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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kawasaki Ninja 650 - Ride Review

One thing that comes as a dowry with every big motorcycle is that quintessential urge to tour. I know the very mention of the word “Tour” raises a lot of eye brows, because the gambit of this word is pretty immense, even to start with, but then, there’s one constant in this scenario – the Motorcycle in question. People do tour lengths of this planet of Sports behemoths and hats off to those brave souls for enduring such excruciating long miles on Sports demons, but for the majority mortals, a comfortable, powerful but equally manageable and roomy motorcycle is what’s more desirable and exactly these are the traits because of which “You” out there reading this article should go and have a look at the Ninja 650.


The twin pod 649cc engine of this machine is sweet but makes a strong statement. In 2012, Kawasaki made small adjustment to the engine’s ECU in order to the power and torque spread linear and make it feel punchier throughout the rev range, and boy have they been successful in doing so!! Roll-on acceleration in any gear and from any speeds is just a whisk away and even though the engine has been tuned keeping long hauls in mind comfortably and without getting stressed, but boy this engine pounces like a raging bull when pulled hard.

The engine note is pretty sedated at lower rpms, and is more of a deep throated rumble, but then you start pulling and pulling hard and that deep throated rumble transforms into and angry snarl, and you might notice, because you are limited by the limitations of being a normal homosapien, but that grin on your face… is now measuring miles!! Pulling really hard, this is what we were able to achieve –

1st Gear @ 11.5k rpms – 97kmph
2nd Gear @ 11.5k rpms – 120 kmph
3rd Gear @ 11.5k rpms – 135 kmph
4th Gear @ 11.5k rpms – 156 kmph
5th Gear @ 11.5k rpms – 172 kmph
6th Gear @ 9.2k rpms – 186 kmph

The rev limiter cuts off fuelling in a pretty harsh manner at around 11.5k rpms, and there’s a certain jerk that comes in which to me personally, felt a bit unnerving.

Ride and Handling

Even though a thorough bred tourer, the suspension setup of the Ninja 650 is little bit on the stiffer side, making it a pretty agile handler for its class. Be it slow speed negotiations or high speed stability, the Ninja 650 is sure footed, planted and stable. Banking into the corners and coming out of it feels like a cake walk. The slightly forward biased riding position also complements handling and the rider feels in total control. The all new double pipe perimeter style frame is the key here. Made with high tensile steel, the new frame is more rigid and lighter than the earlier design. There’s a very small glitch in this blissful equation – the brakes. The brakes on the current iteration of the Ninja 650 are better than the previous version, but in spite of being twin front petal disc (300mm Semi-Floating with dual piston callipers) and rear single petal disc (220mm with single piston calliper), they still lack the bite that one would expect from otherwise such a wonderfully built motorcycle.

Kawasaki has designed the Ninja 650 very intelligently. The front visor is effective, in fact, very effective in protecting from wind blast at high speeds. The fairing of the motorcycle not only gives it a sporty look, but also, combining in Kawasaki’s heat dissipation design principles, gives amazing heat protection.
Kawasaki has managed to keep the seat height amazingly low and we seriously think that anyone who’s roughly more than 5’2” in vertical measurements would fit in like a glove on this motorcycle.

Electronics & Equipments

The stacked instrumentation cluster is functional and contemporary. We personally loved the Analog Tach (we love to see the needles dance here at TQ to the instructions of the right wrist – clichéd but nothing like it!!) and Digital Display combo showing information like – Speedo, Fuel Gauge, Clock, Trip, Eco Indicator (we pretty much abused it), Instantaneous/Average Fuel Consumption etc.

It’s really unfortunate that India still does not get the ABS version of the Kawasaki Ninja even as an option.


The Kawasaki Ninja 650 is immensely comfortable and breezy during high speed touring and commandingly powerful during slow city commuting – a true balance between comfort and power. The motorcycle is every bit a fast and eager machine and the rider would need to come to terms with it. At the price tag this motorcycle commands, we would have personally liked to have better brakes, ABS at least as an option. The fit and finish is quite good, but at high speeds you do feel some buzzing from the plastic parts. But there’s no denying that the Kawasaki Ninja 650 is a tremendous machine and a very capable tourer and commuter at the same time, and given an opportunity we won’t give a split second thought before we welcome this baby into our garage.

Text and Photographs by: Sajal
Motorcycle Courtesy: Richard Hughe

Imp Note: We at Throttle Quest have carried out these tests in actual regular street conditions by professionals who are trained to conduct such tests. We at TQ do not support irregular, high speed, high risk and unsafe riding by anybody.
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  1. Sajal - Lovely pics and review. Am a fan of this bike and working towards buying one. I see the beauty standing ready for me at a KTM showroom nearby on my way to work and back. There is this one little detail i would like to point out. There is no more 'R' for the Ninja 650. In 2012 Kawasaki dropped the R suffix along with a small updated including changes to the ECU, chassis and battery. So now its just 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I've updated the post :)

      Thanks once again.

      - Sajal


Item Reviewed: Kawasaki Ninja 650 - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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