Kawasaki's Z250SL offers a light, easily managed single-cylinder in their LAMS road line-up. Here's our Kawasaki Z250SL review. Test by Kris Hodgson Photography by Kris Hodgson, Jeff Ware
Kawasaki’s Z250 SL is an interesting bike when compared to the larger Z300 and its faired sibling the Ninja 300. For starters it’s popular in the Asian markets, where in some cases capacity is limited, while also differing from the other models mentioned by being a single-cylinder.
The most telling point is the SL in its name, standing for Super Light, with the Z250SL weighing in at just 148kg wet, or 150kg for the ABS models, or 20kg less than the regular Z300 model.
The Z250SL isn’t a new addition for Kawasaki, having been introduced in 2015 but does feature a specially designed trellis frame, just for this model, with the Uni-Trak rear suspension only offering preload adjustment and the 37mm forks non-adjustable but tuned specifically for this model.
The 249cc liquid-cooled four-stroke single produces just over 20kw, which is about 30 per cent down on the Z300’s figure but is a quick revving and sporty powerplant, that can be rung out to the 10,000rpm redline easily, offering useable power to new riders.
The weight saved helps offset the power difference, with the Z250SL being a compact and low package, with an easy reach to the ground. Ergonomics are likewise compact, with an easy reach to the ‘bars, simple controls and easy to read dash.
Having just swapped the Ninja 300 for the Z250SL it was actually a favourable comparison for the Z250SL, which offers good drive and easy control, without the more peaky nature of the Ninja 300. It’s a small trade-off if you’re planning on carving up the twisties, but the Z250SL is actually easier and more forgiving to ride in poor traffic and for general commuting. Plus has that thumper single fun factor.
The gearbox is slick and the only time I really felt the need to upshift early was between first and second, with strong power right up to redline, with the Z250SL happily cruising quite high in the rev range. Vibrations aren’t really a concern, and even on a few short freeway sections there was enough power to overtake as necessary.
Kawasaki talk a lot about nimble handling with this model and rightly so, with the Z250SL featuring light easy handling, partially thanks to the 100/80 – 17 and 130/70 – 17 tyres, along with the short 1330mm wheelbase.
As a more experienced rider it’s an easy bike to chuck around and have fun on, which reflects the bike’s good manners and relatively strong performance for its capacity.
It doesn’t have the Ninja’s top end, but there’s a more linear power curve that’s easy to make the most of.
Brakes were also surprisingly good considering it’s a single 290mm front petal rotor and 220mm rear rotor, with dual-piston calipers, although a large part of that no doubt comes down to the bike’s extremely light weight. ABS is also available for a small, but worthwhile in my opinion, premium.
Styling is sporty and befitting the Z family name, and I have to admit to admiring the bike while out and taking photos – it’s a cool machine, especially with the lightweight split-five-spoke wheels and eye catching colour.
For the young rev heads I can see the Z250SL struggling against the higher performance Z300 and Ninja 300, but it’s an ideal machine for those looking for a light, confidence inspiring, low seated entry option, and single-cylinder engines offer a great starting point in my opinion.
At the moment the Z250SL are no longer being imported, with no plans to bring them into Australia during 2017 either, however Kawasaki are clearing out the remaining stock of these popular machines, so they are in a manner, a limited edition model!
Price: $5,599 + ORC
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometre
Colours: Candy Burnt Orange
Claimed power: 20.6kW[28hp]@9700rpm
Claimed torque: 22.6Nm[16.6ft-lbs]@8200rpm
Wet weight: 150kg
Fuel capacity: 11L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-valve, single-cylinder, DOHC, 249cc, 72.0 x 61.2mm bore x stroke, 11.3:1 compression, 38mm throttlebody
Gearbox: Six-speed, return
Clutch: Wet multi-disc, manual
Chassis: High-tensile steel trellis frame, Rake: 24°, Trail: 90mm
Suspension: 37mm forks, non adjustable, 100mm travel, Uni-Trak rear shock, five-way preload adjustable, 116mm travel
Brakes: ABS, single 290mm front petal rotor, dual-piston caliper, 220mm rear petal rotor, dual-piston caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Five-split-spoke wheels, 100/80-17M/C 52S, 130/70-17M/C 62S, Dunlop TT900
Seat height: 785mm
Overall height: 1015mm
Overall width: 700mm
Instruments: Full multifunction LCD display