KAWASAKI Z250SL (2015 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
Power: 26 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: Low (324 lbs / 147 kg)

Prices

New £3,649
Used N/A

Overall rating

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

For all those riders who don’t want to be dealing with a 200kg, top-heavy supposedly novice-friendly machine, Kawasaki have built a proper little bike, that’s big on stability, handling and has a great, big gutsy heart. All at an affordable price. It’s punchier than the Z300 down low, packs better build quality than its Honda and KTM rivals, handles beautifully and feels unbreakable. For smaller riders and those not fixated on peak power, it simply can’t be beaten.

Ride quality & brakes

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

SL stands for ‘Super Lightweight’ and, at just 147kg ready to ride, it’s a title that’s well deserved. To put it into context, Kawasaki’s other A2-licence-friendly naked, the Z300 weighs 20kg more, and the SL’s lack of mass is immediately noticeable. Just pushing it out of the garage is as simple as handling a mountain bike.

Sharp yet super stable, around town the Z250SL’s nicely pitched wide bars give you the perfect leverage to dart in and out of traffic. Being so light you can just use your bodyweight to lean into corners and pull the bike tighter around turns, relying on the feeling of security you get from the high pegs and having your knees locked into the recesses either side of the tank. There’s no slack or wallow in the chassis, it’s a totally direct riding experience, not what you’d expect from a budget commuter. 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 ZSL – you can actually ride it bloody hard. 

Bringing things to a stop is a single disc up front teamed up with a single-piston caliper. The stopping power is ample and Kawasaki have managed to engineer a decent amount of feel in there too. Teamed with the firm suspension, braking is engaging enough to feel the front Dunlop TT900 digging in and even lets you get away with trail braking into bends without making the bike want to stand up. But amazingly, the stoppers are nowhere near sharp enough to fluster less experienced riders. There is an ABS version but Kawasaki doesn’t plan to offer it on the UK market.

Engine

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

With its 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 ZSL 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 £3649, the ZSL 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. And that job is scything through traffic like a 26bhp scalpel. 

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. 

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

It's got everything it needs,and nothing that it doesn't. The obvious omission is an ABS version, whcih does exist, but Kawasaki aren't bringing it to the UK just yet. 

Specs

Engine size 249cc
Engine type Single-cylinder, 4v, liquid-cooled
Frame type tubular diamond, steel
Fuel capacity 11 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 147kg
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 £44
Annual service cost £100
New price £3,649
Used price -
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

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI Z250SL (2015 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI Z250SL (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 Z250SL (2015 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
4 out of 5
31 August 2020 by JEFF

Year: 2018

Not very popular but nice and light and good value. As below you can get a low mileage one cheaper than a new Honda 125 and it's only 18KG heavier. Getting old so need somthing i can push in and out of the garage, and at 148KG it's ideal

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5

Has the same odd sounding engine as the 2009 KLX i had. 4,000 rpm at 40mph in top seems a bit much (maybe its just me) so will have a go at some different sprockets 15 front 39 rear (standard is 14/42)

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

Buying experience: Year 2018, 1,370 miles, £2,500, a new Honda 125 is £2,700 so a lot of bike for the money

3 out of 5 Sexy little package
23 November 2016 by Andres Cordero

Version: Non-ABS

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £100

The main reason I bought this bike was the look. It looks muscular and aggressive. The single lamp headlight with it's angular shape looks great. The exposed engine and minimal fairing gives this a beast like appearance. Defiantly a head turner and the Burnt candy orange colour is a sexy look.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Breaks feel a bit soft and could do with some more bite.

Engine 3 out of 5

It's a 250 so yeah it's not packed with power. 1st gear is very short and I find myself moving into 2nd almost instantly. Even though it's a 250 it still feels more comfortable at highway speeds than my CBR250R did. Sitting at 110kph is a breeze and I've taken it up to 140kph (but haven't pushed it further as I've only just worn the engine in). There is plenty of guts to take off from the lights and cruise around town.

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Everything has a great quality feel to it, it feels solid and stable for such a small and light machine.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

7L fuel tank that gives me about 350kms - $10AUD to fill her up which lasts about a week. Cheap and great value.

Equipment 2 out of 5

No much to say here. It's a very standard package no bells and whistles.

5 out of 5 My First Kawasaki
08 July 2015 by TheBZ

Version: ABS version

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £100

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

up to one hour ride before needing a break

Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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