Having experienced riders like the SR staff test the three 250s is great for obtaining detailed information on the bikes. But we also wanted to see how the main market for these motorcycles—beginner riders—would feel after riding them. We took the three bikes to a very large, empty parking lot, and let three beginner riders loose on each one to get their impressions. All three have minimal riding experience; two of them (Steve Kovacic and Jake W. Smith) don’t even own a motorcycle, and their riding experience consisted of riding some friends’ dirt bikes once or twice—thus putting them squarely in the beginner stage, and perfect for our newbie test.
Height: 5’7, Weight: 130 lb.
Really easy to ride. It’s a light bike, easy to turn. For me, being a bit of a new rider, leaning on my bike is something I always kind of hesitate about, but it felt really easy to lean on this bike, I felt like I could control it more. I did notice I couldn’t see the speedometer at first; I kinda had to look a little bit more, which when you’re riding, you don’t want to have to take that extra second. Brakes are really good; I did a quick stop, and it was really easy. The bike’s really light and easy on you and pretty comfortable. Seating position was good, the handlebars are in a good position. Easy to get up to speed quickly, got up to 50 mph easily.
Hyosung GT250R: The Hyosung felt more substantial, you had to push a little more to get it to turn. It got up to speed faster than the Honda. The pegs weren’t really in the right spot for me, my legs felt a little cramped up; if you were smaller than 5’7, the Honda or Kawasaki might be the better bike because they’re smaller and easier to handle. The engine was definitely quicker than the Honda. The digital speedometer was really easy to see, much better positioned than the Honda. Brakes were good, the suspension felt a little more solid than the Honda, it didn’t seem as bouncy. The Hyosung just felt more stable, and I liked its power the best.
Kawasaki Ninja 250R: The Kawasaki was really easy to maneuver, really easy to steer through the S-turns at 50 mph, it didn’t feel like you were going to topple over or anything like that. The body positioning is nice, it’s almost between the Honda and the Hyosung, it’s a good comfortable position. The Kawasaki definitely felt faster than the Honda, and it seemed a little smoother than the others. With the analog speedometer, it seemed a little harder to see your speed compared to the digital one. Brakes were strong but smooth, not jerky at all. The suspension was firm but not harsh, not as soft as the Honda.
Which bike would you buy: I think it would be a toss-up between the Hyosung and the Kawasaki. They’re both a little bit faster than the Honda. The engines sound better too, not like the tin-can sound of the Honda.
Height: 5’11, Weight: 165 lb.
I liked the Honda CBR a lot. I like all the bikes, but on the CBR, I like the upright seating a little more, it felt a little more comfortable, being someone who doesn’t ride a lot. I felt like I could sit on there for a while and ride it. It felt a lot lighter to me, which I like, because I felt like I could move it around. The Honda felt more like a bicycle, I felt like I could really throw it around a little more. The power was good, but the Ninja felt a little more peppy. Stopping was good, shifting was fine, although a couple of times it felt like it missed a shift when I was gassing it.
Hyosung GT250R: Once again, a lot of fun. A little different feel, more like I was kind of on a racing bike, little more crouched over the tank. The turning felt nice, I was able to get into the turns a little bit, felt very stable. Power felt quite similar to the Kawasaki, all under control. Braking was good, not too grabby. The weight isn’t too big for someone like me. The speedometer was good; when I looked down, the Hyosung’s digital display was big, right there, easy to see.
Kawasaki Ninja 250R: I thought it was a lot of fun. The Kawasaki felt fast, but it didn’t feel like the power was going to get away from you or anything like that, which was good. Handling felt great, not too heavy; I’m not a large guy, so I felt comfortable and definitely safe on the bike. Brakes felt really nice, it all stopped very quickly and easily and never felt out of control. Absolutely not intimidating. The seat felt comfortable, no negatives whatsoever. Enjoyed it.
Which bike would you buy: I would probably buy the Honda because of the more comfortable ride, and the feeling that it was a little bit lighter.
Jake W. Smith
Height: 5’10.5, Weight: 172 lb.
Honda CBR250R: The CBR seemed to have more power, like in the second-to-third and third-to-fourth gear area, it seemed to have more get-up-and-go, and I could go to a higher speed without it winding out as much as the Ninja. It’s definitely not as hyper as the Ninja. The instrument panel wasn’t laid out very well, you had to know where the speedometer was. I liked the seating position, you’re a little more upright, and it was a comfortable setup, you were in a better position to view traffic. Brakes were maybe not as tight feeling as the Ninja, the Kawasaki smoked the Honda on the brakes.
Hyosung GT250R: Definitely bulky compared to the Honda and Kawasaki. But it’s very comfortable, it’s not like you’re cramped, you’ve got space to move around. The power wasn’t quite as responsive as the CBR. But I loved it, I enjoyed it, it was smooth. Turning felt good, it’s weighted pretty evenly so I didn’t have any problem doing S-turns and swerving. The front brake was good but not as tight as the others, the rear brake required some effort to work as good as the others. I wouldn’t buy the Hyosung right off the bat, it doesn’t seem as beginner-friendly as the other two bikes.
Kawasaki Ninja 250R: I enjoyed the bike immensely. The speedometer and tach are really easy to read. The Kawasaki is very light, it’s easy to maneuver, the weight feels ideal. The braking is excellent, it makes you feel confident. I like the engine power, I opened it up a little bit, I had a lot of fun. I like it a lot just because the bike was easy to feel and make the adjustments I needed to make. Ergonomically, I like the riding position a lot, it’s not too high, not too low, it’s very comfortable. It’s not a riding position where your knees are up high, I’m 5’10.5 and it was a perfect fit. For user comfort and ride, I love the Ninja.
Which bike would you buy: If I had to pick, it would be tough between the Ninja and the CBR, but I’d go with the CBR.