The Ninja’s attractive trellis chassis and basic suspension, with only pre-load adjustment on the rear is again very similar to old Ninja 250SL.
It might be basic but it works. Kawasaki don’t appear to have cut costs on the suspension, both ends are on the sporty side, but have progressive damping and aren’t simply uncontrollable springs at either end like some ‘budget’ 125 machines.
The sporty set up still works around town, taking speed humps and large pot holes with relative ease and comfort. Stability is excellent, even when pushed beyond its design parameters.
Thankfully, Kawasaki haven’t economised on tyres either, decent Dunlop’s give enough grip and feel, more than enough for this type of bike on the road. Even the ABS assisted brakes aren’t bad – more than adequate.
Powered by a water-cooled, four-stroke 14.7bhp single-cylinder engine, which is loosely based on the old Kawasaki Ninja 250SL engine, peak power comes in at 10,000rpm, just 500rpm short of the redline and maximum torque of 8.7ftlb at 7,700rpm.
To get the most out of the engine you have to disregard any mechanical sympathy and thrash the poor little thing to near death. Flat out the digital display indicated 74mph; with a lighter rider and prevailing tail wind there possibly adding a few more mph, but not much more.
However, it was more than happy to buzz along at an indicated 60mph, with enough in reserve to slowly overtake trucks on the motorway, just.
Overtaking ‘normal’ road traffic has to be planned with military precision, there’s not much left after 55mph. But below that the new Ninja is more than capable of embarrassing dawdling traffic as long as you keep the revs buzzing, which does result in some vibrations.
Reliability shouldn’t be a problem as the motor is loosely based on the old Ninja 250SL, as are many of the suspension and chassis parts.
Compared to rival Japanese manufacturers, the all-new Ninja 125 is priced above Suzuki’s GSX-R125 and Honda’s CBR125R, and is more on par with Yamaha’s YZF-R125, however it doesn’t have the technology of Yamaha’s new 125.
For new riders
The new Ninja 125 (and the Z125) is cradled in a typically Kawasaki trellis frame that apes the 125s bigger stablemates, and helps it to look anything but cheap beam-frame budget.
That sense of big-bike class is carried through the proportions of the bike with a visual balance that could fool you into expecting more capacity lurking within.
Kawasaki have done this with the aim of attracting new riders, who will then stay loyal to the brand as they progress through licencing categories.
The paintjob and finish further reinforces the classiness, taking the Ninja 125 a long way from flat monotone tedium. Rock up at the pub or café on one, and you can pretty sure there’ll be no sniggering to be heard.
ABS comes as standard, as do the digital clocks and petal brake discs (Single 290mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston up front and single 220 mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston on the rear).
However, the clocks are very basic, dull and missing a gear indictor. For the price, the low-capacity machine lacks a little bling compared to the competition.