The well-engineered Kawasaki Ninja 650R will impress bike enthusiasts who have a keen eye for detail
The Ninja 650R is a big and smoothly contoured bike with its fairing stretching tautly over potent, twin headlights. The primary colour (Kawasaki trademark green) mixes with black that covers much of this new Kwacker. The fairing sports an aesthetic pair of rearview mirrors and a wind deflector with a duct provides excellent wind protection at any speed.
The console is dominated by a speedometer which shares space with a neatly laid-out digital instrumentation. The display includes a fuel gauge, twin-trip facility and a clock, apart from the usual icons. A grouse is that the cascading bar-type rpm counter is cumbersome to read at high speed. The 650R comes with a rubber-mounted handlebar and a set of bar end weights. The rider will like the comprehensive, solid-feeling switches, outstanding palm grips and a pair of glimmering, machined alloy and reach adjustable levers that fit every pair of hands.
The Ninja's solid build and top-quality feel is something that you can't shake off and this is amply evident with details like the exposed, nearly horizontal monoshock just above the swingarm pivot section, or stubby under-slung exhaust box that helps the rear of the new Kawasaki look uncluttered. The neatly packaged rear is tidy, with a tapering tail fairing, slim grab rails and a simple, but bright, oval tail-light.
The Kwacker's impressive overall feel leaves you with a sense of awe at how well-engineered the bike is, and it is sure to impress enthusiasts who usually have a keen eye for details.
The Kawasaki Ninja 650R deploys a parallel-twin engine that displaces 649cc. Over-square, hard-chrome coated alloy cylinders measure 83mm in bore, with stroke reaching 60mm below. It's an eight-valve powerplant with dual overhead camshafts.
Lubricant baths cool both piston undersides, while the 180deg crankshaft is counterbalanced to iron out vibes. Smoothness is additionally aided by rubber mounts at the rear of the engine. The compact, liquid-cooled motor has minimal external plumbing, thanks to coolant passing through concealed routes within the engine cases.
A pair of 38mm Keihin throttle bodies feed the Ninja 650R its air-fuel cocktail, the electronics perfectly configured and we reveled in the crisp throttle response, the horde of 72.1 horses smoothly delivering all their brawn at 8500rpm. While this may seem relatively inadequate in comparison to the outputs that litre-class supersports bikes today produce, make no mistake about the fact that this Ninja is a seriously quick motorcycle. Making keen use of its meaty spread of mid-range power, the wide power band only loses steam at higher rpm's. Triple-digit speeds show up in a very short span of time, propelling man and machine effortlessly past 175kph.
The quarter-mile comes up in a scant 12.93 seconds, while 160kph comes by in just 12.06 seconds. The 650R emits a throaty, stirring exhaust note, and its 11.3:1 compression ratio ensures you will notice the excellent engine deceleration when banging down the six-speed ‘cassette-type' gearbox. The gears shift with a weighty, yet positive and precise feel. However, the cable-driven clutch gives your fingers an unwanted workout, especially in Indian city riding conditions. The bike can hold steady at speeds of 130-140kph all day long.
The Ninja 650R is held together by a diamond-type, welded steel frame and D-shape swingarm. Its low, roomy and firmly padded seat makes this a comfortable bike for even a short rider to pilot. The riding position is upright and meets a wide handlebar that provides excellent leverage for maneuvering in city limits. And the turning circle is decent too. All this combines to make the new Kawasaki one of the better big bikes available in India to live with on a daily basis.
The front suspension is shod with conventional, 41mm telescopic forks. Ride quality though was a tad stiff on our test bike, which came with its seven-way adjustable, offset rear shock absorber pre-load set to the third step from softest.
Confidence-inspiring stability can be taken for granted on the Ninja 650R, even when pushing in excess of 150kph, speeds that the middleweight Kawasaki feels comfortably capable of.
Forgiving, predictable handling is the norm. Although this is not the perfect motorcycle to push around a racetrack, it does turn with ease, and holds a line well through corners, going around them with enough poise.
Tubeless Bridgestone tyres provide excellent traction, but we do feel that the dual piston, 300mm petal-type front disc brakes should offer better bite.
The fleet-footed Ninja 650R returned 21.6kpl in city riding conditions, this improving marginally to 23.6kpl when cruising at speeds upto 120kph on the highway.
The big bike comes with a 15.5-litre fuel tank, which means you can expect a range of 350km for every tankfull of petrol.
Keywords: Kawasaki Ninja 650R