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India Exclusive : Kawasaki Z250

23 November 2014, 04:07 PM Pratheek Kunder

Introduction

Not every day an email pops up, which makes you realise the amount of fun you will have over the weekend. This happened to me last week, when India Kawasaki Motors asked me to pick up their new bike, the Z250 from their factory in Akurdi. I was excited, very excited! The reason was the inclusion of the alphabet “Z”, which recently has found home in the Indian super bike segment.  I am talking about the famed “Z” series motorcycles from Kawasaki.  In a matter of 12 months, India Kawasaki Motors launched two highly successful motorcycles – the Z1000 and the Z800. When we reviewed it, we came out very impressed and that had set the tone for the Z250 review, which is based on the bigger “Z” motorcycles. 

The quarter-litre motorcycle segment in India is an exciting one. The growth rate is high, so is the profitability. Kawasaki was the early “serious” entrant who stormed the market in 2008 with the Ninja 250R – India’s first parallel-twin fully-faired sports bike. While many other manufacturers followed the segment, Kawasaki discontinued the Ninja 250R in 2013 to make way for the Ninja 300. But with the quarter-litre segment continuing to show tremendous growth, India Kawasaki Motors decided to bring a 250cc motorcycle back, but this time in a streetfighter avataar – the Z250. Let’s find out if the Kawasaki Z250 follows in the footsteps of the Ninja 250R and makes a difference in the Indian market.

Looks & Styling

“Get the hell out of my way” screams the Z250, the aggression in its face is unlike any other in the segment. And I don’t think there is a chance you will get bored of it in the long run, the attitude it has is something else.  It is so good that you might have a tough time dealing with fellow motorists asking you to stop the bike for a couple of pictures.

 

discontinued
Kawasaki Z250

Kawasaki Z250

  • Displacement249 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)31.5 bhp
  • Kerb Weight168 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 3,08,046

The aggressive character of the Z250 mainly comes from its headlamp design, that’s been inspired from its big brother, the Z800. It is more of a sober version of the Z800 but does a very good job of making itself noticed on roads.  The half black half matte-green combination makes the front look as if it’s in stealth mode. I like the design of the visor, it looks discrete. 

Come to the side and you will ask yourself “Why does it look like the Ninja 300”, and that could be because the Z250 is primarily a naked version of the Ninja 300. But the way Kawasaki engineers have integrated the front with the rest of the motorcycle, is commendable. The massive “Z” decaling job on the side panel, looks neat. It plays a major role in the entire design flow of the bike. The bulbous fuel tank is the same as seen on the Ninja 300. A slight eyesore for me was the  engine cowl, with the basic green paint - it looks boring. Maybe a black-stripe decal job would have made it look exciting, just like the side panels.  The tail section, which consists of the tail lamp, turn indicators, mudguard and grab rail integrated panels are a complete lift off from the Ninja 300. So not much ingenuity there.

 

There is nothing in the segment that comes close to the Z250 for the way it looks. The closest I can think of is the KTM Duke 390, but is a single cylinder motorcycle and the Suzuki Inazuma 250 is way out of its league when it comes to design and styling. Only downside in the looks department is the choice of colour. We have to be satisfied with the lime matte green colour.

Instrument Cluster & Switch Gear

The Z250 gets the identical instrument console from the Ninja 300. It’s a combination of digital and analog. The major portion has been taken by the tachometer, that redlines at 15,000rpm and just looking at it brings so much joy. This is surrounded by lights that indicate the turns, neutral, low-high beams and engine oil pressure. The LCD display shows information like the speed, two odometer, time and fuel indicator. Two buttons are bordered on the console that does the job of selecting and resetting odometer, time and also changing from mph to kmph and vice-versa. 

The quality of switch gear is top notch and somewhat justifies the Rs 3.40  lakh on-road pricing. The grip feels good, so does the buttons. The same switch gear is used on the ER6n and that’s why there is a dead hazard switch on the Z250. It’s not that this thing is going to make a big difference, but it is a Kawasaki product. I expect “premium” features from them and not just workarounds.

Performance

This Streetfighter gets its power from a 249cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine. This mill develops 31.5bhp at 11,000rpm and 21Nm at 10,000rpm. The Z250 motor is a sane, sedate creature below 6,000rpm, but let is cross this figure and all of a sudden it is a different being. There is more than enough torque at low and mid rpms for you take this bike to office daily in traffic, but the kind of performance it offers closer to the redline is something that will excite the enthusiasts. The six-speed gearbox is butter smooth and with the amazingly “light” clutch, the Z250 is one heck of a machine to ride. 

Twist the throttle, and the machine unleashes its maximum potential. The bike does 100kmph in a jiffy, thanks to the shorter gear ratios. And if touring is  in your mind, let me tell you this, the Z250 is not exactly made for touring but it could be a very capable tourer, after fixing one or two things like the seats, which are very uncomfortable. Consistently doing 130kmph+ is easy for this street-fighter and the engine won’t show any sign of strain. During the entire testing duration, the Kawasaki Z250 returned a fuel-efficiency figure of 28kmpl which is quite good for a bike this size. So expect the bike to travel for close to 400kms before you start searching for a petrol pump.

Ride & Handling

The Ninja 300 is known for its excellent riding dynamics and the Kawasaki Z250 is no different. Just like the Ninja 300, the Z250 sits on the diamond steel tube frame. The bike gets 37mm telescopic fork at the front and a five-way adjustable preload at the rear. The setup is on the stiffer side, which is one of the main reasons it provides excellent riding dynamics. Take it to a race track, the Z250 proves to be a very good handler. However, the tyres could have been better. The 110/70 front and 140/70 rear IRC tyres are fine, but takes time to heat up. 

  

If you are one of those guys, who commute to work daily on a motorcycle, the Z250 could be a good companion. But take it easy on a pothole-filled road, as the stiff suspension might give nice exercise to your muscles.  One major negative point for this bike is the seat. The cushioning is acceptable, but you might end up adjusting yourself at every traffic signal. The bike tips the scale at 168kg, making it almost four kgs lighter than the Ninja 300 and this reflects in the overall handling. 

The Z250 gets the single 290mm disc at the front and 220mm disc at the rear (both comes with dual-piston calipers) providing excellent braking experience. Both the brakes have very good initial bite; however an anti-lock braking system (ABS) would have done wonders.  

The overall ergonomics of the Z250 is slightly forward-biased yet comfortable. It is not very aggressive like the Ninja 300, but because of its raised handlebar, the Z250 is much easier to ride in the city traffic. I didn’t have any problem manoeuvring this bike in jam-packed Mumbai traffic. 

Verdict

Over the last few months, India Kawasaki Motors has been launching some very good products that have increased the confidence and trust of many consumers on this Japanese brand. This trust is surely going to reflect in the sales of the Z250. Its closest competitor, the Suzuki Inazuma 250 has been discontinued from the Indian market. The KTM Duke 390, on the other hand, is the only motorcycle that comes very close to the Z250 in terms of performance, but, being a single cylinder setup, the Austrian doesn’t carry the same charm. 

The Z250 has everything you need from a Kawasaki – incredible design and styling, great performance and good ride quality making it the best in the segment. However, at a price tag of Rs 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Kawasaki Z250 is expensive and surely not what you will call value for money. For this price, the Japanese manufacturer should have offered the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and more colour options. But if you are someone who prioritises performance and the premium tag over money, then the Z250 will not disappoint you. 

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