KAWASAKI NINJA 250SL (2015 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
Power: 26 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.7 in / 780 mm)
Weight: Low (335 lbs / 152 kg)


New £3,849
Used £2,700 - £3,700

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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. 


Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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. 

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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


4 out of 5 (4/5)

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. 


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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 77 mpg
Annual road tax £47
Annual service cost £100
New price £3,849
Used price £2,700 - £3,700
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term 2 years

Top speed & performance

Max power 26 bhp
Max torque 16.6 ft-lb
Top speed 95 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 180 miles

Model history & versions

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.

More Kawasaki Ninja reviews on MCN

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI NINJA 250SL (2015 - on)

3 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: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Equipment: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
4 out of 5 Excellent bike but buy the 400 if you can
01 March 2020 by Justin

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £100

It's a fantastic bike for a 250cc but some things on it don't make sense. The exhaust note sounds more like a cruiser and doesn't match up its aggressive sporty looks. Also its performance around town isn't great. You'll be ringing the bikes neck in first, second and third as you take off from a traffic light and you'll be holding up all the traffic unless you're shifting through the gears like a professional drag racer. Also its got no low rpm torque and that makes its annoying to ride around town. Strangely though the faster the road, the better this bike performs. Its in its comfort zone anywhere between 80 and 130km/h. If you can, you should always opt for the ninja 400 and skip this 250.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

This bike feels like such a stable platform out on the open road or on the motorway. Riding in heavy rain or wind, the bike makes you feel confident. The tyres do a brilliant job. The suspension feels perfect and soaks up bumps on the road. Seat is really comfortable even for long journeys. I don't notice any fatigue from engine vibration. But it's just slightly lethargic around town and at slow speeds or rpm where is becomes harder work to ride as you have to pay a lot of attention to gearing, throttle and use the clutch wisely

Engine 5 out of 5

Just a brilliant engine and gearbox. Just a pity it has no grunt at low rpm and sounds so bad. But you get the rev right and its excellent and has a reputation for reliability over high mileage as long as you service it as scheduled.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Build quality is superb. Design is brilliant as well. It looks like a super aggressive sportsbike. The panels all fit together tightly and the paint work is quiet durable. There is nothing cheap looking about the bike. The engine feels perfectly comfortable at all speeds in its range. It feels and sounds better at speeds over 70km/h

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

The bike is as basic as sportsbike come so it's cheap to run and maintain. Tyres, brake pads, annual servicing are all going to be as cheap as they come. The ninja 250 falls into a higher insurance bracket than other larger cc bikes. Just be ąware of that. The name ninja carries an insurance stigma. A bike like an SV650 or Z750 will be much more capable bike with way more power but will be cheaper to insure. Its insane but that's the way it is.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Has abs. Digital dash with all the info you need but it's missing a gear indicator.

Buying experience: I paid 3700 euro for a for year old bike with just 1050 kilometres on it

5 out of 5 most casual and economic pure sports bike.
28 August 2018 by danOCT

Version: ABS KRT edition (destination : Japan)

Year: 2016

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.

Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

So far, there is no trouble. Even stall.

Value vs rivals 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.

Equipment 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

Version: Unfaired

Year: 2015

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

Engine 5 out of 5

Need a new can to make it really peppy, just don't expect more top end

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

Only getting 40 to the gallon. Not the 75

Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Cool

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