The last few years have seen a spate of Japanese manufacturers including Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki unloading their ammunition of numerous litre-class bikes. Not one to follow the norm, Kawasaki and Bajaj initially decided to proceed with an assembled in India, more usable Ninja 250R. After which, they have now decided to bring in their bigger Ninja, the 650R.
Nothing outstanding in terms of looks, the 650R still deserves a second glance. Sleek, twin headlamps streak backwards, away from a matte black V-strip in the middle. The all-digital display is classy. A fairing covers the engine, with trademark Kawasaki green contrasting nicely with vast sections of black.
Look further back and you notice a uniquely positioned single rear shock absorber, mounted directly as a part of the frame. The rear panels are otherwise simple, only embellished with long grab handles that run back to a slim oval tail lamp. Everything about the Ninja exudes solid quality. Thumb the starter, blip the throttle and a gruff, uneven engine note is certain to mesmerize you.
What makes the Ninja 650R enjoyable is power isn't delivered at high rpm. The 649cc motor comes into its own in the midrange and revs nicely to the top before losing some steam. The engine has an impressive punch to it.
Really nippy performance proves the Ninja offers a lot more than its 71bhp suggests. The ace in this Ninja pack is its remarkable ability to handle everyday riding, and shoot from rest to 150kph plus speeds with effortless ease. It’s light and easy to ride at low speeds, with a meaty clutch and a gearshift that feels precise still solid, more European than Japanese.
You get traditional telescopic forks in front, and a mono-shock behind. The nice wide handlebar allows an upright, comfortable seating position, ensuring the 650R isn’t a bike where you need to sit with knees tucked under your ears. The lightly stepped and low seat, at 790mm is one even a shorter rider will have no problem straddling. Massive 300mm double petal discs at the front and a single 220mm petal disc at the rear offer solid stopping power. Tyres are ample, tubeless Bridgestones.
The 650R isn’t an out and out sports bike. Never sharp or nimble, this 650 does however turn and corner with enough confidence.
The Ninja 650R certainly has a lot going for it. The engine is more than happy holding around 140kph all day long. An upright seating position keeps you from feeling tired when out on a highway cruise. Undoubtedly a commendable effort, the latest Ninja is priced at about half what litre class supersports motorcycles today cost here.
Great value for money then? Look out for our full ride story in the upcoming issue of Autocar India, with every minute detail outlined.