By Bryan Harley, Cruiser Editor

The venerable entry-level sportbike is back

For over a quarter century, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R reigned supreme in its entry-level sport bike niche and became the Japanese manufacturer’s best-selling motorcycle. Debuting in 1983, the Parallel Twin-powered motorcycle remained relatively unchanged until 2008, when it received a host of revisions. And while it ruled the roost unopposed for umpteen years, the release of the 2011 Honda CBR250R threatened its stranglehold on the 250cc sportbike category. Whether this prompted Kawasaki to push forward the latest revisions to its bestseller is pure conjecture, but this time they didn’t wait 25 years to update their most popular Ninja.

Thanks to information posted today on Kawasaki Japan’s corporate site, the first photos and details on the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R have filtered out. First thing fans of the 250R will notice is revised bodywork, which makes it look more like the Kawasaki ZX-10R superbike. The 2013 Ninja 250R sports sharper, more angular bodywork with larger, slotted air vents reminiscent of the Concours. The tank and tail section is more chiseled now, and it has a floating-mount windscreen a la the ZX-10R. The fan shroud has been redesigned to push air down to the bottom of the engine and keep heat off riders. A new heat shield adorns the exhaust, too, and also is aimed at dispersing heat better in an effort to keep the rider more comfortable for longer stretches. The latest Ninja 250R has a set of slick new wheels with a slightly wider 140mm rear tire (compared to 130mm in 2012).

The Kawasaki Japan website claims the 2013 Ninja 250R has an all-new DOHC Parallel Twin with new pistons, cylinders and crank cases. The new design aims to give the Ninja 250R more torque in the low to mid ranges. Kawasaki redesigned many of the major engine components, adding a larger oil pan and anodized pistons. They’ve claim to have firmed up the chassis with more rubber bushings that cut down on vibrations. Team Green also reportedly changed the shape of the mainframe and updated suspension settings to better match up to the revised frame. The 2013 Ninja 250R will also come with Digital Fuel Injection, but it states that the option will only be available in certain markets. In 2008 Kawasaki kept the U.S. version of the Ninja 250R carbureted in order to keep costs down. Perchance its fuel-injected competitor from Honda may have had a hand in expediting the decision to switch.

The other big news is the availability of ABS as an option on the 2013 Ninja 250R. Kawasaki claims the new ABS control unit is the “world’s smallest” and should boost the overall stopping capabilities of the dual-disc braking package. The ABS adds 4.4 pounds to the bike, pushing claimed wet weight to 383.6 pounds. Last year’s Ninja 250R tipped the scales at only 374.9 pounds.

No price has yet been listed, but the 2012 Ninja 250R had an MSRP of $4,199. The Kawasaki Japan site lists the available color schemes as Lime Green, Lime Green/Ebony (special edition), Ebony/Metallic Moondust Grey (special edition), Passion Red, Passion Red/Stardust White (special edition), and Pearl Stardust White. That’s all we know for now, but we’ll bring you more information as soon as specs and details are announced.