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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The November issue of Cycle World has a Kaw vs. Suzi 500 test. These guys seem to take a "ride it around the block and rate it" approach to bikes like these, but it's still worth a look. I wouldn't buy the mag just for this test though. It's only a couple of pages long.
 

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Kawsaki

I think that even though the Ninja 500R is missing a full-fairing, you have to admit that the black/silver is awesome. I'd like to see both the 500R and 250R change to aluminum frames, but with the S.Korean cheap road bikes coming out the GP125 and GP250 looking like the old Honda CB200's, I'm sure Kawasaki will continue NOT to see the writing on the wall and improve their smallest Ninja's. To Bad for us, to bad for Kawasaki. I've been writing about this now for months, and no one seems to think that there is a serious issue. I'd like to buy a decent new Kawasaki, and I suppose the OLD steel frames, and parts are interchangable enough that you could go for many more years and never have to buy a newer model because there are so many used and junked parts in the salvage yards. Still buying one new, riding it cross country home has to be someting worth the price of a new one. Perhaps a new 250R/500R is in store for me...I just can't see the prices for the larger bikes with my retirement check. Have to wait for a good used one, and get rid of some more junk around the farm...before I can buy one...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good point, but.......

I can see your point, and I have to agree, mostly. On the other hand, Kaw has to have a bit of a dilema on their hands. What you have are two models, almost cult-like in their popularity, with proven, durable engines, and sales figures that justify the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy. Kaw has to face the need, someday, of updating these bikes, but at what cost? What will that do to the retail price, and will people be willing to pay it? And, to what segment of the motorcycling community would the newer, updated models be directed? Do they need to make them more sporty, with the sportbike riding position? Or, do they continue to make them all rounders. In the case of the 500, if the newer technology raises the price to over $5000, does that place it too close the popular Suzuki SV650? With only a few hundred dollars difference, I doubt the new 500 model could compete, saleswise. As it is, the bike performs quite well for its size, and is actually useful as a sport touring bike, with limitations. I think it would be nice to have a more modern, higher performance 500, but I wonder if it's possible at this point. The 250, however, is another situation. With an MSRP of less than $3000, there is considerable headroom for an improved, higher performance bike. A screaming, well equipped 250 could probably still be priced at less than $4000, and still be considered a good buy. I think that's perfectly approachable.
 

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ANOTHER

Thank you for your support! I was ready to go to bed on this argument. Adding titanium valves coating the cylinders with anti-friction lubricants, and using some thermal barrier applications would do some of that. Going to Efi/ECU would seriously improve the performance, and losing all the dead weight exhaust system, and modifying the fairings to be more aerodynamic is about all it would take...and yes the parts are already available. Mapping the bikes out of the factory is one thing, mapping them once they are in our hands, should we need to change them (some people are happy with an "average" bike, then we could either get it done or have groups of us doing it at dynos to get the most out of our machines, IF we had to go that far. Personally I have no use for a centerstand, I could use my jack, or lift...a side stand made from Titanium or hardened aluminum...and aerodynamics, Kawasaki already has been going in that direction...look at teh new ZX-6 bikes airbox/gas tank, rear fenders, under hte seat exhaust...better fairings, windscreens...
 

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I personally think there might be a change in the wind concerning the 500s. With Suzuki updating the looks on their GS500F I think that might have given Kawi a wake-up call. The better performance and fairings on the Ninja 500R gave it an edge against the old GS500E, but with the new skins on the F model a lot of first time sportbikers are grabbing those up instead of the 500Rs. Mind you, the 500Rs aren't exactly sitting on salesfloors anyway, they still move decently quick, but GS500Fs just look so much nicer with the modern fairing. For me a big hint came when the GPZ500S was pulled from the British lineup, only to leave the naked ER-5. Could this possibly mean Kawi is updating the looks of their Ninja 500R? I hope so. As far as I am concerned they can keep all the tech the same, just update the look and give the U.S. versions those dual front discs.

As for the Ninja 250R, I don't think they'll be getting an update any time soon, sadly. The 250Rs are already sold at a big discount because Kawi considers them "loss leaders." No way they'd throw and aluminum frame, FI, and other goodies on it and keep it anywhere near the same price. It would be cool if they would try it, perhaps as an alternate model to the 250R, maybe like a brand new ZX-2R, with a fully adjustable suspension, FI, nice new fairings w/dual headlights, aluminum frame, all kinds of goodies, but I don't see it happening, at least here in the U.S. The mindset in the U.S. is too much of a 'bigger is better' and they just wouldn't sell very well. Some enthusiasts may pick them up, but not many if they're gonna cost $4-5K while salespeople push larger models.

Interestingly, though, the new Derbi 50cc race replica bike sells for about $4K, it has all kinds of goodies, but what really has me interested is that the word around the campfire is that they're gonna pop a 150cc and 250cc 4-stroke engine in the same chassis and maybe bring it to the U.S. That would be just outstanding. I'm sure that 250cc Derbi would smoke a current Ninja 250R.
 

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kawi. manufacturing lend a ear

buck up, stride for the cutting edge. you have some catching up to do. i hate to do it..you have ground to cover. susuki is looking more and more enticing. fulltilt.
 
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