First ride impression is meant for what it is aimed for – to give members of the media the experience on the handling and performance for new motorcycles during a group ride before they could take the machines back for an individual ride session another time.
In Malaysia, no other brand does this on a regular basis than Kawasaki Motors Malaysia Sdn Bhd (KSMB) where it had recently invited the local media to have their first impression ride on two of the latest Model Year (MY) 2019 motorcycles – the Kawasaki Z250 and Z400, both of which are the Streetfighter variants of the recently introduced Model Year 2018 Ninja 250 and Ninja 400 respectively.
The difference between an individual test and a first impression ride is we could choose our roads and riding speeds for the former while the routes have been decided by KMSB with speed limits to be observed in the latter. There’s also the need to slow down when approaching traffic congestions or a traffic lights junction, to name a few restrictions.
Nonetheless, such restrictions are essentials for the smooth running of the first impression ride, and it won’t prevent me from enjoying the ride in whole. What had surprised me upon arrival for the event was the fact that I had been allocated a third ride on that day – with the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic motorcycle.
I had only been expecting to test the two Z-series motorcycles so to be included for a third ride was a bonus (more on this later). Without further ado, let’s proceed with the impression results from each motorcycle.
Kawasaki Z250 Streetfighter:
The MY 2019Kawasaki Z250 Streetfighter shares the same chassis, engine and other improvements which the manufacturer has included in the MY 2018 Ninja 250 motorcycle minus the full fairing panels. It feels lighter and more agile than its supersport cousin, with a generous height for its wider handlebars as a naked bike, making riding on twisty roads a breeze.
The Z250 has enough grunts to cruise on twisty road segments without struggling even when it is on 4th gear – I found downshifting to 3rd is not even necessary for the routes we (media convoy) were riding with the Z250. The riding was made even better when we had reached the point in Putrajaya to let the Z250 accelerated to its maximum speed – due to my height of 178cm coupled with 70kg weight adding to the bike’s 164kg, the best I could achieved was 172km/h!
Lighter riders than me should be able to hit a top speed of 180km/h with the Z250. This wraps up the first impression ride I have with the Z250 motorcycle. For more details with the MY 2019 Z250 during my follow-up individual test ride, please visit this link.
Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic:
First of all, the imposing size of the MY 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic was quite intimidating even to a person of my height. Okay, I have had experiences riding even bigger motorcycles than this Vulcan 900 Classic previously, such as the numerous Harley-Davidson, Indian and Victory models so riding the Kawasaki shouldn’t be an issue at all.
I have to admit that the Vulcan is indeed quite large and longer in length over most other motorcycles, including that earlier, exciting riding experience with the Z250 Streetfighter, which left me wondering if I might have handling issues managing it on the same routes.
During flag-off from the venue, Bangi Golf Resort, it was a bit cautious on my part due to the Vulcan’s overall weight but that feeling lasted as far as the main road once out of the zone of the Resort’s compound. The sheer speed/acceleration and handling of the Vulcan 900 Classic made riding it a joy.
Pretty soon, I had the Vulcan 900 Classic cruising at a speed I was comfortable with including keeping up with the lead marshal as well as finding myself doing the usual overtaking of the slower media riders upfront one by one. They were slower approaching each corner while I just negotiated the curves like a duck to water.
One thing for sure, majority of cruisers isn’t designed for low lean angles of cornering and the Vulcan 900 Classic is one such bike. I had its left foot rest (as opposed to a footpeg) scrapping the tarmac during a left hander cornering at the Putrajaya segment, and made me slowed the bike’s speed to force it upright from the lower angle.
For more details with the MY 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic during my follow-up individual test ride, please visit this link.
Kawasaki Ninja 400:
The 2018 MY Ninja 400 wasn’t a part of that day’s offering during the media test ride convoy but there’s only a single unit of the Z400 made available for us to try, where we would have to take turns to ride it. Basically that idea was easier said than accomplished. With only 2-stop break in-between each test ride session, featuring 6 media members per group, it’s not possible for each of us to get a chance on the Z400. My Vulcan 900 Classic ride was during the 2nd and final session of that day for the media.
The 3rd session group ride on that day was for KMSB’s GT World and Ninja Shop dealers for which I decided to join them using the Ninja 400 motorcycle instead. Since the Ninja 400 shares the same engine, chassis and most other specifications with the Z400 Streetfighter, it should give me an idea of how the latter would perform.
With third time riding on the same routes, I had more or less memorised them, which gave the opportunity to maximizing the ride via the Ninja 400. It was very agile, quick and very stable when riding fast on those routes. In fact, it was faster, more stable and agile than the Z900RS Café which the lead marshal was riding with.
When the dealer’s convoy had reached that top speed segment, I quickly pushed the Ninja 400 to near maximum performance. The bike managed to reach 182km/h by upshifting from 3rd to 6th gears during that segment. There was still room for more speed but I decided to call it a day, having been satisfied that it could reach that kind of speed easily.
I have yet to go for an individual test ride with the Ninja 400 so the test ride for it will have to wait. In the mean time, please feel free to read about my test ride experience with Kawasaki’s Z900RS Café motorcycle instead from this link.