LAS VEGAS — The largest applause from dealers at the Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA product presentation turned out to be for a small MSRP.
The 249cc parallel twin engine now offers more low- and mid-range torque after revisions to its dual overhead camshafts and a new, two-into-one exhaust system;
Larger 17-inch wheels offer improved stability;
Larger 290mm front brake rotor is gripped by a two-piston caliper to provide stopping power with a responsive feel at the lever;
New 37mm telescopic front fork with firm settings.
Dealers voiced approval for Kawasaki’s revamped Ninja 250R, which features styling characteristics that match the company’s more powerful Ninjas, new front and rear suspension and an engine that boasts 30 percent more mid-range power.
“They were blown away by how different it is,” Patrick Kelly, the director of product planning and research for Kawasaki Motors Corp USA, said of the dealer reaction. “It’s completely different.”
Not only different in looks and power, but price. And not only for the consumer, but for the dealer. This year’s 250R features a 75 percent boost in dealer profit margin, Kawasaki officials said.
“Our previous 250 was a model that had been around for many, many years without any significant changes at all,” Kelly said. “In spite of that, it’s been one of our top sellers.”
Kelly says Kawasaki is the lone Motorcycle Industry Council-reporting manufacturer to have a sport bike in the 250cc class. That unique model now features a host of changes, including price.
“I think most dealers when they saw the changes were thinking, ‘OK, that’s great but that looks like a $4,500 motorcycle, not a $2,999 motorcycle.’ And so when we announced the retail price was only $3,499 they had a positive reaction because, ‘Wow, you guys completely redid it for only $500 more.’
“And then they found out that basically their cost stayed pretty close to the same, and they were going to get a lot of that price increase as well.”
Here’s more on the changes to the Ninja 250R as well as a look at some of the other significant changes to Kawasaki’s motorcycle lineup for 2008:
Available: In December
Available: This month
The 1352cc engine has increased bottom, mid and top-end power;
Changes to the engine and exhaust system allow it to comply with strict Euro-III emissions. Also to meet noise standards, Kawasaki reduced internal mechanical noise instead of muzzling the exhaust system;
Kawasaki switched to die instead of gravity casting for the cast aluminum sections of the main frame, resulting in lighter parts and an overall lighter frame.
New engine tuned for greater high-RPM performance, without sacrificing the mid-range performance of its predecessor. Refinements include installing secondary fuel injectors, changing to oval throttle bodies and reshaping the intake ports;
A new ignition system assists with torque management by monitoring throttle opening, gear position and rate of RPM change;
Chassis refinements include changing the length of the steering tube and moving it forward; increasing the wall thickness around the relocated swingarm pivot; adding ribbing on the interior of the pivot plate; and mounting a narrower, two-piece sub-frame to the main frame’s upper cross member.
KLX 140, KLX 140L
MSRP: $2,699 for 140, $2,999 for 140L
All-new model is offered in two wheel sizes, the more elementary 17-inch front/14-inch rear wheeled KLX140 and the larger 19-inch front/16-inch rear wheeled KLX140;
The 140’s controls share KX genes, from the same grips as top-level MX racers to the narrow footpeg/frame relationship combined with large footpegs that make it easier for the rider to move around with a minimum of effort.
Air-cooled 144cc engine flows through a five-speed, close-ratio transmission;
A large 220mm front disc and 27mm twin-piston caliper at the front, and a 186mm rear rotor grace help to provide the bike’s stopping power.
The liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine displacing 249cc on this dual purpose bike features electric-starting.
A new evaporative emissions system allows it to meet strict CARB regulations, making it eligible for sale in all 50 states.
The rake was increased a degree to 27.5 to boost straight-line stability, which is further enhanced by the rigid square-section frame.
New aggressively styled bodywork, a re-shaped seat with firmer urethane and a handlebar with a straighter profile.