Kawasaki Ninja 650: 'More effective and appealing'

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MCN is currently in Spain riding the new 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 which replaces the firm’s popular ER-6f and is the new faired brother to the 2017 Z650 MCN tested in December.


Both bikes were originally unveiled at EICMA in Milan in November and feature not just name changes – done, Kawasaki told MCN, to unify its model names globally as the old ER-6f was always called the Ninja in the US – but a host of updates and revisions.

The main ones are:

All-new bodywork complete with Ninja styling inspired by the ZX-10R
Reduced weight for increased manageability and performance
Revised engine for increased flexibility and economy

And on the experience of our day-long ride around Almeria they seem to have achieved just that. In the flesh, the newcomer’s looks are a vast improvement over the old. The new fairing doesn’t just evoke the style of the ZX-10R, its well-finished and holds improved clocks and mirrors. The all-new tubular frame isn’t just lighter, it evokes (slightly) the style of the incredible H2R and is a full 15kg lighter than the old. While the reworked engine (cans, intakes and more have been revised to bolster midrange at the slight expense of top end power) is less revvy than before delivering a decently fat, flexible midrange that makes it a doddle to ride.

All that adds up to a machine that’s not just much more desirable as a lump of metal, it’s also more effective and appealing to ride for far more people. It’s easy to manage thanks to the low seat height, reduced weight and excellent steering lock. It’s unthreatening and nimble at gentle speeds while, when the pace is upped, although suspension and brakes are adequate rather than awesome, its neutral handling, quick steering, engine responsiveness and weather protection make it a great stepping stone to bigger bikes. 

Read our full test in MCN this Wednesday, February 1.


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Phil West

By Phil West

MCN Contributor and bike tester.