Bill Hoddinott VA (Enthusiast) View all posts in this topic  
Wed Jul 13, 2005 11:19 am
100,000 Mile Road Test of a 1988 Kawasaki 250 Ninja - Part One        

Hi folks, here beginneth the story of "My Happy Little Pony", JKAEXMF16JA000096. A frame sticker says it was built in September 1987. I assume from the serial number that it was an early bike, no. 96 of the second series of the 250 Ninja, for the 1988 season; which is still sold virtually unchanged in the dealers' shops today as a 2005 model.

On July 8, 2005, the odometer actually turned over 100,000 and back to zero. A few days before that when it was a tad over 99,900, I photographed it and the bike.

My plan later is to send this report to Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA in California; and I hope they will in turn pass it on to the fine engineers back at Kawasaki in Japan. BECAUSE MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, THESE BIKES ARE CERTAINLY ONE OF THE BEST VALUES FOR THE MONEY EVER OFFERED TO THE WORLD MOTORCYCLE MARKET!

This is the bike for the thinking rider, whether novice or whitehaired like myself. What we have here is a comfortable 300 lb. bike that handles with all the joy of a thorobred road-racing machine, starts with a button, gives 65 mpg of 87 pump gasoline year in and year out, can outrun almost anything on wheels from a traffic light, and cruise at 70-75 mph forever, where legal. The top speed is about 100 mph, but of course there is no place where one can use this safely and legally on the highway.

After starting at 15, this is now my 50th continuous year of riding, and it has enriched life immeasurably. As a youth I bought my first Vincent, have restored many of them, and never been without one up to the present day. I served as a franchised retail mc dealer in the 1960s and '70s, with many friends in the trade; so between owning, handling and riding had experience of just about every make in the world in the 300-500 lb range. I also owned and rode Harley Sportsters and Big Twins, but I never liked the 500+ pound bikes. The ideal imprinted early on my brain was the 300 lb Isle of Man T.T. racer, which is so much like the 250 Ninja we enjoy today, in weight and performance.

The bike under review here was sold at Kawasaki of Seneca, South Carolina on 23 March 1988 to my late close friend Roland Hames Pike(1914-1999). Roland is notable because, born in England, he became a famous Isle of Man T.T. racer in the 1935-52 period with his home-built Rudge and BSA specials. With these backyard creations, he competed for years with great success against the finest factory-built racers of the day. His achievements brought him the post of Development Engineer at the BSA factory in Birmingham, England where he worked from 1952-57. At the time BSA was the biggest motorcycle factory in the world, distributed globally like Kawasaki and Honda today. But after leaving BSA, Roland sensed the decay of the old British industry, and moved his family to America where he completed a very successful career as a senior technical man with Jaguar Cars and Volkswagen Atlantic, up to retirement.

Anyway, Roland bought this bike and rode it 8,400 miles in the region around his home in the western part of SC up until 1991, when his health deteriorated to the point that he could not ride it anymore. We had become friends in '76 and I had asked him to sell me the bike for a memento of our friendship, should he have to give up riding it. So the sale was made, for $1700 blue-book price at the time.

End of Part One. More parts to follow as time allows, until I finish my tale...

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