There are enough seasoned motorcycle riders out there swearing by their 250cc bikes to get beginners excited about owning their first. In fact, even riders who ride the largest models tend to have a small, fun bike in the garage. The responsiveness and zip of a 250cc ride will always hold a place in bikers’ hearts.
Though consumers have plenty of choices in small cars these days, the selection of small bikes is limited in the United States. Riders can choose for lightweight bikes that jump from a standing position to nimble machines that beg for taking the long way home through the forest. Here are six motorcycles that serve up real fun in an affordable 250cc package. Base prices are included before destination charge for each bike in parentheses.
1. 2014 Honda CRF250L ($4,999)
If all-around thrills are what’s on the menu, the Honda CRF250L is known as a bike that strikes a balance between off-road fun and zippy rides through city streets. Powered by a single-cylinder, fuel-injected engine, the CRF250L has an electric starter capable of igniting in any weather and unique suspension with a curb weight of 320 lbs.
Top speeds above 80 mph are possible for highway driving, so distance riders may consider upgrading the saddle for added comfort. Still, the main draw will be transitioning from back roads to paved streets without batting an eye. New riders are bound to appreciate the versatility, while seasoned vets will know exactly how to adjust the bike to do your bidding. To top it off, the 2014 Honda CRF250L can get better than 70 mpg and go from 0-60 in about 8.5 seconds.
2. Kawawsaki Ninja 250R ($4,199)
Fans of Kawasaki’s Ninja series willl find many of the same thrills in a smaller package when opting for the 250R, last available in the 2012 model year. The smallest Ninja has the ability to cruise past cars on the highway and offer some jump at low speeds with its torque distribution. It features a lower seat height (30.5 inches) to get riders immediately into an aggressive stance.
Engine-wise, the Ninja 250R packs a parallel-twin liquid-cooled 249cc with six-speed transmission. It can jump from 0-60 in just over 7 seconds while getting 61 mpg, which represents a trade-off compared to others in the class (more acceleration, more gas).
3. Yamaha WR250R ($6,690)
As the priciest bike on this list, the Yamaha WR250R has some benchmarks to pass in the fun category. This Yamaha’s main feature of endearment is its profile as a dirt bike made receptive to the rigors of the paved road. To that end, riders who have plenty of plans off the beaten path will find this bike willing and able.
The WR250R sports a liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke 250cc engine. It sits higher, at 36.6 inches, and can get 71 mpg and go 0-60 in about 7 seconds. A test ride tends to clear up any biker’s doubts about value in this motorcycle.
4. Suzuki GW250 ($3,999)
Most riders who see the Suzuki GW250 for the first time are surprised at how cool this quarter-liter bike looks. Known in some circles as the “Inazuma,” the GW250 is one of the best values on the market for its distribution of power at low and mid-range speeds. In that respect, bikers of all skill levels will find thrills in this ride if the goal is not highway riding.
The Suzuki GW250 packs a liquid-cooled, inline two-cylinder 248cc engine with dual exhaust and a curb weight of 403 lbs. It goes 0-60 in about 9 seconds and hits a max 71 mpg.
5. Honda CBR250R ($4,199)
Compared to some of the more volatile bikes in this category, the Honda CBR250R delivers a more stately ride without skimping on the fun factor. It’s responsive from a standing position and has some giddy-up in the sprint to 60 mph.
Honda’s CBR250R holds a liquid-cooled, one-cylinder 249.6cc engine, weighs 359 lbs., and has a low seat at 30.5 inches off the ground. It can go 0-60 in under 8 seconds and delivers an efficient 71 mpg.
6. Yamaha XT250 ($5,190)
Compared to the WR250R, the Yamaha XT250 is slower off the blocks but lighter, more efficient, and priced $1,500 lower than its sibling. It has an electric starter, fuel-injected performance, and disc brakes that measure 245mm in the front and 203mm in the back. Ground clearance measures above 11 inches, giving the XT250 several features experienced riders love. Beginners are bound to respond to the quick power from the mechanical system.
The Yamaha XT250 sports an air-cooled, four-stroke, fuel-injected 249cc engine and a five-speed transmission. In terms of efficiency, it’s difficult to find any bike in the XT250′s class. It can achieve up to 76 mpg. Combined with a gas tank offering 2.6 gallons of capacity, it equates to plenty of riding off-road and on the beaten track. Seat height is 31.9 inches. It will take over 11 seconds to go 0-60 on the XT250, but its curb weight of 291 lbs. is the key to the bike’s fun soul.