My quick 400 mile report on the 2003 Ninja 250.
It's supposed to be my gf's bike but she's not ridden it much- that's her in the pic. However, I've been busy with it
Upgrades wise, I've changed the brake pads to the EBC HH Sintered pads all around, installed Pirelli M75s, .70kg Sonic fork springs are here as well as the 15T front sprocket, all of which I felt were required upgrades after spending some time on the bike and reading Ninja250.org. Next on the list is the rear EX500 shock if I can find one in decent shape. Three things I wish it had: 3" more leg room, 15-20mm fatter tires so it doesn't look like a bicycle from the back, a bit more torque/power to get ahead of the the darn cages starting at the lights - these would make it just about the perfect little bike- for me. I guess that would be the EX500 huh?
Everytime I take it to the local canyon roads I'm grinning ear to ear, I feel like I'm going at a higher rate of speeds compared to the big ST1300, yet when I look down at the speedometer it's not that fast at all which I like. I don't need to be riding at excessive speeds to get the same grin factor as the bigger bikes. I hate to admit it but I'm having so much fun with the little Ninja that I'm actually thinking of selling the ST1300 and buying a mid-weight bike like the VFR 800, a VStrom or...call me nuts even a ZX6R/GSXR.
For what you can buy the 250s for, the gas mileage, the low cost of parts, insurance, the ease of manueverability etc they're probably the best bang-for-the-buck bikes out there. Someone used the Miata as a refrence and I think that's spot on (having raced the Spec-Miata series for several years).
To me the Ninja 250 is the underdog, grassroots, open-source equivalent of the bike world