Church of MO: 2000 Kawasaki EX250

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

A look back at a legendary beginner bike.

If you came up in motorcycles anywhere from the late 1980s until the 2000s, then you've probably got a memory of the Kawasaki Ninja 250. The Little Engine that Could, this little 250 sportbike likely started the riding careers of many of you reading this, and even if it didn't, you probably at least have a story about one. For this Church feature we take you back to the year 2000, a time when some thought the world was going to end and computers wouldn't know how to handle the millennium change. Luckily those things didn't happen, but even if they did, the little Ninja 250 would have kept on trucking. It was starting to feel dated even back then, but that didn't stop our test team from showing it praise as a kind little bike for newbs to learn the ropes on. Enjoy this look back in time.

2000 Kawasaki EX250 -

by Szu-Pei Lu

Torrance, California, August 3, 2000 -- I recently graduated from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Program and the EX 250 was the first bike I ever had the opportunity to ride on the street under real circumstances. During the MSF course, we rode 125cc bikes that had considerably less power. Fortunately, the bikes were very forgiving -- as they should be.

I quickly found familiarity with the EX 250 that allowed me to connect the experience to the bikes I rode in the MSF class. The location of the lights, brakes, gear shifter and the clutch all had the same feel as the MSF bikes, which is to say, they're easy to use.

From the beginning, I was very confident on the bike. The change from a 125cc bike to a 250cc machine was easy and not at all scary like I had thought it might be. I thought the added power would be hard to control and I would be thrown off the bike once I hit second gear. On the contrary, I found that the extra power gave me more stability when I was on the road. And as for flipping the bike, that fear quickly dissolved.

Standard bungee-hooks, centerstand and excellent mileage add value to an already great deal. My largest concern when riding this bike was the front brake lever. I found the front brake was much more sensitive on the EX 250 than on the bikes I learned with in the MSF course. The increase in sensitivity gave me trouble the first few times I used the brakes, and I realized that I had to change my braking technique.

The MSF course teaches you to use all four fingers to actuate the front brake. However, using that technique caused me to inadvertently lock the front brakes. Using just two of my fingers gave me more sensitivity on the brakes, and adjusting to the new lever feel was easy. Other than that minor personal adjustment, the EX was worry-free.

The EX carries a narrow profile in traffic, on the road and when parking. In fact, the EX carries a narrow profile everywhere. On a shallow level, here's the low-down on colors: Kawasaki will do whatever it takes to keep the Kawasaki brand unique, but let me tell you that I would not be caught dead buying this awful looking bike. The performance is there and there might not be a better bike to learn on, but if you're looking for something that will make you and your gear look good, look elsewhere!

"Out on the open road, this Kawasaki is a great handling bike for the beginning rider."

This lime-green-mixed-with-purple body work and purple rims harkens back to the big, bad hair '80s. Oh, but wait, Kawasaki makes this bike in a Firecracker Red version. Thankfully, this color scheme is much more appealing to the eye.

The EX 250 is a great bike for anyone that's just starting out. And at my height, 5'6" the seat height is perfect: One of the problems with the selection of bikes on the market is the height of the seat. I found myself to be too short for most of my favorite bikes, such as the Yamaha R6 and Honda Blackbird.

The fact that those bikes are way too much for me right now is besides the point, of course. However with a seat height of only 29.3 inches, I was able to straddle the EX 250 easily. Here's an idea; if more motorcycles were made with a lower seat height, they would be able to attract more females and height-challenged riders. Not everybody is 6 feet tall.

The number one question that most of my female friends ask me about bikes is: "Aren't they heavy?" The EX 250 weighs a claimed 304 pounds, dry (that means it has no gas, oil or battery). But I found that weight was never an issue. The bike is light enough for me to maneuver very easily. I weigh about 125 pounds and am not very muscular, so if I can handle this bike without breaking a sweat, you'll do fine, too. Dual disk brakes and full-fairing hint at high performance antics.

A broken turn-signal lens and bent clutch lever. All products of a sidestand that wasn't fully rider-deployed before releasing the bike. A robust design ensures rideability after such minor learning mishaps. Out on the open road, this Kawasaki is a great handling bike for the beginning rider.

The power is a little weak, but this chassis will give the beginning rider a great place to start building up their riding skills. There isn't so much power that you'll start popping wheelies but there's still enough so that you can pass cars pretty easily.

If you're looking for the sleek look of a race bike with an awesome balance of color and design, this bike may not be for you. You might end up like I did, saying, "this bike won't match anything in my wardrobe!" But this motorcycle was never meant to compliment a rider's wardrobe as much as it was designed to help a rider grow their skills. And for that, this EX250 is hard to beat.

Rider Opinions:

Calvin Kim, Too fast for little bikes:

"Considering how little it costs, and how long it has been in service, it's a strong package."

When we were done with the Openbikes, we traded the ZX-9R for the EX 250. A fair trade I might add. The 250 handles remarkably well for something that's been relatively unchanged for over 13 years. Its 248cc dual-overhead cam engine revs so high that it seems to be on the verge of exploding when riding it with the flow of traffic, but you quickly get used to it. In fact, the bike makes doing simple things like U-turns and moderate-speed residential riding seem to feel like a miniature race! You can't help but feel like a hero when piloting it in the twisties.

Equipped with Kawasaki's UNI-TRAK rear suspension system, the EX 250 was extremely stable when it came to pushing the envelope. However, we found the non-adjustable rear shock to be too soft for two-upping or serious corner-carving. The non-adjustable front forks were compliant and we really didn't have any complaints about it until we had to panic brake. Not only do the forks dive, you can actually bottom the front fork out while braking hard! Not exactly a comfortable feeling, as then you can begin to feel the tire flexing before an eminent lock-up.

Nevertheless, considering how little it costs, and how long it has been in service, it's a strong package. Aside from the beginner, who else can use this bike? It makes a great second bike for people who want to break into sportbikes without the price-tag, or for those who don't want to take out their big expensive machine to ride to the store. With an approximate 190 mile range coming from its spacious 4.8 gallon tank, commuters and sport riders alike will revel in its long range. All in all, anybody can benefit from a bike like this.

Specifications: Engine: 248cc, 4-stroke, DOHC, 8-valve parallel twinBore x Stroke: 62.0 x 41.2mmCooling: LiquidCarburetion: Keihin CVK30 x 2Ignition: Electronic CDITransmission: 6-speedFrame Tubular: Diamond DesignRake/trail: 27°/3.3 in.Suspension, Front: Hydraulic telescopic forkRear: UNI-TRAK® system with single shockWheel travel, Front: 5.5 in.Rear: 5.1 in.Tire, Front: 100/80x16Rear: 130/80x16Brakes, front/rear: Hydraulic DiscOverall, Length: 80.1 in.Width: 28.0 in.Height: 43.1 in.Ground clearance: 6.1 in.Seat height: 29.3 in.Dry weight: 304 lbs.Fuel capacity: 4.8 gal.Wheelbase: 55.1 in.Color: Firecracker Red/Ebony Lime Green/Metallic Blue VioletMSRP: ,299

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Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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  • Rendell Dolan Rendell Dolan on Jun 26, 2023

    For those of you not from SoCal the Palomar Mountain is in San Diego County. Take the 76 East and you will see the signs. Currently it is full of Harley Davidsons, touring, and adventure bikes, which is cool too. Go down the backside and hit Julian and below that mountain on the backside is the S2, another awesome California road!

  • Mike Mike on Jun 29, 2023

    I owned a green one from 2000-2002 while I was living in Northern Utah. Rode the hell out of it in the mountains, got pulled over twice for speeding. It is so much fun riding a small bike fast. I missed it so much I just bought a ZX-4RR last month. Same awesome color, an upgrade in every way, and definitely a blast on a canyon ride! Crazy how much technology has improved over the past 23 years.

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