The Kawasaki Z250SL is so refreshing. The 'SL' stands for 'Super Lightweight' and, at just 174 kilograms ready to ride, it's a title that's well deeserved. To put it into context, the other naked-bike around the engine size the Kawasaki Z300 weigs 20 kilograms more, and the Kawasaki Z250SL lacks of mass is immediately noticeable. Just pushing it out of the garage is as simple as handling a mountain bike.
Thanks to its super-slim trellis frame, the small sensation continues once aboard. The 11-liter fuel tank is like a scaled-down version of the one on the Kawasaki ER6N and is covered in deep, lustrous red paint, feauring lacquered-over decals. For a motorcycle that cost 120,000 THB, the Kawasaki Z250SL doesn't look of feel like it's built to a price. The switchgear is robust, the full LCD display appears well made, and the chassis has that pleasing firmness which comes from suspension that, although basic and lacking in adjustability, is ideqal for the job it needs to do. And that job is scything through traffic like a 26 horsepower scalpel. Sharp yet super stable, around town the Kawasaki Z250SL is nicely pitched wide handlebars give you the perfect leverage to dart in and out of traffic. Being so light you can just use your bodyweight to lean into corners and pull the motorcycle tighter around turns, relying on the feeling of security you get from the high pegs and having your knees locked i9nto the recesses either side of the fuel tank. There's no slack or wallow in the chassis, it's a totally direct riding experience, not what you'd expectg from a budget commuter. The 37mm conventional fork and preload-adjustable shock are set fairly firm and can patter over bumps when ridden harde, but that's the surprising beuty of the Kawasaki Z250SL – you can actually ride it bloody hard.
With its lightweight piston and low-friction rings, the gusty little 250cc single-cylinder engine is eager to rev, the DOHC head providing both impressive low rpm punch with a good amount of torque and 26 horsepower of peak power at 9700rpm. In fact, the engine feels as if it's utterly unburstable and is super smooth, too; the gear-driven balancer shaft doing a brilliant job at eliminating vibes. Granted, performance is limited in sixth gear the 10,500rpm rev limiter taps in at just over 150km/h. But that's OK, because 150km/h on a naked-bike is not very comfortable...
And if the ability to reach 150km/h speeds doesn't tickle your fancy then perhaps the impressive fuel efficience will. Theeoretical range of more than 290 kilometers on a single fuel tank.
Bringing things to a stop is a single disc up front teamed up with a single-piston caliper. The stopping power is ample and Kawasaki have managed to engineer a decent amount of feel in there too.
Clever styling, featuring a flared frontal section and wide tail, contributes to the Kawasaki Z250SL's narrow-waisted look, but the fact of the matter is, this is a seriously small motorcycle. The 785mm seat hight makes it ideal for shorter riders, but those near 180cm may find the high pegs and dinky dimensions a bit of a pain. However, for all those riders who don't want to be dealing with a 200 kilograms, top-heavy supposedly novice-friendly machine, Kawasaki have built a propeer little motorcycle, that's big on stability, handling and has a great, big gutsy heart.