It has been two months since I sold my first bike, the 2013 Ninja 250 SE. I had long wanted to write a review but was afraid of not doing any justice as I didn’t have other bikes to compare it with.
I shall write my thoughts on it instead.
I bought the Ninja used from Mudah.my (Malaysia’s Craiglist) early this year for about RM10,000. It was a bargain considering that the resale value at this time of writing is still between RM12,000 to RM14,000.
The Ninja was in a decent condition, save for the minor nicks and cosmetic bruises The ex-owner took care of the mechanics. With knowledge I gathered from the Internet on how to inspect a used bike, I took it for a slow and easy test ride. Everything felt good and close to the other similarly specced used Ninjas that I tested several days earlier.
The only issue it had was a semi-busted meter panel. The tachometer still functioned, but the speedometer reading and other info gauges needed some guessing work. It had “around” 40,000km on the odometer when I bought it.
I didn’t fix or replace the meter as it was no bother to me. I prioritised spending for engine oil change, new tires and other issues that might crop up.
Why the Ninja?
Kawasaki has yet to refresh the Ninja 250 since 2013 and it is still on sale for RM23,000 new. It doesn’t look dated and it’s the best looking 250cc bike in the market.
The Ninja is so well designed that it looked bigger and faster than it should be. It even shared headlamps with larger siblings, the Versys 650 and 1000.
There’s of course the popular Yamaha R25, but that was just released in 2015 and few were available in the resale market. And definitely none that could be had for less than RM13,000.
Experienced riders say that quarter-liter bikes are ideal for newbies and the Ninja is a good example. Besides the obvious weight compared to an underbone – the only other sort of bike that I’ve ridden – everything else was a breeze. It allowed me to build my confidence and had room for rookie mistakes.
I could still remember the first time I hit 110kmh on that little beast. Just a simple twist of the throttle and I’m ahead of other vehicles. The Ninja could hit a maximum of 186kmh on a downslope. That’s GPS verified, since the speedometer was capricious.
Hilly highways and winding backroads with the Ninja were fun. The nature of sportbikes challenge the riders to lean more into turns, make fast sweeping corners and still welcome more redline speeds.
Cruising, or sticking to the speed limit was somewhat tedious. The engine whined at around 8000rpm at 100kmh. Plus, the sporty but noisy factory-fitting Arrow exhaust meant that I had to use earplugs on most of my rides.
The adage of 250cc before 650cc
Every aspect of a big bike is different from an underbone. It cost more to own and maintain. It’s more difficult to manuever. Without acquiring real-time riding experience, it also has the ability to kill you faster.
These are just a few lessons that’s perhaps better to learn by yourself. Buying a 250 gives you a window to that alluring big bike ownership experience – the costs, practicality and handling one.
Am I glad to have owned a 250cc bike? Damn right. I still miss riding it.