In the sportbike world I have limited bike choices due to my size, I’m fairly short with a super short inseam. So in this trio of 250s, which do I choose?
Realistically, the choice is a dead heat between the Kawasaki and the Honda. The Hyosung just didn’t work for me; too tall, too heavy, and the clip-ons were too low for me to deal with in everyday life. That’s too bad because I actually like V-twins and probably would have liked it better than everyone else.
So which of the remaining 250s do I pick? Tough question, both bikes were great and my favorite was the one I was riding at the time. But while the Honda CBR was fun to ride and looks amazinglike a baby VFRI have to pick the Kawasaki (no slouch in the looks department either). The Ninja’s stronger engine and slightly lower seat height just make it a better all-around pick for me. Not to mention it’s been around longer and has more aftermarket support. I would happily take either if one were to magically show up in my garage.
After hundreds of miles on each of these bikes, I discovered one important thing: what these 250 lightweight machines don’t offer in the power department, they make up for in the fun department. But as fun as they are, one of them just doesn’t fit in.
The Hyosung, which I would call the red-headed stepchild of the group, is noticeably less refined than the other two and features a more aggressive riding position, heavy steering and a stiff clutch that makes just leaving from a stop a challenge. But then there’s the Honda and Kawasaki, two bikes that are drastically different in design, but so similar in overall performance.
At the end of the day, my money would most likely be spent on the Kawasaki. This isn’t to say that the Honda is a bad bike; in fact, the opposite is true. The Honda is lightweight, nimble and offers plenty of torque for around-town commutes, making it almost definitely the better choice for new riders. But the Kawasaki just feels more performance oriented in terms of the engine and suspension characteristics.
I owned a 50cc Honda MB5 two-stroke as my daily transportation (and actually, canyon carver as well) back in 1982, so I know how much little bikes like these can teach someone about riding skill and getting the most out of your machine. Had these 250s been available back then, my friends and I most assuredly would have been scything through the local canyons with them.
Hyosung has come a quite a long way since we last rode its GT650R back in 2006 (Fun Factor, July ’06). The level of fit and finish are much better, and the company’s complete lineup received fuel injection last year. But it’s still unrefined when compared with the Japanese bikes, and when you consider that all three here are the same price, it’s a little too much to ask.
The new CBR250R has all the right attributes for a beginner bike, and it’s packed with surprisingly good performance and trick technology. The problem in my mind is that it only has just enough performance that can quickly and easily be outgrown. The Kawasaki Ninja 250R, on the other hand, has enough performance to keep its owner occupied for much longer.