MCN Fleet: 5 Ninja 650 learnings in 5000 miles

Published: 09 August 2017

Watching the odometer tick over from 4,999 miles to the big 5,000 on the Kawasaki Ninja 650 was a really satisfying moment. What’s even better is knowing that all those hours and miles I’ve covered on the bike have been enjoyable, and that for me really speaks volumes about the cracking 650 twin.

So, with that in mind I thought i'd identify five things I’ve learned about the bike in on my journey to #ride5000miles

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1. It goes the distance

I ride every day, do big stints and enjoy sporty machines. What this essentially means is that I want my bikes to be practical, comfortable and most of all fun. I can safely say that my time with the Ninja 650 has proved to tick all of these boxes and then some.

It can handle distances easily with the fairly upright position making it a cinch to ride all day without any aches or pains whatsoever. The adjustable screen is also a great feature and allows me to put it in the best position to suit the riding I’m doing. I’ve ridden it from the midlands to my Devonshire homeland on numerous occasions and ridden to Belgium and back, finding that the bike does the business of mile-munching perfectly.

Proper beaut of a day in Devon for a dash on this little number. #Kawasaki #Ninja650 #ride5000miles

A post shared by James Archibald (@jamesarchibald) on Mar 13, 2017 at 10:52am PDT

2. It’s so much more rewarding on the road

One of the things I really enjoy with the Ninja is that I can use most of the bike much closer to its limit than an all-out sportsbike. While on paper this might sound a little disheartening – it’s not. What it means is that on every single ride I feel like I’m getting a lot out of the machine and I’m the one controlling the bike, not the other way around. Each ride it comes alive and makes me feel like I’m Jonny Rea as I charge along the backroads on my way home. I can honestly say that for me this is much more rewarding than going twice as fast on a bike where you’re only using 10% of its potential and relying on multi-stage traction control and all the latest electronic wizardry to keep the bike upright.

3. Change the tyres

The Dunlop Sportmax D214 tyres that came as standard on the Ninja weren’t the most inspiring and didn’t give me the confidence to push the bike as much as I wanted. I replaced them with a set of Metzeler Roadtec 01s and the transformation was incredible. It felt like the budget suspension had been upgraded and the difference in feel and wet grip was incredible. These are hands down the best all-round road tyre I’ve used and while they only lasted 3,800 miles, I had done 2 trackdays and plenty of motorway miles in that time. What they ultimately do to the Ninja is transcend it and flatter both my riding and the suspension. 

4. It’s a banging budget bike

The price has to be the most appealing thing about this machine. Starting at £6,349 for the standard machine or £6,549 for the iconic green KRT paint scheme, this bike is a wallet-friendly warrior. I honestly don’t think there’s a bike in this price bracket that looks quite as good or inspires this much fun and confidence.

5. It’s great for any rider

If I’m completely honest, before I got the Ninja I was a little worried that it might seem a little dull or that it wouldn’t offer enough excitement. I was happy to banish these worries from the second I started riding it and instead found that it’s a brilliant machine for any rider. 

It’s friendly enough for someone who might be newer to motorcycling and offers loads of potential as a brilliant tool to learn on. Yet at the same time, it offers plenty to those who have been riding for years with its flattering nature and fun motor that eggs you on in every instance. It’s plenty fast enough for the road and is a really fun bike to take on track too.

Overall, my time with the Ninja 650 so far has been a really enjoyable experience and I’m ready and looking forward to smashing the next 5,000 miles – if they’re anything as good as the first 5k then I’m in for a treat.

Drop James an email at james.archibald@motorcyclenews.com if there's anything you'd specifically like to know about this bike.

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