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The Suzuki 500 is air and oil cooled and the Kawasaki is air, oil, and water cooled...basically the same bike...unless you want to get into real deep information...the Kawasaki 250 (NINJA 250R) is a great bike but you won't find power in the lower RPM range like you will on anything larger. It starts teh power at 9,000RPM and carries on till about 13,000RPM, with a redline of about 14,000RPM..Yes, this true! The RPM's sound crazy but they are in fact the numbers if you want to get into details. The 500 weighs in 84 pounds heavier but has double the power...almost. the 250 is a great bike...lots of people swear by them. 70 miles per US Gallon is pretty good for a bike, no matter where you live. The drawback as far as I'm concerned (personally) is that it has 16 inch tires on it...everything else in the sportbike class has 17" tires. If you are into Physics there is an advantage in the fact that the "Moment of Inertia" is lower...like an iceskater with arms all the way out or tucked in...so IF you went to a 17" tire and a lower profile you would have less inertia...long story...it's 3:46AM here in Kansas. ANyway, suzuki and Kawasaki have been working together for quite sometime now...and the 250, I believe is a part of both sides...as Suzuki doesn't even offer one. The Katana 600 is equal to the ZZR 600 models of one another...Insurance will be cheaper and stuff like fuel on the 250...and people tell me that you will grow out of the 250...I've ridden Z1's, Harleys and cruisers, a couple of midsized bikes and I 'm either going with a 500 or maybe teh 250. the 250 just requires a lot more throttle...and as long as you keep up with oil changes and lubrication, airfilters and keep the bike clean it should be cheaper in the long run. Tires insurance fuel = big change in the end. The 500 will cost more in insurance, fuel and IF I get one tehn tires will be a big factor, because I'll be chewing them up an a regular basis. Good luck and the ONLY stupid questions are the ones that you Don't ask! Ther are some good tires no matter which bike you get... Welcome aboard and stay in touch!
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