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Kawasaki Z250C Road Test

250cc singles seem to be the latest vogue from Japanese manufacturers and they're injecting a certain amount of sanity and fun into motorcycling. The all-out effort to produce more performance is being moderated and at the same time made attractive to the first time buyer. The Honda and the Yamaha we have already seen and they are both pretty bikes. The Kawasaki Z250C is no exception. It is offered in blue making the Kawasaki the most expensive looking of the three. But at £769 it's just £10 more than the Honda and much less than Yamaha's SR250 custom-style model.

The motor for the Z250C is one developed from the KL250 trail bike unit. The cylinder head has larger inlet and exhaust valves and a new self-adjusting cam chain tensioner, as found on the Z1300. Also the oil filter has been repositioned for easy access. Apart from this the 246cc engine has the same 70x64mm bore and stroke and 26mm Keihin carburetor. Power output is 19bhp at 8,000rpm with the maximum torque of 12.91b-ft at 7,000rpm. Maxi­mum torque on the trail bike is at 6,500, but its valve timing is different and it uses a 34mm constant-vacuum carb as opposed to the piston type on the roadster. The only other differences are in the ignition systems; the KL uses capacitor discharge whereas the Z relies on points. The roadster also has electric start, which puts it ahead of the pack.

The riding position is just right. Low 'bars, good footrest position and a comfortable double-density foam seat makes the bike a pleasure to ride. The seat height is a low 29*A inches - which should suit just about everyone.

The Slinch wheelbase and the weight of 2841bs dry allows the bike to be thrown around with almost wreckless abandon. The seat shape is also condu­cive to enthusiastic behaviour since you can slide off it for corners, keeping the bike upright. The frame feels very rigid and as a consequence the bike handles very well.

The suspension is well damped as it needs to be, because of the bike's low sprung weight and the cast wheels pro­bably aren't that light, a combination that could provoke a certain amount of pogoing with ill-matched springs.

The Yokohama tyres contribute to the confident feel of the machine. Front tyre size is 2.75 x 18 with the rear being a massive 460S x 16 but this must be more to do with marketing than performance.

Stopping power is provided by drum brakes front and rear, the front being equipped with a seven-inch twin leading shoe backplate. The rear brake is a simple five-inch unit. These type of brakes are more than adequate for a machine of this weight. In practice though, braking is used only as a last resort as engine braking and the bike's manoeuvrability can cope with quite a lot of obstacles and the handling is good enough for corners and roundabouts to be taken at normal road speeds. If necessity dictates jumping on the brakes then you can be sure the bike will pull up quickly in a straight line.