lots of people have either ridden someone else’s 250 and loved it, or are reminded of past small-displacement bikes they’ve owned from days of yore.

      Cheap fun. And, the insurance is less than the Rex.

    • Dave says:

      It falls on the market size of the US. It seems like our highway speed limits have been climbing the last 10 years which ought to make something like that more viable but the fact that the GS500 and EX500 continued for ~20 years with very little update says that this market is just not worth playing in. The Maxi-scooter market dilutes it too. I’m really interested to see what KTM brings to market with that 350cc single.

  7. stinkywheels says:

    I REALLY miss my VTR250. No luck prying it out of the hands of the woman who now owns it.I’m gonna have to try one of these. CBR doesn’t thrill me, a big single, maybe, 250, no thanks. It’s fun to ride a bike wide open! I never get to do that on anything over 400cc. I like my wallet in my pocket rather in the state capital until they think I won’t do it again.

  8. TC2wheel says:

    I’ll keep my $650 2004 model Ninja 250, which comes with centerstand and still lighter in weight.

  9. kirk66 says:

    In two years my daughter is 16yo. After she aquires her driver’s license she will be enrolled into a MSF course. As a reward she will have a new to her Ninja250R. hopefully she gets to ride it- lol

  10. Tony says:

    Like quite a few others I’m glad to see this and would love to have one, I’m also somewhat surprised too, since Kawasaki just updated the Ninja 250 back in 2008. Hopefully we’ll get the fuel injection like the other countries did with the 2008 model. I’ve got over 78k on my previous generation Ninja 250 (1989 model) and still enjoy riding it every day.

    • Dave says:

      5 years is remarkably long for a model. The last update was largely cosmetic so they’ve had a lot of success for a lot of years with the Ninja 250. Here’s hoping that this update increases the usability of the lil’ ninja even more. Considering it needs to go up against the CBR 250 price will almost certainly be good.

  11. MGNorge says:

    Real world testing will tell what Kawasaki has wrought. Until then it’s easy to say that Kawasaki has upped peak horsepower, just to keep a clear distance from the CBR, because that’s rather been Kawasaki’s penchant for years. I’m a big guy and these 250’s are quite small for me. I have ridden the CBR250R and was quite surprised by its overall “tightness” and willingness to move. Very tractable power. No real need to wring its neck to get around, that would get tiring after awhile.
    Would be cool to see Yamaha and Suzuki get back into this category. Can a 275cc Triumph Triple be far behind! 🙂

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Real world testing will tell what Kawasaki has wrought. Until then it’s easy to say that Kawasaki has upped peak horsepower, just to keep a clear distance from the CBR,”

      real world testing has ALREADY told what the kawasaki has wrought. the CB basically got smoked. kawi’s a multi, the honda’s a single… given equal displacement, the contest was over before it ever begun. HP = (Torque x RPM) / 5252. emphasis on the abbreviation “RPM”.

      • Nick says:

        “real world testing has ALREADY told what the kawasaki has wrought. the CB basically got smoked. kawi’s a multi, the honda’s a single… given equal displacement, the contest was over before it ever begun. HP = (Torque x RPM) / 5252. emphasis on the abbreviation “RPM”. ”

        I can say that the sum of a motorcycle goes well beyond peak horsepower developed for me. I don’t care to constantly have to push an engine into the upper ranges just to get to its power, something the little Ninja has required.Just because the Ninja is a twin and the CBR a single does not mean end of game for me.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I don’t care to constantly have to push an engine into the upper ranges just to get to its power, something the little Ninja has required.”

          you only have 250cc’s to work with. you’ll find yourself revving both.

          • Nick says:

            OK, put another way, the difference between these two bikes might well be defined in what goes on at the furthest end of the tach. I have ridden the CBR and it’s quite tractable.

  12. RD350 says:

    I love small bore bikes and hope to see the other manufacturers jump into the 250-400 single/twin sport bike class.

    I would dearly love to see these same small displacement motors in some street-legal motards, retro-scrambler and dual-sport models.

    Finally, I wish Americans would loose some weight, put their egos aside and embrace these cool, accessible, affordable and seriously fun little bikes. Wishful thinking I know…

    Anyway, imagine how cool the selection might be if Americans actually bought these types of bikes in bigger numbers?

    CBR350RR anyone? Sign me up!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Finally, I wish Americans would loose some weight, put their egos aside and embrace these cool, accessible, affordable and seriously fun little bikes.”

      i’ll settle for coming off the dime.

  13. JB says:

    According to MCN:

    “The 249cc parallel twin engine gets new pistons and crankcases and the cylinders will be diecast. The new bike is expected to weigh 171kg without ABS, making it 6kg heavier than the current model which was introduced in 2008.”

    Really, Kawasaki??? 13 pounds heavier??? 378 pounds total… That’s ridiculous for a 250…

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Really, Kawasaki??? 13 pounds heavier??? 378 pounds total… That’s ridiculous for a 250”

      easy, target 15lbs as a weight loss goal then you’re 2 to the good. 🙂 i could stand to lose 20.

    • Dave says:

      The old Ninja and current CBR both come in @ 357+. The old Honda CB250 from the 60’s-70’s comes in at 350 naked.378 sounds a little high but it’s not like it weighs a great deal more. These small bikes have always been price driven and they can’t be lightweight and cheap.

  14. Tom says:

    250 cc is the upper limit for certain tax, insurance, and license categories in countries around the world. Except in the US. Go above 250 cc and you lose a huge demographic of bikers everywhere except in the US. The small bike demographic in America is tiny and isn’t really worth paying attention to, relative to China, India, Thailand, Africa, South America, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Europe….so don’t expect 300, 305, 350, 400, 450 cc versions of these sweet little bikes, unless a custom shop does it. Fine by me, I like this little critters.

    • Tim says:

      I was talking to a dealer recently and he told me he would love to get his hands on more 250’s, especially used ones Apparently the demand, at least in some parts of the US is pretty strong.

    • Guy says:

      The North American small bike demographic may be small but that’s exactly the reason for growing it. That’s what these bikes are for. Taking a lesson from each of the Japanese makers’ histories from the 1960’s and ’70’s, they all had 250 models that they grew to 305, 315 and 350 to service our market (Think RD250 to 350/400). They all sold bikes that were 250’s in the home market as 350’s or 400’s in export markets where taxes or tiered licensing was not a factor. Why? Because that’s what sells. It costs nothing more manufacturing wise to build a 300-350 out of one of these bikes than a 250 but the difference in actual usefulness on American roads and highways is huge. The first manufacturer that offers a 33-38 horsepower 300-350cc bike for $200-$400 more than the 28-32 horsepower 250s will capture a large part of the market for entry bikes. Mzybe Triumph will do it with their new single.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “The North American small bike demographic may be small but that’s exactly the reason for growing it.”

        i like the way you’re thinking, but with such slim margins, asian sales numbers are simply a bridge too far here in the states (and that’s the kind of numbers it would take). if they want to “grow” something…? honda’d be better served opening a “colorado division”, filing the permits, and planting cannibis.

      • Provalogna says:

        With all due respect, and this may not apply to the author of the above note. Americans commonly think the world revolves around them. The more time progresses the less this is true. As long as the eye can see forward, and to central bank’s chagrin, most of the advanced nations remain in a state of de-leveraging (minimizing debt load rather than increasing debt load). Africa and a few other areas are future growth centers (“growth” = adopt central bank debt slavery and man-made market bubbles).

        In motorcycle land this means, expect more frenzied manufacturer competition in the low end and less competition everywhere else.

  15. LarryC says:

    Interestingly, the specs list digital fuel injection only for “some markets.” Could the US version still be destined to have carbs? Nahh…

    • Nick says:

      I don’t consider carbs bad as long as they do their job well. EFI is implemented first for emissions and is at times not quite as smooth in throttle transitions, especially at low rpm, than good old carbs.

  16. John says:

    How about this engine in a dual sport trail bike? Something that could get along at highway speeds but still do off road reasonably well. Basically an all new Sherpa. Low, wide seat, accessories for hauling camping gear and such.

    Or a naked ER version.

  17. Reinhart says:

    I think that the release of the CBR250R had a lot to do with Kawasaki updating their Ninjas 250. The dated instrument panel on the previous Ninja now has a fresh new look, as does the rest of the bike. I like this category of bike and hope that both companies find a lot of success selling them. With the way fuel prices and heading, I think that a lot of us will be downsizing in the near future.

  18. Don Fraser says:

    I stand corrected, go to the Japanese site, many changes, spin-on filter, finally, frame looks like seat may be lower, very cool.

  19. Don Fraser says:

    Have put 30,000 miles on my ’08 and that looks like the same frame, what I can see of the motor is the same, same front brake, looks like new plastic to me and maybe the fuel injection that the euro models already had. Does look good, but not good enough to trade up.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I don’t read Japanese, but English reports indicate the cylinder, pistons and crankcases are all new…essentially an all-new engine, with a new frame and exhaust, as well. The fuel injection is also reportedly revised and now uses dual throttle valves. The wheels are also new, of course. Sounds like a massive revision to me.

  20. John Bryan says:

    Please Kawasaki – and Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, etc… how about a 350CC variation of your sporty 250s with naked/standard/scrambler styling? Maybe Triumph will do it first with the new Cub.

    But probably not. Guess I’ve officially reached “old fogey” status – current naked bikes look like Transformer toys to me…

    • Tom says:

      Honda used to make a VFR400 and a CBR400. I have ridden a CBR400 while living in Europe and got it up to nearly 150 mph on the German autobahn. The VFR400 had similar performance and sounded fantastic. Both were great bikes and incredible canyon-carvers. Honda North America was not interested. Americans do not buy small displacement bikes. So they were sold in the rest of the world.

      Suzuki used to make a 4-cylinder GSX-R250 that was a riot to ride and sounded like a GP racer. Suzuki North America was not interested. They figured they would not sell enough to make it worthwhile.

      There have been dozens of fantastic under 600cc bikes made over the years that we have never seen in America because the North American divisions of the various manufacturers have told the home offices that Americans are not interested.

      Perhaps instead of bitching here, you should be pounding upon _______________ North America? (fill in the blank)

      Rumour has it that Yamaha may bring out a 350-400cc road bike in 2013 or 2014, but no word on whether it will be a sport bike, street bike, cruiser, or whatever.

  21. Provalogna says:

    A few years after this 250 segment is well-established, if there is a world market for it, they’ll release a 400-450cc market for trade-up and those wanting “more” (that can afford it).

    The days of manufacturers inventing desire are mostly gone. The world is in a state of de-leveraging. The 400-450 size only appears if the world economy is ready for it, which it won’t be.

  22. NinjaFan says:

    I still consider myself a “new” rider – I’ve only been riding for 8 years. I currently have a Suzuki SV650, but my first motorcycle was a Ninja 250. Therefore, I have a great affinity for the baby ninja. This new design looks pretty sweet. Looks a lot more aggressive than the 2004 I had. The black one looks tough. I dig it.

  23. GuyLR says:

    That looks nice. Can’t help but wonder how much better this bike and the CBR250 Honda would be in the US market if they got stroked up to 305 or 350cc? A little torque to go with those revs sir? The 140 rear tire looks nice but no 32 hp bike really needs more than a 120.

    • Dave says:

      With you there. 350-450cc twins used to be a mainstay in the standard market. If we could see something like that come around it would add a whole level more usability to bikes like this. Tough to convince the makers, they sell 250’s hand over fist outside of the US and our highway culture.

    • RD350 says:

      GuyLR is right on here ..

  24. Jamo says:

    Whrer’s the Lime Green, wit da wheel stripe?

    • DCE says:

      It’s on the web site (above). Green, green & black (but no wheel stripes).

    • goose says:

      The Lime Green and Ebony version even has your stripes.

      I’m a bit oversized for a 250 but I love the idea. It will be interesting to see how this compares to the CBR250 in the (no doubt) soon to come shootouts.


      • Provalogna says:

        Bet on this (use someone else’s money, though):
        Ninja: stronger top end, somewhat greater fuel consumption, +$500 msrp
        CBR: stronger mid range, somewhat less fuel consumption, -$500 msrp

        Everything else objective: even draw or close enough not to call a favorite

        Cosmetics: Your call. Like em both. Ninja more “aggresive”. CBR more “accessible” to wider audience including typical female, less aggressive. Sans side by side I’m leaning Ninja in black. CBR only red/silver IIRC.

        Funny to see this within a few days after I started posting that Honda started the latest paradigm, again: breakthrough performance for the class, affordable at purchase and after purchase (tax, license, insurance, maintenance, fuel economy, etc).

        • Dave says:

          I have a colleague that rides an all black CBR250. Good to see Kawi respond to the CBR250. We’ve been needing a return to our senses in motorcycling for many years. I hope it catches on in the US.

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