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KAWASAKI NINJA 250SL (2015-on) Review

Published: 03 July 2015

Updated: 08 August 2019

A fantastic lightweight sportsbike

KAWASAKI NINJA 250SL  (2015-on)

A fantastic lightweight sportsbike

  • At a glance
  • Read more about the KAWASAKI NINJA range.
  • 249cc  -  26 bhp
  • 77 mpg  -  180 miles range
  • Medium seat height (780mm)
  • Suitable for A2 licence
  • New: £3,849

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

The screen’s a little low, more of a token styling gesture than something that offers any meaningful wind protection, and like the Z250SL the LCD clocks lack a gear position indicator, and it’s only the rear suspension that has any sort of adjustability in the form of preload. But if you want a sporty looking, agile city bike that’s more than capable of hustling down B-roads, the Ninja 250SL is basic, lightweight sportsbiking at its best. 

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

Identical to the Z250SL in every way, save for proper under-yoke clip ons (take note KTM RC390) replacing the flat bars and a fairing instead of that well-styled headlamp, the Ninja 250SL trades a bit of the ZSL’s urban nuttiness for a slice of practicality. With ABS it weighs 152kg (that’s 4kg more than the non ABS naked version we tested) and has a 5mm lower seat, while slightly lower pegs give a little less ground clearance for the sake of a bit more comfort for taller riders. The weight of the fairing gives the front end a slightly more pendulous, less direct feeling to the steering – but it’s no problem and you probably wouldn’t notice unless you were chopping and changing between the two. 

With loads of steering lock, decent mirrors and a super slim fairing, the Ninja 250SL has the ability to nip through traffic like a 125 commuter, but packs the added punch, speed and stability that comes from having an extra 124cc.

SL stands for ‘Super Lightweight’ and, at just 152kg ready to ride, you couldn't say it's heavy. There’s no slack or wallow in the chassis, it’s a totally direct riding experience, not what you’d expect from a budget sportsbike. The 37mm conventional fork and preload-adjustable shock are set fairly firm and can patter over bumps when ridden hard, but that’s the surprising beauty of the little SL – you can actually ride it hard. 

Engine 5 out of 5

Identical to its naked sibling, the Ninja gets a lightweight piston and low-friction rings, the gusty little motor is eager to rev, the DOHC head providing both impressive low rpm punch with 16.6ftlb torque at 8200rpm before chiming in with its 26bhp of peak power at 9700rpm. In fact, the engine feels as if it’s utterly unburstable and is super smooth, too; the gear-driven balancer shaft doing a brilliant job at eliminating vibes. Granted, performance is limited; in sixth gear the 10,500rpm rev limiter taps in at an indicated 95mph (with a tailwind). But that’s OK, because the last time we checked, the National Speed Limit was 70mph – a speed the Ninja can easily and enthusiastically reach, helped along by its perfect fuel injection and faultlessly slick gearbox. 

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

For a bike that costs £3849, the Ninja 250SL doesn’t look or feel like it’s built to a price. The switchgear is robust, the full LCD display appears well made, and the chassis has that pleasing firmness which comes from suspension that, although basic and lacking in adjustability, is ideal for the job it needs to do. 

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

Highly affordable, great quality, superb back-up, and at 77mph it's effortlessly frugal, too. Travel doesn't get much more cost-effective. 

Equipment 4 out of 5

It's got everything it needs,and nothing that it doesn't. Unlike the naked ZSL, the Ninja doesn't suffer the obvious omission of an ABS version. 

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2015
Year discontinued -
New price £3,849
Used price -
Warranty term 2 years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £43
Annual service cost -
Max power 26 bhp
Max torque 16.6 ft-lb
Top speed 95 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 77 mpg
Tank range 180 miles
Engine size 249cc
Engine type Single-cylinder, 4v, liquid-cooled
Frame type Tubular diamond, steel
Fuel capacity 11 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 152kg
Front suspension 37mm telescopic fork
Rear suspension Uni-Trak with adjustable spring preload
Front brake Single 290mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Rear brake Single 220mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Front tyre size 100/80 R17
Rear tyre size 130/70 R17

History & Versions

Model history


Other versions

There's also a naked version, called the Z250SL, which boasts all the same underpinnings, without the full fairing. Alternatively, you could step up to the parallel-twin Z300 or Ninja 300.

Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI NINJA 250SL (2015-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI NINJA 250SL (2015-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4.5 out of 5
5 out of 5

most casual and economic pure sports bike.

28 August 2018 by danOCT

This bike is capable of both casual and sporty riding.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
It is about 1~2 hours. Because the vibration is a bit strong. And the engine brake is very strong.
5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
So far, there is no trouble. Even stall.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Annual servicing cost is approximately 5,000 yen (about £35) and does not include my insurance premiums. Fuel consumption is also good, at 30 km per litre.
4 out of 5
The bike is very simple, with almost no accessories attached. I like such that style. But the bike does not have any smart phone mount space. I recommend to attach some handle mount stay.
Buying experience

I payed 500,000 yen (around £3500) for the SL when it was new.

5 out of 5

z250sl. Is it the best real bike for real roads

18 September 2015 by simon

What a bike even standard trim, snetterton was a pleasant surprise Only the forks need stiffer springs hat's it A cool run about for normal speeds upto 95 mph this is a hoot to ride without losing your licence

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Don't need brakes as engine braking is enough most of the time for corners
5 out of 5
Need a new can to make it really peppy, just don't expect more top end
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
Only getting 40 to the gallon. Not the 75
5 out of 5
Buying experience


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