2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (2023)

February 6th, 2017 7:10 PM

Our first ride aboard Kawasaki's newest Ninja

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (1)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (2)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (3)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (4)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (5)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (6)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (7)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (8)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (9)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (10)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (11)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (12)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (13)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (14)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (15)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (16)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (17)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (18)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (19)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (20)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (21)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (22)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (23)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (24)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (25)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (26)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (27)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (28)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (29)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (30)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (31)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (32)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (33)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (34)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (35)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (36)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (37)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (38)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (39)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (40)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (41)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (42)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (43)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (44)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (45)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (46)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (47)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (48)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (49)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (50)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (51)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (52)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (53)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (54)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (55)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (56)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (57)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (58)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (59)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (60)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (61)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (62)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (63)
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (64)

Credit: Photos by Brian J. Nelson

Up until now Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 has been recognized as a genteel gateway drug to the company’s true supersport model, the ZX-6R. For 2017 Kawasaki has further distilled more performance from the beginner-ish Ninja while maintaining the bike’s streetable mannerisms. In other words, the 2017 Ninja 650 is a more potent sportbike capable of shredding a twisty canyon road or closed course race track on the weekends, while performing commuter duty during the weekdays.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Editor Score: 86.5%

Engine 18.5/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 8.0/10
Instruments/Controls5.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 8.5/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score86.5/100
(Video) 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS First Test Review Video | Riders Domain

The most substantive element of the new Ninja is the bike’s drastic weight reduction of 42 pounds, giving the 650 a claimed curb weight of only 419 pounds (426 pounds with ABS). In our Middleweight Intermediate Sportbike Shootout from 2014, the Ninja 650 tipped the MO scales at 465 pounds (461 pounds for the Honda CBR650F, 470 pounds for the Yamaha FZ6R). If we were to conduct that same comparison today the Ninja would have a whopping 35- and 44-pound weight advantage over the Honda and Yamaha, respectively.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (65)

A breakdown of where Kawasaki engineers hacked weight from the Ninja 650, no small effort for an affordably priced mid-displacement non-supersport model. Interestingly, the 2017 Ninja 650 weighs a claimed 1.8 pounds less than its supersport ZX-6R model, 426 vs 427.8 pounds.

A bike weighing 42 pounds less than its predecessor shouldn’t be taken lightly (aha… aha… aha…). You can’t help but feel the bike’s increased maneuverability at around town speeds, or especially when transitioning through a tight set of switchbacks. For newer riders, a lighter curb weight is less intimidating, while experienced pilots will appreciate its newfound flickability.

2017 Kawasaki Z650 First Ride Review

Engine performance too has been massaged via a myriad of changes/improvements: fine-atomizing fuel injectors, 36mm throttle bodies and narrower intake ports, camshaft with modified profiles, airbox design, shorter exhaust pipe with no crossover tube all add up to an engine with greater low- and mid-range performance compared to last year’s model.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (66)
(Video) Kawasaki Ninja 650 (2017) - A Notch Higher : PowerDrift

No exact figures were provided but this rudimentary dyno chart from Kawasaki illustrates how the new engine fills mid-range cavities in the old engine’s power curves. Peak torque appears to be slightly more, while peak horsepower has decreased compared to the outgoing engine. In our 2014 shootout the Ninja 650 produced 64.7 hp at 8,900 rpm, and 43.0 lb-ft of torque at 7,100 rpm.

Usable power from the Ninja 650’s parallel-Twin is abundant and corresponds with Kawasaki’s claims for improved low- and mid-range. The engine is a willing participant in almost any situation, whether it be building revs from as low as 2,500 rpm in 6th gear without shuddering to snappier responses in 3rd spinning at a more aggressive 6,000 rpm. Some vibes are going to creep through – mainly via the seat – but nothing excessive for two pistons in a parallel arrangement.

In the technology department, the Ninja 650 comes outfitted with an Assist and Slip clutch which provides a light pull at the adjustable clutch lever, and the ability to row the gearbox with successive downshifts without fear of locking the rear wheel. The transmission also features a positive neutral finder that makes it easier to find that gearless position between 1st and 2nd.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (67)

The restyled Ninja 650 is fairly aggressive for 2017, more closely resembling its supersport/superbike stablemates. The new 5-spoke wheels are lighter, and the shorter under-engine exhaust helps centralize mass. That’s possibly the best looking pressed-steel swingarm we’ve ever seen.

To complement the Ninja’s sportier nature and aggressive new looks, Kawasaki reconfigured the bike’s seating position. The handlebars are now 25mm (1 inch) more forward and 42mm lower compared to the 2016 Ninja 650. As far as we’re concerned, this was a nice tweak to help performance while not putting too much weight on a rider’s wrist. In our previous shootout we complained that its front end was vague because there’s so little weight over the wheel due to the handlebar position. This new handlebar placement should help remedy that complaint.

The taller of us MO testers also had problems with the seat-to-footpeg distance in that 2014 shootout. For 2017, Kawasaki moved the footpegs 60mm forward, and while they also lowered the footpegs 15mm they also lowered the seat 15mm. The shorter seat height should help less-taller folk, but during our day ride, the uncomfortable bend in my knee didn’t go unnoticed, so our complaint about the seat-to-footpeg distance will probably remain, at least for riders pushing six feet in height.

What I definitely did like was the sloped, flat fuel tank – perfect for leaning forward and laying on for taking a rest during a long ride on a straight road, or to get out of the wind on a cold day.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (68)

The new negative-lit instrument cluster is a huge improvement over the old one, and, incredibly, the digital readout is more legible in direct sunlight than it is in shade. Yah, we know, sounds crazy but it’s true. There’s also an adjustable shift light above the gear position indicator, while the tach needle also changes from white to pink to red to correspond with the shift light.

(Video) Kawasaki Ninja 650 | Long term update | Motorcyclenews.com

Stopping power comes by way of new Nissin 2-piston calipers gripping 300mm discs up front, while a single Nissin caliper clamps on a single 220mm disc out back. We complained about how much pressure it took to get the old brakes to quickly slow the Ninja 650, and these new binders seem to perform much more efficiently. New ABS is the Bosch 9.1M that’s lighter and offers more precise anti-locking measurements. Non-ABS models remain available from Kawasaki, which offer slightly lower weight and price, but in our opinion, ABS is worth the few added pounds and dollars.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (69)

For only $200 more than last year, you get a much lighter, better handling Ninja 650 with improved mid-range engine performance. The more aggressive styling should appeal to the newer rider as much as the experienced one.

Big news in the suspension department is a new horizontal back-link KYB shock. Compared to last year’s linkageless shock, the new unit should provide a more progressive movement and reduce most occurrences of bottoming out. Rear suspension travel is the same as last year’s, and front suspension has gone unchanged. Any noticeable improvement in rear ride quality wasn’t apparent during our outing; a full suspension evaluation will have to wait until we can get a test unit.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

+ Highs

  • Light makes right
  • Improved mid-range engine performance
  • Minimal price increase

– Sighs

  • Seat to footpeg ratio
  • Basic brakes and suspension
  • Cheap looking rear sprocket
(Video) Sean rides a 2016 Ninja 650 and gives his opinion
2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review (70)

The 2017 Ninja 650 features a three-way adjustable windscreen. Other niceties include adjustable clutch and front brake levers, a narrow seat/tank junction, and comfortably dense seat material. Among other accessories, the seat cowl is especially stylish and dresses-up the look of the Ninja 650 for not much money.

Kawasaki has really upped its game when it comes to fit/finish, and the Ninja 650 is another stunning example of the company’s attention to detail. The Ninja 650 isn’t an A-list celebrity, but Kawasaki sure seems to treat it like one. Everywhere you look on the bike speaks quality. About the only thing we found that visually says budget is the rear sprocket. Of course, steel is used in place of aluminum, and the suspension isn’t the latest fully adjustable Öhlins unit, but what you get for the price is a competent mid-level sportbike for which you don’t have to prostitute yourself to afford.

Our cold one-day ride is only a glimpse into the improvements Kawasaki rendered on the Ninja 650. Once we get a test unit for a more in-depth evaluation, and a shootout against some of its competitors, we’ll know better how well the improvements perform. One thing we already know for certain, though, is you can’t go wrong dropping 42 pounds off of any model motorcycle, and for that reason alone the 2017 Ninja 650 is a winner in our book.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja Specifications

Engine TypeLiquid-cooled, 4-stroke Parallel Twin
Displacement649cc
Bore and Stroke83.0 x 60.0 mm
Compression ratio10.8:1
Valve systemDOHC
Fuel systemDFI with 36mm Keihin throttle bodies
Ignition

TCBI with electronic advance

StartingElectric
LubricationForced lubrication, semi-dry sump
Maximum power67.3 hp at 8,000 rpm (claimed)
Maximum torque48.5 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm (claimed)
Transmission6-speed, return shift
Final driveChain
ClutchWet multi-disc, manual
FrameTrellis, high-tensile steel
Front suspension41 mm telescopic fork
Front wheel travel4.9 in.
Rear suspensionHorizontal Back-link with adjustable preload
Rear wheel travel5.1 in.
Front tire120/70 ZR17 Dunlop
Rear tire160/60 AR17 Dunlop Sportmax D214
Front brakesDual semi-floating 300mm petal discs with dual-piston caliper
Rear brakesSingle 220 mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
Caster (rake)24.0º
Trail3.9 in.
Wheelbase55.5 inches
Seat height31.1 inches
Curb mass419 pounds/426 pounds with ABS (claimed)
Fuel capacity4.0 gallon

Credit: Photos by Brian J. Nelson

FAQs

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review? ›

The Ninja 650 hasn't really changed much in the three years since its launch and MCN owners' reviews of the old bike show it was plenty reliable. The engine in both models is adapted from the bullet-proof ER-6f motor, so don't expect many issues there. Our Kawasaki Ninja 650 owners' reviews show nothing concerning.

Is the Ninja 650 reliable? ›

The Ninja 650 hasn't really changed much in the three years since its launch and MCN owners' reviews of the old bike show it was plenty reliable. The engine in both models is adapted from the bullet-proof ER-6f motor, so don't expect many issues there. Our Kawasaki Ninja 650 owners' reviews show nothing concerning.

How fast can a 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 go? ›

125 mph

How fast does a 650 Ninja go? ›

2023 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Top Speed

The machine is capable of producing up to 68 horsepower and 47 lb-ft of torque, delivering plenty of power for high-speed highway cruising and spirited riding performance on twisty roads. As such, riders can accelerate to 131 MPH.

Is Ninja 650 too much for beginner? ›

Kawasaki's Ninja 650R Has Been an Entry-Level Staple Since 2006. Bikes like the Ninja 650R, FZ6R, and SV650 are ideal for new riders that either needs something larger due to their height, or are confident in their ability to manage a bit more power than what the typical “beginner bike” ships with.

Is the Ninja 650 good on highway? ›

One of the reasons why the Ninja 650 is a great option for highway travel is its engine power. The Ninja 650 has a 649 cc engine that can produce up to 68 horsepower and 47 lb-ft of torque. This means that it can easily keep up with highway traffic speeds and can even handle overtaking maneuvers with ease.

How many miles is a lot on a Ninja 650? ›

If you're running on factory-made original parts, it's considered high mileage when you hit 20,000 – 30,000 miles on a smaller motorcycle like a sport bike, or 50,000 miles on a larger model. However, just because a motorcycle has high mileage does not mean it's at the end of its life.

Is the Ninja 650 a beginner bike? ›

For some beginner riders, the 650cc model is the best choice for their first bike. But, there really is a Ninja bike for everyone.

How many miles per gallon does a 2017 Ninja 650 get? ›

For those who commute in the city and who aren't revving the bike too hard, I'd expect the 650 to return a healthy economy that begins in the late 50s at least. Track riding has, at worst, returned 39.16mpg – from a sunny Donington trackday.

Is Ninja 650 a slow bike? ›

The DOHC motor has plenty of power to have a good time, without intimidating a new rider, let alone someone moving up from a bike such as the Ninja 400. So, while we can't call the Ninja 650 slow, the motor is not as potent as its competitors, something we're a bit surprised Kawasaki hasn't addressed.

What is the fuel economy of Ninja 650? ›

What is the Fuel economy of Kawasaki Ninja 650 (2011-2020)? The fuel economy/Mileage of Ninja 650 (2011-2020) is 21 Kmpl.

Is Ninja 650 a superbike? ›

Yes it's a superbike.

Is Ninja 650 good for touring? ›

It's actually perfect.

How much should I pay for a Ninja 650? ›

Q: How much does a Ninja 650 cost? MSRP on the base model Kawasaki Ninja 650 is $7,999 for the two-tone Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray and Ebony colorway.

Are Kawasaki's reliable? ›

Kawasaki. While a bit less reliable than the other big three Japanese brands, Kawasaki is still a dependable choice. Their popular Ninja and KLR models are a good choice if you're looking for a reliable, fun ride and their popularity makes repairs more affordable too.

How long does it take a Ninja 650 to go 0 100mph? ›

The Kawasaki Ninja 650 will charge on to 100 mph in only 9.5 seconds and the quarter mile benchmark time for the Ninja 650 is a very respectable 12.3 seconds @ 110 mph. These are close to optimum times.

Are Ninja motorcycles reliable? ›

This reputation for Kawasaki motorcycle reliability comes from decades of reliable performance, it isn't uncommon to see used Kawasaki Ninjas that are years, if not decades, old. They have a ton of miles and are still running just as strong as the day they rolled off the production line.

Is the Kawasaki Z650 a reliable engine? ›

Reliability & build quality

Our 2020 Kawasaki Z650 owners' reviews show no prevailing reliability issues. What's more, MCN owners' reviews of the previous model show nothing but praise for reliability. There are no reasons to believe it will be anything other than a dependable steed.

Is Ninja 650 fuel efficient? ›

The Kawasaki Ninja 650 [2022] has been a popular choice among Filipinos who are looking for a sports bike that is fuel efficient. Based on reports from owners of this bike, the real mileage of the Ninja 650 [2022] is 30 kilometers per liter (kmpl).

Is a Ninja 650 faster than a 600? ›

The 650 is a parallel twin motor (like the ex500) that is designed to be manageable and efficient. The 600 is an inline-4 motor that is designed to scream. The riding position is much more aggressive on the zx-6, it uses more fuel, it's lighter, and it's much faster.

Videos

1. Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review | 2017
(Cycle Torque)
2. First time on the 2021 Kawasaki Ninja 650!
(Doodle On A Motorcycle)
3. Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review First Ride | Visordown Motorcycle Reviews
(Visordown Motorcycle Videos)
4. Kawasaki Ninja 650 Gets HUGE Top End HP Gains from ECU Flash - Moore Mafia
(Moore Mafia)
5. 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Facelift Review | NDTV CarAndBike
(carandbike)
6. NEW MOTORCYCLE 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 + First Ride!
(PokeSerafim)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Zonia Mosciski DO

Last Updated: 15/11/2023

Views: 5607

Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Zonia Mosciski DO

Birthday: 1996-05-16

Address: Suite 228 919 Deana Ford, Lake Meridithberg, NE 60017-4257

Phone: +2613987384138

Job: Chief Retail Officer

Hobby: Tai chi, Dowsing, Poi, Letterboxing, Watching movies, Video gaming, Singing

Introduction: My name is Zonia Mosciski DO, I am a enchanting, joyous, lovely, successful, hilarious, tender, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.