Kawasaki Z250SL Review, Cheap - Cheerfull - Chirpy 250 !

Tucked in, Tacho up near 10.500 RPM, and the speedo flits back and forth between 94 and 95mph. Yes, the road’s been straight for well over a mile and it’s slightly down hill, but for a 249cc single the Kawasaki Z250SL is tramping along. As it should. It’s a vivid green Kawasaki and folklore confirms vivid green Kawasakis are fast.

Not that speed is the reason behind the Kawasaki Z250SL. Kawasaki’s marketing waffle might call it ‘a supernaked in its own right’ but the 250 is targeting new riders and commuters. It’s the physical size of a 125, with a tiny 1.330 mm wheelbase and weighs just 148kg, and has an exhaust note like a stifled yawn. It’s as intimidating and easy to ride as a playpark swing.

With wheels close together, a sharp 24˚ head angle, not much weight and even less trail, the Kawasaki Z250SL alters direction with simply a clench of the appropriate bum cheek. Controls are natural and light, gears slip in with a tap, there are proper bungee hooks, and it nips across town with the menace (and as much noise) as the vicar’s pushbike. The tank rarely needs fuel either. Chirpy daily workhorse? Oh yes.

Yet the Kawasaki Z250SL offers a bit more. Glance down at the shape of the shimmering fuel tank and you could be on an ER-6. The display is similar (similar-ish) to the one on a Z1000, and the flat-bar riding position is very Zed too – elbows tipped out, body propped forward, feet tucked up and gaze focused ahead. Switchgear is as found on other, bigger Kwaks, as are the fit and finish – it all feels reassuringly Team Green.

Skip down a suitably knotted backwater and the Kawasaki Z250SL ricochets eagerly from corner to corner. Its low weight, skinny tyres and basic suspension mean the ride is fidgety, but it’s amusing, not irritating. More power than expected from the front brake, too. And the motor’s sweet. It’s as happy pursuing the limiter through tightly-packed third, fourth and fifth gears as it is thrumming smoothly in the middle of its revs, or pottering around unflustered as low as 2.000 RPM. Even ridden with no restraint at all it gives 70mpg.

Mirrors fill with tingles at 60mph. Larger riders can feel like they’re wearing a green G-string, and the Dunlop tyres are terrifying in the wet. But it’s hard not to like the Kawasaki Z250SL. Kawasaki’s small-bike range looks cluttered, the Zed joined by a faired Ninja 250SL, Twin-cylinder Ninja 300 and naked Z300 variant, plus the KLX250 (in Indonesia, where the 250 is made, there’s also the old Ninja 250R and a pile of two-strokes – a total of 23 bikes from 150 to 300cc).

However, the Kawasaki Z250SL is different enough to the 300cc twins on pace, feel, size and price to justify itself. And while Suzuki’s Inazuma 250 is the same price, it’s nothing like as inspiring as the Kwak. Civilised and merry commuter with the engagement and zip for weekend amusement. It’s a tiddler, but it’s a good tiddler.

Kawasaki Z250SL Specs

Engine : 249cc Single-Cylinder, DOHC 4-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Power : 27.6 HP @ 9.700 RPM
Torque : 16.7 lb.ft @ 8.200 RPM
Top Speed : 95 Mph
Rake/Trail : 24° / 90 mm
Wheelbase : 1.330 mm
Wet Weight : 148 Kg
Seat Height : 785 mm
Tank Capacity : 11 Litres
Economy : 72 mpg / 174 Miles (Tested)
Frame : Steel Tubular Diamond
Front Suspension : 37 mm Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension : Monoshock Uni-Trak with Adjustable Spring Preload
Front Brakes : 290 mm Disc, 2-Piston Caliper
Rear Brake : 220 mm Disc, 2-Piston Caliper
Front Tyre : 100/80 - R17
Rear Tyre : 130/70 - R17

Price : £3742