A wise man once said that intelligence consists in the ability to adapt to new situations each and every time these emerge and it looks that this is exactly what Kawasaki is doing with the Ninja 650R. This is the head of their sports bike lineup and it meets the latest requests in matter of performance, comfort, user-friendliness, reliability and style. It started as Kawi’s response to the need of such a bike on the market and it got much better with time.
Kawasaki engineers and designers worked closely together to refine the Ninja 650R into an even more user-friendly motorcycle with many design similarities to the ZX-6R.
Starting with the 650cc parallel-twin engine, continuing with the frame and finishing with the suspensions, the bike is a very tempting approach for novices. But what exactly is that due to? For starters, the engine’s fuel injection system has been revised for greater low rpm torque and more linear power delivery, making it perfect for those leaving their cars in the garage in favor of an economic and enjoyable motorcycle.
72-hp fuel injected parallel twin engine
Other modifications to the small and yet pushy engine (72 hp and 48.5 lb/ft) consist in moving the cooling fluid from the external hoses and inside the cases as well as adding a new catalyzer, which helps Kawasaki stay true to its now consecrated color (meets Euro-III regulations).
Further easing a beginner’s choice is the low seat (now 31.1 inches), rubber-mounted handlebars as well as rubber threads fitted pegs. A rider would now feel more confident in maneuvering the bike as we all know that slow-speed is the one that gets headaches into the helmets.
Offering a bike with comfortable front and rear suspension as well as with an effective braking system, Kawasaki people are happy to price the new Ninja 650R at just over $7 grand. Note that this is still a relatively new introduction which gets a fair market share and which surely won’t get beaten when it comes to fuel consumption, comfort and appearance.
The good news about the 2010 Kawasaki Ninja 650R is that it comes with an ABS system, but not over to the United States.
And these are also pretty much the chapters that Kawasaki wanted to master when first introducing the Ninja 650R as a 2008 model year. Inspiration came from the naked ER-6n, but the “R” started as more than just a faired model; it stood up as the choice of those who didn’t quite had the skills or need to go for the ZX-6R and yet searched for good aerodynamics.
Yamaha has spotted the same profitable market share and starting last year it gets benefits from it with the FZ6R. This is an aggressive piece of motorcycle from all points of view and yet manages to retain a comfortable riding position and good wind protection. The engine is the same previous generation R6 fuel-injected, 600cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC 16 valves unit, so there’s plenty to expect from that while the full fairing covering it is inspired from racing too. Yet, the tall windscreen and sport-touring like accommodations make a strong competitor for this class out of the now 2010 Yamaha FZ6R .
On one hand, the Yamaha – with those four cylinders – is definitely superior to the Kawasaki and the cheapest starts at $7,390 which is very good. But on the other hand we have the Suzuki SV650SF which is powered by a 90-degree V-twin engine, there is also a full fairing and the riding position is no killer either. But what’s with the $7,499 MSRP? An ABS-equipped model is also available and it starts at $7,999.
The only explication we could find for the apparently exaggerated starting prices is the fact that Suzuki has more than a decade building the SV while the Yamaha and Kawasaki are new additions to the class and need to make up for the lost ground.
As far as style is concerned, the 2010 Kawasaki Ninja 650R manages to distinguish both from the crowd and from the previous model year with supersports inspired features such as the headlights and windscreen, while the fairing is mainly characterized by aggressive lines in an attempt to enhance 650R’s sporty appearance. In reluctance to that idea, the gas tank, seat, and the bike’s tail are all rounded up. Add on a tubular trellis frame and D-shaped cross-section swingarm and the bike ends up representing refined agressivity.
The six-spoke wheels measure 17 inches in diameter and we can spot a sharp little front fairing too. Those perfectly integrated transparent signal lights are a nice touch as well as the perfectly camouflaged exhaust silencer.
Color schemes available for 2010 are Candy Lime Green, Ebony, Metallic Island Blue. This last features a matte black lower half fairing as yet another distinctive final touch.
“More than capable for spirited, yet sensible, street riding, the Ninja 650R delivers power in a user-friendly manner - no herky-jerky throttle to contend with or irritating fueling blips.” – motorcycle-usa
"Middleweight riders adore bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 650R simply because it is so balanced: not too much engine, just enough suspension, and surprising economy to even it up. Quarter mile times in the mid-high 11 second range are the norm, and sub-four second 0-60 times are common." – articlebase
"The liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, eight-valve 649cc parallel twin engine is compact enough to allow for a slim footprint and a relatively lightweight frame that tips the scales at 204 kg, making it a popular choice for new riders." – moto123
Although not heavily refined for 2010, the Kawasaki Ninja 650R still manages to remain the most affordable bike in the middleweight sport class. The $7,099 MSRP also ensures it can be easily considered one hell of a bang for the buck.
Very often, after a brand new introduction, motorcycles carry on being produced with little changes, but not this one. The 650R benefits of Kawasaki’s precious attention and lives up to the Ninja name, so we’re expecting ABS at least for the 2011 model years send to the States.
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve per cylinder, parallel twin
- Displacement: 649cc
- Bore x stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
- Compression ratio: 11.3:1
- Cooling: Liquid
- Fuel injection: Digital fuel injection with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
- Ignition: Digital CDI
- Transmission: Six-speed
- Final drive: O-ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
- Rake / trail: 25 degrees / 4.2 in.
- Wheelbase: 55.5 in.
- Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork / 4.7 in.
- Rear suspension / wheel travel: Single offset laydown shock with adjustable spring preload / 4.9 in.
- Front tire: 120/70x17
- Rear tire: 160/60x17
- Front brake: Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston calipers
- Rear brake: Single 220mm petal disc with single piston caliper
- Overall length: 82.7 in.
- Overall width: 29.9 in.
- Overall height: 47.2 in.
- Seat height: 31.1 in.
- Curb weight: 449.8 lbs.
- Fuel capacity: 4.1 gal.
Features & Benefits
Quick-Revving, 649cc Parallel-Twin Engine
- Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve fuel injected twin cylinder delivers smooth, responsive performance, especially in the low to medium rpm range
- Excellent mid-range power, exceptional roll-on response and impressive passing performance make even commuter traffic enjoyable
- Minimal vibration via a 180 crankshaft driven balancer shaft, which in turn drives the water pump
- Oil jets on the connecting rod big ends spray oil on the undersides of the pistons to aid cooling
- Lightweight plug-mounted ignition coils deliver a hot spark and save space
- High-capacity radiator for increased cooling efficiency
- Coolant routing travels directly to the engine cases, then follows internal passages to the cylinder and head for minimum external plumbing and a simplified cooling system
Digital Fuel Injection
- Fuel injection settings boosts the engine’s bottom-end torque while letting it rev quicker
- Sub-throttle valve equipped 38mm Keihin throttle bodies offer optimum performance and rideability
- Located behind the main throttle valves, the sub-throttles are controlled by the DFI system’s ECU for a precise throttle response, similar to a constant-velocity carburetor
- Auto-fast idle system simplifies starting and helps ensure that the catalyzer reaches optimum temperature quickly
- Lightweight fuel pump mounted inside the fuel tank
Compact Engine Design
- Powerful twin-cylinder engine is the most compact in its category, which helps reduce the dimension of the entire motorcycle and allows use of a slim, minimalist frame
- Triangular setup of the crankshaft and transmission shafts makes the engine short front-to-back
- Transmission input shaft, output shaft and change drum are contained in a cassette-style package that allows a compact layout and eases transmission maintenance chores
- Semi-dry sump design reduces engine height
- Plated, linerless aluminum cylinders with a narrow cylinder pitch keep the engine light and slim
- Efficient fuel injection and a three-way catalyzer inside the exhaust produce very low emissions, able to pass the stringent Euro-III emission regulations
- 300-cell catalyzer is compact and light
- Under-engine muffler placement for mass centralization and a low center of gravity
- Rubber upper rear engine mounts keep vibration low
- Handlebar is rubber-mounted to lessen vibration transmitted through the handle grips
- Rider and passenger footpegs are rubber coated to reduce vibration
Light-Handling Trellis Frame
- Slim, low, lightweight and compact design is narrow at the knees and footpegs for rider comfort and control
- The strong, high-tensile steel trellis frame not only looks lightweight, but it is rivaling that of aluminum frames
- Ideal frame stiffness balance achieved through extensive 3D analysis translates directly into superb handling
- The frame, rear suspension and swingarm designs flow together with an integrated line running from the steering head to the rear hub
- Short front-to-back dimensions of the engine allow for a long swingarm and a short wheelbase combination that contributes to the light and nimble handling
- Clean frame joint finishes show off overall quality of the bike
- Swingarm is tuned to complement frame rigidity
- Swingarm has a D-shaped cross-section for strength and light weight
- Swingarm design further contributes to the Ninja 650R’s high-quality appearance
- Elegant one-piece rider/passenger footpeg stays complement the swingarm and stabilizer
- 41mm fork and preload-adjustable laydown shock are tuned for light, rider-friendly handling
- Fork lower ends around the axle shaft add to the bike’s performance and enhance its high-quality image
Confidence Inspiring Ergonomics
- An ideal handlebar, seat and footpeg relationship results in a comfortable and natural riding position suiting a wide range of riders
- Frame narrowed just aft of the fuel tank enables a slim seat, making the reach to the ground even easier
- The offset single-shock rear suspension layout with the battery located beside the shock instead of beneath it allows a lower seat height as well
- Low seat height and slim overall design make it easy to plant both feet firmly on the ground when stopped
- Dual 300mm front petal disc brakes with twin 27mm piston front brake calipers and a single 220mm rear petal disc deliver plenty of braking power
- Front brake master cylinder and 14mm piston for smooth actuation
Sleek Supersport Bodywork
- Dual headlight design features multi-reflector bulb hoods and the twin position lights like its Ninja supersport brethren
- A lip at the top of the windscreen deflects air away from the rider, along with a duct in the center of the cowling that creates an air curtain to reduce wind buffeting at higher speeds
- Tall fuel tank especially noticeable when viewed from the side adds to the bike’s crouching appearance
- A flush-surface fuel cap and its sharp-edged motif give the tank a distinctive look
- Sharp, edged lines give the Ninja 650R an aggressive, crouching supersport look, yet the bodywork still accentuates the frame
- Distinctive Ninja supersport design elements of the front cowling and the fairings, such as the judicious combination of colored and black panels enhance its sporty image and compact appearance
- Integrated front turn signals with clear lenses and amber bulbs
- Completing the bike’s aggressive sport appearance is a sharp tail cowling featuring a thin LED taillight
- Inner rear fender helps keep the underside of the sleek new tail cowl clean
- The turn signals also function as flashing hazard lights
- A long front fender keeps water splashing to a minimum and its two-tone design matches the Ninja 650R’s light, compact theme
- Storage options include four tie-down hooks for baggage or a spare helmet to be secured to the seat and a storage space under the seat with room for a U-lock or similar device
- Mirror design is a similar supersport-style to that on the new Ninja ZX-6R
- Attractive six-spoke supersport-style wheels augment the bike’s light look and reduce unsprung weight
- MotoGP-inspired multi-function instrumentation includes a fuel gauge, digital speedometer, clock, odometer, dual trip meters and a bar-style digital tachometer
- Clock and trip meter can be viewed simultaneously
- Red backlighting for the LCD screen adds to the sporty image while the area around the instrument panel presents a clean, finished front cowl interior
- Stylized handlebar clamps and curved shapes on the brake master cylinder reservoir and clutch lever contribute to the Ninja 650R’s high-quality appearance