KTM 250 Duke Road Test Review
- Jan 24, 2018
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Kawasaki India has been on the offensive in the Indian two-wheeler market after getting off to a lazy start. In the past one year, the Japanese two-wheeler giant has launched a plethora of products in our market most of which have been brought via the CBU route. The biggest hurdle faced by Kawasaki is the pricing of its motorcycles in India. To make the brand more accessible Kawasaki recently launched the Z250, which is the cheapest motorcycle from the stables of the Japanese bikemaker. We spend a day aboard the new streetfighter offering to see whether the Kawasaki Z250 can impress us akin to its elder siblings.
Design and features:
The Z250 is your typical street naked with sharp, edgy and muscular styling and visually, it draws heavily from its elder sibling, the Kawasaki Z800. The designers have focussed more on sharp lines and edges to bestow the Kawasaki Z250 with an imposing stance and at a glance the bike can easily be mistaken for a 400 or 500cc offering. An interesting design detail is the Z-shaped fuel tank extensions that merge with the underbelly to endow the Kawasaki Z250 with a half-fairing body. Also the green paint has a matte texture finish that further enhances its visual appeal.
Design apart, it borrows heavily from the Kawasaki Ninja 300 parts bin. The exhaust, split seats, tail section and Y-spoke alloys on the Kawasaki Z250 are all from the Ninja 300. The part-analogue-part-digital instrument console which gets an analogue tachometer and a multi-function LCD screen that displays info relating to speed, trip and fuel level is similar to the Ninja 300 as well. Switch gear quality and the build quality are of the highest levels and the Kawasaki Z250 screams premiumness from all corners.
Engine & Performance:
Powering the Kawasaki Z250 is a 249cc; liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine is identical to the one found on the erstwhile Kawasaki Ninja 250. The motor has been tuned to better suit the streetbike dynamics of the Z250 and it develops max power of 32PS at 11,000rpm and an equally peak healthy torque rating of 21Nm at 10,000rpm.
The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission that offers slick and precise shifts. Swing a leg over the seat and the bike feels comfortable from the word go. The footpegs are slightly rear-set, this alongwith the single-piece wide handlebar translate into an upright and comfortable riding position. The fuel tank also has a useful knee recess that enables the rider to grip the bike more assertively.
Talking about performance, the Kawasaki Z250 doesn’t really shoot off the line as the power band lies at higher revs. But once past 7,000rpm, the parallel-twin motor gets lively and delivers its punch with a throaty exhaust note. This nature of the motor means that one has to always keep the powerplant on the boil and on certain occasions I had to downshift to overtake. Performance isn’t the Kawasaki Z250’s forte and it does feel a bit underpowered when one compares it with the KTM 200 Duke in terms of outright acceleration. Where the Kawasaki Z250’s mill shines is refinement, as hardly any vibes creep into the handlebar that too when the rpm needle is inching towards the redline.
Ride, Handling & Braking:
Suspension duties on the Kawasaki Z250 are handled by 37 mm telescopic fork at front and adjustable monoshock setup at the back. Ride quality on the Z250 is good as it handles broken rod with aplomb and only while going through potholes does the rear suspension feels a bit stiffly sprung. The chassis is a diamond type steel frame as seen on the Kawasaki Ninja 250. This setup endows the Kawasaki Z250 with lively handling dynamics.
Cornering on the motorcycle is a joy as the ever so communicative chassis eggs the rider to go a bit faster and it is among the highlights of the motorcycle. Changing directions on the bike is also an easy affair as it tips from one corner to another with great enthusiasm. The Kawasaki Z250, though, begs for better tyres as the standard tyres act as an obstruction in the rider exploring the full potential of its handling dynamics.
Anchorage is provided by 300mm petal disc brakes at front and 220mm petal disc brakes at the rear. The disc brakes provide excellent feedback whereas the bite offered by the callipers is precise. However given the speeds the Kawasaki Z250 can achieve ABS should have been offered at least as an option.
Fuel Efficiency & Pricing:
Fuel efficiency isn’t among the primary criteria for a buyer looking out for a 250cc motorcycle. However, the comfortable riding position and the various hooks provided on the motorcycle emphasise the fact that the Kawasaki Z250 can be an able tourer. Ridden sedately, the Kawasaki Z250 should have a mileage of around 30kmpl that should translate into a range of close to 500km with its 17 litres fuel tank.
The main intention behind the Kawasaki Z250 is the fact to make the brand Kawasaki more accessible to Indian two-wheeler buyers for this purpose the Z250 was given preference over its 300cc sibling. The Kawasaki Z250 has been priced at Rs 2.99 lakh which makes it almost Rs 55,000 cheaper than its closest offering – the Ninja 300. But in the context of the Indian two-wheeler market, where the Suzuki Inazuma with almost similar specifications is around Rs 1 lakh cheaper, the Kawasaki Z250 doesn’t cut it as a value for money proposition.
If one keeps the money part aside, the Kawasaki Z250 does make a curious case for itself. Although it may not offer breathtaking performance but it makes up for it with an involving chassis alongwith brilliant ride and handling characteristics. The Kawasaki Z250 dismisses corners and miles with equal ease. It’s a great motorcycle for long distance touring or if you plan to shed rubber during the weekend track days, a feat very few motorcycles in our market can boast of. The other aspects going in its favour is the swashbuckling styling and the engineering prowess of its parallel-twin motor with top notch build quality. But unfortunately one can’t keep the pricing away and this is where things begin to get difficult for the new Kawasaki Z250.
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