From the quarter-litre 250R to the crazy 200HP H2 litre bike, Kawasaki's Ninja family of performance motorcycles are well renowned all over the world. These bikes are fast, technologically advanced and are not for the faint of heart.
The one we are reviewing today is the youngest of the Ninja family. Despite having a displacement complying engine, it's still a powerhouse and punches well above its weight class.
Looking at the exterior of Kawasaki Ninja 125, one will see a visual resemblance to the 2014 Ninja 250 RR. Finished in Ninja's signature green, black and gold colour scheme, it has a habit of catching attention everywhere it goes. Another reason it grabs attention is because of its automatic halogen headlamp, which has a habit of staying on in broad daylight.
The entire front of the bike is covered with an aerodynamic fairing. Underneath is a tubular diamond frame holding the bike's 125cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, single-cylinder, 4 stroke DOHC engine making around 15 HP and 11.7 Nm of torque. This is the kind of power figures you get from larger 160cc bikes.
Combine that power with the bike's six-speed gearbox and curb weight of less than 150 kilograms, and you have one of the quickest bikes you can buy in this country.
To make sure all that power stays on the ground, Kawasaki gave the 125 some big tires, 100 at the front and 130 at the rear.
For suspension, there is a 37mm telescopic fork at the front while the rear Uni Trak swingarm features gas-charged shock with adjustable preload for those who like to live dangerously.
The brakes on this bike are really nice. You get disks on both wheels controlled by Dual-channel ABS. Both of the brake callipers are dual pistons, which to put into perspective, the outgoing Honda Civic sedan still uses single-piston brakes at the rear.
Moving the riding position, the rider's position is well designed and comfortable even If you are a bit on the chubby side. There are channels cut into the fuel tank for your thighs and the deep grooves cut into the rubber footpegs to hold onto your feet like glue.
As for the pillion seat, the less said about it is better. The bike is mainly designed for one person, and any passenger valuing their personal space and buttocks is better off finding an alternative means of transportation.
The instrument cluster of the Ninja 125 is fully digital and is surrounded by a bunch of useful warning lights. Some convenience features such as individual turn signals markers and gear indicators are missing, but I suppose Kawasaki thought people riding these bikes won't have time to look down at a gauge cluster because they will have too much fun grinning and zooming ahead.
With that, let's get to the riding experience.
Kawasaki tried to balance the Ninja 125 between a commuter and a sports bike, and it shows. The clutch on this bike is a clinical affair. Let go of it gently, and it will grab with a clatter. Try to have a slow rolling start? Same issue. Twist the throttle with vigorous intent, shift and release sharply and the bike will snap happily into action.
In terms of actually riding the bike, the Ninja has a dual personality issue. If one shifts gears around 5,000 RPM, the bike will top out somewhere around the speed limit by the sixth gear. Shift at 8,500, and it will accelerate so quickly that one will hardly get the chance to use the sixth gear in most of Dhaka's roads.
We took the bike out at 6 in the morning on a Friday and even then we could not find enough of a gap on the road to do it safely. We can't say how fast we went for obvious reasons, but we can tell you that the Ninja 125 hits triple digits faster than many 160cc motorcycles.
As for the ride quality, the suspension does an amazing job of smoothing out all the vibrations and the ABS does a great job of slowing down the bike from any speed. After handing off the bike to the dealer, my daily commuting non-ABS bike's brakes gave me a near heart attack because of their comparative ineffectiveness.
So why should you get this and not a bike with about 40cc more? It is a technical piece of art that delivers far more from seemingly less. It does not feel underpowered in any way at all. In fact, it feels far more capable.
Now, I'll be the first to admit I am not qualified or skilled enough to exploit the Ninja 125's full potential. This should not be someone's first bike. Riding this bike without knowing when to revmatch or downshift will result in a lousy first experience, something that the bike does not deserve. However, for a seasoned rider with a healthy wallet, this will be a fun beast to tame.