The answer is - very well. The EX250 can spend long hours cruising at or above any US speed limit. There are two club members who have completed the Iron Butt Rally (11,000+ mile ride completed in 11 days) on EX250s. If that doesn't prove this bike's complete highway worthiness, then nothing else will. You will wear out long before the bike.
- Wind noise - the primary cause of driver/rider fatigue on long trips. Wear earplugs.
- Oil consumption - only an issue if you stay over 9000 rpm for long periods of time. Check the oil level frequently and prepare to add some, if need be.
- There are noticeable differences in gas mileage between 65/75/85 mph speeds.
Riding the freeway on a Ninja 250 takes a little more skill than riding a more powerful bike, since you have to use all the gears and occasionally plan your passes. Also, you may be somewhat less visible than some bigger bikes. Brighter headlights, headlight modulators, flashing and brighter brake lights, and daytime running lights can all improve your visibility.
Bigger bikes can get up to freeway speed faster, and can pass someone with little thought, where the Ninja needs you to study the traffic flow a bit more for merging and passing, since things happen more slowly. That said, under most circumstances (barring steep hills) it will top out at somewhere in the 90-95 mph range because, unlike most other 250s, it builds its power as you move up the tach. (Some get you to 60 mph faster, but then they're done, where the Ninja is just waking up.)
If you often ride in really bad traffic, you may feel more secure on something with a little more power, but that's a bit like someone saying they need a V-8 sedan to feel safe on the freeway: it's not really necessary. You may feel more secure, but you have to realize that there's some laziness there that lets the bigger bike's capabilities allow you to be less engaged in the riding process.
Don't let that punk salesman take you for a ride; listen to experienced EX250 riders:
- Lots of folks ride highways on their Ninjettes, and once you're used to it, it's quite fun and not really all that nerve-wracking. It's really an amazing bike: small engine, big grins.
- The bike will go longer in a day than I can comfortably manage. Now, there may be better bikes for highway riding, there may be better bikes for the twisties, there may be better bikes for touring, but there is NO BIKE I know of that can manage it all anywhere as capably for anywhere near the price.
- I've done a couple of 1500 mile trips this last year: one in 30 hours, the second in 24 1/2. On that second trip I was riding 75 to 90 for almost 25 hours straight. I weigh over 200 lbs, plus LOTS of gear (full saddlebags, full action packer trunk, plus full tankbag).
- The only reason I don't cruise at 90 plus on the freeway is the fact that I already got pulled over once... I weigh 230 and have huge saddlebags. The Ninja will still pull all that up a 6 percent grade at 80 plus.
- There have been many people who have toured extensively on 250s. The idea that you have to have a big bike is bunk. The need for speed and power are overrated. A 250 cc engine is plenty, especially in a tried and true bike like the Ninja 250. Plus, 60-70 mpg is a serious bonus for long distances.
- I have been on the road for four weeks, and I have knocked out 9000 miles since then. Could a non-highway-worthy bike do that? This has included 75 mph zones with high winds (ever been to Wyoming?)
- I have two primary motorcycles: an '05 EX250 and an '07 650R. The 250 was bought Dec '06. The 650R was bought Sep '06. Mileage: EX250 - 25,500 miles; 650R - 11,500 miles. Guess which one is used for the majority of my 1,000+ mile riding days?
- Buy the 250 and ride it all day long at highway speeds and have fun. Just check the oil occasionally.