Posh bits and name-change aside, the Ninja is still budget-orientated and this shows most with slightly basic, under-damped suspension. It’s not really a problem though, a touch extra preload on the rear (the only thing that’s adjustable) improves its tautness and most buyers are unlikely to be demanding enough to notice. That apart, the Ninja’s lovely and light, slim, nimble and fun to throw around.
During our long-term test of the Ninja 650 we took it on a trackday to Spa in Belgium. Find out how we got on here.
The familiar, 649cc parallel twin has proved hugely successful and popular – not least with Minitwins racers! Now reworked with new cams and revised inlets to be slightly less revvy the chief benefit is a fatter, more flexible midrange with the added bonus of improved fuel economy. It’s a doddle to use, with decent drive anywhere from 4000rpm up to the gearchange light kicking in at eight-five, reasonably smooth and glitch-free, too.
During our long-term test of the Ninja 650 we fitted a new exhaust and altered the bike's fuelling via a Rapid Bike Evo module. This addition to the standard ECU will self-learn a new fuel map and even raise the rev limit slightly. For more on how we found it, head here.
The ER-6f on which it’s based has been mechanically solid with no major scare stories while Kawasaki really seems to have upped the quality, particularly in terms of finishes and detailing, with this newcomer.
Our round-up of life with the Ninja 650 after 12 months was overwhelmingly positive, with our tester not reporting any reliability issues to speak of.
Base bike was £6349, or £300 more than the naked Z650, which isn’t that bad. That said, it can’t match the outrageous cheapness of possibly its closest rival, Yamaha’s (albeit naked) MT-07 while it’s also easy to bump that price up. The KRT green/black colourscheme costs £200 more while various accessory packs can bump that price up to nearly £7500.
As we said, it’s a budget bike so you shouldn’t expect much. That said, the Ninja 650 is a far nicer thing than the outgoing ER-6f it replaces. In comes ABS and a slipper clutch and attractive new clocks, which now feature a gear indicator, decent mirrors, span-adjustable levers on both sides and even a three-way height adjustable screen, although to alter it you’ll need the Allen key from the toolkit!