MCN Fleet: Introducing the Ninja 650

Published: 26 March 2017

The first thing that struck me about the new Ninja was just how pretty it is. Kawasaki have really hit the nail on the head with the design, it looks absolutely fantastic. When has a budget bike ever looked so good? It may not be a ZX-10 by a long way, but it looks every bit as mean, and I really like that.

My first week and a half with Kawasaki’s new Ninja have been pleasant, if somewhat muted as I had to ride frugally while running it in. Short-shifting it to keep the revs low on some of my favourite road. Overall though the first impressions of the Ninja have been spot-on and I’m really excited to be using it this year. I definitely think I made the right decision in choosing the 650.

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I had a trip to Dartmouth on the cards, so decided that a decent way to put some miles on the bike while also getting the boring and monotonous stuff out of the way would be to use the Ninja. It would also give me a decent idea of how comfortable the bike will be when covering long distances – something that I have personally been really curious about since the bike was announced.

The quest to get it to the first service was well and truly on and I set off for Dartmouth with 200-odd miles ahead of me. Completely unsure if the bike would turn me into cramped, uncomfortable mess by the end of my journey.

I was obviously hoping for the opposite. I covered a lot of miles last year with a lot of larger trips and I didn’t want to think that any of the big trips I’m planning this year will be in total discomfort. 

Happily, I found the bike to be really well suited to longer stints on the road. The seating and handlebar position is relaxed enough to be comfortable but sporty enough to still be fun. It made riding on the motorway a lot more bearable than I thought it would be and not feeling achy or fatigued at the end was a definite bonus.

The screen helps with the riding comfort a lot and comes three levels of adjustment. You need to undo 8 bolts with a hex key and it takes about 5 minutes to sort but on the whole it’s simple enough, even if it is a little fiddly. I’ve only tried it on the lowest and mid setting so far, but am finding it really effective in the latter.

On the lowest setting, I had to really tuck in to get out of the wind, encouraged by the shape of the tank which allows you to get a narrow, chin-on-the-tank profile if you wish. Though this obviously isn’t so good for longer journeys such as on my trip to the South West.

I’ve had it in the mid setting since and find it just right for deflecting the wind. It’s enough to remain comfortable without looking too conspicuous, retaining the sporting profile of the Ninja. I’ve yet to try the highest setting but will give it a go on my next trip.

The trip to Dartmouth gave a great introduction to the bike and the Ninja has left a great first impression. Now I can’t wait to get the first service out of the way so I can have some proper fun on it with the weather finally starting to improve.

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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